I’m talking grieving ladies… it hurts doesn’t it? When you deeply realise that diets don’t actually work and the body or weight you’ve been chasing for however many years is simply a fantasy that keeps you on the hamster wheel…
Even if you’ve reached and lived in your desired body weight or size, chances are that you’re not currently living in that body now. Why do you think that is?
Lack of willpower?
Change of environment and circumstances?
Your body is a human-animal and therefore not a machine so it cannot be set at an exact weight or size forever?
Whatever you think the reason is, your body is still what it is right now. Even if you hate it with all your might and curse yourself for “letting yourself go” it’s not going to change anything, in fact, it will just make you feel worse. And THAT SUCKS! (FYI if you think it’s your lack of willpower then you’re wrong, my love.)
Have you had enough yet?
Have you had enough yet? Of chasing that “goal body/weight”?
Are you enjoying yourself? Is your life expansive, fun and free?
Or is it restricted, restrained and pressured? Do you want to keep trying?
If you genuinely enjoy spending your whole life dieting and then gaining all the weight back plus a little bit more and then dieting and then gaining all the weight back and a bit more (etc) then you keep doing that. I also invite you to ask yourself why? What are you doing it for? Really go deep with yourself. Just because everyone else around you is seemingly “on the wagon or off the wagon” it doesn’t mean that you have to live that life too. There IS another way to live.
Freedom & self-love
A life full of freedom, joy, acceptance, love and relaxation around food and your body. Time and energy to do way more than just log your calories in MFP or count points/syns and worry about the cellulite on your legs.
In order to live in food freedom and body love, we need to mentally and energetically let go of the body we’ve been chasing or trying to get back to.
I know it can feel safe and like you’re in control of your life when you’re at least trying to lose weight, but unless you want to restrict your food for the rest of your life and literally diet until you die, you need to realise that all of that chasing is simply a conditioned response in an attempt to feel safe, loved and accepted in the world. And the fucked up thing is, is that people are treated better if they fit into society’s body and beauty ideals. So no wonder we are spending our lives on the hamster wheel desperately trying to lose weight or tone up or change our natural body shape!
There comes a time though when you realise that all of your efforts are not only not working (because der, diets don’t work!), they’re leaving you exhausted, frustrated and feeling like you’re just not good enough.
And that’s when I come in with a loving swoop to catch you and support you on the journey to food freedom and body love.
The grieving process
And the start of our journey begins now, together… with grieving the body/weight you’ve been chasing for __ number of years. Speaking from personal experience, the emotional pain of grieving that fantasy body (and therefore fantasy life – because of what is promised to us when we reach the ideal body/weight) can feel unbearable.
It’s a grieving process. Grief is complicated and we sometimes wonder if the pain will ever end. We go through a variety of emotional experiences such as anger, confusion, and sadness. So hold my hand, my love, we’re in this together…
The first stage is denial. Denial helps us to minimize the overwhelming pain of loss. Remember, it’s not just our fantasy body weight or size that we’re grieving, it’s what we’ve made (through conditioning) that fantasy body MEAN. So we’re actually grieving what we think will be the loss of; love, acceptance, validity, being desired, being liked, having perfect relationships and careers, etc. Even though we can have all of those things in the body we have now. But that comes later on in this journey.
As we process the reality of what we think we are losing when we give up the chase of thinness, we are also trying to survive the emotional pain that comes… which we used to “fix” by planning another diet or going on a diet.
Our reality has shifted completely and it can take our minds some time to adjust to this new reality. We romanticise how amazing our life was when we were thinner, assuming that all of our good feelings and experiences were entirely because of what body size we were. Or we romanticise how amazing our life could be if we could only just get “there” and then stay there. We might find ourselves wondering how we’ll ever be truly happy in our bodies without losing or trying to lose weight.
Denial is not only an attempt to pretend that the perceived loss does not exist. We are also trying to absorb and understand what is the cold hard truth.
It is common to experience anger after realising that we’ve been sold a lie and we’ve spent an immense amount of time, energy, money (and more) in an attempt to lose weight and keep it off. We are trying to adjust to a new reality and we are likely experiencing extreme emotional discomfort, especially when everyone around us is continuing to reinforce our old beliefs with weight loss advertisements and before and after photos. There is a lot to process and so anger may feel like it allows us an emotional outlet.
Keep in mind that anger does not require us to be very vulnerable. However, it tends to be more socially acceptable than admitting we are scared. Anger allows us to express emotion with less fear of judgment or rejection.
It’s ok for us to be scared of our new reality. It’s normal to feel scared and overwhelmed and uncertain and then jump back to denial. It’s also ok for us to be angry at the diet industry and the unrealistic beauty standards and society for creating “thin privilege”. It’s valid and ok and we need to feel it all in order to heal it. So cry, scream, shout, cry some more, it’s all ok and actually necessary to express in order to process and release.
When coping with a loss of any kind, it isn’t unusual to feel so desperate that we are willing to do almost anything to alleviate or minimize the pain. Letting go of what we think we are losing when we give up dieting (a perfect, happy, rainbow and sparkle filled life with unicorns cleaning your house and every man you’ve ever desired desiring you back) can cause us to consider any way we can to avoid the current pain. There are many ways we may try to avoid emotional pain.
- Emotional eating
- Disconnecting from our bodies entirely – avoiding all mirrors and refusing to look
- Wearing baggy clothes in an attempt to hideaway
- Shopping, gambling, overworking
- Setting an extreme goal to work toward
- Keeping busy and not allowing any time to be alone
- Mindlessly numbing out in front of the tv
Avoiding how we are really feeling is actually an attempt at self-care because who wants to feel pain? It’s easier to numb or avoid but the reality is, doing that will only make things worse in the long run.
You gotta feel it to heal it, honey. It’s hard but you’re strong enough. Be gentle with yourself.
During our experience of processing grief, there comes a time when our imaginations calm down and we slowly start to look at the reality of our present situation. Diets don’t work. I’m fatter now than I would have been if I had never dieted. My body is what it is. I don’t like it. I can’t do anything about it. It sucks. Avoiding and distracting no longer feels like an option and we are faced with what is.
We start to feel the loss of what we think thinness will bring more abundantly. As our panic begins to subside, the emotional fog begins to clear and the loss feels more present and unavoidable.
In those moments, we tend to pull inward as the sadness grows. We might find ourselves retreating, being less sociable, and reaching out less to others about what we are feeling. Although this is a very natural stage of grief, dealing with depression can be extremely isolating.
When we come to a place of acceptance, it is not that we no longer feel the pain of loss. However, we are no longer resisting the reality of our situation, and we are not struggling to make it something different.
Sadness and regret can still be present in this phase, but the emotional survival tactics of denial, avoidance, and anger are less likely to be present.
Acceptance is no longer fighting reality. It’s dropping the rope from the tug of war that you’re in with yourself and noticing the stillness and surrender. It’s metaphorically shrugging your shoulders and being like “It is what it is!”
It’s acceptance of the whole god damn shit show… that diets don’t work, that you’ve been sold a lie your whole life and you have X many years of personal evidence to back it all up. Your body is like this right now. There’s no changing it. There’s no way to avoid the uncomfortable emotions that you’re feeling about that fact, there’s nowhere to run to. This is how it is. Life on life’s terms. Your body on its terms.
*CUE DEEP SIGH…*
You know that not accepting how your body looks is like frowning at the weather and cursing at it with all your might in an attempt to change the rainy day into a summer sun-filled one…
You don’t LIKE it, god no, but you accept. Because what other choice do you have..?
It doesn’t end there!
As you go through these stages of grief, you may feel that you’d rather be blindly chasing (and failing) at thinness rather than facing and experiencing grief …and I get it! But I promise you, it doesn’t stay like this. It gets easier and better and before long, you’ll be SO glad you didn’t go back to your previous false sense of security of the dieting (and bingeing) life.
This place of acceptance breeds body appreciation, self-love and body positivity. And when you’re living in food freedom AND genuine self-love, you’ll look back on your dieting days and be so thankful that you chose the path to freedom and self-love. Hey, you never know, you may even want to teach this to others as I do. This work is life-changing and I’m so grateful you’re on this journey with me.