The first 3 letters of the word “diet” spell DIE. I know you’ve heard or seen this phrase somewhere as a joke to describe how painful and dreadful dieting can be. Aside from the physical struggle of denying yourself the foods you love, and even denying yourself the ability to eat when you’re feeling hungry at times, there is also the psychological distress that comes along with it. Constant deprivation can lead to feeling as though you are being punished.
I can’t tell you how often I viewed diet and exercise as my penance for having been fat. That hasn’t always been my interpretation, but at times, it was. And it is usually during those times that I see very little progress. I can be making tons of progress, but I won’t “see” it. The rewards are never worth the sacrifice. The entire endeavor is painful, and that pain trivializes the triumph of losing an inch from my waist or my big ole’ thighs.
To make matters worse, your body actually hates dieting just as much as you do. There are several hormonal changes taking place soon after you start to decrease your calories causing you to feel tired, lethargic, angry, depressed, and hungry. You see, the body is designed to ensure survival, and part of that involves making sure you have enough fat on your body to endure famine. I like to use the analogy that fat is the body’s currency. The only difference being, the body is responsible with its currency, holding on to every fat store it possibly can. I wish I could say I am just as responsible with my money as my body is with the amount of fat I carry in my thighs, but I digress. 🙂 The idea that food makes us feel better is not merely psychological. There is a huge physiological component to the positive effect food has on our mood and overall well-being. Hello, emotional eaters! *waving frantically*
Despite the difficulties we endure while dieting, we tend to forget dieting is a privilege.
I remember talking to a friend about purchasing some weight loss supplements. They were very pricey—about $60 per bottle. She was complaining about the price. She was also complaining (in a playful manner) about a homeless man asking her for money. She mentioned how she didn’t have any money to give him, as she had her own bills to pay. Laughing at the irony of this complaint, I mentioned that here we are, spending money to EAT LESS and lose weight, while he is asking for money in order to eat. It’s something we reflected on, and in the moment it was a light-hearted conversation but with a meaningful message–it is a privilege for us to be on a diet.
The moment I think to complain about a diet, I remind myself that it’s a choice, and I immediately reflect on my choice in gratitude. I’m grateful to be able to have this choice! There are people all over the world who cannot exercise the amount of control we are able to exercise over our food choices. From what we eat and how often, to when we eat and how much, we are in complete control over what we are eating. Meanwhile, there are people not knowing when or where there next meal will come from.
Does this mean that you should love the fact that your body is miserable because it’s a low carb day? YES! Absolutely! Rejoice in gratitude that you are able to make that choice! No one puts a gun to our heads and forces us to eat less or more. We have complete control over our diets. Therefore I say, “quitcherbitchin” and never forget to reflect on this choice in gratitude no matter how difficult it seems.
No complaints allowed. If you are on a diet, you are privileged. Many people cannot exercise any control over what they eat, when they eat, or how. But you have the privilege of choosing to stop eating in excess. There is absolutely nothing to complain about. It may be uncomfortable. It may not always feel pleasurable. But you can either approach it with gratitude, or complain and get nowhere.
I dealt with starvation as a child. For years I used that story to victimize myself so that I could continue to overeat whenever it felt appropriate. Now I simply reflect on my past with gratitude. My life is so full of love and joy and friendship—things I thought I could never attain because I had closed myself off to them—that I could care less if I have to pass up a piece of chocolate cake or a glass of wine at a gathering. What means more to you, the wine, or the company you’re in? There’s no right or wrong answer, but maybe it’s something for you to think about.