Hey there! Remember me? You may have read my other piece about not dieting for my upcoming wedding a few months ago. If ya haven’t, click here to catch up!
I want to be real with ya’ll.
“Meeting” my dress (aka when your dress comes in and you get to try on the actual dress you’ll wear on your wedding day, not a sample) was a blast.
One of my best friends came with me, we sipped champagne, put on all the accessories and basically? I could have stayed in that dress all day, happy as a clam. Yup, I’m that girl.
Heading home from the appointment, however, a nasty thought popped into my head.
“Better still fit that dress in December, Jules. Watch your weight…”
Ahhh… my nasty inner diet critic decided to show its ugly face. Woof, haven’t heard from her in a while…
For a second I felt the pressure, the “oh shit, I better still fit this dress in six months!” Gah! Should I add more exercise? Limit my restaurant nights?
But then I quickly caught myself. (Been working on this for years, ya’ll)
I called out the thought for what it was: a nasty, judgmental, inner critic thought that was not my own. That thought was not ME. That thought came from our wonderful diet culture.
I then chose new based in what I know to be true.
I know that we all have a set point weight range. This means that we all have a natural place our bodies want to stay around.
Just like our bodies regulate our temperature (we sweat as a cooling mechanism when we’re hot and shiver as a heating mechanism when we’re cold…), our bodies also have mechanisms to regulate our weight. I know this might be shocking because it is not widely talked about (thanks, 60 billion dollar diet industry that profits off of us striving for unattainable bodies!), but the science is there. Tenfold.
Let’s get real for a second.
Ever wonder why it’s so hard to lose weight?
I mean, look around, the reality is clear. People go on and off diets their whole lives.
How many people do you know who have lost significant weight and kept it off (for more than 3 years)?
How many people do you know who have lost weight and then regained it?
Research shows that 95% of people regain the weight they lose after a diet. And around 60% will end up regaining more than they started with.
Diets are a consistent predictor of weight gain.
Let’s just get real for another second: if diets actually worked… wouldn’t we all just be skinny already?
I mean damn, if Oprah can’t keep it off…
Alas, there must be a reason!
Oh, and there are! I’m going to keep this simple, but the first reason has to do with the psychology of restriction.
As human beings, we often want what we can’t have. Say “don’t think about a white elephant,” and what can’t you stop thinking about? A WHITE FREAKING ELEPHANT!
There have also been studies that show people who diet and restrict certain “bad” foods have a heightened allure to those foods that is not present in non-dieters.
Meaning: for dieters, certain “bad” foods (think: donuts) hold power over them. They see the donut and have a battle in their head about how they shouldn’t eat it. This battle is distracting and often all consuming.
They might resist, but likely it turns into a binge later on. Or say they “give in” and eat the donut. They then have stress and guilt over this “failure,” are likely to overeat the rest of the day (the “screw it, already failed!” mentality) and feel like crap overall.
Let’s compare this to someone who doesn’t diet. They allow themselves to eat donuts. Thus, when they see the donut on the table, they don’t feel this same “pull” as the dieter feels. If they want the donut, they’ll eat it, without guilt, without feeling like crap and without overeating the rest of the day. Or, they’ll see the donut, realize they don’t want it, and move on. No. Big. Deal.
Any of this sound familiar? The first one was me, one million percent, in my dieting days! A bowl of chips has never been so powerful! When I found the research on this I couldn’t believe someone could so accurately describe my experience.
Or how about this: ever wonder why when you’re on a diet all you can do is think about food?
Hmm… IT’S BECAUSE WE’RE HUNGRY! We’re never satisfied! We aren’t eating enough! No wonder we can’t stop thinking about food (and then often binging!)
So restriction psychology leads to food obsession and binge eating which typically leads to weight gain. Ok cool. Noted. Thanks, diets!
Why else is it so hard to lose weight? Let’s talk about set point weight.
We are not all meant to be thin.
We are all meant to come in different body sizes.
We all have a natural set point weight where we are our healthiest. For many of us this means living in a larger body. For others it means living in a smaller body.
Sure this is about a 10-20 pound range, so we can fluctuate within that, but ultimately that’s where our bodies are happy!
For those of us who live in higher set points and spend our lives dieting, we are messing with our set point weight. When we go below it, our bodies retaliate.
Let’s turn to the experts on this subject matter, Linda Bacon, PhD and Lucy Aphramor, PhD, RD who authored Body Respect.
“When we examine the body’s regulatory mechanisms, it shouldn’t be too surprising to us that few people sustain weight loss. We can identify compensatory pathways that get activated to try and ensure weight stability. For example, dieting triggers a reduction in leptin, which both increases appetite and decreases metabolism. And chronic dieting results in chronically less leptin release, which could easily explain why the majority of people with a history of dieting actually gain weight over time. They have become hungrier and their bodies are more sluggish.”
Hungrier and more sluggish? GAH! No thanks!
Take that nasty dieting inner critic voice!
I reminded myself that through intuitive eating (what I practice and teach), I maintain my healthy weight. Through listening to my body, eating a variety of foods that make me feel great (ranging from kale to cheeseburgers), moving my body in ways that I love, getting adequate sleep, managing my stress (prioritizing FUN)… my body naturally stays at its healthiest place!
Might my weight fluctuate a bit here and there? Sure! But will it result in a wedding day disaster? Highly unlikely.
But you know what might lead to a wedding day disaster (and a VERY cranky me)? DIETING.
So I say, no thanks, inner critic! Still not going on a diet for my wedding.
Want to learn more about all of the above? Check out the books Body Respect and Health at Every Size.
Author: Julie Wojno
Author Bio: Julie Wojno is a body positive, intuitive eating health coach, yoga teacher and indoor cycling instructor based in Columbus, OH. Her mission is to empower women who have struggled with eating, exercise and body image to love their bodies and live their best lives, without another restrictive diet. When she’s not coaching, down-dogging or cycling, you can catch her snuggling her massive instafamous Bernese Mountain Dog @maplethebernerbear, hanging at local breweries and spiralizing her favorite fruits and veggies (sweet potato pasta, anyone?). Follow along on her adventures at @julie.wojno
Link to your social media or website: http://www.juliewojno.com