Transforming from a chronic dieter with your self-esteem totally entangled in your body image to a person at peace with your mind, body and spirit is a complex and confusing journey. I hope that this series will go beyond the 4 guidelines of intuitive eating and give you some insight into the actual transformational process.
Phase One ~ Diets Don’t Work
You Have to Hit Rock Bottom
The first step on this journey usually occurs when you hit rock bottom. Your health and fitness lifestyle is causing more pain than pleasure, and the pain is almost unbearable. Sometimes you feel like you can’t face another day of controlling your food intake, ignoring the hunger, constantly thinking about food, the overwhelming depression and sadness, and your punishing exercise regime.
Diets Don’t Work
There is no question in your mind that diets don’t work. You have tried every combination of the diet philosophy and nothing has delivered the promise of long-term weight loss. You are an expert at losing weight, but you can’t seem to keep it off. And the sense of failure is now spilling out into other areas of your life. Your relationships are suffering, your job is suffering and your health is suffering too. You can’t go out socially, you dread events and holidays that involve food, and you have experienced frequent, massive binges.
Your Body is Betraying You
At this point, your body seems to be shutting down. Your menstrual cycle is screwed, you suffer from constipation and you always seem to be catching a cold or the latest bug that is going around. You might have an injury that just won’t heal and your muscles are always sore from your last workout. You seem to be hypersensitive to any minor dietary indiscretions, suffering major digestion issues, bloating and weight gain if you eat anything other than lean protein and green vegetables. Your sleep is restless and disturbed and you are constantly cold. Some days you just long to stay in bed but rest and relaxation only increase your feelings of guilt and failure.
You come to a moment in time where you say, “Enough is enough”. You’re on the diet road to nowhere and you simply decide to stop where you are right in the middle of the road. You have no plan, no expectations, no clue about the future but you are certain that the torture ends right here and now.
“You have no plan, no expectations, no clue about the future but you are certain that the torture ends right here and now.”
This decision usually arrives the morning after a horrendous binge. You are at your lowest low but you can’t bear the thought of starting yet another diet. This is possibly the only place where you can get off the diet cycle. Thinking you will start listening to your body and eating intuitively when you reach your goal weight doesn’t work because if you’ve lost weight successfully on a diet you still believe that you’re on the right road.
What Does It Feel Like?
You will feel a great fear of the unknown, a loss of control and a sense that you have failed in the simplest task of “eat less, move more”. At the same time there will be a sense of relief and that “starting a new program” burst of motivation. You will doubt that mindfully eating what you want when you are hungry and stopping when you are full will ever work but you have no other alternative. You are worried that you will not be able to stop eating once you start.
When you are in Phase One of your transformation you should document your current reality. Be brutally honest and reveal all the secrets you have held inside for so long. This is your ‘away from’ motivation. You are identifying the behaviours and consequences of those behaviours you don’t want in your life any more.
When you are clear about the extent of your pain, ask yourself, “What would I like instead?” Dare to dream what your wonderful future will look like. Imagine how you will look, how you will behave and how you will feel. This is your ‘towards’ motivation, the place you are now moving towards.
When are You Ready to Move on to Phase Two?
Phase One is short and fleeting. When you come to that place where you know without a shadow of a doubt that dieting no longer serves you then you are ready to move on to Phase Two ~ Separation.
Did you know …
- A Monash University study of 76 obese Victorians found all of them were socially conditioned to diet. Seventy per cent had tried Weight Watchers (which involves group support), almost half had tried Jenny Craig (pre-packaged meals) and slimming milkshakes, and more than a quarter had experimented with diet pills and starvation. More than half lost weight, making them feel euphoric, but this success was short-lived, regaining whatever they lost and more. A third blamed the diets for being unsustainable, unrealistic, too expensive, boring and focusing on food rather than changing behaviour. But most failed dieters blamed themselves, leaving them depressed, angry and even less motivated. ~ Diet Cycle Traps Weight Watchers
- People who naturally follow instinctive eating or intuitive eating just seem to know when, what and how much food they need. When their body needs fuel they get hungry, triggering an urge to eat. They simply stop eating when their hunger is satisfied. Most of them really like to eat and seem to be able to eat whatever they want. However they’ll turn down even delicious food if they aren’t hungry and they are less likely to respond to stress with emotional eating. You might believe that a person who follows this instinctive eating or intuitive eating pattern has been blessed with willpower and a great metabolism. But the truth is we were all born to eat instinctively. It’s just that many of us “unlearned” our natural ability to know how much to eat. The good news is that you can relearn those skills for weight loss without dieting or deprivation. ~ Am I Hungry?
Coming soon ~ The Four Stages of Diet Recovery
Phase Two ~ Separation
Phase Three ~ Limbo
Phase Four ~ Transformation
3 thoughts on “The Four Stages of Diet Recovery ~ Part One ~ Diets Don’t Work”
Katie, this post is brilliant! Exactly the kind of thing I need to read right now, and I am looking forward to the next 3.
You’re doing an amazing job x
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