The Four Stages of Diet Recovery ~ Part Three ~ Limbo


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. This is Part Three of a Four Part Series that goes beyond the 4 guidelines of intuitive eating to give you some insight into the actual transformational process. You can read Part One ~ Diets Don’t Work, and Part Two ~ Leave the Past Behind here.

Phase Three ~ Limbo

Lost in the Wilderness

You have stepped off the diet road to nowhere and you are now wandering around in the unfamiliar wilderness without street signs or pathways. You have left your old world but haven’t yet found your way into the new. This Phase can be confusing and unsettling, but it can also be a place of rest, a time to enjoy freedom from any rules and regulations.

It’s All About the Change

In Phase Three you begin to focus on the things that have changed for you. You make new choices and new decisions every day. Your intentions and your priorities have changed. You use this time to “try on for size” the multitude of choices you have available to you. Do you enjoy a vegetarian diet? Do you feel better without processed food? Is a slice of cake worth the energy crash two hours later? This is a time to conduct experiments into what healthy habits you want to keep in your new life (oats 😛 ) and the ones you want to abandon (broccoli sick ).

Those Voices in Your Head

It is now time to take on the Mad Monkey once and for all. Each time you have a negative thought, immediately let go of it. There is no point trying to turn it into a positive thought, simply imagine opening up a hole in the top of your head and let it float away. Practice meditation, yoga or running – something that quietens your brain – to break the old familiar thought patterns.


“You will never be transformed if you return to the things that you know. In the same way that a rebound relationship never works out, a rebound diet will just f*ck you up more.”

There will be, at some point in this Phase, an overwhelming desire to return to the safe, old, familiar route of dieting. Do not give into this temptation. A failure to change is an invitation to live a life of numbness and stagnation. You will never be transformed if you return to the things that you know. In the same way that a rebound relationship never works out, a rebound diet will just f*ck you up more.

Patience Grasshopper

Resist the urge to fill yourself up with more activity, doing as much as you can to speed up the process. If you have been dieting for years, then you won’t be recovered in just weeks. Patience is a skill to be learned.

You Will Crash but You Won’t Burn

There will still be bad days, and really, really bad days. But the bad days are usually an indication that a major breakthrough and healing is about to take place. Embrace the crappy days because they signal the approach of fantastic, mind blowing days ahead.

Your Homework

In this Phase, you should continue the work of developing self love. You are now able to express gratitude for the body that you currently have, and for the thoughts and feeling you experience.

You are able to look in the mirror without hearing destructive critical voices, and you feel sexy and attractive most of the time. You are OK with the way you are now, and wouldn’t be too upset if you stayed this way for a while. You buy new clothes that are less about showing off your biceps and more about making you feel beautiful.  Ultimately though, you know without a doubt that the body of your dreams is coming sooner or later.

What Does it Feel Like?

Some days Not Dieting Sucks! Other days it all seems effortless and easy. Your wonderfully evolved future self is showing up more and more frequently.

There is chaos and there is clarity, but most of all, there is a sense that you are on the right journey and that every day brings you closer to your transformation.


  • Physical Healing ~ your body may quickly resume normal hormonal and digestive function (period and pooping) during this time. Your skin, nails and hair may look more healthy than ever before
  • Weight Gain ~ you may gain weight, but you may not mind because this is just a transitional phase. Your obsession with looking like a fitness model may be replaced with a desire to look healthy and fit.
  • Lack of Interest ~ you might find that you lose most of your interest in food entirely for periods of time. It is no longer the highlight of your day. You sometimes find eating an interruption to getting on with your life. I know, I wouldn’t have believed it either if I read it on some flaky blog!!
  • Spiritual Awakening ~ there may be a renewed interest in God, a Higher Power, or your inner divinity. Go with the flow …
  • It Spills Over ~ it is not uncommon for people to decide to change other things in their lives as well ~ a new job (or no job at all), a new haircut, a new blog, a new relationship, a new hobby are all a likely result of this process.

When Are You Ready to Move on to Phase Three?

Fuck knows but I wish it would hurry up Phase Three is complete when you have explored all the possibilities for your future and know where you want your feet to land. You have broken your old habits and your new ones are firmly cemented in your life.

You now feel empowered to always take great care of yourself, you welcome your mistakes as opportunities to learn and you are calm and at peace. You are enthusiastic, happy and full of mischief. Life is a crazy adventure you can’t wait to throw yourself in to.

Did you know …

  • One of the fun sayings around neuroplasticity: “neurons that fire together wire together… and neurons that fire apart wire apart.”. Effectively this means that when neurons activate at the same time as a response to an event, the neurons become associated with one another and the connections become stronger.  This is why people talk about “neural pathways being set” with respect to increased practice – the more practice you accumulate, the more ingrained or grooved the pathways become.  Of course the inverse happens as well: if those pathways aren’t utilized, the space will be used by other pathways needing room to grow.Use it or lose it!
  • In Tibetan Buddhism, the concept of neuralplasticity has been around for far longer than Western science has recognized it – the term for it is le-su-rung-wa which means “pliability”; your brain can change based on repeated experience. It’s no surprise then that studies have been performed on plasticity during meditation and have shown that the brain can change based purely on mental training.  This of course has huge ramifications for mental practice and its impact on overall well-being.  If you can think yourself into being more compassionate, or more positive and more resourceful, or calmer and more content, it seems a little too good to be true. But with some effort, it’s possible. ~ Neuroplasticity : Your Brain’s Amazing Ability to Form New Habits

Coming soon (God I hope so …)

Part Four ~ Transformation

→ photo : epcp

About KatieP

Embracing my midlife sexy while exploring modern love & relationships • Devoted to all things beautiful • Master of Arts in creative writing & non-fiction writing