You probably wouldn’t expect to hear me talk about dieting, that D word I hate to use so much, in a positive light. But it’s important to understand, that the things we struggle with most, are there to teach us something. And although my years of dieting never worked out the way I thought, my lessons have been SO so so so good.
And the way “I thought” it would work out, was that I would pick a goal weight based on what I was told was right for my height and age. Then I would pick a diet and do that diet exactly as it had instructed for me too. I thought that I would easily lose the weight I wanted to and be happy forever. That of course NEVER happened.
But when I DID lose weight, it wasn’t a straight upward climb. It was more like, lose some, gain some back, lose some more, not lose any for weeks and then just give up because the diet fell short of its promise and failed my thoughts of how I would be able to do it FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.
But regardless, my lessons have been important to further my growth and by “SO good”…I mean life changing, and in such deep ways too, far beyond what ever losing the weight and walking off into the sunset ever would have taught me. We ALL want to pick a goal and kill it ALL of the time, but it’s not that easy. And dieting is no exception.
I have done hard things in my life, but losing weight was THE biggest struggle of all. And that doesn’t mean I am done with “wanting to improve” my body, but it does mean that I will never diet or strive to lose a certain amount of weight again, like I did for so many years of my life. I have been blessed with a new perspective and one that serves me unlike ever before. Instead of having me come back to fail, over and over again.
The way I see my body, my life, my health, is FAR from what I used to think it was. It’s much wider, much less narrow and forced. I have a healthier relationship with food (it’s about time) and I have an amazing relationship with my body. It’s what I have always wanted but never knew how much I needed and totally never knew where to start of how to get there.
The lessons that I have learned from dieting, have taught me MORE than years of successes ever would, and they are also plentiful. But here are six really good ones, that I really want to share with you today. I share them with you in the hopes that maybe you can find your way to them and also start changing your life too.
1. How to Trust My Body
I never learned how to listen to my body, let alone trust it. That was NEVER even a thing to think about when I was dieting either. When I WAS dieting, I would force myself NOT to eat or to eat WAY different than I was at that time. Usually pizza to not pizza back then.
Why would I listen to my body anyway, it was a body. Had no intelligence, nothing to offer me other than pain and misery because it didn’t know HOW to not be fat and ugly. Total disconnect by the way, if you can’t tell. Lol
NOT listening to my body would have made total sense to do because I needed to lose weight, I didn’t know how and I never thought my body knew how either or I would have been “naturally thin”. So of course, an outside source knew better than I did. It seemed so black and white.
When I would be on a diet, I would force myself to wait to eat (my body needed to be on a schedule). I would force myself to eat less and less and less and then of course walk away from the table feeling hungry, deprived, and depressed BUT who was I to try and think for myself. The diet book was the expert, I was just a failed fat body.
And when my body was giving me signals that I should keep eating (hunger pains and severe weakness), I still wouldn’t wavier, I would have thoughts like, I need to stick to the plan, my body is still “in training”, any day it’s going to adapt etc… In High School, I actually got so sick from living like this, that I had to be hospitalized because I was so weak and sick (but I was thin!! Yet extremely pale) that I had to get my nutrients from an IV because I was so depleted.
You would have thought, that I would have learned from this BUT nope, I still looked for a new diet. This whole song and dance of, a diet knows best and my body needs to conform to a diet etc.. eventually ran out for me and as I grew in connection with my body, instead of pushing it away, I learned my body was wiser than I.
My body knew what it needed, when it needed it and how to heal itself. Once I gave in to giving up the diets, saw that I had been brain washed all those years by NEEDING to attain “the perfect body”, I just followed my body’s cues. Ate what I wanted mentally for a time to heal my diet mindset and eventually I could hear what my body needed physically. Like FOOD but then specifics like more protein, more fresh foods, juicy fruits etc.
This has allowed me to fall in love with my body, appreciate it, instead of pushing it away because I know that I can trust it. That my body wants to thrive and be healthy, I just have to be wise enough to listen and take action. This is why my philosophy with my clients is discovering what works for them. I guide them to it not force or push it.
How can you start to trust your body today?
2. That Thin Isn’t Always Healthy
I don’t know how I got this in my head that thin was healthy. OH wait, no I do…it could have been the plethora of teen magazines that I had ample access to while growing up. Even in the library.
You know, the ones that constantly showed young girls like me, showing off their long blonde, bikini like thinness while showing me that they had a ton of energy to run on the beach, hang out with their boyfriends, have girl time, exercising daily, while eating what was super healthy at that period of time (fat free cookies anyone?)
It could have also been the doctors telling me that I was overweight because the number on the scale and the number on their chart was out of “healthy range”. The funny thing, is that BMI was originally a way for insurance companies to decide on their rates to give people. It had nothing to do with actual health. It was just a math equation.
What I learned over the years, is that my life’s mission to attain thinness came at a price. Remember me in the hospital because I was so malnourished but albeit THIN! I totally got to my goal weight but I was also knocking on death’s door.
And I totally got praise for it too. “You look so good!”, “Good for you Sabrina!”, “how are you doing it?” which kept me motivated to keep over exercising and eating as little as I could daily ALL without literally passing out.
Thin doesn’t equal healthy NOR does it equal happy. I was totally happy getting praise, but totally miserable living my life. I wasn’t living. I was barely hanging on BUT hell yes! I got into those size 7 shorts! If we commented less on what people looked like, minded our own business, keep our own insecurities to ourselves versus putting them on others who don’t know better, I think we might have a chance at changing and turning our population to real healthy.
No matter what that looks like, meaning the shape of body we get from it AND by health, I mean let us cheer each other on for the right things. NOT the foods we eat or the exercise we do that kills us BUT like, “way to go, your triglycerides are at a healthy range” or “Look at you and your bad ass self for getting your blood pressure down!”
The more I understand this disconnect the more I see how I wouldn’t have gotten here had I not dieted. And I would rather be healthy, happy, have energy, enjoy my life and create a better world than be barely hanging on obsessing over the size of my waist. I won’t be known for that, but I could be known for being a good person.
3. My Mental State Is More Important
I did a number on my brain with dieting. My thoughts were pure shallow, totally defeating, and for me, I would go as far to say diseased. Thinking all day long about how my body wasn’t good enough, missing out on checking in with how I felt and being depressed because my life sucked ALL because I couldn’t wear a bikini and look hot like the latest girl on Seventeen.
At the time it was everything to me and that led my thoughts in the same direction as I got older too. I trained my brain in this way. It has been hard to shake, the negative self-talk and it was so much apart of me, I never noticed it until I started to reign it in and seeing it was my real problem, not my weight or my body.
Your thoughts just go on auto pilot. You don’t notice them and when you don’t notice them you feel them. And for me the feelings were depressed, sad, hopeless, fearful and SO much anxiety. When I was in High School (it was a rough time for me) I tried to kill myself. I tried to take my own life.
Looking back on this now, it makes me sad but it makes me grateful for that experience because it taught me a valuable lesson about what we focus on expands. And at that time, with all my body image issues, leading to me feeling like I wasn’t enough, not allowing myself to feel loved, all turned into a giant mess to get me to the point to just want to stop existing.
After getting out of that, mental health became a major focus for me. And eventually I saw that dieting kept my focus negative, not positive and that in order to be free I had to just ALLOW and just ACCEPT. And once I did, it took the pressure off and I was able to see more clearly the thoughts that kept playing that kept me stuck and feeling like crap.
How can you start allowing and accepting right now?
4. What Diet You Do Doesn’t Matter
Being a professional dieter from like age 11 and on, I feel like I tried everything. I tried low fat, low calorie, high fat, low carb, weight watchers, keto, high calories, just whole foods, Atkins, The Zone, vegan, eating for my blood type, you name it…I tried it.
And after all of them, not getting long term success, I noticed that it wasn’t the diet I did per se. It wasn’t the diets themselves because for every diet out there, there is a success story. There is a family or a woman whom it works for and still does.
I think this goes to show how amazingly unique we are and how important it is to find what works for you and that we don’t have to all be the same, like we don’t all have to do Keto to live our best life or eat meat. It is totally possible to live and eat in a way that serves our emotional and physical bodies and attain REAL health.
What I do see, and have learned personally, is that It’s TOALLY the mindset around them 100% that makes them work or not. Had I been in charge of my brain, and my thoughts, and not been so tapped out by not listening to my body and barely hanging on…I could have seen this.
I could have seen that, what I thought about the diet, how I felt about the food, what I was thinking about when I didn’t want to eat those carrots, or that sandwich, or that shake etc.. was what kept me from the action NOT the food or the diet’s plan itself, I would have been more successful long term.
But what I try and get women to see is, and what I would like for you to see also, is ask yourself…does it work for you, fit into your life, give you energy, make you feel good through and through and keep your health markers improving? If so, then do that if you can. If we can peel back our biases more and just aim to see improvement, I think we might get greater success sooner than later.
5. It’s Ok To Eat
I was so afraid to eat when I was on a diet. I didn’t want to be fat. Get fatter. Hate myself. Not want to get out of bed and get dressed. I wanted to be a hermit because I wasn’t “good enough” to be seen.
What I learned is that food is not the enemy. That we need food and we can’t get around that. And just like above, eating is all about the mindset behind it and the healing from dieting, from food fear, for me was just eating.
Allowing myself to eat while I managed my brain around it. Not allowing myself to beat myself up or say nasty things about myself while or after I ate foods that when I was a diet I would avoid. I got comfortable with food again. With eating fries. With having dessert.
It was safe to eat and it was safe because I wasn’t going to bully myself for it. So, if you are having issues with eating, let me tell you, it’s ok to eat. The best way to start this process is to see what you think when you eat foods you may not have allowed in the past or even in the now and see what comes up.
Your first step, is to work on those thoughts. Capture them by writing them out and then decide to reframe them to serve you instead of hurt you. Your body will be less stressed when you eat, it will be able to use the nutrients from the food better and you might find that you don’t end up gaining 10 lbs. after like you might have thought. You can do it!
6. I’m Enough, No Matter What The Scale Says
The last thing I want to share today is that I was dieting, barely eating, pushing through weakness, trying to get thin, be thin, look like a teen cover ALL because I had gotten the message that I wasn’t enough. My body. My brains. My face. My personality. I WAS NOT enough.
And that, in order to BE enough, I had to change. That is why I wanted to be thinner and weight less. I wanted to be accepted and not tossed out of “my tribe” or be the outsider looking in. For me, my parents weren’t parents growing up. They had their own issues. They were both heavy drinker’s aka alcoholics. They no doubt were facing their own “not enoughness” and just turned to booze instead.
But not being taken care of like I should have been, being tossed to the side and shoved in my room all the time, being told that kids are to be seen not heard ALL created for me, a feeling of not enough. And so, I sought it in food which then turned into a crazy cycle of overeating to comfort my emotions and then dieting to be enough physically.
But after years of that cycle, I saw that I can’t get enoughness from anyone but me. Not even my parents. Not my husband. Not my kids. Not my job. I decide if I am enough. PERIOD. There is no scale that gauges enough. No barometer and NO two people will EVER think the same of you, so you must find it in yourself.
And I did that by letting go of dieting, letting go of expectations that weren’t my own, getting super real with myself, letting go of caring what others thought of me, letting go that my weight was an issue, and that the scale was allowed to dictate my day.
AND out of this I saw that we all have our own baggage, our own sets of issues, our own thoughts that serve us OR DON’T. And that’s ok. We are all human, doing the best we can. But something we all are, is enough. We don’t’ gain it. Can’t lose weight enough for being enough in this world. It just is and you just are.
I hope that these six things I have learned can help you to LEARN and grow into being the BEST you that you can be. I think we all have the ability to be if we allow ourselves. And I know for me, that all started with shedding these things that I mentioned above plus so much more along my journey.
I know that not everyone will agree with me on these, that they have seen differently and have a different life experience than me. And I LOVE that because that allows us to adopt different things from different people ALL sharing what they have experienced in becoming greater.
For me, these have been life changing. Pivotal and all the women that I have worked with thus far in my career, have resonated with it a big way. I hope you do too. And if you feel like you jive with my message, my experiences and KNOW you can learn more from me and grow further, than get on my schedule and let’s chat. Schedule a consult and let’s work together.
I can help you create a better relationship with food, your body and help guide you toward your own personal successes. No matter what they might be.
With Nourishing Love,