Archive for January, 2013

Nothing changes if nothing changes

Kelly age 4Have you ever tried to change a painful behaviour but no matter what, you just could not do it?

When I was a child I learned it was painful to be chubby. I was teased, shamed, and in gym class picked last for any team or game. Chubby was the painful result of my unhealthy eating behaviour. My first weight-loss diet was prescribed by my family doctor at nine years young and by the time I was a teenager I’d joined Weight Watchers. I was obsessed with food and weight-loss at the tender age of thirteen when everything naturally changed – bigger hips, breasts, and curves.

The answer for me then was to count calories, workout, eat muffins, skip lunch, skip breakfast, berate myself, and on and on. At the end of the day it was always the same thing – I needed relief from the constant barrage of negative messages in my mind and I used food and television (unsuccessfully, I might add) to shut out the noise.

Some years later, while trying desperately to stop another painful behaviour, someone said five words to me that stopped me in my tracks: “Nothing changes if nothing changes”. It was so simple, but daunting. It was the beginning of the end of a behaviour that was making me desperately unhappy and self-destructive.

“Nothing changes if nothing changes” I gently remind myself today. In changing my relationship with food, and ultimately with my life, what I know is this: one permanent change can be the beginning of a miracle. The type of change I’m talking about is a shift in perception. The only change that works for me is a change in thought.

“I am lovable no matter what” is my mantra for 2013.  And, if I have a day where my relationship with food is a struggle I do not berate myself. I say gently to the little girl inside me, you are lovable, you are lovable, you are lovable.

What little change can you make today towards love?

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True confession – Dietitian gives up dieting

ImageFor as long as I can remember January 1st has been a time of reckoning.  I tell myself, “I’ll do it this year or die trying!” My number one goal, forever, has been to lose weight. There would often be something from Santa, like a new walkman or an exercise video, catapulting me into my new Resolution. I’d workout two hours a day restricting any food that gave me pleasure. Weighing myself on a daily basis I’d fill with excitement as thoughts of achieving that perfect body mingled with my sweat and pounding heart. Finally I’d be lovable!

With every inevitable treat and missed workout my excitement would spiral down into dread as the third week of January rolled around and I’d failed yet another weight-loss regimen. Then I’d rebound with a defiant attitude and binge my way into February.

For the first time in my life, January has been different this year. My only vow has been to stop dieting and start loving myself, just as I am. I’ve begun to explore why I turn to food when I’m upset. That’s it and that’s all. It hasn’t been easy for this chronic dieter to come to such a decision but because I’m so tired of being unkind to myself I had no choice but to change.

How does a Dietitian stop dieting? I now asking myself these precious questions:  What if I am lovable no matter what? What if in the past I’ve used food to keep myself away from love?  What if I could change?  How would I do it? Who could help me? And finally, can I help others who feel the same way?

I’ve discovered the answer to this last questions is a definitive yes. Support groups, like the one I run, arrest the insanity of the diet myth and help women gain healthier minds, bodies, and spirits. Here’s what a good support group can do. In a safe, relaxed, and confidential group setting the group members explore why they eat the way they do. They identify eating triggers, everything from the mundane television habit to the profound escape from emotions. They find out why change is difficult and also what can and cannot be controlled. The group learns to practice steps for a healthy life-long relationship with food. And incidentally many of the group members lose weight.

Women gain an average of 10 pounds a decade over their adult lives. Obesity is epidemic in our society leading to diabetes and heart disease. Learning to correct our relationship with food is crucial to a healthy and long life. Weight loss diets don’t work – plain and simple. The non-diet approach is working wonders for those who dare to try it.

I hope you will let me know how you feel about the non-diet approach.

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