Six months ago, I had one of those Momentous Birthdays. You know what I mean; the kind of birthday that ended in a “0”. After much consideration, I decided to give myself a gift that would greatly improve my life. I decided to quit dieting and to accept myself, to accept my body, as I am.
This was a big step. I’ve literally been dieting for the last twenty-five years! But now, at the age of 50, I decided to quit dieting and to learn to love my body as it is instead of trying to make it to submit to what I wanted it to be when I was younger.
I quit dieting. Quit counting calories, points, and carbs. Quit considering everything I ate. Quit second-guessing myself. Quit the guilt. Just…quit.
And for the first week, I went crazy! I could eat what I wanted? Potato chips! Ice cream! Chocolate! I ate it all. Cookies? Yes, please! I enjoyed every minute of my binge.
Pretty soon, I realized that nothing was off limits. Nothing was out of bounds. There was no need to make up for deprivation, because there was no deprivation. If I craved potato chips, I ate potato chips…and they lost their power over me. Nothing was Bad or Forbidden. So much for the power that food had over me. I didn’t need to binge because I wasn’t forbidden.
Now mind you, I had also taken steps in another direction. I was exercising! I decided that, at 50, I had no pride. I would run a 5K race. So I was exercising, and this was good. For one thing, exercising regulated my hunger. I got hungrier but my cravings were for protein, for healthy foods. I ate when I was hungry and I didn’t need to eat between meals. Also the exercise peeled off the pounds. I worked harder, felt less stressed, ate for hunger instead of emotion. It all added to my success.
A funny thing happened to my appetite. I began to listen to my hunger instead of to my cravings. Nothing was out of bounds, so I could eat what I wanted. In order to do my work and my exercise effectively, I needed to eat a high quality diet. I found myself selecting foods that contributed to my goals instead of feeding my neuroses. I could splurge when I wanted, and that knowledge gave me power. At the same time, food lost its power over me. I could eat what I wanted, and some foods made me feel better than others. I consciously chose those foods, and felt myself growing stronger.
Fast forward six months. I ran my first 5K race two months ago, and it empowered me even further. I now listen to my body and actively seek to feed it. I eat what I want, but empty calories have much less power over me. I need healthy foods to feed my body and to accomplish my goals: protein, healthy carbs, healthy fats, some fun foods so that I don’t feel deprived. I’ve lost 21 pounds and I’m pretty sure that I’ll lose more, but that’s not the point any more. My goal is to feel good, to work out, to be healthy.
I encourage you to try it: quit dieting and begin living!