Years ago, a doctor told me that the key to losing weight is first finding your ‘Reason’ for losing weight. Until you find your reason, a person never really has the motivation to change, and thus their plan (good or bad) won’t ever really work. Although “fitting into a smaller size”, “feeling more comfortable”, or “getting healthy” might be great reasons for wanting to lose weight, they might not be reason enough to change long-term.
This is hard for a some people to understand. For many, wanting to lose a little weight before summer is reason enough to cut back on food intake, to eat healthier, and to move more, but for others, it just isn’t reason enough. For those who have a difficult time controlling their food intake and not using food to cope with various emotions, you understand the battle between wanting to lose weight and not wanting to restrict food intake.
If you use food to cope, dieting takes away your coping mechanism. Regardless of the diet plan, if you’re not ready to heal your relationship with food, you’ll have a difficult time sticking to your plan over time. The habits you haven’t faced will return eventually, and so begins the vicious cycle of dieting.
Last April, when I decided to stop dieting, it wasn’t that I had given up my drive to lose weight, it was that I had grown so tired of the vicious cycle. I was tired of trying diet after diet, instead of dealing with the real reason I was over weight. In so many ways, I lived a healthy lifestyle (and still do). I workout, eat healthy foods, and invest in my own self care. But, my emotional eating often outweighed the great things I was doing.
I didn’t really know what “not dieting” meant and honestly, I still don’t know what it means. That’s probably the toughest part of meeting with a behavioral nutritionist right now. Although I appreciate her approach to helping me reach a happy and healthy weight over time, losing weight isn’t even something we’re talking about. We’re simply focusing on why I use food to cope and how I can change those habits.
A part of me just wants to be put on a diet, as it just seems easier. To be told what to eat, what not to eat, and when to eat. With enough motivation, I know I can follow a new plan and will most likely see results. But then I remember that dieting is just a temporary band-aid. Sure I might lose a little weight, but this isn’t about wanting to lose a little weight. For me, this is about wanting to change my relationship with food. This is about me wanting to lose weight because I am no longer using food as a coping mechanism, not because I am following a strict diet plan.
It’s hard because I want it all and I think a lot can relate to this. We want it all. We want to be able to eat whatever we want and still lose weight. We want to be able to enjoy the world around us, “like everyone else”, and be at a weight we are happy and comfortable with. I know I want this. I want food to just be food and I recognize now that it’s just going to take time. It’s going to take hard work and a desire to change, but in time, food will just be food.
My ‘Reason’ is that I want to reach a place where all of the great decisions I make show for themselves. I really don’t care what the number on the scale says. What I do care is that I reach a weight that is healthy and maintainable and that I use things other than food to deal with all the emotions this life brings, good and bad. I want to reach a place where dieting is behind me and that my healthy habits just become a part of who I am. Change is hard, but I am after permanent change, not just a (diet) band-aid.