Can I ask you a personal question? Are you on a diet? Or are you currently rebelling against a diet?

Chances are you said yes to one of those questions. A survey done a few years ago showed that the average woman spends 31 years of her life on a diet. And also that the average length of time that we stick to a diet is 5.5 weeks.

Diet, rebel, overeat, regret, diet, rebel, overeat, regret………

Sound familiar?

Since posting last June about my decision to quit dieting, I’ve battled my own little diet/don’t diet cycle. To begin with, I ate what I wanted, and to hell with the consequences.

Which resulted in weight gain. Of course.

So then I panicked, felt guilty, and went on a diet. I know, I said I wouldn’t, but I did. Everything felt so out of control, and if there is one allure that diets hold out for us, it’s the illusion of regaining control.

But it didn’t feel right. And I lost a little weight, but I was obsessed with food. It was all I could think about. And then I started getting ill, my energy went down the tube, I was having to go to bed every afternoon for three hours. Crazy stuff.

I renewed my vow not to diet. But this time, instead of rebelling and eating whatever I wanted, I promised myself that I would find out what foods made me feel good, and what foods made me feel bad, and really start to look after my body.

I can’t tell you how hard that has been. We are not trained to look after our bodies. We are trained to punish them, one way or another. To actually make healthy choices, just for the sake of wellbeing, is challenging. Every day I feel like I’m wobbling on a high wire. No net. But every day it’s getting a bit easier.

I’m learning balance, for the first time. I’m finding out what foods agree with me, and what foods don’t. I’m beginning to trust myself.

Yes, I’ve lost a little weight. I don’t know how much, because I was really struggling with my motivation, feeling very conflicted, slipping back into obsessing about losing pounds, and so I packed my scale away. You’ve no idea how freeing that was. Not to pack it away in a I’m-giving-up kind of way, but to pack it away because my weight is no longer the issue.

My next task is to try to heal my relationship with exercise, and that’s going to be tough. I’m one of those people who loathe exercise, truly loathe it. I grew to love running a few years ago, and Pilates too, but I was solely motivated by a desire to lose weight, and that drove me into over exercising and burning out. Running six times a week, taking Pilates classes three times a week. And still feeling guilty that I wasn’t working hard enough for the body of my dreams. I ruined it for myself, and I’m sad about that, because I know now how hard I will have to work to regain some of that fitness, and it’s a daunting task. Especially daunting when I have to motivate myself with loving, positive reasons, rather than shame and guilt and body hate.

But I’m determined to try. Because if it’s possible to heal my relationship with food, it must be possible to heal my relationship with exercise.

So, here’s my plan. I recently found this cool site called Chains.cc. The premise is that it helps you break bad habits and establish good habits, by creating a chain of daily actions. Momentum is a powerful thing. I’m promising myself that for the month of May, I will commit 30 minutes every single day to some form of exercise. Walking, Pilates, weights, stretching, whatever I feel like on that day. I’m hoping that by the end of the month, I will learn to enjoy exercise for it’s own sake, regardless of how it makes me look or what it does to my weight or my dress size.

Do you want to join me? One month. 31 days. We can do this!!

7 thoughts on “29.04.12

  1. I think you are right to focus on the feel good, rather then the ‘weigh good’ – I refuse to say ‘look good’, because you, and the pics you pin, are gorgeous! Having had dieting parents, and felt overweight, I believe I have been concerned about weight ALL my life and with few exceptions have rarely had a day when I felt I was the right weight. Lately, my scales were going bananas and would tell me a different thing each time I got on them varying by 9lbs – so instead of weighing myself daily, I was weighing myself five times a day or more until they told me the lowest of the range. I realised it was nonsensical and obsessive and I binned them! I salute you in your May challenge!

  2. I’m not a real dieter but when my pants are getting tight I head for three key areas: sodas, snacks and sweets. Like you I look for things that are better for me and try to eliminate some of the tasty treats that provide no nutritional value. Most of the time it doesn’t even feel like a huge sacrifice.

    On the other hand, I do agree that it takes forever to break bad habits and I do find myself slipping back into them – especially with sodas and sweets!

  3. I would love to give this a go with you! Am off to find my timer now, thanks Dee for sending out the challenge at just the right time!

  4. I just said that exact thing tonight to dh – shall we go on a diet? But dieting doesn’t work after the initial flush of enthusiasm and commitment wanes – I’d like to eat more “kindly” as well with health problems etc. good luck xx

  5. Yep – count me in too! – will programme some daily exercise in – and like you, it is working towards what makes me feel better. It’s all about health, our most precious asset (though far too much, I take it for granted…..).

  6. I’m forever grateful to my parents for asking me if I was hungry before serving me up dinner – for me finding the balance between eating when hungry and keeping to a schedule is really important. It’s taken several months of regular forced breakfast at 8am eating for my body to key in and wake up and get hungry, rather than want food at 10am in the beginning of the rush at work. One thing that’s helped me is to remember that ‘diet’ doesn’t mean restriction or prescribed food by nature, it just means regularly eaten foods.

    I do love the idea of half hour daily of exercise, and I promise to start tonight, but just a little less to begin! My sweetie and I are going to push together to work out on the elliptical and stretch in the bedroom every night, just 15 minutes together to start and hopefully it’ll become as automatic as brushing our teeth. If I pair that with morning yoga as well I feel I’ll build back up to my old healthy exercise ways.

    Thanks for the inspiration, Dee!