What am I supposed to do if I don’t diet?
If you read my last post, hopefully, you now realize that dieting can do more harm than good. And you might be thinking, “well, what am I supposed to do if I don’t diet? ” Over the next few posts, I am going to be sharing some ideas about non-diet approaches to getting “un-stuck” with overeating.
My first suggestion is to set aside the goal of weight loss.
I know, I know – this is not what you want to hear, and it may be enough to make you want to stop reading this post. But please hold on for just a moment! I know you want to lose weight, and you might have been told to lose weight by your health care provider. I hear you, and I do understand how that feels. It has been a while, and I have been there.
The problem is that a focus on weight loss just doesn’t get most people anywhere in the long-term except to a stressed out state. First of all, we don’t have a reliable method of producing sustainable weight loss; most people get caught in weight cycling. And, second, losing weight isn’t a behavioral goal we can work on, it is an end point and, unfortunately for many, an “elusive” endpoint. Finally, focusing on an external measure of our “okayness” such as a number on the scale is precarious. Weight naturally fluctuates, and if my measure of okayness is maintaining a certain number on the scale, I will constantly be vulnerable to low self-confidence.
What I would like to suggest is for you to check and see what the goal is underneath the goal of losing weight? What are you hoping weight loss will bring you?
Better fitting clothes?
More endurance or greater ability at sports?
More dates or more romance in your current relationship?
Once you identify what it is that you were hoping weight loss would bring you, you now have the place to start!
Let’s take the goal of better fitting clothes. If you want clothes that fit better, what is your first step? Do you need to find stores that sell clothes more suited to your body type? Or, do you simply need to go and buy new clothes that fit you?
I wonder if you are scared to buy clothes that fit you right now, right where your body is? If so, what are your fears? Are you afraid that buying bigger clothes is giving up?; or being too easy on yourself? When I think of this idea, it reminds me of the post that I wrote on self-compassion. I haven’t seen specific research related to wearing clothes that fit and I imagine that it would be similar to research on other areas of self-kindness and compassion. I imagine that kindness and compassion, in how we dress ourselves, would support rather than hinder our goals. In contrast, I wonder about the impact on mood and stress levels when clothes are too tight or uncomfortable? What is it like in the morning to try on several, if not many, items of clothing before finding something that fits? What is your experience with this? How do you care for yourself when your clothes are comfortable versus when they are too tight?
I have spoken to many women who struggle with their weight who have shared with me that they can’t get new clothes because there are so few stores that sell their sizes. I do recognize that this is a problem. I also think it is possible to develop an assumption that weight is the problem and that this assumption can then become a self-fulfilling prophesy. What I mean by that is this. I’m overweight, and so I will not be able to find clothes that fit, so why bother? Again, I do realize that there are fewer options in larger sizes and that this is a problem. And…I am not overweight, and rarely can I find a pair of pants that fit my body. I might go to 10 stores and try on multiple brands and not come home with a single pair! In some ways, maybe it would be easier if there were fewer stores with fewer options. I feel sad as I think of my mother taking me to try on pants and all of the tears and anger that she endured! Sorry, Mom!
I often share with my clients what a strange system we have in regard to clothes shopping. At one time, clothes were sewn to fit a specific person. Now, all of us with very unique body shapes and sizes, try to fit into the same factory made piece of clothing. Even if we all weighed exactly the same – some of us are going to have more weight around the middle, some in our hips and some in the bust. A pair of pants that has the same dimensions but simply gets larger in size is not going to fit all women! Unfortunately, this system combined with our preoccupation with weight, leads women to see this problem as a function of their weight and not a function of a faulty system of clothes production!
I am not sure this video describes what I am thinking about, and I know many women have found it helpful to realize that we come in different shapes.
I would encourage you to let go of the assumption that your weight prevents you from finding clothes that fit and encourage you to keep searching until you find clothes that are comfortable for your body. I do wonder if we need to revitalize sewing!
I hope that this post has given you a place to start. If you are worried about giving up the goal of losing weight for fear of the impact that will have on your health, stay tuned as my next post will address that concern. If you would like to receive an announcement of when that post is published, sign up to the right.
I would love to hear what your goals are and what your first steps would be so please leave me a comment!
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Until next time……how might you Flourish in your body?