For years, I wanted to change the way I looked.
I desperately yearned for a Kate Moss body—thin, boney, and barely there.
Instead, I naturally had large breasts, a sensual belly, thick thighs, and strong upper arms. A womanly body.
I starved myself, became addicted to laxatives, and ended up carving off most of my breasts with plastic surgery to try to change the way my body looked. I wanted to be a stick. I wanted to be skinny.
I wanted to disappear.
After years of healing, I discovered that I was fighting a futile war against my body. No matter what I did or didn't eat, I was always a voluptuous woman with a belly and thick arms.
The more I fought my body's set point, the more it fought back. For every diet I went on, I would binge it all back and end up gaining even more weight than I'd started with.
As it turns out, I'm not alone: we now have scientific proof that dieting and restricting food can actually cause your body to gain more weight than if you simply allow your body to chill at its set point.
According to a recent New York Times article written by a neuroscientist, "Weight anxiety and dieting predict later binge eating, as well as weight gain. Girls who labeled themselves as dieters in early adolescence were three times more likely to become overweight over the next four years. Another study found that adolescent girls who dieted frequently were 12 times more likely than non-dieters to binge two years later." [NYT]
What's more, "After about five years, 41 percent of dieters gain back more weight than they lost. Long-term studies show dieters are more likely than non-dieters to become obese over the next one to 15 years. That’s true in men and women, across ethnic groups, from childhood through middle age. The effect is strongest in those who started in the normal weight range, a group that includes almost half of the female dieters in the United States." [NYT]
The key to avoid dieting, bingeing, and down-the-line weight-gain is to accept your body's natural set point. If you don't know what your set point is, ask yourself these questions:
- How much would you weigh if you eat according to your hunger and fullness, while enjoying pleasurable movement on a daily basis?
- At what weight do you get a regular period?
- At what size does your body feel both safe and alive?
If you still have a hard time releasing dieting mentality, try reconnecting with your body's physical hunger (in your belly) and only eating when you feel it. Stop eating when your hunger goes away and you feel satisfaction instead. If you have a hard time recognizing this, reply to this email and maybe I can help.
If it's a challenge to eat according to your body's natural hunger, know that you are not alone. Emotional eating is a very common response to years of restrictive eating. If you struggle with this, let's connect and I can share with you what I've done to overcome it.