When I was a larger child, I would promise myself every January 1st that I was going to change my life. That it would finally be the year that I would shrink myself and “fit in” better with the rest of the people my age.
This usually lasted all of a few hours, when I’d discover the stash of uneaten treats on the counter and decide that I’d feast first.
Then- and only then, would I start my diet. I’d eat bags of candy, containers of fudge, plates of cookies… I’d feel terrible about myself… and I’d decide that now the damage was done and I could move forward- to my diet.
And that lasted until I was hungry again- when I’d get mad at my body for DARING to tell me to eat after I made myself sick on treats just a few hours earlier.
Then came weight loss.
The first year it didn’t affect much. I stored treats from the holidays in closets, freezers, under my bed, in my car… wherever I could so I had instant and unlimited access once my weekly weigh-in was done. I white-knuckled my way through the holidays. I turned down treats and indulgences in front of other people. “You have such strong willpower!” “I can’t believe you aren’t going to eat that!” I’d smile and nod, knowing full well that I would be sick to my stomach on this food soon enough. I could resist it for one meal. It probably didn’t taste that good anyway, right?
As my disordered eating spiraled out of control, I even quit binging like I had been because it was keeping me from seeing myself shrink more and more. I just didn’t eat much. Once in a while I’d let myself go nuts, but I’d follow it with a very punishing session at the gym. I’d walk until my knees gave out. I’d elliptical until I couldn’t stand. I wanted to sweat out all of the damage and I wouldn’t stop until I felt physically exhausted and in unbearable pain. “I just really like to sweat” I’d tell people.
At gatherings, I was usually so hungry or so busy counting calories or points that I had a hard time paying attention to the people in the room. To the conversations. To the memories that were being made before my eyes. All I cared about was whether or not I would be able to eat anything based on the allotment of calories/points I had given myself for that meal. I carried a head of lettuce with me wherever I went. (I’m not joking. I really did.) After I ate, I thought about how awful and weak I was for eating so much. I fixated on my next workout and how I was going to burn it all off.
I slowly loosened my grip on counting and somehow made it to where I am today. One step at a time.
I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year and all that it entails. I love the gatherings, the lights, the sounds, the smells, the treats! But I hate how diet culture is waiting in the wings… ready to swoop in on all of us with their messaging that we’re “not good enough” and their magical solution. It makes me angry to think about how awful I was for so many years- to my family with my tantrums about meals being served and inability to really be present, to my friends with so many declined invites simply because I was scared of the food being served or needed to workout more than anything else in the world, and especially to my body with disordered eating.
95%+ of diets FAIL. And most of the people who try dieting end up gaining even more weight back when they rebound.
Is it worth it?
Is the money, the time, the mindset… is that worth our precious time and resources?
I don’t think so.
I’m in favor of enjoying all foods that you love. I’m in favor of moving in ways that you love. I’m in favor of putting myself on the list. I’m in favor of showing up for myself and listening to what I need.
So no… I will NOT be joining the millions of desperate people who desire to change how their body looks with the promises of the diet industry.
And I will have Happier Holidays around Food!