Dieting is Stressful. Be Kind Instead

14 10 2011

Liz Gilchrist

Consider this: 85% of those dieting are obese.

Let’s admit it. Dieting doesn’t work. The majority of participants have dieted at least once, if not ten or twenty times with consistent results. It typically didn’t work and if it did, the results were temporary. Fundamentally, dieting is a negative concept. It encourages negative self-talk, defeating behavior and is a prime example of negative reinforcement. Dieting means that restriction equals reward and is worthy of positive feedback. Giving into temptation, or eating things worthy of enjoyment mean shame and guilt for having made such a decision. It is no wonder this frame of reference leads to psychological stress, which is supposed to be what we are reducing through exercise, right?

Before jumping into solutions, it is extremely important to understand how a “dieting mentality” can sabotage our success. As previously explained, the concept of dieting is negative in and of itself. Dieters who stray from their plan of action tend to feel they’ve blown it and fall into the “what the heck” trap, telling themselves that any previous effort is meaningless and they do not possess the willpower necessary to lose weight. Reality is; willpower will fail sometimes. Human beings are not perfect, even with the best and most consistent conditioning.

Other ways a “dieting mentality” can sabotage weight loss efforts are that dieters tend to be poor self-regulators when it comes to hunger. They’ve been conditioned to deny hunger pangs, obsess over food choices and not trust themselves to make the “correct” decision. No wonder this backlash causes anxiety. When dieters fall into this trap, they not only minimize potential results, but also reduce confidence they possess the skills to make lasting changes.

The good news is we can erase the concept of a “dieting mentality” and all it implies. That is, if we trust ourselves enough to do so. Can you give yourself permission to let go of dieting and practice new ideas to rid yourself of the burdensome heartache of negative self-talk, and downward spiral of psychological stress? And what would it look like to be kind to yourself instead?

First, being kind would mean being realistic about your personal expectations. We do not get to where we are without time, so it will take time to meet our goals. We live in a society of immediate gratification, which is generally misleading, not to mention fleeting. This is not the healthy or realistic plan for weight loss. A realistic plan incorporates small steps for long-term lifestyle modifications. Rather than changing everything you eat, make reasonable changes you can envision yourself sticking with FOREVER!

Second, kindness requires planning and is the key to success, and catalyst for positive self-talk. If you schedule workouts and make them non-negotiable, you will set yourself up for success. You have the power to communicate goals to your family and friends, particularly in regards to the importance of your personal weight management goals. Literally, you are the only person responsible for changing your schedule. In addition, you can commit to planning your meals. You may be strapped for time, but think about the rewards of doing so. You will have healthy choices on hand to avoid regrets later.

Third, own it and move on. We make mistakes and poor choices at times. The worst thing you can do is punish yourself and continue to shame your weaknesses, when in reality, people are imperfect. Make the choice to embrace the decision, commit to making a different one next time and keep life moving.

Finally, letting go of the “dieting mentality” and being kind means offering yourself the same respect and dignity you give others in your life. You would never expect loved ones to punish or degrade their self-worth. Nor would you want them to continually shame and guilt themselves for poor choices.

Based on the information provided, does kindness mean “dieting?” Absolutely not! The more realistic you can be about your personal expectations, the easier you can let go of “dieting” and the negative connotations that come with it. It also opens you up to the opportunity for positive self-talk, nurturing self-love and present moment freedom, increasing the likelihood you can reach your personal goals in weight management and life.




One response

18 10 2011
Randy McCoy


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