No one actually enjoys going on a diet, do they? Diets are just a means to an end, a temporary misery that we endure in the name of losing weight or getting healthy. But they’re not actually all that temporary are they? Sure, one specific diet might be, but then we end up turning to another, and then another, and we end up stuck in what’s called “The Diet Cycle.”
It goes something like this:
Go on a diet
Give it your all
Go on another diet
Do great for a while
Screw up again
Etc, etc, etc.
This cycle is what keeps the diet industry thriving. It’s the never-ending roundabout of wanting to get healthier but constantly feeling guilty about doing it “wrong” and always “failing.” It’s a nightmare most people want so badly to wake up from!
Wanting to be a healthier version of the already-awesome you is a very respectable goal. We envision eating wholesome foods (and enjoying them!), effortlessly passing up the sugary stuff we’ve been told is “bad,” always finding time to get in some fun exercise, and generally enjoying our existence on this earth.
Sounds pretty lovely, right? If that utopia is your goal, I can tell you two things:
1) It IS possible, and
2) Diets are NOT going to get you there.
I know, I know. You’ve been told for as long as you can remember that the “answer,” or “key,” to weight loss is a diet. If you haven’t been successful, it’s just because you haven’t found the right diet yet, they say. Each diet promises to help you be more successful than the previous one. Each one promises you’ll lose weight if you just follow their rules.
And man, oh man, that is tempting! Like “Yes! Someone found the answer and all I have to do is follow exactly what they say!” It seems so easy. We leave it up to the “expert” who created the diet. We relinquish control because we’ve convinced ourselves that we can’t be trusted. They tell us it’s easy, and we believe them.
And then, we fail (or really, the diet fails), and the cycle starts again. The Diet Cycle is THE reason you're not finding the peace with food that you’re seeking.Click To Tweet
If the answer to better health (and weight loss) isn’t a diet, what is the answer? The answer is two fold:
Envision that healthy person you’re striving to be. How does that person act? What do they do that makes them healthy in your eyes? Every healthy action or behavior that the healthier-version-of-you does, is simply a learned skill.
Perhaps there are skills you need that you haven’t learned yet. That’s expected, and normal, and totally okay! Just because you haven’t done something successfully yet, doesn’t mean you can’t learn. And once you learn, you simply practice. As often as you can.
This is a key place where the diet cycle, or diet mentality, differs from the skills-based approach we use with our clients: With skills, there is no ON or OFF. Every piece of practice is valuable. With diets, you’re either doing it, or not. And when you “go off the diet” it feels like failure, and it becomes hard to get back on the proverbial wagon, for fear of failing again.
But long-term health isn’t about guilt-trips for not being perfect on a given day. There is no “perfect!” There are just actions or behaviors that can be practiced. The more you practice, the better you get. You can’t undo your previous practice by missing a day. You just practice again next time. No problemo.
Action step for this part?
Pick ONE healthy skill, like avoiding snacking, or increasing your veggies, or drinking more water, and PRACTICE it. Not with a goal of perfection, but with a goal of practicing something to get better at it, and for it to become more second-nature.
I love analogies, and this idea of skills, and constantly improving through practice (even when practice isn’t perfect) is illustrated well in so many ways:
That peaceful relationship with food and eating that we all want is possible. It’s the result of practicing the actions, behaviors, and mindset of a person who values their health, happiness, and sanity. If being healthy is a personal value for you (and I hope that is), put in the practice to help you learn how to do that, how to be that.
Perfection is never, ever the goal. I don’t eat “perfectly” or follow “rules” about food. What do I do? Simple actions, each day, that speak to my value of being a healthy and balanced person.
You DO NOT need to do any healthy behavior, or action, or skill perfectly. Things will come up that make you alter course some days, and that’s okay. Your practice until that point is not lost, and you can get back to practicing and improving at the next meal, or day, or whatever. Give yourself grace to NOT be perfect. Just keep practicing.
Your peaceful relationship with food, and your embodying of that healthy person you envision, is just some practicing away.
If you’re ready to get off the Diet Cycle roller coaster, check out my Diet Mindset Makeover course, which will help you find peace with food once and for all. Check it out here!
I've found that the biggest hurdle most clients have is the Diet Mindset that's taken hold of them. They've been stuck hating their bodies and fearing "bad foods" for so long that they don't know any other way!
So I took all of the important mindset work I do with clients and compiled it into an epic resource of a book for you. It is a complete guide to repairing your relationship with food, so you can finally get rid of those diet-mindset shackles and find peace with food for good!