The Forever Dieter

Why, oh why, must I always be on a diet?

In the spring of 1984 I was eleven years old and my Mom took me bathing suit shopping.  As I stood in the dressing room, my Mom said, “Honey, suck your stomach in”. I thought she was surely seeing things incorrectly. Surely I didn’t have a belly that needed to be sucked in…or did I? I stood and examined my side-view and sure enough, much to my chagrin, she was right. There it was: I had stopped growing up and started growing out.  It seems completely unfair that this happened to me so early in life, but puberty has it’s own agenda and me growing to a bony, willowy 5’10 wasn’t part of the plan.

In that moment, it suddenly made sense. This exact problem was the reason my Grandma would stand over the doughnuts in her work place’s break room, inhaling their sweet scent instead of taking even the tiniest bite.  This was the reason my Mother never let me eat that second piece of cake, even though I was a thin child. These women who’s genes I inherited knew that my days of wine and roses would come to an end and there would be a hefty price to pay for all of those extra calories.

My first diet began that day in the children’s department dressing room.  Over the years I’ve tried every diet out there. I’m not kidding. Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Atkins, the Grapefruit Diet (I HATE grapefruit!), starvation, the Fast Metabolism Diet, Phen/Fen, Ketogenic, no-fat, Paleo, the Cabbage Soup Diet…the list goes on, and on, and on.  Every time I get serious, I lose ten, twenty, or maybe a couple times, thirty pounds.  Then every single time I gain it back.

People say, “Don’t diet, just eat healthy and exercise more”. This is lovely and, in theory, so darn smart.  Of course I want to eat healthy, and exercise is fun, right? Ok, maybe that’s a small exaggeration (I’m not a huge fan of exercise)…but at least it’s an excuse to buy new sneakers and some snazzy new workout clothes and I can wrap my head around that! Sometimes that’s all the gimmick I need to get myself started, but then what keeps me committed once the new shoes are broken in?  Nothing.

Every April I seem to find myself staring into my closet, looking at the summer clothes I shoved to the back of my closet in October, wondering (hoping) if any of them will still fit.  I swallow my pride and face the inevitable by trying a few things on. (White pants, tight! Shorts, ugh! Bathing suit, forget about it!) Then once again I climb back on the dieting wagon. I swear off all things fattening and begin yet another diet where I’m telling myself I can’t have this, can’t have that, and in general, must be miserable and suffering in order to succeed.

This year, I had an epiphany to try a different approach. What if I tell myself I’m fine just the way I am? What if I didn’t tell myself no? What if I simply bought healthier food? What if I didn’t force myself to join a gym I’d only use for a month, but instead parked at the back the parking lot and walked more? What if I planned to try to avoid bad foods, but gave myself a little bit of understanding when I felt the need to have a splurge instead of chastising my reflection in the mirror for being “so bad”? This gentle approach to weight management has never been my method of operation…my inner Drill Sergeant is very, very good at her job.  She’s been at it for such a long time.  But don’t people respond better to positive reinforcement? Why should I be any different?

I’ve begun to treat myself like I would treat my daughter: with gentle and kind guidance. I haven’t told myself no, but rather reminded myself of the myriad reasons I want to lose weight and be healthy.  If I want a glass of wine, I have one.  If I want something sweet, I have a single dark chocolate piece of candy.  I’m eleven days into this newfound mindset and I’m happy to report I’ve actually lost seven pounds! Maybe there’s something to this positivity and self-love?

What are your thoughts?  Have you struggled as I have, or are you one of the lucky one’s that have figured out how to balance maintaining a healthy weight with everyday life? What are your secrets?

xo,

Rachel

IMG_1597My Mom, and Grandma in the early 1980’s

Life

rachelhunt View All →

Actress, writer, and Mom living in Burbank, California.

2 Comments Leave a comment

  1. I can relate. My mother and grandmother passed on a very unhealthy relationship to food down to me. Both were “feeders” who were also permanently on diets. I have been on and off diets since I was a kid with varying degrees of success and ease. My weight has gone up and down over the decades, lurching from underweight to obese and al points on the spectrum between. I realised a couple of things once I was in my 30s, however. One was that my weight gain was not just down to diet and exercise but also some health stuff too that there was nothing I could do about. The second and more significant was that there was no correlation between my weight and my happiness. I have been skinny and miserable and I have been miserable and fat; I have also been happy and skinny and happy and fat. I decided to focus on my mental wellbeing and stop using my weight gain and loss as a determiner of my happiness. I eat healthily for other reasons but I don’t focus on my weight or size. It’s difficult not to beat myself up as a heavier woman because I have a life time of conditioning to try and overcome but I am finding that my mental health has improved since I quit allowing my size to contribute to my sense of identity. I hope that all makes sense.

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  2. You must have been reading my mind this morning. My first diet was age 11 also. I remember being 108 pounds and 5 foot 2 inches and thinking oh my god I am over 100 lbs… And so went the rest of my life on and off diets. I decided today to have a cup of tea and danish for breakfast and throw out the bathroom scale. I am 55, a runner and a health nut… No more bathroom weigh-ins. If the clothes fit and I feel healthy, then I am now the perfect weight for the first time in my life.

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