As we are on this journey of figuring out this new way of thinking, I remembered an exercise I did about a year ago. Make a timeline of the times you have dieted over the years. Give yourself space on each of them to journal your mindset at the time–what you had hoped (maybe fantasized) the diet would bring you. When I did this exercise a year ago, I made two connections. One was adding to my community, which I wrote about previously. Another was my wish for life to be effortless. I fantasized that “when I get my life together and lose weight, everything will be so much easier.” If you do this exercise, be gentle with yourself. Allow me to offer a couple of thoughts as you go forward with any connections you make.
- You may need to grieve. Grief is universal, and no one can tell you how to grieve, as we are each so unique. Many of us may not realize that grief is not just the loss of people from our lives, but sometimes the loss of an aspect of ourselves….or a belief about the world. For me, in the fantasy about life being effortless, I had to grieve that maybe that isn’t a thing. Maybe effort will be required, at least to some extent, forever and always. Acceptance can sometimes be freeing. It seems like a paradox, but in accepting that effort may be required, I found some peace, and life seemed a bit easier.
- If you uncover a need, as I found that I needed community, see if there is a way to meet that need without dieting and diet culture. We often believe that we have to have a particular body to go to school or pursue a career, pursue a relationship, or do something that brings us joy or pleasure. Often, body size is not a requirement. See if you can do the thing now, in your right now body. And if you meet actual resistance from the outside, it might be time to do some research and advocate. A lot of times, that resistance is simply a story inside our heads.
- Don’t be afraid to call in the troops. There can be support on this journey. It might be online through social media or all the various options that the Internet brings. And it might be a therapist. Healthy people have therapists. If you don’t have one, look for one that is HAES aligned, eating disorder informed/trained (maybe even if you don’t think you have an eating disorder), and/or body positive.