In our self-improvement obsessed culture, year-end reflection is focused not on gratitude for what we have, but on striving for what we have not yet obtained. And for many of us, our biggest self-improvement project is our body. Last year, the #1 resolution was to “eat healthier” (read: diet).
Despite the fact that diets fail us time and time again, we blindly and irrationally insist: this diet will be the one. We remain convinced that diets will be the magical path to salvation; that we will discover the thinner, happier, healthier, sexier, more successful version of ourselves just waiting to emerge from the layers of fat. We live in a culture heavily invested in selling us the idea that our bodies are objects to be molded and manipulated in quest of an impossible vision of perfection. Over the years, this dictate has shifted from an ideal of thinness to an ideal of fitness and health (that is still very much about appearance) but the dictate has persisted nonetheless.
Well, I for one am done buying the BS that the diet industry is selling.
For 2019, I will not be resolving to eat “healthier,” get fitter, or drop a dress size. And I’m not making an “it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change” either. This year, I’m making a different type of resolution. For 2019, I resolve NOT to diet. I hope you’ll join me and pledge to make 2019 a diet-free year.
There are countless reasons why I’m pledging not to diet, but in the interest of time, here are 4 of the most compelling:
- Dieting will NOT make you happy
We watch the weight loss advertisements on television and we see images of joyous thin people enjoying all that life has to offer. The media convinces us that dieting leads to happiness. But when has dieting ever actually made you happy? Can you recall any experiences when you joyously counted points or euphorically abstained from tempting chocolate cake? Perhaps there was a period of elation as you initially lost weight but how thrilling was it when you weight cycled back up past your initial weight? I’ll let your own past experiences speak for themselves on this one. But research does show that, rather than leading to happiness, dieting has a robust negative impact on psychological wellbeing.
- Dieting will NOT make you healthy
Eating delicious foods in ways that are mindfully attuned to your body and engaging in enjoyable forms of physical movement are fundamental to health. So are minimizing stress and working to eradicate discrimination and stigma. Dieting is not. Our body has an internal compass that can guide us towards good health. Diets only serve to distract us from what our body is trying to tell us. When we are dieting, we ignore our body’s innate signals and try to override our natural physiology, following instead the advice of some diet plan.
- Dieting will NOT improve your self-confidence
Dieting assumes that we are not good enough as we currently are and that we need to deprive ourselves to atone for our sins of overindulgence. It keeps us focused on our perceived flaws, somehow convincing us that self-criticism will serve as motivation for weight loss. This does not work. Harsh internal judgments take a toll on our self-esteem making us feel sad, inferior, hopeless, and all around lousy.
- Dieting will NOT lead to weight loss (at least not long-term)
Research study after research study shows us that dieting is simply not an effective means of achieving meaningful long-term sustainable weight loss. In fact, the most consistent predictable outcome of dieting is weight gain. Some people will temporarily lose weight on a diet but almost all will regain the weight—plus a few extra pounds—in the long term. This is because diets don’t work, NOT because you aren’t doing the diet correctly.
So, what do you think? Are you ready to resolve NOT to diet in 2019? If so, click here to download your free 2019 No Diet Pledge. And if you want support in learning how to eat mindfully in ways that are pleasurable and attuned to your body, check out my The Anti-Diet Plan 6-week signature online program. The next session of the program starts in January and you can sign up here to receive an exclusive discount.