"I've been dieting my whole life but I'm so stupid and always gain it back. I don't know what's wrong with me. I've tried everything but I think this is the heaviest I've ever been."
"I struggle with food the most."
I cannot even begin to count how many times I've heard a women say those two things (or variations of them) to me in the last 10 years. At first, I'd nod knowingly - "it's okay", I'd tell them. "This time we'll make it stick because we're going to make it a lifestyle change" (click here for my latest podcast on the lifestyle change lie)
All the while, I really believed that's why they struggled. They just kept doing fad diets, never thought of it as a new "lifestyle" and never knew how awesome they'd look and feel with "clean eating". Once I showed them those things, the struggles would be over.
I believed it because that's what we're taught. When diets don't work, we're taught we just need to keep trying the lifestyle change thing with "meal plans" or "eating healthy" instead - and we just have to keep trying, forever, and ever, ever and ever... hoping it'll one day stick.
That's what we're taught - until, in my case, I started digging and learning more because I started noticing a pattern in, well, damn near everyone.
They were all struggling in all the same ways.
The more patterns of identical struggle I began to notice, and the more digging I did, the more I started realizing, this isn't just me and a couple of other people.
The struggle wasn't just a ME thing.
It's not just a YOU thing.
It's a MAJORITY thing.
And it's being caused (at least in large part) by other people telling us what we should or shouldn't be eating.
That was a scary realization for me because back then, I was still giving meal plans and helping people try to "change their lifestyle". The status quo was literally keeping my lights on and food on the table.
But I started hating it and the more I learned, the more I realized I couldn't keep doing it.
Because now I know, even with meal plans (or any kind of food 'do's and don'ts', they're just diets with superiority complexes so don't fall for the slight of hand marketing tactics) and "lifestyle change" messages the outcome is always the same for the majority of people.
They end up right back where they started or even heavier and always, always, always... having to "start over" when they get "motivated" to "try again".
That's the cycle our population has been taught to literally live in their entire lives and it infuriates me.
The truth is that when you really start digging into the long term research into dieting (by any name, meal plan, nutrition guidelines, whatever) despite all their claims, what it actually shows is:
1) NONE work any better than any others
2) NONE work long term - at least not for 95-98% of people
3) Dieting (again, by any name) is the best predictor of future weight GAIN
It's making people heavier. It's causing weight gain. That thing everyone keeps harping about that people who gain weight need to do to "fix" the "problem", it's making them gain weight over time.
It. Is. Causing. Weight. Gain.
A consistent caloric deficit is the ONLY requirement for weight loss and a consistent caloric balance is the only requirement for maintenance. The question isn't (and has never been) what diet will work for me (because they don't), it's why aren't you able to consistently "stick" to anything? It's NOT because you lack willpower like you've been told. (if you want some clarity to help understanding that, grab my free ebook here, or podcast link for the 7 biggest reasons people struggle with that)
At first, I stopped giving meal plans. I phased them out slowly by initially calling them "guidelines" that were designed to just help give clients suggestions but I encouraged them to eat what they wanted. Then I just stopped giving them entirely. Even when people would ask for a meal plan, I wouldn't give them. I'm sure I lost clients but I knew passing them another "meal plan" was going to result in the exact same outcome they had every other time before me and I did NOT want to be the reason they felt like they failed again or their already hard-wired habit of caving and falling off track got even more firmly embedded.
The more I transitioned away from that kind of thing, the more I realized how deep "diet mindset" really goes for most people.
Pro tip: if you're constantly telling yourself that you have to "start eating healthy" and negotiating with yourself about when, or judging and being annoyed with yourself for eating "bad" things - that's technically a "diet mindset" too, even if you aren't necessarily thinking about weight loss. That internal fight is caused by the voice in your head that starts every time you try to follow someone else's idea about what you should or shouldn't be eating.
Which brings me to the other lie we're told. It's just "a mindset switch" - you just have to "change your mindset". *eye roll
There are complex, and deeply ingrained thought patterns, habits, beliefs and behaviors behind it all (where do you think our "mindsets" come from?) and they take a specific set of steps, (and repetition), to rewire and change.
You cannot just flip a "mindset switch" to change them.
So, I talk about my own struggles with weight and food often but I don't do it, I don't do any of what I do, because of me.
My own struggles make me super passionate and driven to do this work but they aren't why I do it.
I didn't make the switch from trainer to this because of my own struggles.
I would have honestly preferred to continue being a trainer and had my struggles been unique to me, I would have done just that. It was SO much easier. I didn't have to open up the darkest, most embarrassing parts of my life publicly to do that work - all I had to do was share some #fitspo or post transformation pics of my ass and that was it. SO easy.
But I couldn't do it. I couldn't keep doing it because my struggles were not mine and mine alone. They are everyone's.
My why is you.
I do what I do now because of you.
I do it because when I was struggling, I thought I was alone.
I thought I was the only one who struggled so hard to stick to anything and kept judging myself harshly for not being able to "just get my shit together with food".
I thought I was the only one who stared in the mirror in disgust every morning (no matter what the scale said).
I thought I was the only one who got on the scale every single morning to have it tell me if I was allowed to feel halfway okay about myself that day.
I thought I was the only one who spent 2 decades trying to get my "weight problem under control" only to fail miserably every time.
...until that one time, I actually did it but still spent every single day obsessed with food, terrified to eat, hating myself for overeating and being terrified to put the weight back on.
I thought I was the only who one woke up with dread in my heart every morning because I knew it was just another day of feeling terrible about myself for my body and food choices ...and I was exhausted.
The longer I trained women, the more I realized I wasn't alone. I was the majority.
And it's the majority who all think we're alone in the suffering because we're so suffocated by shame that we don't talk about any of it to anyone. Ever.
THAT is why I do what I do.
That's why I talk about my own struggles, so you won't feel alone and ashamed about yours.
That's why I force myself (even though it's absolutely TERRIFYING) to speak publicly and I host workshops and I record podcasts and I write blogs and share content - even when I know I'm often the lone voice against millions of others still promoting the old, stupidly broken paradigms.
I do it for you because I don't want one more woman to waste her life in that soul-killing internal and life-long war that is the weight & food battle.
And because I want you to know that you are not alone.
You are not alone.
It's not your fault.
And there's nothing wrong with you.
Here are some actionable steps for you to take right now if any of this resonated with you. This is where you can start:
1) Give yourself a break and a ton of love and compassion
2) Give yourself permission to eat whatever you want, with no guilt or shame. You are NOT bad for the way you eat and the sooner you believe that, the sooner you'll find freedom & start making less self-destructive choices
3) Let go of the obsession to lose weight (or "eat clean") at any cost (the cost is WAY too high) and if you must obsess over something, obsess over what it feels like to live in your body and your head and what changes you can make right now to make those things FEEL better. Forget what you keep telling yourself you "should" be eating or doing. What does your body WANT to eat or how does it want to move (your body, not what the programming in your brain is telling you it wants ;) ). Your body wants to feel good, it will never steer you wrong. And what about your mental and emotional health? How is the state of that today? What does THAT need to feel better?
4) Practice pausing through the day to just reconnect with yourself and your body so you learn how to be able to hear it when it's trying to tell you what it needs
5) Practice my SANER method when you eat (S-stop before you eat to -> A-ask: are you hungry, why do you want it, how will you feel if you eat it, N - notice: how do you feel, what are you thinking/feeling?, E - extend yourself compassion and allow whatever you feel to be okay, R - react from love with whatever choice you make)