Why Diets & Scales Dim Your Spark

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You step on the scale. The number is up or hasn’t budged. You feel sad, get frustrated, and feel defeat.

You step on the scale. The number is down. You smile, celebrate, share about it, and feel “progress.”

Or sometimes, after having a “bad day” or a “bad week” of eating and exercise, maybe you can’t even bear to get on the scale out of self-imposed shame, disappointment, and defeat.

Far too often, we base our happiness in our body’s relationship to gravity and it's outside appearance. We let our spark dim because we have this idea that we can’t burn bright unless we look a certain way. We go on and off diets – “eat clean,” count calories, track, remove favorite foods, exercise obsessively - because if we can “just get the weight off,” we believe we will feel better, be better, look better, move better or X, Y, and Z will happen. We may even get the idea that our friends, loved ones, and even strangers will love us more. Or perhaps we believe that we will love ourselves more, if only we can look in the mirror and see less of ourselves looking back.

Does this sound grim? Yes. I’ll be the first to declare it is grim because I’ve played this hopeless game before in my own life. Ultimately, I discovered this way of living does much more harm than good and overshadows my inner spark. Your inner spark is what makes you unique. It is not defined by a number on the scale or your outward appearance. Your spark is fed by love. A way of life that promotes restriction, self-loathing, and obsession with numbers is not loving and does not serve your health, or your spark.

Your body is an amazing vessel that carries you through this life. Learn to love it right now, in the present moment, for all of the wondrous workings it is doing to keep you alive. Diet culture preaches that bodies are meant to look chiseled and "perfect" and make us feel that we are broken and in need of fixing. You are not broken. Your body (everyone's body) is perfectly imperfect and worthy of love, right now and always. Is it easy to love and accept yourself? Is it easy to stop the dieting and weight obsession cycle? No. Not always. Profound love for yourself, just the way you are, is not exactly a destination but I promise you it is a journey worth taking. How do you begin living a life that feeds your spark and allows you to love your body? There are many ways to break the dieting cycle and pave a path of self-love. Here are three things you can do to get started:

  1. Break up with dieting. Counting calories and restricting food groups only goes so far until we are living so unnaturally that we are working against our body instead of with it. We know that food and water are vital to life and we cannot disregard that wholesome, nutrient dense foods help our health and well-being. Finding a balance between feeding ourselves both physically and emotionally is a process. The first step is to remove the dichotomous thinking of foods as “good” or “bad." Dismantle the idea that foods have a moral code and instead think of foods as providing the body with fuel. Choose foods that honor your health and your palate.
  2. Recognize your hunger and fullness. We live in an age of distractions – school, work, social media, the news, relationships, and juggling responsibilities. It has become a part of life to speed through meals, skip meals, or eat mindlessly. A big part of getting off the dieting cycle is becoming in tune with your body’s signals for needing nourishment and stopping when your body has had enough. At meals, slow down and focus on what you are eating. Chew well and taste your food – really taste it! Relish in the textures, the seasonings, the temperature, the flavors. If you have been eating chaotically, and don’t truly know when you are hungry or full, start by fueling yourself regularly (every 3-4 hours) and try to make your meals last at least 20 minutes.
  3. Find joy in movement. We live in a society where exercise is viewed as a chore. We often see it as something to be shoved into our busy lives and that it must be rigorous, sweat producing, and ____ amount of time for ____ days of the week. I’ve had many clients tell me how much they hate exercising and I believe it is largely because they have created too many rules about what they must do for it to “count” or even worse, have viewed it as “punishment” for what they ate. Explore and experiment to find something you enjoy - dance, go on a hike, take a walk, ride a bike, do yoga, check out a group fitness class. View movement as a celebration of your body’s capabilities versus something that must be done to mold your body into a certain shape. Focus on how physical activity makes you feel during and after, instead of the calories burned.

If you want to learn more about intuitive eating, body kindness, and feeding your spark, I am here to support you when you are ready. I have been on the dieting journey myself and know all too well how frustrating and out of control it can feel. The above steps are just that – steps. They are not meant to create more rules. They are meant to open a door to living a life that allows YOU to be YOU at your fullest and with your spark burning bright.