I’d like to share a typical scenario from back when I was obsessed with dieting and weight loss.
It was a situation that kept me perpetually stuck in dieting mode without ever being able to maintain a natural and stable healthy weight.
I was 10 when I decided that my body was not “right” compared to the women in the magazines I used to read (10 years old, yes! I know, crazy) That night I had tomato salad for dinner and my mum praised me for that – healthy?
I was always entranced by these “Flat-Belly Days” in the magazines, I always read them and wondered what my body would look like if I ate that way, every day.
The conversations about how people look, dress, the size they of their bodies were (still is) a hot topic among friends, family and in the media. Followed by comments like “she is so skinny, she must be ill” or “he looks so fat, he really let himself go”, soon I learnt that being too big or too small wasn`t a good thing.
The real problems started as soon as I hit puberty, in my pre-teen years when my hips became larger, my legs touched each other, and my stomach was no longer flat enough. I felt bigger than everybody else, and I wasn`t comfortable in my curvy body. I decided that I wanted to change my body shape.
I left dance class which I used to love, and I signed up for a gym membership. I was so young that I wasn’t even allowed to lift weights, the only thing that they allowed me do was cardio/aerobics. I became obsessed with exercising.
In school, when everybody was enjoying their burgers and croissants during lunch break, I was hiding myself to eat my plain cereal bar or an apple, I didn`t want anybody to think that I was on a “diet”. I was ashamed of that. I became obsessed with eating the “right foods” for weight loss.
My first ever diet, started before the age of 15, it consisted of eggs, cucumber and coffee/tea for breakfast, lunch and dinner (that was it!). By the third day, I was starving and I couldn`t deal with the smell of boiled egg anymore. I found this diet on a very glamours teen magazine that promised less 6kg in 1 week! I became obsessed with dieting.
Of course, I couldn`t survive on that for very long, my body was screaming at me! After every strict diet, I started to binge eating.
I used to have episodes of eating compulsively, whatever I could find in front of me, from dinner leftovers to plain bread, literally anything, to the point of feeling very uncomfortably full and sick!
If I had the ingredients in hand, the episodes would end in ridiculous amounts of chocolate (brigadeiro, brazilian chocolate type). I was in starvation mode. Restrictive dieting and binge eating became my eating norm.
Things continued to go down hill soon after, when I found meal replacement shakes. I stopped eating real food and started to live on shakes or nothing (fasting), to compensate after a big binge (the famous binge and starve cycle). Here I was, facing a full on going, Binge Eating Disorder, without knowing it.
From there, the cycle became more intense, it was difficult to get out of this loop. I tried everything to lose the weight, appetite control pills, laxatives and work out intensively, sometimes spending between 4 to 6 hours at the gym. I fainted many time and guess what? My big hips were still, although I did managed to build up muscles and my body looked “ok”, it wasn`t something sustainable for a longer period of time, and I was still not happy.
I had to make a massive effort to maintain that body, any snack of out the line and I was almost immediately bloated, that place wasn`t where but body naturally wanted to be.
I felt very guilty and overwhelmed. Food was no longer pleasure, it had became my worst enemy. I felt out of control, anxious, isolated and really low.
Obviously, it started to affect my emotions, I cannot count how many times I avoided parties, social situations, going to the beach, birthdays celebrations and dinners just because I didn`t want to be around food or deal with my yo-yo body.
Now, hear me out, if you are experiencing anything similar to this, I`ve got good news, there is a way out!
Binge eating is caused by restriction and usually, poor body image.
And its perpetuated by a pattern of self-hating, self-shaming, and self-punishing. This is very damaging to your mental and physical health.
Therefore, the cure to binge eating is to remove the restriction and practice listening to your body by taking a 6 month break from weight loss, or more.
By completely removing dietary restriction from my repertoire, I was finally able to start healing my relationship with myself and stop binge eating.
Because the brigadeiro is now perfectly allowed, I can have it when I want it without all the extra shame and guilt and overeating that used to come with it. And truth to be told, I found out that I don`t even love it that much.
Note: If have food allergies, or any medical condition, this has to be done with your requirements in mind.
I learned how to reconnect with myself and my feelings, and I learned how to feel those feelings instead of numbing them with food. More importantly, I accepted my genetics and learnt to love my body as it is, including all its imperfections. Check Non-dieting, HAES and body acceptance
A 6 month break from dieting will help you learn that you’re not broken after all.
Your metabolism isn’t broken; your willpower isn’t broken; and your emotions aren’t broken. You are human, trying to cope with life, and that`s absolutely normal!
The only thing that was ever broken was your ability to listen to your body and stay with yourself when times got tough. Yep!
Taking a 6 month break from weight loss gives you a chance to practice that crucial skill.
And once you reconnect with yourself and learn the skill of staying with yourself even when times get tough, the weight will take care of itself. Yes, sister! You can do it too!
Take the Break with Me
So wherever you are on your weight loss journey, make the commitment to yourself to stop dieting for at least 6 months – preferably forever.
…This is how you make peace with your body.
…This is how you relax around food.
…This is how you break free from binge eating.
So start your 6 month break today.
I help other women make peace with food and live their best life, so they can avoid making all the mistakes I made!
If you hit diet rock bottom and want to heal your relationship around food, please get in touch I would love to work with you! ❤