“I find it hard to believe that you can eat what you want and not exercise, and still be thin”
– An actress/dancer friend, upon seeing my site
I am going to address everything I think about this topic here in this post, and then hopefully leave it for a littttllle while after this, and I’ll explain why.
Who I Assume My Readers Are
I assume that the majority of the people finding, and resonating with, The Fuck It “Diet” have already decided dieting is not the way. They have either been too paralyzingly orthorexic, or too miserable, or failed too many times, or actually realized they suffered health problems at the hand of “healthy diets”, or have seen their weight suffer at the hands of diet mentality and decided it was for the last time.
I assume that people coming to The Fuck It “Diet” are already on the “diets are bad” bandwagon. And that they now want to further explore how and why they are bad- as well as find support, encouragement and inspiration.
I don’t know that I have the ability or the need to go out and convert people to “ditch diets and live life”, because as most of us know, in the throws of diet and exercise, we are normally blind to the problems. And blind to our obsession and isolation. And even think that the diet du jour is the best thing since sliced bread. (Literally!) We think that once the goal weight is reached, life will be awesome. It is normally only through personal suffering that people come to realize that they should say Fuck It to diets. One can’t be recruited, but instead it is a lesson learned the hard way.
But For Everyone Else…
Still, I don’t want to alienate potential Fuckiteers. I should then, offer some morsels for people who only yet have the tiniest voice inside of them saying “Stop Torturing Me!”.
After all, if I never read Intuitive Eating and all of Geneen Roth‘s books, and then more recently after my recent Paleo misadventure: 180 Degree Health, I might not have had the seed planted. I might not have known what was possible. And actually, it took me a good… six years since first reading Intuitive Eating to where I am 100% committed to it, instead of just wishful thinking. Sure it was my misery that led me to those books and sites in the first place, but it was the their information and support that let me know such a thing was possible and not just the stuff of fairytales. Fairytales where people don’t diet.
So, can you eat what you want, not exercise, and still be thin?
Short answer: Yes.
Besides the fact that there are plenty of thin people who naturally eat what they want and don’t exercise…. Our bodies are designed to maintain a healthy (often: thin) weight. Intense exercise and eating plans are not necessary for this normal appetite mechanism to work. In fact, intense exercise and eating plans are harmful because they trigger a host of other mental and physical mechanisms that override the body’s natural ability to maintain one’s healthy weight. And those people who naturally eat what they want and don’t exercise, are that way because they never got on the diet treadmill, so to speak.
So what is the Long Answer, then?
The Long Answer is: It is Not That Simple.
Once you have overridden the body’s natural eating cues with dieting or overeating or overexercising, plus media/society-induced body-image and self-worth issues, plus a learned fear of certain foods and behaviors, plus often a compromised metabolism, plus too much emotional investment in the outcome, AND in the quoted’s case: needing to be thin for their acting/dancing career, recovery isn’t as simple as just saying: “Eat what you want! Stop when You’re Hungry! Move when You Feel like it! Ready… GO!”
When you are in deep, our bodies and minds need to relearn. This often takes time. And, more often than not, can lead to weight gain in the process. It is just part of the balancing process.
Why the Weight Gain?
- Body: Your body needs to learn how to handle food- and your metabolism may have slowed and need time to pick up
- Mind: Your mind needs to learn how to eat food. If you have been denying yourself for while, you will most likely overeat in order to really trust you are allowed to eat what you want, and also in response to past denial. Also, overeating needs to be replaced with other ways to deal with stress. This takes time and practice and time.
- Soul: Often, the most important part of recovery is self-love and self-acceptance. And it is often overlooked. Because, intuitive eating does work as a weight maintenance plan. So some jump in thinking- ‘eh, I’ll just do this and I’ll be free and thin and it’ll be great. I don’t need to accept fat-me, because I refuse to be fat.’ But, if there is not a greater acceptance of your body unconditionally, you may still fear being fat. Depending on who you are, you may fear being fat a lot. And fearing being fat is not a great way to go through life. Also, it will sabotage this journey. You can’t eat normally while hating your body. And also… what you resist persists. So there may be some residual problems, fear, pain, and conditional self-acceptance. If this spiritual side of the whole equation is not addressed- you’ve only gotten half of the problem fixed. Which brings me to….
Why was I hesitant to address this topic?
As much as I know that many people’s (including my) ultimate goal in ditching diets is: less stress, allowing better health, allowing easier weight maintenance, I don’t want this site to only be about Ditching Diets to Become Thin (or I guess for men: Fit).
Because, even though it works (eventually), I don’t want people to miss the more important lesson. We got in this mess trying to be thin in the first place. We overrode our natural ability to eat, move and enjoy life by wanting to be thin/fit. And, though it is hard to see and believe for many people, there is so much more to life than being thin. And, there is a wealth of inspiration and validity in the Health and Every Size movement, in which I strongly believe.
I DO believe our bodies have the amazing ability to be our fittest and strongest and happiest and healthiest when we do not diet. I believe that it can be supported to be a “badass machine”, as I say, where eating is not the enemy, and exercise is not a chore. I believe that getting to a place of being able to eat a substantial amount of food and still being healthy and fit, is possible, and even ideal. But, this place is reached through time, patience, love, authenticity, self-acceptance, a healthy dose of profanity at the expense of diets, intuitive eating, and other life-affirming activities and self-exploration. And it does not happen overnight.
That’s what I think. What do you think?