Is It Possible to Eat What You Want, Not Exercise and Still Be Thin?

“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?

  1. Body: Your body needs to learn how to handle food- and your metabolism may have slowed and need time to pick up
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Summary

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?

26 comments

  1. Jay Bazuzi says:

    “I find it hard to believe that you can eat what you want and not exercise, and still be thin”

    As you point out, it is possible. Lots of people are thin without trying. Also, lots of people are fat, even though they don’t eat what they want and they do exercise.

    You don’t have to be thin to be beautiful.

    You don’t have to be thin to be healthy.

    You don’t have to be thin or beautiful or healthy to be worthy of love.

    Health and beauty are both temporary anyway.

  2. Camila says:

    I think people who think ‘you can’t eat what you want and be thin’ are secretly dying on the inside for donuts and twinkles because they are malnourished.

    I ‘what I want’, because after coming off Paleo, my palate for ‘real food’ is still there. Just with grains and legumes and dairy now included.

    Reintroducing ALL real food in ginormous portions to appetite (and a little beyond via 180degreehealth) has left me eating exactly what I want in two awesome meals and a snack a day. Sometimes it’s full fat organic ice cream for breakfast, sometimes fried salmon and rice. Right this moment, I never want to look at broccoli or kale or steak or sardines again. Squash is freakin’ awesome. And I’m sure I’ll swing back to variety at some point.

    • Caroline says:

      I still have a palate for real food, too. And I believe there was something to be learned about food quality, and the importance of saturated fats on Paleo, just the total fear and carb phobia was a big problem. I am impressed you can eat only two meals a day! I need the opposite. And I also MUST eat before bed or I won’t sleep.

      Btw, re: Standup comedy- AWESOME. Badass. I dunno that that is my calling, though I do have my absurd comedic blog, which takes care of some of my internal actory needs 🙂

      • Camila says:

        (they’re insanely huge and verrrrry starchy, desserts included, which was a fear. I’m just so freaking sick of the constant noshing I had to do on LC paleo to balance the heavy dullness of ‘full-but-not’…I’ll probably even out eventually!)

      • Caroline says:

        Yea, on LC paleo, I was waiting for that day when I was satisfied with only protein and fat, and could go hours without eating. That is what was promised to me! Never happened!

  3. I like to introduce those folks to my mom.

    My mom’s whole family is naturally quite thin- you’d be hard pressed to find a BMI over 20 (not that BMI is particularly telling, but still). My mom was 5’4″ an 110lbs when she graduated high school 35 years ago, and after four kids and starting menopause she’s gained less than five pounds. My mom rarely gets exercise (she powerwalks in the mall, and occasionally her fat friends and my fat dad ask her to go walking with them). My mom rarely drinks water, she usually drinks soda (full sugar variety, up to a liter a day). She eats lots of sweets, daily, and eats very few veggies or whole grains. And still, she’s thin. She just *is*.

    For the record, I do not take after mom’s side. I look like my dad in a wig with tits (and without the beard). His mom and dad were both large people. His mom was 5’8″, same as me, and between 250 and 300lbs her entire adult life, starting on the reservation she grew up on, frequently malnourished, walking everywhere, and working labor jobs. She was that big even when she walked a dozen miles a day in humid 100’F heat to and from her job as a lifeguard, only eating fresh garden veggies and fish from the bayou because they couldn’t afford much else. I vary, naturally, between 200 and 225, usually close to 210 (and once 250, which turned out to be 30 pounds of edema from a medication). I can bench press my mother. I can fireman carry my dad (5’9″, 225). I don’t eat much sweets, I eat lots of veggies and all sorts of grains. I am pretty active, with high-cardio hobbies and aspects of my job. The only time I’ve lost significant weight was when I was at field school in the jungle and we were burning 5k-7k calories a day depending on our assignment and only being fed about 1800 (everyone lost between 20 and 50 lbs in a month, even the folks that started out thin. it was sort of painful, and my thyroid almost shut down).

    • Caroline says:

      Interesting stuff. Genetics sure are fascinating. It is hard to tell what causes what sometimes, nature or nurture. So you think your mom handles food the way she does because of genetics? Or do you think it is her genetic temperament that makes her not “abuse” food, even thought she eats it freely? Or is it plainly just her body type? And same with you and your dad’s side, do you feel it is mostly genetic? I guess that is pretty clearly what you are trying to say…. I just always wonder how temperament coming into play. And how temperament could end up shaping someone’s relationship to food. For instance, I tend to be an all or nothing kind of person, which really screwed with my naturally amazing metabolism and made it… shotty. After all the abuse and binge-eating I put it through all it’s life, my weight never went much above 140. Thanks for the comment. Food for thought!

      • Genetics *are* amazing.

        my mom consumes quite a lot of calories for her activity level, she’s just thin. She’s of average height for an American female and very slight of frame. her parents and siblings and aunts and uncles are all thin. She’s never dieted because she’s naturally thin. I was my mom’s size when I was 12, and i kept getting taller, broader, hippier, and bustier. I’ve a friend that recently dieted from my size to my mom’s size, and she cannot break four digits in calories in order to maintain it, because her mom and dad are both broad folks and her genetics are screaming against her current size.

        my dad’s side is all just big. they also put muscle on easy, as do I. there is some diabetes, but at a lower level than average in most Native-decent families. because of the genetics I get tested regularly and am mindful of my overall nutrition, but thus far I’ve made it with completely normal to low blood sugars. some of my female cousins and aunts have flirted with dieting, but we’ve usually been too poor and too busy to achieve the level of obsession that makes weight-loss diets work. I’m not an all or nothing person, I get bad carsick and as a side effect I get nauseous easily making binge eating icky (except for shellfish, for whatever reason I can put away crawfish and crab like it’s the end of the world). I usually eat pretty moderate portions, with a couple of snacks (and I’m fairly certain of my portions because I spent a few years recording them in my migraine journal to look for triggers- not eating enough is one of my triggers) As I said above the one time I lost a ton of weight was when the food and exercise was out of my control (middle of the jungle burning more than three times the calories we were being fed) I found out that at 175 I look gaunt and you can count my ribs. I really am just a big person.

      • Caroline says:

        You are a quite well-adjusted gal! Way better off than my whole family- who are all fit and slim and yet still NEUROTIC about it. Seriously. Talk about genetics. And double pointless neuroses. Sigh…

  4. wannabefatschick says:

    It is called a fucking high motablism. It is why I am so skinny and wanna be freaking fat.

    • AnnB says:

      Read Billy Craig’s website and listen to your body. What your body wants is what you should eat. if it wasn’t high fat, then eat high fat. You won’t gain weight eating what your body asks for. We are not as smart as the body to decide for it what nutrients it needs, ever

  5. jessica says:

    That’s why you shouldn’t diet- you should adapt healthier choiceswhen you can, and just eat in moderation. The fact is, if you indulge in high fatty, high calorie foods all the time, you will gain weight (especially if you are women- your body is made to hold onto weight). However, if you just enjoy the food you want in moderation, then really you don’t need to diet.

    You can maintain your weight without exercising, but exercise is great thing just for your overall health (especially if you sit at a desk all day like I do!)

    • AnnB says:

      Exercise is great, as in walking/rebounding for a few minutes, if your body asks you to do so. If it is not asking you to move, it isn’t ready. If you eat enough to have the energy remaining after the body has used what it needs for maintenance, repair, etc. and then says, hey, lets go for a walk….then do it. Only then.

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  7. avishakeit says:

    Yes it’s possible.

    I maintain 11% bodyfat (WITHOUT underestimating it – my bf% is consistently around 8% or below on those handheld devices), meaning I can see my 6 pack every single day while consuming the following (been doing this for easily 2+ years now):

    1. Virgil’s Root Beer – best soda ever. After I discovered Matt Stone I started drinking soda like this.
    2. Brownies/cookies – I can eat these and not get fat even in the slightest
    3. pancakes – I’m eating choc chip pancakes right now.
    4. Beer – having 2-3 drinks has no effect on my body fat percentage over the course of a few days.

    The answer? like you said it’s LONG. I cannot say I understand how I went form having manboobs and fat rolls to being able to literally eat whatever I want without having to restrict myself based on dogmatic beliefs. This type of information needs to be out there. Thanks.

    However, I am recovering from mild adrenal fatigue so my body may need higher sugar at the moment, but once I am back to normal, I may not crave sugary foods as much.

  8. Violet says:

    Great thought provoking post!

    I personally believe that food intolerances play into the equation of thin vs. heavy in a significant way.

    I’ve done the diet roller coaster for years, unable to lose more than 5 pounds at time and then I’d regain it all back plus a few pounds more. I clued in – through keeping a diet journal and doing some research – that nightshades were causing my horrible joint pain (originally diagnosed as arthritis).

    After having food intolerance testing done and maintaining a daily food journal, I now know which foods cause bloating, edema and weight gain for me. If I stay away from them and don’t overdo the carby stuff, the pounds continue to come off. (It doesn’t mean counting calories or carbs or anything – yay!)

    I think that for those of us with insulin and food intolerance issues, the key is for us to listen to what our bodies are trying to tell us. The idea of “one size fits all” in trying to attain optimum body weight is attractive in its simplicity, but just isn’t accurate IMO.

    • AnnB says:

      It is ONE size fits all. You listening to your body fits you. Me listening to my body fits me. Me following someone else will never fit. Fuck it IS saying listen to your body, no one else. If going so far as to keep a food journal to get a better reading on your body is necessary, then that is your fit.

  9. Kiki says:

    I don’t even want to be THIN! I just want to be my normal size again (I’m 5’6 and my normal weight ranges between 137 and 170 lbs).

    I never went over 170 until I started getting interested in pro ana stuff :s THEN I got interested in raw vegan and fruitarian stuff in addition to that! u.u The more I fantasized and tried to get to my goal weight of 80 – 100 lbs, the fatter I got because I kept having “last” cheat days where I thought “after this, I’ll start the diet”. I REALLY scared my body into thinking it would be starving forever! D: I gained 90 lbs, lost 23, gained 43, lost 30, gained 52, lost 54, and now finally gained 57, so I’m 305 :<

    Of course, I'm a very overzealous girl so I assumed I could stick to starvation diets with minimal leeway :s I always managed to sort of follow my stupid starvation plans, enough to lose weight for a while but of course I gained it all back plus more each time.

    The most recent time last year, I was doing intermittent fasting and later tried cutting calories to like 600 – 900 a day :s After just a little bit of deviation from this (and I don't think I managed once to stick to the calorie restriction), I started gaining weight faster than I ever have and I'd never eaten so ravenously!!! It was scary and it really made me realize how stupid any diets are :s I totally got into intuitive and really normal eating in January and it really scares me that I've gained at least 20 lbs since then :s

    I never really thought about this before now, but it really makes me sad that nobody in my family ever tried to seriously dissuade me from my psychotic diet ideas. Everyone in my family is messed up about food and into juicing/wheat – free/raw/etc fads and "health" stuff (and they always encourage me when I'm losing weight but think my normal eating habits are out of this world and completely unreasonable!) and my Girlfriend's mom is a very thin naturopath and health nut and has indoctrinated my Girlfriend some degree too, so I don't have anyone with a 100% normal attitude about food to talk with about this :s My dad thinks a cup of flavored greek yogurt constitutes an entire meal! I'm such a food outcast in my family *and* I'm the fattest one u.u

    Now that I have some experience with idiot diets, I realize they're all a horrible, horrible idea :s When I was around 160/170, I was still trying to lose weight, but only to get to like 135 and I wasn't really dieting very much. I was just working out moderately. Actually, the first time I officially lost weight was when I was 12 and went from 180 in 6th grade to 137 in 7th grade. I also grew from 5'3 and a half to 5'6 then, but all I really did was work out and the most diet – y thing I did was eating a donut and chips at lunch instead of a normal meal, lol. It was FUN exercising then and now I totally dread it because it's physically really hard :<

    Wow, I didn't think this comment would be so long, lol. Probably most girls and guys who read this blog are already a normal weight or maybe even underweight, so I feel weird and it's really embarrassing to be so fat and wanting to eat freely :s I know logically that this is dumb and that of course *everyone* should just eat normally.

    I really want to just be my normal, slightly chubby size again while eating normally and exercising only when I feel like it so that it's fun! I really want to wear cute american apparel clothes and be a cute, sexy girl again :<

    • AnnB says:

      Your comment can be as long as necessary to share what you need to say. You said it very well. Thankfully you are young and get it that diets only make a person fat or fatter every single time. Keep eating intuitively and mindfully without worrying about being perfect with that either.
      Only have clothes in the house that fit the current you. Make sure they are not ‘Make Do’ clothes, but the cutest you can find for your current shape. Yes, you still have a shape. Apple, Pear, Hourglass, etc.
      Then just be you every day and put out of your mind the best you can what you body size is…and live your day as if you chose to be that size. I believe that is what true body acceptance is…accepting what is now. Like small children we cannot grow with purpose, we can only wait for our body to do its thing.
      Same here, just live, eat for the energy you need and don’t even wait…just be. If it will change, it will change. If not, you’ve not agonized over something you have no control over anyway.
      Remember, you are surrounded by people who are caught up in the body as their sole identity, when it’s who we are from the inside out that is the only entity that interacts with others…people/other animals/environment.

      • Kiki says:

        Thanks a lot ^=^ I have no plans to ever do anything diet – y again, that’s for sure, lol. It’s unrestricted eating for me all the way, forever 😀 I have so many cute clothes that I love from when I was my normal, pre – dieting size. I want to always have them (and wear them again when I fit into them!) <3 I'm very interested in Law of Attraction stuff and creating things with my mind and I believe that anything is possible if you can imagine it. I'm hoping that combining these very relaxed feelings about food *and* visualizing/imagining how I want to look and be will help me transform faster and much more easily than what I was trying to do before. Lots of people into LoA probably don't believe that more magical transformations are possible, but I do and that's my real goal ^=^ I don't think it's unreasonable to feel that I'm entitled to eat whatever I want and maintain my perfect (not in the conventional "perfect" way, but what I personally consider perfect for me ^=^), natural size that my body really wants ^=^ Everyone is entitled to that <3

  10. Rayne says:

    I think it’s true that some people can eat intuitively and be thin. I don’t think that everyone can though. I think that most people can eat intuitively and reach a healthy weight for themself, but that weight may or may not be thin. I also know that intuitive eating only works if weight loss is not the goal. So I’m wondering why focus on thinness at all!

    • Caroline says:

      Rayne I completely 100% agree. Though this happens to be one of the most frequently asked questions I get “CAN i eat intuitively and be thin?!”.

      This is also one of the earliest posts I wrote, so my view now would be way more body-acceptance-based than actually trying to answer this question.

      Truth of the matter: I actually, after a full recovery, eat whatever I want and don’t really exercise except walking (I live in NYC) and am thin. But I never would be if that had been my goal or if my intention all along had been to hold onto any specific body. I had to let go.

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