October 19, 2013

Overcoming Dieting—When Something Really Needs to Change. ~ Jennifer Boyle

We are a culture obsessed with being thin, this is no news flash.

Sometimes, on a rainy day in October, when we wake up to our same old selves, in the same old bed with the same old laundry pile sitting in the same old spot, we get this itching feeling that something needs to change.

A lot of the time, even if it’s our job, relationship or family situation that needs a tweak, changing the way we look somehow becomes the focus. And sadly for our beautiful bodies, it’s often losing weight that we feel would give us the most bang for our transformational buck.

We are a culture obsessed with being thin, this is no news flash. The diet industry keeps diets in front of our faces all day long and the diet mentality is so deeply ingrained in our minds that when it comes time make a change to the way we eat, it’s not our own intuition or intelligence that we consult, but rather the the latest, hottest diet ‘guaranteed’ to give us fast, easy and cheap results. The industry is so powerful that it’s convinced us that being thin means being successful and in control.

So when we wake up feeling a little lackluster on a rainy dayis it any wonder we instantly divert our attention to changing our bodies?

Two years ago, I was the owner of a successful yoga studio, loved teaching, loved my husband and thoroughly enjoyed my life. But something wasn’t right. I didn’t feel like I was on track to my most authentic and fulfilling career. And although I was very healthy, practiced yoga every day, and ate a mostly vegan diet, I still felt like I was constantly trying to lose weight and change my body.

I called myself a Diet Monster. I’d hop from diet to cleanse to program, with only a brief stop-over between each to pig out, drink and party for a few days before shifting gears back into diet mode.

I was in a constant battle with myself between being ‘on’ track and ‘off’ track. It wasn’t until I read Geneen Roth’s Women, Food and God  that I realized what I was going through—all this focus on what I was eating and trying to be thinner—was actually a thing.

The stress from constantly trying to change myself was overwhelming, manifesting in illness, inflammation and irritability. Thankfully, I started to realize that changing my body wasn’t doing anything to address the real issues. So I took a good look at myself, without using a mirror.

After much contemplation, I sold my yoga studio. I committed to a year of self exploration, meditation and therapy for what I referred to as ‘My Dieting Problem’ and what’s referred to in the industry as ‘preoccupation with food and body.’

The therapy was expensive, but worth every penny. The meditation was so frustrating and at times felt infuriating, but worth every hour and my sore knees and sits bones. The self exploration was painful, and my ego suffered a huge hit as I exposed weakness after weakness that had previously been hidden by my title as a business owner, a yoga ‘champion’, and a leader in my community.

That year was the best thing I could have done for myself.

It’s been almost a year since I’ve restricted my food or done any kind of weight loss program. Amazingly (though not so amazing, really), I am basically the same weight I was when I was completely wrapped up in diet mode.

I still notice the tendency, when things get out of control, to want to sit down and plan a diet, commit to a cleanse, or whip out MyFitnessPal and start counting calories. Recovering from a dieting problem is similar to recovering from a drinking problem, it’s a fake solution that lies in wait, eager to present itself whenever things get hard. Indulging in a night of drinking creates a hangover, and indulging in a diet generally creates a binge. Both leave you feeling crappy about yourself and completely remove you from the present moment.

So, healthy yogis and green juice connoisseurs, the next time you wake up and feel like something needs to change, don’t always make it about you, and especially not about how much you weigh. Consider the possibility that there’s something else going on. And contemplate that in that moment, you’re absolutely perfect just the way you are.


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Assistant Ed: Judith Andersson / Ed: Sara Crolick

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