Many of us at midlife have been dieting since we were teenagers–the days of Twiggy and Tab. That’s a lot of years of our lives. A lot of years of watching our weight. And for many of us, we’ve been watching our weight go up and down, and back up to a weight that is much higher than the weight at which we first decided to diet.
Why have we done this with our lives? With plenty of help from the diet and fashion industries–and more recently even some medical professionals–we came to believe that dieting and watching our weight was necessary, and that it was a good thing to do.
We came to believe that stepping on the scale at a weekly meeting, focusing on food and not eating, and striving for a goal weight that some stranger had determined was the right weight for our body was what all good, self-respecting women should do if they wanted to be successful, to be loved, or at least not ridiculed, shamed, or shunned.Â And we learned to fear our appetite, to think of our hunger as something that needs to be controlled. We condemned and tried to diminish our desires.Â We came to believe that watching our weight creates weight loss. That as long as we kept an eye on the scale and watched what we ate, we would lose weight. We would be in control. And all would be well in our weight-watching world.
But from the first time years ago, when we “lost control” and ate more than our allotted points–because we were hungry or naturally craving a food we had deprived ourselves of–we discovered that all wasn’t well. Initially, and often for many years after that realization, we blamed ourselves and our lack of discipline. And so we began the on-the-diet-off-the-diet cycle, fueled by the hope and fleeting belief that This time I will stay “good.” This time I will not give in to hunger, and I will never again eat french fries. But here we are, so many years later, having experienced so many failed diets. We have begun to realize that the willpower associated with dieting has ultimately and ironically been un-empowering. Even if we still hold out the old hope that dieting and deprivation are the answer to our weight struggles, the midlife wisdom of our body, our heart, and our mind has begun to speak up, saying enough already. Stop. This weight-watching has stolen too much of “your one precious life.”
What would it mean to stop watching our weight?
If not watching our weight, what would we be watching? What would we be talking about with our mothers, sisters, aunts, friends, and co-workers? What would we be doing with our minds and our energy? What would we be feeling in our hearts and bellies?Â If we can risk not watching our weight, not doing what the diet rules dictate, not denying our body’s basic needs, and not depriving ourselves of the foods we desire, we can begin to heal and transform our relationship with food and our bodies.Â By tuning into and responding to what we really need physically and emotionally, we will be able to find our healthiest self.
Join us over the next two weeks as we begin our journey back to not only our healthy, natural weight, but also to ourselves and our trustworthy bodies. Join us as we stop watching our weight and start living our lives.
Copyright Â© 2010 by Amy Tuttle. Reprinted with permission from Amy Tuttle.
Nutrition therapist Amy Tuttle, RD, LCSW is the Director of Valley Green Counseling, a private practice in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that specializes in resolving eating and weight problems. She also provides no-diet articles and resources, including “Stay Attuned: The E-zine for Nourishing Connections” at the Nourishing Connections website. www.nourishingconnections.com