What I’d Wish I’d Known About Dieting…
Are you familiar with the teenage magazine Jackie? It was very popular back in the 1970’s and ’80’s.
Well hearing that it’s inspired a new stage show called Jackie The Musical, took me on a trip down memory lane. I dug out some of my old covers – here’s me on a New Year edition.
Looking at these pictures brings back mixed memories from my modelling days. There were some real highlights. I got to travel – extensively from Tokyo to Hawaii and countless places in between, graced the covers of magazines, peered down from billboards and out of TV screens. On top of which I lived in some of the most beautiful cities in the world. But what should have been some of the best days of my life were overshadowed by my obsession with the way I looked and a shameful secret struggle with bulimia.
As you can see from the cover, I wasn’t fat. But back then; this is not what I believed. In fact, I hated the reflection I saw in the mirror. As a model, my self-esteem and self-worth became so tied up with my physical appearance that I was terrified of putting on weight – it’s what turned a drive to lose a few pounds into an almighty struggle with bulimia.
And today regardless of profession or gender, the pressure to look a certain way is powerful and pervasive.
Let me tell you more…
That first diet is a slippery slope to misery and heartache
The decision to diet seems innocent enough. After all, if you take a look at popular media or listen in on conversations happening around the water cooler, it seems everyone is talking about the latest way to lose weight so they can look good and feel great.
The media and weight-loss industries present dieting as a normalised lifestyle choice. In fact, according to ABC News, around 108 million Americans will go on a diet this year. What’s more, these dieters will typically make a staggering four or five attempts during a 12-month period.
But I believe this lifestyle choice has a darker undertone. The media myth would have you believe that once you lose weight, life will be so much better. But it’s a lie. Dieting doesn’t boost your self-esteem. Instead it can take you to a very dark place, including a myriad of eating disorders such as bulimia.
And that’s not all…
Diet Lie No 1: Dieting is the solution for weight loss
In the short term dieting can help you lose weight BUT evidence shows that longer term, you’re more likely to gain weight, in fact a massive 95% will. There are three key reasons for this:
1. Dieting slows your metabolism as part of an innate survival mechanism, which makes it harder for you to lose weight, so when you stop dieting and start eating ‘normally’ again, your slowed metabolism causes weight gain.
2. A restricted food intake tends to make you crave and obsess over food, leading to bingeing that again can cause weight gain.
3. Thirdly, dieting triggers your body into storing what it can as fat until it’s assured the threat of “famine” is over. This can take a couple of months to settle down and in the meantime, the reason to diet persists.
Diet Lie No 2: Dieting will boost your self-esteem
The media would have you believe that thin, beautiful people are happier. And this belief is reinforced by:
- Celebrities talking about their bodies
- Ordinary people sharing their dieting success stories
- Images of thin people having more fun
It’s no wonder your self-esteem gets knocked when you compare yourself and decide you don’t match up. And the solution seems obvious. If you diet and lose weight too, maybe your life will improve and maybe you won’t feel so bad when you look in the mirror.
But the reality is quite different. Dieting DOES NOT make you happy.
Dieting places restrictions on you. Foods become categorised as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and in turn you define yourself as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ depending on what you’ve eaten. And when certain foods become off-limits, you start to stress about food and social situations where food is involved and you may not even go.
The number on the scales becomes the marker for your self worth and sets your mood for your day. And pretty much regardless of the number (whether it’s gone down, up or stayed the same) you decide to continue with the dieting.
As you know, a life that’s defined by food is not fun. It’s miserable.
What’s more, the likelihood is, your chosen diet will not work. And instead of losing weight, you’re more likely to gain weight. And with each failure, you blame yourself. Dieting makes you far more self critical and judgemental. Your self-esteem and self worth take another knock, and your negative self-talk becomes habitual.
Diet Lie No 3: This diet will be the one that works
When one diet fails, the obvious answer is to blame yourself for your lack of willpower and inability to stick to the plan. And because the original reason to diet in the first place still exists, serial or “yo-yo” dieting begins.
In turn, you become trapped in the dieting cycle. You’re constantly on the look out for the next silver bullet and try diet after diet after diet.
As a result, your happiness is always in the future. You tell yourself you can feel good when you achieve those thinner thighs, tighter bum and flat stomach. And as you delay your life, opportunities slip silently by.
Diet Lie No 4: Dieting is safe
Dieting is a form of restrictive eating. Whether you count calories, skip meals, cut out foods or even whole food groups, your body responds by triggering a series of powerful physiological responses as a response to the perceived famine.
These instinctive responses make weight loss even more unlikely. For example, your metabolism slows, your body retains fat and your mind becomes obsessed with food.
It means dieters are susceptible to bingeing. And to start with, the bingeing can feel good. It offers a release from all the built-up stress that food denial has caused. But that good feeling doesn’t last long. It’s quickly replaced with a real fear of getting fat – which in turn can lead to purging.
And once that cycle of bingeing and purging becomes established, bulimia takes its grip and controls your life.
N.B. If you’d like to discover more about the myths, lies and dark side of dieting, grab a FREE COPY of my book – Are Your Dieting Strategies Killing You?
Good news: You really can recover…
If you’re like me, and your path to bulimia began with dieting, you may be wondering if you’ll ever be able to eat normally again. The thought of eating regular meals probably terrifies you because you believe it will cause you to put on weight.
And with the festive season rapidly approaching, perhaps you’re starting to feel even more anxious than usual as you start to wonder how you will cope with all the food, parties and social situations. If so, I’m currently working on something that I believe you’ll find interesting.
Group coaching for a bulimia free New Year
In November, I’m launching a new three-month online group-coaching programme designed to help bulimia sufferers just like you:
- Prepare, deal with and even enjoy this year’s party season
- Start 2014 with a transformed mindset and new beliefs about yourself and food
- Escape the stranglehold of bulimia and start to live a life you love.
This unique coaching package is restricted to just ten people who are serious about breaking free from bulimia. If you’d like to be among the first to find out about it, simply drop me an email to Julie@bulimiafree.com and I’ll add you to my priority mailing list. This unique coaching package is restricted to ju
And with today’s technology it doesn’t matter where in the world you are as the weekly group coaching calls will be hosted online, so you’ll be able to participate from the comfort of your own home and interact and ask questions in real time but still keep your anonymity – should you wish.
Here’s to your freedom from bulimia 🙂
Bulimia Recovery Coach
Julie won a 15 year battle with bulimia over 20 years ago and now mentors and coaches others to bulimia freedom. She is a compassionate, caring bulimia recovery coach who brings a unique and powerful perspective on recovery that has helped people from all walks of life, not just stop bingeing and purging but learn how to love themselves and their bodies and create a life they love.