Skip to content

Saying Sayonara to Dieting

May 8, 2012

Trigger Warning: Discussion of weight loss, exercise and dieting.

My life changed a lot when I decided to give up dieting.

My body breathed a huge sigh of relief. It said thank you. It was so grateful that I was finally listening to it and respecting its wants and needs. It felt like a huge burden had been lifted off me — the burden of having to please everybody but myself.

After dieting, my life became about pleasing myself, a concept I was always told was selfish and greedy. The truth is, if your life isn’t about pleasing yourself, you’re not living life. You’re simply a puppet in someone else’s.

I have to admit that when I gave up dieting — and thus, the desire and expectation that I would ever look like a stereotypical “babe” — I felt a certain sense of loss. Weight loss was a desire and goal that had been a big part of my life since I was a young girl.

Dieting is the major project in the lives of many women, and not dieting leaves a huge void. It takes a hell of a lot of time and energy to try and fit into the “babe” mold. If you no longer pursue weight loss, it frees up an incredible amount of time and energy to do things that are actually productive and beneficial. You start thinking about who you really are and what you want from life. You find yourself  pursuing your education or doing something you’ve always dreamed of doing, but put off until you met that “babe” ideal.

By giving up the cookie cutter goal to look like every other generic babe, I began to appreciate things about myself that I thought were uniquely attractive: quirky little things, maybe, but things that were as much a part of me as the cluster of cute, little freckles on the inside curve of my right breast. I knew someone out there would think they were just as adorable as I did.

I discovered that giving up dieting does come with a certain price. It will exclude you from a huge amount of asinine conversations, while superficial people won’t want anything to do with you. When you publicly critique or abandon a cultural pursuit that most people in society believe is noble and worthy, they don’t take kindly to it.

They see you as a mirror reflecting their values back on themselves, and it makes them uncomfortable to realize what their values really are. Many of them will look at you sideways and question you, or tell you that you’re simply weak for not wanting to partake in the battle most women fight on a daily basis.

Some of them will consider you a challenge and will make it their mission to convert you. By leaving the diet mentality behind, some people will see your decision not as self-preservation, self-love, or self-respect, but as defiance — as a slap in the face — and they will punish you for it and try to shame you into rejoining the battle.

But I have defected for good. Their contempt is a price I am happy to pay. By leaving dieting behind and refusing to dance to its fickle tunes, I finally get to be myself. This doesn’t mean not taking care of myself. Actually, since I have given up dieting, I have become much more respectful of my body and what I put into it. I allow myself to eat what I want, but discovered that a lot of what I want is not just delicious and tempting high-calorie foods, but yummy veggies and lean meats.

And since I no longer believed that exercise meant running a grueling obstacle course or working out until I could barely move the next day, I rediscovered my love of walking and moving my body in gentle ways. It actually feels pleasurable taking care of myself and not a chore at all, as it once had been.

Saying sayonara to dieting was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Mulberry permalink
    May 8, 2012 12:33 pm

    But unless you actually have gotten thin from dieting (many of us have just gotten less fat), people will be contemptuous of you anyway. And as far as contempt is concerned, how can you yourself NOT be contemptuous of people who only think you’re worthwhile or desirable if you’re in pain?
    Are there any scholarly folk out there who can tell the rest of us why beauty and pain are so often cruelly intertwined in so many societies?

    • vesta44 permalink
      May 8, 2012 1:45 pm

      I don’t know about anyone else, but after all I’ve been through with diets/WLS, I am contemptuous of people who only think I’m desirable or worthwhile if I’m in pain/dieting. If they can’t see past my body to who I really am, then they aren’t worth my time or energy. I wasted too many years on those kinds of people, trying to please them and always falling short – well, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not my loss that they don’t think I’m worthwhile enough to be in their circle, it’s their loss that they aren’t worthy to be in my circle.

  2. May 8, 2012 11:55 pm

    I want to “defect for good” too! I actually thought about what you discuss just yesterday–I wondered to myself what I would be doing and thinking about if I didn’t spend ALL of my time berating myself and being completely occupied by food. While dieting, all I think about is food and it’s terrible. Dieting actually discourages me from exercising because I feel so crappy all the time about what I’m *trying* to do and the reasons why it’s not working, how I look because it doesn’t work, and all the resulting guilt. I wonder what I would spend all my time thinking about if not obsessing over how I look and what I can and cannot eat.
    I think I’ll be more energetic when I stop dieting for good. I wish it wasn’t such a mental battle!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: