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Not this year!

January 1, 2013

Trigger warning: Seriously frank weight loss and diet talk.

Let me tell you a secret.  I used to bat for the other team.

No, not that team. I come from the dark side. I wrote a weight-loss blog.

To be honest, despite my change of heart, and my conversion to the side of light, I left the old blog up. First, it represented several years of my life, and deleting it would have been like erasing a part of my history. But also, there was some good stuff in there. Not the weight loss stuff, obviously, but I was studying at the time, and there was a series about shoulder impingement; tips for dealing with delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS, or post-exercise soreness); various educational pieces about things like interval training; and not forgetting my recipe for spaghetti squash bolognaise – my most popular post ever. I was pretty proud of it.

I haven’t really given my old blog much thought lately, but a couple of days ago I got an email asking me to moderate a new comment on the blog so I decided to take a moment to revisit the old neighbourhood. I was actually quite looking forward to reading some of my old insights, my hard-core training programmes, my words of wisdom. I wasn’t overly worried about the old dieting stuff – I don’t do that any more and I thought I could just read around that bit. But it didn’t work out quite like that.

I’m struggling to find the best word to describe what was going through my mind as I read. Every post on that site was suffused with a pervasive mix of inadequacy and desperate optimism. Almost every one was dripping with despair, expectation, anticipation, hope. Of weight loss. Of achieving my goal. To be thin. To succeed. With just the right plan, the right fitness regimen, the right diet, this time would be different. Every week I posted about my 0.6 pound weight loss, or 0.4 pound gain. I’d talk about how these results were “better than I deserved,” of the “eating opportunities” where I hadn’t been 100% “compliant,” or conversely, of getting through a whole week “without cheating.”

It was a theme repeated over and over again. Not over years, but over weeks, sometimes even days. I’d start a new plan on a Monday and by Wednesday, I’d have “fallen off the wagon” and be girding myself for another, better, shot at it. And in all those years, I never twigged that I was going round in circles. I truly believed that I was moving in the right direction, getting ever closer to the pot of gold.

With each failed diet, my search for The Answer continued. I read every book, subscribed to every magazine, each one promising a new, better, body in just 20 minutes a day, in just four weeks, in time for summer. Each one with a super move that you just had to do, that would give you the results you wanted. I kept a huge ring binder full of them, cut out of the magazines and slipped into clear plastic covers, separated by colourful dividers, separated by body part. I could tell you the best exercises to get that toned butt; those fabulous, tight, not-at-all-dangly triceps; a perfect set of delts that would look just incredible in a sleeveless summer top. Men would desire you. Women would want to emulate you. You’d belong, be part of the in-crowd. Now that you were healthy, happy, and your life was everything you’d ever dreamed of.

Then one day I discovered Health At Every Size© and became involved in the Size Acceptance community. I swore I would never ever go on another diet, and I haven’t. Interestingly, my starting weight when I launched that old blog was exactly the same weight I was when I gave up dieting, and the same weight I still am a year-and-a-half down the line. Now I truly am healthy, happy, and my life is everything I’ve ever dreamed of. Well, apart from still having to do laundry, but otherwise.

I was having a bit of a cleanout a while back and came across these ring binders, along with stacks and stacks of old fitness magazines, old Weight Watchers recipe books, and diet book after diet book. The blood-type diet, the juicing diet, the eat-every-other-day diet. You name it. And I thought, “I must get rid of this stuff.” But what to do with it? I couldn’t sell it or give it to a charity shop. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. And then I came up with the idea of Project Not This Year. In 2013, I would not make a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, to diet, to fix myself. Instead I would make a promise that all improvements in my life would be things that enriched me and made me happier. And to mark this New Year’s revolution, I would ceremoniously dispose of my old diet books. And I would ask other people to do the same. I’d create a YouTube channel and ask people to upload their own stories – with or without diet book disposal.

I wrote about Project Not This Year on my own blog, including some of the background and science behind dieting and why it’s so harmful and so pointless. I also wrote about how you can take part yourself in a follow-up post. I’d like to just quote something I wrote on that blog post:

In the end, although this all started with old, forlorn diet books, tested and found wanting, gathering dust on my shelves, and how I could dispose of them without passing on the misery to another poor unsuspecting soul, in the end, it was less about the books and more about the journey. While hubby took dozens of photos of my mother and my mother-in-law helping me do the deed over MIL’s brandy chocolate mousse on Xmas day, only one of them made it into the end product. Because it wasn’t really about diet books. It was about self-discovery and self-acceptance. It was about standing up and fighting back. It was about finding my voice. You can watch my offering here.

I wish every single one of you reading this has an absolutely incredible year ahead, filled with health, happiness, and joy. Stand up. Fight back. Find your voice. Happy 2013 everyone.

Never Diet Again Sigs

10 Comments leave one →
  1. January 1, 2013 9:07 am

    Love this. You’re one of the lucky ones, every diet I tried ended up in an almighty binge fest so I’d usually end up fatter!!

    • January 1, 2013 9:20 am

      Thanks Positive Sarah. You should watch the video – I’ve dieted myself up from a size 12 to a size 20. Thanks diets.

      • January 1, 2013 9:26 am

        BTW, just to clarify, the starting weight I was when I began that blog is the same weight I am now. In between I lost and regained up to 40 pounds (usually less) several times over. And now I’m back to where I was when I started the blog. And around 100 pounds heavier than I was when I started dieting the first time round. Yay. Oddly, I’m happier with my body now than I ever was at 130. The time and energy and SOUL that we all wasted on dieting…

  2. violetyoshi permalink
    January 1, 2013 2:02 pm

    Thought I’d post here to let you know, Special K is now doing a What Will You Gain promotion, with their rip off of Marilyn Wann’s Yay! Scale. Grrrr…

  3. wendyrg permalink
    January 1, 2013 2:20 pm

    Great video (and excellent choice of music too!). I’d really like to get the screen shots of the various tables, though. Where can I find them?

    BTW, I’ve now got you on my blogroll. I too started out as a weight loss blogger and am now squarely in the HAES camp although I do have my moments when I still think that “I can do it! Yes I can!” Fortunately, they’re few and far between and I fight them off more and more quickly.

    Thanks again for your great post and fabulous initiative.

  4. JeninCanada permalink
    January 2, 2013 2:12 am

    Simply excellent! Well done!

  5. January 2, 2013 10:40 am

    Great idea, Angela! I love the idea of doing something proactive with all the weight loss paraphernalia that people can collect over a lifetime. I can’t really provide any personal commentary on it, since I’ve never been a dieter, but I can definitely get behind what you’re doing.


  6. The Real Cie permalink
    January 9, 2013 7:13 pm

    I come from the Dark Side too. I went from being an active kid, who, while not exactly happy with myself, was generally okay with my body. When I hit puberty, all that changed. I became a miserable, bulimic twelve year old who was disgusted with the fact that I went from wearing size 9 boys jeans to wearing tent-like size one women’s trousers because of my disgusting hips. The horror!
    For 45 years, I continued the hellish cycle of yo yo dieting. I dieted myself from approximately 120 pounds (which I considered gargantuan, because once I was in my late teens, I decided I should weigh no more than 110 pounds. This was up from my decision in my early teens that I should weigh no more than 99.) up over 300.
    So yeah–diets work, to put weight on, make you feel like a failure, and make you crazy, because you keep doing the same shit that didn’t work before and expecting it to work this time.
    Before anyone gets upset about me using the word crazy, I live with mental illness. I have bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and OCD. I think that gives me a pass to use “crazy” freely. And I don’t mean that being mentally ill means a person is crazy, far from it. I’m saying that kind of behavior is crazy. And it is also sanctioned by society.

    • January 9, 2013 7:25 pm

      Thanks for sharing that Real Cie. Every time I read one of these stories I just shake my head – what HAPPENED to us? I’m so glad that you have now come out the other end of the tunnel. Do feel free to post something on the video channel. Or not. Take care. Ang 🙂

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