There is nothing truly unique about what I am about to share--it's the journey so many of us are on right now--but this time this will be my last diet. So maybe reading my story will resonate with you. Maybe something I say will help you start your last diet too. Maybe together we can find a new way forward and be done with dieting forever. Huzzah!
A Few Caveats before we begin:
While I admit I am a voracious consumer of diet stories and absolutely love before and after pictures, I will not be sharing pictures on this blog. I have a variety of personal reasons for this, and I understand it might make this blog less interesting, but I really need this blog to focus on thoughts, feelings, habits, and hobbies; not on my appearance. Plus, I take bad pictures---and I don't mean I am not photogenic, I mean I suck at using cameras and cannot even begin to pretend to know how to edit pictures. So yeah, no body progress pics here. (And yes, I know that many diet gurus swear that is the only way to track progress--I am firmly ignoring that advice).
But since understanding my physical situation is important for the tale I am going to tell, I can tell you that I am female, 5'7" tall, and in my 40s. My weight has fluctuated between 150-175 pounds. To the outside observer I have an athletic build and at my heaviest would still generally be described as "average" weight rather than "over" weight. I am not curvy--any extra weight I carry is in my stomach. My sister once joked that I have a Big Bird build because I have a larger belly with skinny legs. Rather than be offensive, I found this statement hilarious (my sister is a really kind and supportive person so it was truly meant in jest) and I have found it to be an exaggerated description of my body, but a fairly accurate one about the way I see myself. Yep, I know, my inner eye might have a touch of body dysmorphia.
Like so many women (and men...heck, everyone!), my whole life I have dreamed of being "thin", though I think the picture that comes with that word has changed frequently for me over the past 20+ years. Often that dream comes with defined abs, and if I lose touch with reality, bigger boobs (no diet is gonna give me the rack I dream of). I have no aspirations to achieve Kardashian proportions--my body just isn't built like that. I have come close to an "ideal size" at one point or another but couldn't stay there for more than a few weeks. My body feels comfortable in the US women's size 10-12 range, meaning I have fewer aches and pains, my stomach is proportional to my hips and ass in a way that allows my pants not to fall down when I stand (or, alternatively to cut off my circulation at the waist when I sit), and I can buy a dress that matches both my upper and lower body size. I have frequently been in the US women size 14-16 range, during which I generally am engaged in dieting or have just rebounded from a diet. I genuinely love being active, so exercising in some capacity has never been hard for me to prioritize and I tend to carry a fair amount of muscle on my frame.
My diet history can be described as one focused more on research than application. I have read A LOT about dieting--about the ideal human diet, about disease and disease prevention, about "health". I listen to podcasts on body and body hacking and watch YouTube videos of the same. I have contemplated fasting: intermittent, extended, fast mimicking...you name it, I have considered it. I have considered keto diets, blood type diets, psychotherapy, hypnosis, prescription medication, non-prescription medication, joining the military to boot camp my weigh into fitness, weight loss spas, meditation retreats (with or without fasting). You name it, I have either studied it or its on my list. I have given the old college try to whole30, paleo, TOPS, weight watchers, vegetarianism, and have experimented a little bit with intermittent fasting and fast mimicking diets. I have contemplated climate conscious diets, ruminated on what a "set point" is, and tried to force more movement and exercise into my day. I have hated food prep and calorie counting. At the end of the day my head is so full of conflicting and competing diet information I am overwhelmed and nearly unable to take action. Meanwhile, society just keeps harping on a thin ideal I cannot reach. I. AM. EXHAUSTED. Aren't we all?
So where do I start?
I need to figure out what I really want before deciding how to get there--like, I need to have an actual goal. A realistic goal. A sustainable goal. A goal that reflects where I have been, where I am at, and where I am going. A goal that aligns with who I want to be as a person and how I want to interact with the world (I don't want to become a hermit because of my "diet"). And I know that wanting to be "thin" is not only the product of shitty societal norms, but also represents a continuously moving target. What thin means today may not be what thin means tomorrow. Moving targets are notoriously hard to hit. So before I make any lifestyle changes, I am going to spend some time answering the questions "What do I want?", "Who am I?", and "Who do I want to be?". And I am going to have to spend some time reflecting on what I have tried in the past--what worked and what didn't (mostly didn't) so I can break the diet cycle. Finally, I am going to have to unlearn all the diet bullshit and sort out the information overload. So yeah, there will be a lot of posts.
I am going to give this...diet? anti diet? lifestyle change? bullshit reset?... (I will figure out what to call it later)... one year and then no matter what the outcome is, I will be done. Done devoting time, energy, and headspace to "dieting" for the rest of my life. I am getting old and I have better things to do.
THIS WILL BE MY LAST DIET. Will you join me?