Yes, you DO need to go on a diet. Not a calorie counting diet, or a cut-out-several-food-groups diet, or an only-eat-sausages-on-Wednesdays diet.
I want you to go on a media diet. You WILL lose weight, but it'll be a weight off your shoulders, not off your hips. Here’s how to do it:
1. Stop reading magazines and consuming other media that make you feel like crap.
I passed the magazine rack yesterday and analyzed what I saw: Row after row of glossy covers advertising diets: Emergency Diet! Lose Weight In Two Weeks To Get Beach Ready! There were unflattering photos of celebrities showing a hint of double chin or the shadow of cellulite — ridiculed for simply being human. Cruel speculation on when a new mother might "bounce back" and "lose the baby weight."
These magazines, television shows and even social media sell us self-hate by idolizing perfection, ensuring we invest in the pervasive culture of body dissatisfaction and continue to believe that thin is always in.
2. Don’t compare yourself to the models you see in ads.
It's easy to pretend these images and messages don't affect us, but they do. Studies have found that looking at these pictures negatively influences both men and women’s body image and self esteem.
Even when we understand that the pictures aren’t real, or that there’s a whole team of professionals who make celebrities look flawless (on magazine covers and in their Instagram photos) — we still judge our appearance against theirs.
3. Remember to love your body and it will love you right back!
Dissatisfaction with our body, weight, hair or wardrobe just makes us feel like crap. When we feel bad, we're significantly less likely to make positive changes in our lives. When we hate our bodies, we're not motivated to nourish them well, and engage in enjoyable, joyful movement. When we diet to look a certain way instead of to feel a certain way, we're at risk of triggering self-hate and shame — a downward spiral that can take years to break free from.
Alternatively, when we love and accept our bodies the way they are right now, we feel inspired to treat them with the respect they deserve. When we acknowledge the wonderful things our bodies can do, we are moved to nourish them, ensure they are satisfied, and move to promote health, rather than thinness.
I don't read magazines anymore. I have no idea how much weight any given celebrity has gained or lost over the past month. I couldn’t tell you which new mom has squeezed back into her skinny jeans — and I don’t care! Not knowing frees the mental energy I need to get on with loving and respecting my awesome body.
Celebrate your body. Eat food that excites, nourishes and satisfies you. Give up the punishing gym routine (unless you really love it!) and take up something you genuinely enjoy, so exercise is a joy, not a chore. You only get one body. Be kind to it.
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