The One Thing I Learned From Being On 50 Diets In 5 Years
"You're worthless. I can't believe you couldn't resist those brownies—you're a total failure."
I spent years of my life in a diet depression. A battle within my own mind and body. No, not a battle—a war. A war between mind and body, head and heart. They fought nonstop; it was a ruthless do-or-die scenario. There were no breaks, no cooling-off periods, no cease-fires. It was constant, it was intense, and it was unstoppable.
Within the confines of my own mind I created a war zone; it was relentless and exhausting. Day after day, year after year my mind fought and my body took hits. My body was the victim, my mind the culprit. My body refused to give up, for years on end damaged and beaten but continued to have my back. My body was a f*cking warrior.
This was my life.
Each morning I would analyze and carefully measure out what I was allowed to eat that day; I would weigh it then toss it in my bag and leave for the day. Everything was so carefully calculated. Upon waking I would walk past the mirror, head to the bathroom, and weigh myself.
That digital number represented the kind of day I was going to have; even an ounce off and I would be riddled with guilt and shame and create an even more restrictive plan to get down to my ideal weight—whatever it was for that particular week.
Of course on a Monday I would start a diet with no research but perhaps a celebrity endorsement that I trusted. I would screenshot it and follow it to a tee, until Thursday when I would throw in the towel and binge eat all the foods I felt deprived of.
It was a living hell.
Everything in my life was affected by this inner war. I felt I couldn't be intimate with people because I was hiding the biggest secret of my life and I was terrified I would be found out. So I sneaked around, drinking laxative tea and eating less than 1,000 calories a day on and off for years.
Each week would be a different diet, a new plan, some "miracle" trend that promised long, beautiful legs and a flat stomach. Whenever the advertisement for the diet had a woman standing tall with long legs I was immediately more drawn to it. I hated my legs, every ounce of them. Growing up I would wear jeans even on the hottest of days to hide my legs from the world, and this carried over into my adult life.
I wanted out of this self-imposed battle I had so carefully crafted.
I relied on the weight-loss industry to tell me what to do. Even after five years of being on more than 50 diets I still thought there was something I was missing, or I just wasn't trying hard enough. I would even do the same diet multiple times because I believed that the first couple of times I had been lacking willpower.
I was living in London at the time, when I was walking in the park with a friend one Sunday evening. As we were catching up on boys, business, and what was on sale at Selfridges that week, she turned to me midsentence and said, "Sam, you're not kidding anyone; we all know what you're going through with this whole diet thing."
It was in that moment that my palms got sweaty, my heart started to beat faster, and my face was completed inflamed. For the first time in my life, I admitted my struggle to another human being.
I went home that night and I begged the universe to give me some kind of hunch to help me end the fight I had with food, something to release what I was feeling. I wanted out of this self-imposed battle I had so carefully crafted.
I couldn't breathe anymore; I didn't have the mental capacity to do anything but obsess over my fight with food. I hit rock bottom. There was nowhere else to go, nothing else to try, and nothing else to lie to myself about.
A week later I received a letter saying that I needed to go back to Canada, where I'm from. I packed up my things and I moved myself back to my home country.
I finally realized what it felt like to "be in my body."
I decided on the plane back to Vancouver that I was going to fight for my life back. I was going to do everything it took to end the battle with food and my body; there was no more sneaking around, drowning my body with laxative tea or doing a new diet each week, only to find myself arm-deep in Ben & Jerry's a few days later.
It was over; I was ending the war.
After hitting on a lot of fear, resistance, and doubt, I finally realized what it felt like to "be in my body" for the first time ever.
It was a sensation that people talk about in yoga class, but I thought it was a total myth. I had never experienced being comfortable in my body, I had no idea what that even felt like.
It was bliss; it was freedom—it felt like a drug. I leaned into this feeling more and more, uncovering what an intuition actually was and how to use it.
I felt powerful for the first time in my entire life. Being in my body meant I had to look at all the pain I had been suppressing my whole life; I had to face my demons, stare them right in the eye, and learn from them.
I felt powerful for the first time in my entire life.
Day by day, I trained the muscle of intuition and was able to access deeper and deeper parts of my soul.
I uncovered a beautiful gift within myself, the gift of inner guidance and wisdom, a gift that had escaped me my entire life.
Here it was all along waiting for me to listen to it and trust it. I realized I'd been getting it wrong the whole time. In my diet depression I was searching for love and connection. I was on a constant quest to feel loved.
The message I was getting from the weight loss industry was that this was outside of myself, not beautifully lying within me. All along I was externalizing an internal issue, and internal issues require internal solutions.
I learned that I needed to feel in order to heal. Then and only then would my diet depression and inner battle end. I could live in harmony mind and body, head and heart.
Today I crave expression over suppression, expansion over contraction, and flow over grit.
Today and always I am whole, I am perfect, and I am home.