I thought that was a fun and appropriate title to catch your attention on this Monday morning. 🙂 Speaking of Monday mornings, how many times in your life have you “started over” again with your relationship to food on a Monday? Or began that diet that was going to change you life once and for all on a Monday? Or “hopped back on” the clean eating train on a Monday? I don’t know about you, but that number is all too high for me. Why Monday’s anyway? I mean, Monday’s are awful enough by themselves and then for some reason we think it’d be a good idea to add food deprivation and crazy exercise routines in the mix too. Yuck!
Well, the good news is I’m here to tell you today that diets don’t work. Yep, I’m here to tell you that all diets have to offer are an extra level of stress in your life and the beginning of a crazy-making cycle referred to as “The Diet Cycle”. Gasp!
I’m going to go through this cycle with you today in hopes of encouraging you to reconsider your thoughts and behaviors around diets and hopefully convince you to take a different, more intuitive, approach to weight loss and healthy eating.
First order of business…let’s take a look at this crazy Diet Cycle:
Look familiar?? Mmhmm, it’s ok – we’ve all been there! 😉 Let’s break each of these segments down a little further to give you a better understanding of what this looks like in every day life…
- Start Diet – It’s Monday morning you you’re feeling good. You wake up all bright eyed and bushy tailed and even have a little extra pep in your step because downstairs you have your shiny new diet plan awaiting you in the kitchen! You are SO excited because it has all of your food and snacks lined up and all you have to do is eat the food assigned to each day and each mealtime. It’s going to be so easy to follow and in a few weeks you will be well on your way to that dream weight or dream body. MAN life is good!
- Restriction – You’re a few days in and as you lay out all of your food for the day and begin weighing it and measuring it (making sure nothing is an ounce over or a inch over the measuring cups) you start to feel restricted. You were so hungry the day before and the 22 almonds and “small” apple weren’t nearly enough to hold you over to dinner. You contemplate adding more almonds (even though you really aren’t a huge fan of almonds anyway) but don’t want to compromise the results of the diet. You pack your boring almonds and apple and resentfully head to work with your pre-weighed and pre-picked meals.
- Deprivation – Another day in and your excitement is starting to dissipate. You are sitting at work with a lunch box full of “diet approved” snacks and meals and all you can focus on is your co-workers delicious looking sandwich – you start to have daydreams of eating the sandwich. Sandwiches are your all time favorite lunch meal and you haven’t had one in nearly two weeks! You look down at your green beans and chicken breast and start to have this strange feeling come flying at you out of left field….deprivation.
- Craving – Now that you’ve seen the sandwich, that’s all you want. You are craving the sandwich as you eat your lunch, as you eat your snack and even as you eat your dinner. All you can think about is the sandwich! In fact, you spend your whole afternoon thinking, “why can’t I stop thinking about that sandwich”. It’s officially taken over your brain. Yep, you’ve reached the point where you are even contemplating bartering your lame diet meal to your co-worker tomorrow for their sandwich….no shame.
- Give In – You can’t take it anymore! If you have to eat one more meal of vegetables and chicken breast for lunch, you are going to die! In a fit of rage, you throw your lunch in the garbage, walk out the door and head STRAIGHT to your favorite sandwich shop. Instead of your standard sandwich you order the “bad one”, you know – that one you never allow yourself to have because it’s “too many calories”, and just for good measure you go with the extra big size to ensure that there’ll be enough. You devour the entire thing in minutes leaving you unsure if you just ate it or if it magically disappeared. Well shoot, now that you’ve just eaten the entire sandwich, you’ve blown it! Might as well go back up to get that cookie (or two) and chips, and what the heck – I’ll have the pop and chocolate bar too! An hour later you’re still stuffed yet you find yourself in the break room eating the leftover Birthday cake…what just happened??
- Guilt – You’ve blown it. You were doing so well, and now you’ve ruined it. All the work you’ve put in has been washed down the drain. You go home feeling absolutely horrible. You’re stuffed, depressed, angry and left thinking that you have no self-control and that clearly something must be wrong with you. You’ll never be able to lose weight and this is just another example. You’ve failed yet again. But then you have an idea! You remember that you saw a different and new diet that seemed way less restrictive on a website today and you can totally start it on Monday! What a relief!!
And we’re back at number 1. Phew!!! I don’t know about you, but I am exhausted! This cycle is never ending and will always end the exact same way it started….with a diet starting (most likely) on a Monday. I was on the diet cycle train of craziness for most of my life. It’s totally exhausting. You go from high high’s to low lows and always end up feeling like you did something wrong. One of the most exciting things I’ve ever learned was that diets don’t work. This is so exciting because it means that I don’t lack willpower and it also means that I’m not a failure because I couldn’t stay on a diet for years.
Diets don’t allow us to honor our true food cravings and put our body in a state of stress and fear. When we are operating under those circumstances, we have no other option but to get fed up with it all and rebel – which is when that thought of “ahhhh screw it! I already ate (fill on the blank), might as well eat all this food and just start over again tomorrow” comes in. It does not have to be this way! It is possible to learn to listen to and honor your body’s true needs while also enjoying the food and food choices you are making. While noticing this diet cycle is only the tip of the iceberg, I hope this at least got you thinking more deeply about diets and your relationship to diets and your body. This is something I love to work on with my clients so if you’ve had enough of the diet cycle craziness, I’d love to help you out too!
Do you struggle with the Diet Cycle? POST BELOW one thing you can do this week to start changing this pattern…calling it out is the best way to begin!