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3 Reasons to Set Your Scale Aside (and get healthier)

Do you love the idea of ditching your scale, but you’re worried about your weight?

If so, you’re not alone. You’ve been taught to focus on your weight (like all of us) – with your BMI number labeling your supposed health status.

And holy moly, as a culture, we spend enormous amounts of time, energy and money focused on weight and worried about what we see in the mirror.

So first, let’s honor that it’s freakin’ hard to live in this perfectionist body culture.♡

Next, I know that you wouldn’t be a part of my community if you didn’t care deeply about your health. Yet you may not know how to take care of your health without focusing on the scale.

Perhaps…

✔️ You’ve been focused on weight loss for a long time and maybe you’ve had some “success” but then you worried about gaining it back. And sure enough, when the diet or food plan ended or you found being hypervigilant with food and/or exercise just got plain exhausting, or life got in the way (because you are an actual human being) – you, like most people, gained it back and maybe more. This is not your fault, my lovely friend. Diets are not designed to be sustainable long term.

OR

✔️ You’re stressed about maintaining your current weight – berating yourself anytime there’s a scale fluctuation. And you too, my friend, it’s not your fault either because weight has been a proxy for health and no body talks about how weight fluctuations are normal. So no wonder you worry.

If not scale focused, what can you do to take care of your health?

You can take the approach I took with my current client, Maureen (and all my clients).

Mo Living Her Best Life

Here’s a shout out to Mo – who is always smiling!

“Mo” was dissatisfied with pandemic weight gain when she started her coaching journey with me. I deeply respect body autonomy. So only Mo gets to decide what’s best for her body. I never dismiss her (or anyones) desire to lose weight.

Instead, I shared with her my reasons (see 3 of them below) for not focusing 🔎 on her weight and how this approach would make her healthier and yes, much happier 😊 along her well-being journey. You can read Mo’s full story, in her words below in the P.S.

What’s the approach?

It’s taking care of yourself.

“Uh duh, Tanya. That’s what I’ve been trying to do!”

But has your self-care been focused on the number on the scale?

♡ What if your self-care wasn’t about self-control or “shoulds?”

♡ What if you didn’t have to use willpower to white-knuckle it to “be good” and restrict your favorite foods?

♡ What if you put the scale aside and practiced self-care from a place of self-love (instead of body hate or fear)?

TRUTH BOMB: Focusing on your weight can get in the way of you taking care of your whole self, in your unique body.

3 Reasons Why You Setting Your Scale Can Make Your Healthier

#1 Your weight and BMI are not the best indicators of your health.

♡ Consider a woman in the “normal” BMI range and looks “fit” yet she struggles to eat well and move her body because of lack of time, money. She smokes to “deal with” stress and isolates herself. A doctor could miss helping her improve her health if she isn’t asked about her behaviors and life circumstances.

♡ Consider a young man in the “o” BMI category. His behaviors with food and movement are terrific, as are his health labs, yet he’s considered unhealthy by BMI numbers.

♡ Consider a woman in her sixties who falls in the “underweight” category who might be praised by friends and family for “being good” with food and exercise, yet her behaviors are disordered.

It’s kind of a mess, right?!

We know that people can be healthy across the size spectrum. I have patients that are ‘normal BMI’ that have Type 2 diabetes. And I have patients that are well above ‘normal BMI’ that don’t have any health problems. If you hide their weight, if you just compared their labs to each other, you’d think the person with the poorer labs was the heavier person. It’s not always true. – Dr. Gregory Dodell, Central Park Endocrinology, New York City – January 3, 2022, USA TODAY article – Everything you miss when you think weight is about willpower.

So numbers don’t mean what you think they mean.

You could be healthier at a lower or higher weight or maybe you’re already at your healthiest weight range (even though you, diet culture or your BMI label says otherwise).

Want to read more about BMI? The Myths of BMI Can Hurt Your Health

And by the way, weight fluctuations are normal. If the number on the scale goes in a direction you don’t like, it can unnecessarily make you feel crappy about yourself and send you spiraling back into “diety” behaviors – restricting, controlling, “shoulding” on ourselves. No bueno (good)!

That’s why an important part of learning Intuitive Eating (one of my favorite non-diet nutrition tools) calls for setting the scale aside because it gets in the way of you being able to listen to your own body’s signals with hunger, fullness, satisfaction and more!

Ok, let’s move on to the next important reason why you should take the focus off your weight.

#2 Weight is not a behavior

Research shows that it’s your self-care behaviors that impact your health and longevity not your weight class (BMI). This makes a lot of sense especially after reading the above real life stories.

Weight is not a behavior

So how are your self-care behaviors?

Are you taking care of yourself from a place of self-love? If so, great! ✰✰✰✰✰ (5 stars for you)!

But maybe, like all of us, you get in self-care ruts. (Yes, this includes yours truly 🤚). So first, please, please be kind and compassionate with yourself.

Maybe you didn’t sleep well and you’re exhausted, but you feel like you “should” get up early before work to exercise. (FYI, it’s better for your body to get rest than force a workout, yes, really

Then because you’re tired, so you crave carbs, sweets (check out: Why Am I Craving Carbs, Sugar) and then you beat yourself up over it. And when you get home, you order takeout because making dinner just takes waaaaay too much bandwidth.

Or maybe you just started a new job; you’re going through a divorce; you’re caring for an elderly parent or pet or you have to shuttle your kids to a zillion different activities; or you’re injured or ill; or you’re struggling with a mental health challenge and the list goes on……..

Often, your self-care rut is caused by a **combination** of things!

The best part of taking a self-love approach to self-care is that it’s flexible and you!!! get to choose what feels “doable” because you know yourself best. Period. I can’t stress enough how critical personal autonomy is to your success. Nobody likes to be told what to do – even if you think that’s what you need. I promise that you are full of wisdom. My job is to help you bring it forward.

Maybe you start with a gentle improvement to your eating habits, or moving your body in ways that you enjoy, or going to bed earlier, or having the wine a few nights instead of every night, or winding down with hot tea instead, or learning stress management techniques to calm your nervous system, or carving out time to connect with others, or making time for fun, or maybe learning to separate your self-worth from a scale number?

Focusing on the scale can be such an unnecessary strain on your health (which may already be super stressed – so let’s not add to it)!

#3 Your health is complex

Let me tell you two stories to illustrate the many factors that influence your health:

♡ Consider a woman with a higher weight (BMI) who lived healthfully into her hundreds. She drank a couple cocktails and ate fried food daily, smoked, did little to no exercise. But…she slept great, was super social, had little stress, had tons of friends, and a lovely family that adored her and she adored them.

♡ Now let’s consider a man who had a “ideal” body weight (BMI) and lived the life of health as a personal trainer and was “perfect” with his food. Yet he was a stressed about lots of things including maintaining his physique. He ate “healthfully” – but out of fear of getting a disease or gaining weight; he declined social invitations to workout or avoid the “unclean” food at the dinner party. Sadly, he died from a heart attack in his thirties. (His “health” background sounds similar to mine).

Why did one out live the other?

There are waaaay too many factors to consider, but the main point I’m making here is that weight isn’t one of them.

To summarize, the 3 reasons to set the scale aside are: weight (and BMI- booooo!) are not the best indicators of your health, behaviors are far more impactful and your health is full of complexities.

So together, we (like I did with Mo!) will focus on your self-care behaviors and all the factors that influence your health and well-being, all while allowing you to live your best life (and not feel guilty for simply enjoying an ice cream cone). And ultimately, trusting your body weight to settle where it’s healthiest for you. (And don’t worry, if you struggle with body image, I’m here to support you with this too)!

♡ How does that sound dear reader? Reach out and let me know! T

P.S.🤩 Here’s what the lovely “Mo” has to say about her well-being journey:

Mo Winter Biking

“I am fortunate to have found Tanya’s coaching services.

After 20+ years in a fast paced and high-pressure career it took the pandemic to “wake me up” to the fact that my version of wellness was not effective nor sustainable.

After two years in a toxic work environment, I found myself burned out, stressed, anxious, irritable, experiencing weight gain, relying on prescription meds and just an overall lack of joy in life. This overall sense of fragility led me to research and engage with a well-being coach.

I chose Tanya over other providers because I wasn’t looking for traditional therapy or psychology nor was I uneducated about health and wellness. Tanya provided a holistic all-encompassing approach that leveraged the tools I already had at my disposal. I felt Tanya was able to customize her coaching based on my life stage.

♡ There were no rigid rules but a journey that felt organic and customized to my needs.♡

Each week Tanya listened to my needs and empowered me with digestible knowledge based on current science in a range of fields. It was with that information I could adventure out in life experimenting with what worked best for me. Tanya supported me with accountability and creative solutions along the way.

No matter what your well-being goal is, feel confident that Tanya is proven, licensed and offers versatile programs for a wide range of client needs.

After just a short time partnering with with Tanya for weekly coaching, I have benefited from the following results in seven months: improved strength and mobility, reduced aches / pains, improved body composition, menstrual cycle and elimination of PMS symptoms, stabilized mood, reduced anxiety, minimized stress and improved sleep and my nervous system, improved work life balance resulting in a fulfilled life — eventually eliminating previously prescribed meds.

Having Tanya as a virtual coach was easier and more rewarding than I expected and has led me to truly embrace flexible self-care and overall life satisfaction! Thank you Tanya – I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t met you!” – Mo Lang

♡♡♡ Thank you, thank you, thank you Mo, for these kind words! (It’s such a JOY! to be working with Mo by the way).

And if you’re curious about coaching and how we can work together to reach your goals, click here to discuss long term deep health coaching and/or book your first session. ♡ Tanya

Don’t let diet madness ruin the new year

“When I was little, someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up and I said, ‘Small.’

By the time I was 16, I had already experienced being clinically overweight, underweight, and obese. As a child, fat was the first word people used to describe me, which didn’t offend me until I found out it was supposed to” says Blythe Baird in her spoken word poem video When the Fat Girl Gets Skinny which has received over 4 million views.

She describes a teenaged life filled with eating “skinny-pop,” complimenting each other’s thigh gaps, trying diets she and her friends found on the internet, “Googling the calories in the glue of a US stamp” and “hunching naked over a bathroom scale, trying; crying into an empty bowl of Cocoa Puffs because I only feel pretty when I’m hungry.”

When Baird lost weight, her dad was so proud that he carried her before and after photo in his wallet, relieved that he could stop worrying about her getting diabetes and finally see her taking care of herself.

“If you develop an eating disorder when you are already thin to begin with, you go to the hospital. If you develop an eating disorder when you are not thin to begin with, you are a success story” says Baird.

“So when I evaporated, of course everyone congratulated me on getting healthy. Girls at school who never spoke to me before stopped me in the hallway to ask how I did it. I say, “I am sick.” They say, “No, you’re an inspiration.

How could I not fall in love with my illness? With becoming the kind of silhouette people are supposed to fall in love with? Why would I ever want to stop being hungry when anorexia was the most interesting thing about me?”

I share Baird’s story with you with urgency, before the new year, to stress the harms of continually reinforcing the societal norms that we’ve been socialized to accept such as dieting before any major life event, “swimsuit season,” beginning every January or actually just dieting in general.

Think of someone you know whose time, energy, money, physical and emotional health and self-worth – whose life is being stolen by the constant pursuit of maintaining or attaining an “ideal” body shape or size, that is, according to diet culture.

Maybe this person is your best friend, your mother, or you.

Nobody diets for fun

Like Baird, we try to control our bodies to belong, to be accepted as “healthy.” We believe we must “look good to feel good” about ourselves, the diet industry marketing messages promise.

Diet culture equates thinness, muscularity, and particular body shapes with health and moral virtue, according to author of Anti-Diet, Christy Harrison. You can spend your whole life thinking you’re irreparably broken just because you don’t look like this ‘ideal” she says.

And even if you have a small body, you may live with fear of weight gain.

I want you to know that you have a choice. Your only option for love and a content life isn’t to be a slave to the scale and other people’s opinions.

Ditch diet culture

You can choose to opt-out of harmful dieting and diet culture.

Dieting is disordered eating and is one of the strongest predictors for the development of an eating disorder, which can occur across the weight spectrum according to the National Eating Disorders Collaboration.

And you don’t have to be actively “on a diet” to be swept up by the culture of dieting.

Disordered eating habits also include preoccupation with food and your weight, feeling stressed about food and whether you’re eating the “right” or “wrong” foods and rigid food rules. It’s fasting, cleansing, detoxing, skipping meals to save calories, avoiding a type of food or food group, drinking laxative teas.

We can take “healthy” eating too far. There’s a term for this, orthorexia, also disordered eating, which is an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy foods.

The risks associated with disordered eating and dieting include developing a clinical eating disorder, osteoporosis or osteopenia, fatigue and poor sleep quality, gastrointestinal problems, headaches, muscle cramps, feelings of shame, guilt, low self-esteem, depressive or anxious symptoms and behaviors, and nutritional and metabolic problems according to National Eating Disorder Collaboration.

And because diet culture is deeply embedded in Western culture masquerading as health, wellness and fitness, disordered eating habits have become an alarmingly “normal” way to “take care of ourselves.”

Nearly 75% of women reported engaging in disordered eating behaviors in a 2008 survey of over 4,000 women done by UNC and SELF magazine.

“Ideal” weight as myth

But you have another option. You can separate “taking care of yourself” and your “health” from some “ideal” number on the scale.

Think about how we determine a “healthy” weight. It’s measured by BMI (body mass index) – just your height to weight ratio. That’s it. It doesn’t consider your eating or movement habits, muscle mass. It doesn’t factor in a long list of behaviors that impact your health such as smoking. It doesn’t consider your genetics, nor the complexities of health. BMI is a poor determinant of health.

Furthermore, ingrained beliefs that fat poses significant mortality risk are not fact.

Research reported in Weight Science: Evaluating the Evidence for a Paradigm Shift shows that except at statistical extremes, BMI only weakly predicts longevity. People who are “overweight” or “obese” live at least as long as normal weight people, and often longer.

You can’t determine somebody’s health status just by looking at their body size. A small body may be healthy or not and the same is true for a larger body.

Honor Body Differences

With this knowledge, you can choose to honor that your body, other bodies may want to be different than what you and our culture think they should be.

Baird lamented that her “small’ body was the “most interesting about her,” but now as part of her healing “how lucky it is now to be boring,” says Baird.

“My story may not be as exciting as it used to but at least there is nothing left to count. The calculator in my head finally stopped. Now, I am proud I have stopped seeking revenge on this body.”

As the new year approaches and yet another wave of dieting madness tries to steal your self-worth, I want you to know that you have another option: you can ditch the false belief that there’s only one size that’s “healthy,” worthy of love and belonging and make peace with food and your body.

To your happiness and health,

  • Tanya

Ready to transform your relationship to food and your body? Get started!

P.S. (You can watch Blythe Baird deliver her powerful poem, here).

(This article was originally published in the December 8, 2021 issue of Jackson Hole News and Guide.)

Ditch the weight-based resolutions

What if you didn’t start a new “diet” every January?

No restriction. No elimination. No guilt. No shame. No “shoulds.” No “failure.”

And what if you actually became healthier? No scale necessary.

Sounds great, right? Got it, you say. I’ve got one in mind that says it’s “not a diet.” Such “non-diets” fill our inboxes or social media feeds, promising to rid us of the “Quarantine15,” pandemic weight gain that I wrote about back in April (“As you shelter in place, forget about your weight”).

So first, a quick PSA: Don’t be fooled. Diets have rebranded by co-opting terms from eating psychology, Intuitive Eating and the anti-diet movement, claiming they’re not “fad diets.” Ultimately, if you have to restrict or eliminate specific foods — to limit when you’re allowed to eat or how many calories you can consume — yup, it’s a diet. Ultimately, if you’re promised weight loss, it’s a diet.

You might be thinking, “But what’s wrong with wanting to lose weight?” Nothing. Nothing is wrong with you or me (as I’ve been there too) — or anybody. Instead, what needs questioning are deeply ingrained cultural beliefs such as: It’s weight loss itself that makes you healthier; it’s fat itself that makes you unhealthy; health is entirely your personal responsibility and mainly is about what you eat and how you move, ignoring environment and systemic issues.

“Our stories and bodies are too complex and too varied to fit into the oversimplified narratives peddled by dominant culture,” says the website BeNourished.org. “You may not love the body you occupy, but will you respect it? Try to listen to it? Get curious about it?”

The desire to “diet” may just be a protective coping mechanism for living in a weight-obsessed, size-stigmatizing culture. We all want and deserve to belong, to feel good about ourselves. It’s a basic human need. When it comes to our approach to whole health, I believe we can do better.

Try healthy behaviors

Shifting to weight-neutral self-care can feel scary or impossible, or can bring up resistance. It’s natural. I felt this way, too. Separating weight from wellness took me years. This approach might not be for you, right now, or ever. And that’s OK, too. Body autonomy is yours, and yours only, to choose.

So with kindness and compassion I offer four health behaviors to try with the intention of planting a seed to awaken curiosity to learn more about how you can honor your body and yourself without restriction, elimination, guilt, shame or “shoulds.”

Ditch the scale

First, take one baby step and maybe put the scale away. You know how “that number” can either make or break your day, which is hard on mental health, which is often neglected in our pursuit of physical “health.”

Consider if you’ve ever given up on healthy behaviors because you didn’t reach your “ideal” number or couldn’t maintain it. When you practice healthy behaviors your body may prefer to weigh more, less or stay the same. Your body is meant to change as you age and move through stages of life. There is no “ideal” weight you should be forever (as I’ve learned as 51-year-old, postmenopausal woman).

Furthermore, having “a number” interferes with your ability to listen for your body’s physical cues: hunger, fullness, satisfaction, how certain foods make you feel, how movement makes you feel.

So skip the scale and the mental mind game. Keep going. Practice self-care, not self-control. If you want more inspiration to ditch “that number,” read my Nov. 13, 2019, column, titled, “Say ‘no weigh’ to the scale.”

Feel good in your body now

Feeling uncomfortable or unattractive in your clothes sucks. Consider buying a few outfits that make you feel good now. If you’re on a budget, check out online thrift stores and consider consignment or trading with friends. I used to believe that holding onto clothes for if and when was “motivating.” It’s not. It just created guilt, shame and stress.

You deserve to feel good about yourself at any body size. Clothes are supposed to fit you, not the other way around.

Shift your “why”

Detach healthy eating and exercise “success” from a scale number. Focus on the long list of health benefits instead, such as improved health markers, energy, mood and the function of your physical, mental, emotional body. If your primary motivation to eat better or exercise is dependent on and focused solely on counting or burning calories, you may give up if your body doesn’t change (or change enough), thinking, “It’s not working so why bother.”

Keep going, and enjoy how eating and exercise make you feel.

Be more than a body

Finally, embrace body diversity and rebel against messages suggesting your self-worth or value as a human being is tied to your appearance.

‘Aim higher, friends’

In a recent Instagram post, dietitian Anna Sweeney discussed a tough conversation with a client who desired above all else to be thin, young and pretty. It unexpectedly made Sweeney cry “to think about this human’s existence being boiled down to her earth suit. Or any of yours, for that matter. You are not on this planet for the sake of being visually appealing. Period.

“Aim higher, friends,” she says. “We are given one body. That’s it. And truly, taking care of yours has nothing to do with what it looks like.”

A local client concurs: “I’ve spent basically my entire life dieting, then gaining back the weight and more. I felt guilty every time I ate ice cream, even just a spoonful. I’m making peace with food and my body now. Shifting to self-care behaviors without the scale determining my health has given me the courage to like my body for how it is, not what some diet will promise me. I nourish it properly for my active lifestyle. My new personal tag line is, ‘The elimination of the stress of eating is so much better than the elimination and restriction of food.’”

Consider practicing self-care from a weight-neutral place. No restrictions. No elimination. No guilt. No shame. No “shoulds.” No “failure.” No scale.

And get healthier.

Enough with the War on our Bodies

We’re suffering from another health crisis.

“Few of us are at peace with our bodies, whether because we’re fat or because we fear becoming fat,” says Lindo Bacon, author, researcher, and professor, Ph.D., MA, MA.

So what’s driving this war on our bodies?

It’s diet culture’s weight-centric portrayal of wellness — thin equals healthy and it’s solution… dieting.

The Body Hate/Diet Cycle

It begins when you compare your body to health and fitness culture’s perfectionist and unrealistic body ideals. You “feel” unhealthy, dislike your body, and/or feel “fat.”

Then, when you most likely don’t measure up (because only 5% of women naturally possess the body type diet culture models as healthy), you fall prey to diet culture’s solution to fix it: the latest fad eating plan to “fix” your body.

You choose a diet that restricts what, when, or how much to eat.

At first you “feel better” – lose weight. It’s “working!”

Until it’s not.

Eventually, you feel deprived and struggle.

Then, the “diet backlash” kicks in and you crave – the “bad” and “forbidden” foods or you just feel hungry.

You “fall off the wagon” and “cheat.”

You feel guilt, shame, frustration for not having enough willpower judging yourself as the failure, not the restrictive approach.

The months pass and you regain some, all, or even more weight than when you began.

Then, back in body hate, you repeat – hoping the newest plan will work and you’ll be one of the 5% of dieters (the unicorns) that can change your body size permanently — sustain it.

Thus, you remain stuck in the body hate/diet cycle, year after year, passing it down, generation after generation — leading to a lifetime of feeling like you and your body are not enough, unhealthy.

It’s a helluva business plan. By 2025, the worldwide weight management market profits are expected to reach $442.3 billion according to Grandviewresearch.com.

The good news is there’s an antidote to this body hate/diet madness.

We stop believing thin is always healthy and fat is always bad and explore new health paradigms.

Re-examine weight science

In Body of Truth: How Science, History and Culture Drive Our Obsession with Weight – and What We Can Do About It by Harriet Brown, we are encouraged to think critically about the scientific research on weight science as “some of the contradictory findings on weight reflect our incomplete understanding of highly complex mechanisms and systems.”

The “complexity doesn’t come across very well in headlines or sound bites,” thus the “nuances of the research on weight and health often get lost in the rhetoric,” says Brown.

In her book, Brown breaks downs the “Four Big Fat Lies About Weight and Health” – Americans are getting fatter and fatter; Obesity can take a decade or more off your life; Being fat causes heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and other serious illnesses; and Dieting makes us thinner and healthier.

Dr. Bacon concurs, “the misconceptions around weight science are astounding.” In Weight Science: Evaluating the Evidence for a Paradigm Shift, Bacon and Lucy Aphramor, PhD, RD detail how our current weight-centric model of health is ineffective at producing healthier bodies. And it may have unintended consequences “contributing to food and body preoccupation, repeated cycles of weight loss and regain, distractions from other personal health goals and wider health determinants, reduced self-esteem, eating disorders, other health decrements, and weight stigmatization and discrimination.” If you think your body is the problem and that diets are the solution, I ask you to think critically and remember that it’s diet culture that is driving and profiting off of these assumptions, and to explore alternative approaches to wellness.

A New Wellness Approach to Consider

“What If Doctors Stopped Prescribing Weight Loss” by Virginia Sole-Smith, also breaks down how focusing on body size isn’t making people healthier.

Because “research has shown that it is the behaviors people practice—not the size of their bodies—that have the biggest impact on mortality,” some clinicians are trying a weight-neutral approach called Health at Every Size (HAES).

Health at Every Size, trademarked and founded by the Association of Size Diversity and Health, is an anti-diet approach to healthcare. It’s known as the “new peace movement” because it strives to end the war on bodies and defines health in a more inclusive way.

It eliminates weight stigma, respects diversity and focuses on compassionate self-care such as “finding the joy in one’s body and being physically active and eating in a flexible and attuned manner that values pleasure and honors internal cues of hunger, satiety, and appetite, while respecting the social conditions that frame eating options,” says Bacon and Aphramor in Body Respect: What Conventional Health Books Leave out, Get Wrong and Just Plain Fail to Understand about Weight.

Sole-Smith describes the impact of having a doctor who removes weight from health care as “literally life-changing.”

You can heal from this health crisis.

You don’t have to be at war with your body — stuck in the body hate/restriction cycle to take care of your health.

You deserve peace and food and body freedom.

Be critical of weight science.

Be open to new health paradigms.

Be a rebel.

Escape from the body hate diet cycle

Do you or someone you love struggle with healthy eating and/or suffer from body dissatisfaction?

If you said yes, it’s absolutely not your fault. It’s diet culture’s.

Let’s break down two major drivers of these challenges:

  1. You compare your body to health and fitness culture’s perfectionist and unrealistic body ideals.
  2. You’re stuck in “diet culture” (which created these body ideals) that profits off selling you the latest greatest eating plan, shakes, programs to maintain or “fix” your body, under the guise of wellness.


This can lead you to a lifetime of feeling like you and your body are not enough – regardless of your size or shape.

And it all seems perfectly normal, and is considered the way to take care of your “health.”

It’s a helluva business plan – keeping you coming back for another “hit of success” (= pounds lost) despite research showing you it’s temporary (unsustainable) for 95% of us. In fact, by 2023, the worldwide weight loss industry profits are expected to reach $278 billion.

Again, I repeat, it’s not your fault. It’s the culture we live, eat, move and breathe in and we’ve been passing these messages down for generations, thus keeping us stuck in:

The Vicious Body Hate/“Diet” Restrictive Eating Cycle:


START:
 You “feel” unhealthy, dislike your body, feel “fat”, and/or you’re told to lose weight for a variety of reasons.

RESTRICT: You choose one of the restrictive eating plans du jour. During this time, you may experience “feeling better” and/or losing weight but at some point either during, at the end of the 21 or 30 days, or months later when you’re trying to “sustain” it, you experience…

DEPRIVATION: the “diet/restriction” fatigue, backlash. This is when cravings kick in for certain types of foods (such as carbohydrates), “forbidden” foods (your favorite dessert) or you just feel hungry and simply want more food. Which leads to…

GUILT: You feel like you’ve “cheated,” “given in,” “fallen off the wagon” “don’t have the willpower” – you judge yourself as the failure, not the approach. You may regain weight, or for many of you who’ve been stuck in this cycle for years and years, even more weight than when you began. (Studies show that up two-thirds of us will regain more weight than lost).

💣TRUTH BOMB: Did you know that “diets” and restrictive eating can actually be the cause of perceived eating challenges such over-eating, intense cravings, bingeing and emotional eating? (Ironic, huh – as we often go to these plans to “fix” these “problems.”)

REPEAT: At some point (next year, next month) you begin again with another round of your “favorite” eating plan or you try a new one that promises you that you will be part of the 5% of people (the 🦄 unicorns) that can change your body size permanently – sustain it. Remember, we’re not all supposed to be the same size and that health and body weight are a complex subject (see my article ⬇️ to learn more).


The good news is that there’s a way out of this madness.

But I’ll be honest with you, it’s not a quick fix. But worth it – if you finally want to have a healthy relationship with food and feel good in your body.

What you can do instead:

  1. Re-educate yourself and learn more about how health can come in different sizes and shapes and how your health is impacted by many factors. ​That’s why I take a “deep health” coaching approach – when all dimensions of your wellbeing are in sync (physical, mental, emotional, relational, environmental and existential).To learn more, come on over to my blog and read: Size or shape doesn’t define your health
  2. Practice “true” self-care from this new space.

What if you could allow your body to be the size and shape it where its healthiest – when you’re nourishing it by listening to your hunger and fullness cues, being aware of which foods make you feel your best, moving in ways that bring you joy and living your best life? Don’t allow “diet culture” to be the life thief that it is – taking away your precious time, energy, health and happiness. Want to learn more about how you can learn to eat intuitively and take care of your health? Check out: Intuitive Eating: Do you need to relearn how to eat?

What to learn more about how “deep health” coaching can help you feel and be your best self? [](https://www.tanyamark.com/get-started)[Schedule a 20 minute consult](https://form.jotform.com/93306600537150) to chat with me.

I’d love to support you, Tanya

Imagine Your Life Without a Diet

(This is the second of two articles on dropping diet mentality. Read part one, “A healthy eating tip for the New Year: Ditch the diet,” here.)

Imagine if you woke up New Year’s Day and weren’t consumed with thoughts of having to fix your body.

Imagine not refusing the brownie because it’s not on your list of approved foods on your “diet” to get thinner.

That doesn’t need to be a dream if you stop believing that food and total body vigilance are the answer.

In the first part of this article, I suggested that if you’re thinking about dieting — that is, using willpower and restriction to control your eating — don’t.

So if not dieting, what can you do to take care of your whole health instead? Try something radically different. Transform how you eat. Transform how you view your body. Move on with your life, the ultimate reward of pushing diet culture off your plate.

Begin by relearning how to eat.

The problem with any diet is that “most people trying to control the size, shape or weight of their bodies have learned to put the rules of the new plan before their body’s actual needs,” according to BeNourished.org, a website focused on healthy eating and body image.

Intuitive eating is the antidote because it’s based on the opposite premise. Instead of restriction, you are guided to tune into internal cues and your body’s needs. That includes learning to honor your individual hunger, fullness, satisfaction and which foods make you feel best.

Essentially, intuitive eating is just … eating.

But because “diet mentality is so deeply ingrained in societal beliefs, that intuitive eating, our natural way of eating, is considered revolutionary,” says the Loving Me Project, which encourages women to live a purpose-driven life.

When we no longer live by external food rules and societal beliefs that our bodies are too much or are not enough, we can get on with our lives.

What are you really “hungering” for? If it wasn’t about controlling your food to transform your body, what would you focus on each new year — and the rest of your life?

“Letting go of the idea of a smaller body, means creating space for a bigger life,” The Loving Me Project says. (You can follow the project on Instagram at @the.lovingmeproject).

Think big, not small, in the new year – without a limited view of “what’s healthy” — where diet culture wants to keep you focused, continuing to spend your time, money and energy, year after year. Instead use your head space to answer these questions:

• What would a life beyond dieting and body worry look like for you?

• What do you really want out of life?

• What really matters most?

• What would make this upcoming year extraordinary?

Envision your future as if it’s already happened. Describe the diet culture-free life you would create for yourself, and email me your answers at tanya@tanyamark.com.

“Diet culture steals your joy, your spark, and your life, which is why I call it, ‘the life thief,’” said Christy Harrison, author of “Anti-Diet.”

Don’t spend your life thinking you’re broken, a project to be fixed. Don’t be the 90-year-old woman refusing the fresh-baked brownie from her granddaughter because she’s “watching her waistline.”

Do something radical in the new year: Don’t diet. Listen to your body and live fully.

Tips for the New Year:

Listen to your body

Ready to learn how to listen to your body’s internal cues?

Transform your body image, not your body. It’s what you think about your body that’s the real challenge.

“I am too fat,” “I’m too skinny,” “I have too many stretch marks,” “I don’t have enough muscle.”

What if we swapped the endless pursuit of fixing or hiding our bodies, believing that our bodies are not enough or too much, to pursue a healthy body image instead?

What if instead of trying to change our physical appearance, we adjusted our mindset, our thoughts?

Focusing on changing your body image verses changing your body, can produce life-changing benefits. This switch can boost your self-esteem, banish persistent body anxiety, promote comfort in personal relationship, improve your relationship with food, reduce unhealthy dieting habits, improve your relationship with exercise, reduce the risk of developing an eating disorder, decrease social isolation due to body worries.

And most of all, changing your body image can improve your overall quality of life. Controlling your body shouldn’t be your life’s work.

Remember: “You are not alive to just pay bills and lose weight,” says Caroline Donner, author of “The F*ck It Diet.”

Read to re-learn how to eat?
Intuitive Eating: Do you need to re-learn how to eat?

Ready to transform how you view your body?
5 Steps to a Healthy Body Image