Happy Thursday! It’s been a while since I’ve linked up to the fabulous Amanda’a Thinking Out Loud link up, so I thought I would today!
Have you seen Sandra Aamodt’s TED Talk, “Why Dieting Doesn’t Usually Work?” No? Then watch it. It’s 15 minutes. I’ll wait 🙂
Here are the main points I took away from this:
- 80% of 10 year old girls have been on a diet
- Your brain has its own idea of what you should weigh and this weight is your set point – aka a 10-15 pound range around which your weight fluctuates.
- Your set point can go up but rarely will go down
- Temporary weight gain can become permanent – your brain perceives this higher weight as your new normal
- Girls who diet in their early teen years are 3 times more likely to become overweight 5 years later, even if they started out at a healthy weight
- The same factors that predict weight gain (like binging) also predict eating disorders
- What can we do? Be mindful – understand and pay attention to your body’s signals (aka eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full).
But the best lesson I took away from this TED Talk?
“Our daughters have learned to measure their worth by the wrong scale”
Isn’t this the truth? I touch on this a little on my About Me page, but growing up, I was hyper aware of my weight. I was never tiny like many of my peers and my mom (sorry for calling you out, mom!) never let me forget that I wasn’t thin. There were always little comments about how I looked in clothes or about my belly or my thighs being “big”. As I got older and moved to
hell middle school, my classmates never let me forget that I fat. There were little comments, or notes passed around class about me, or messages on AIM that if I tried to eat cotton balls that I would lose weight. Nice, right?
By the time I got to high school, I was obsessed with how I looked. I ran cross country and played basketball and was in shape, but I thought I looked disgusting. I wasn’t happy with myself – I would severely limit what I ate and then binge, because restriction wasn’t sustainable. I was miserable. As I moved on and went to college, I was overweight and gained more and more weight due to binge drinking and eating, in addition to being so unhappy that eating was the only thing that provided me with comfort. Through all of this was the need I felt to diet – to count calories or do Weight Watchers or only eat granola bars and yogurt and frozen meals because they were “healthy.” It took me years to get to a place where I was ready to move past the diet mentality and be ready to start making changes. It then took more than two additional years to change my eating habits and lose 40 pounds. As I reflect not, I realize that this journey of becoming healthy will never end.
My negative body image was rooted in me when I was young and has stuck with my through today. I’d love to say that one day I could rid myself of the self-doubt and low self-esteem, but I know that probably isn’t realistic. I am human and will always (unfortunately) have doubts of myself. However, if there is one thing I’ve learned as I’ve taken the journey to slowly accept myself for who I am is that dieting does not work. Restriction does not work. Excessive exercising does not work. Just like Sandra says in the TED Talk, our bodies were not created to endure a lifetime of diets and excessive weight loss – and I agree with this. It may just be my personal experience, but every time I have dieted and lost weight, I have gained it back (usually, plus more!).
What have I found does work? Making an effort. Being mindful. Having a plan. Making the choice to eat clean foods and not processed foods. Not being restrictive, but instead to eat foods that I like to eat and that fuel me. Balance. For me, balance works.
Why does balance work? Because it allows for flexibility. And because it’s realistic. The truth is, I will never be able to eat 100% clean or totally eliminate sugar or processed foods from my diet. Honestly, I don’t want to! But what I do want is to be able to enjoy a piece of chocolate and not want to eat ALL THE CHOCOLATE. I do want to be able to enjoy a meal out and not feel guilty. I want to get to a point where I look at food as a way to fuel my body and not as a way to cure boredom. I’m looking to find that balance in my life where I don’t have to think about food as anything more than what it is – food.
This ended up being much more long winded than I intended, but my point is this. I’ve argued before that the scale doesn’t tell us everything – in fact, it can have a really negative affect on our us and our minds. So it’s our responsibility to share with young girls that the scale isn’t everything and that our worth is not measured by a number. Our worth is measured by who we are and what we do – not some arbitrary number that we give too much meaning to.
Anyways, that’s my opinion. So now I want to hear from you!
- Did you watch the TED Talk? What are your thoughts?
- Do you agree that our bodies have a set point weight that we’re always destined to hover around? Or do you think this is wrong?
- Do you think diets work? Or don’t work?