If my estimates are correct, in the course of my adult life, I’ve been on a diet off and on for the past 20 years. I believe I’ve lost roughly 200 pounds during that time. That’s 20 pounds lost, five pounds gained. 30 pounds lost, 10 pounds gained and so forth. It adds up. It doesn’t stay off, of course, but it adds up.
I mention this because I realized I’ve been snacking more lately due to stress (I’m a self-diagnosed emotional eater). Even if the effect on my weight is only a pound or two, I can feel the difference and it’s frustrating. And because I can feel the difference, it’s a constant battle, this desire to diet. (By diet, I mean just watching what I eat and trying to make healthy choices, I’m not even talking about the extreme or fad diets that are out there.)
At 37, I feel like I should be past all of these dieting issues, that somehow I should have learned by now what it takes to be healthy and thin. So why do I feel this constant need to monitor what I eat? This guilt that is associated with eating too much or not eating a balanced meal. It’s been going on for so long that it’s more of a habit than anything else. I know it’s not the worst issue to have, but sometimes, every once in a while, I wish that it wasn’t my issue.
To wake up in the morning and not worry if the dinner I had the night before is going to manifest itself in tighter-fitting pants. To be able to eat whatever, whenever I want without feeling like I need to know the calorie content. How would it feel to believe that I’m the perfect size, no matter what that size is?
That has never happened for me. Ever. It doesn’t matter how skinny or thin I am, I want to be skinnier and thinner. Be in better shape, have more muscle mass, just be better. I realize there are probably a lot of underlying issues and I’m sure some of you are reading this and diagnosing me as you go. ”You’ve just got low self-esteem,” some would say. While others would wonder what traumatic experience in my life has caused me to have such body image issues.
And my answer? I have no idea. There may be some deep, psychological explanation to why I feel the way I do. Personally, I believe it has to do with my perception of myself in relation to other people. I think it also has to do with the expectations that we as a society place on ourselves. It’s difficult to see these cute skinny girls in magazines and on TV and not think that it is attainable.
So how does one go from being on a diet for 20 years to not caring about it? Does the change need to be an internal one based on self-acceptance or does it need to start with a change in the way women are perceived in our culture? Or another question is: should I really stop dieting? I don’t want to go to the other extreme and not care about how I look or feel because I don’t think that’s healthy either. I honestly don’t know the answer.
I do know that I don’t want to be on a diet the rest of my life – but I really don’t see any way around it.
What about you – what do you think of dieting?