While I usually talk about fashion, for this month’s column I would like to talk about a subject I’m very passionate about. As some of you know, I am a psychotherapist who treats eating disorders and I thought I’d start off 2019 talking about why to you should consider making 2019 a diet-free year. This time of year we’re inundated by constant weight loss and diet articles filled with messages like, “New year, new you,” insinuating that you will only be living to your fullest potential if you are thin.
Today I am here to give you a different kind of message. What if instead of focusing all our energy on counting calories, macros, or Weight Watcher points to try and shrink ourselves and lose weight, we used all of our brain space to focus on our passions, interests, relationships and things that bring us joy and satisfaction?
I’m hoping that everyone reading this chooses to make 2019 a year that is free of dieting. The diet industry is worth over 70 billion dollars, while the research on dieting continues to prove over and over again that diets fail the vast majority of people who attempt them. Ironically, research shows that dieting causes more weight gain, slows down metabolisms, and contributes to disordered eating. The diet culture impacts girls as young as the age of three who express a fear of being fat. Do we want this for the next generation? Do we want young girls to think that being fat is the worst thing they can be? Remember, your body is not a problem. You are not a problem.
So instead of spending our valuable time, money, and emotional resources on funding this $70 billion diet industry that doesn’t actually work, let’s make 2019 the year where we learn to see ourselves as so much more than a number on the scale. Let’s have 2019 be the year where our self worth is based on the way we live our lives and who we are as human beings and not how much we weigh.
I passionately believe that focusing on healthy habits for people of all sizes is so much more important than focusing on weight loss. We all know thin people who never exercise and constantly eat fast food and larger people who exercise and eat a balanced variety of foods. But we only express concern over larger bodies and that has got to stop.
My boss, Dr. Alexis Conason, wrote a “no dieting pledge” that I want to share with you:
“In 2019, I will strive to accept my body in its current shape and size. Because this is the body that I am living in and no amount of hating myself will change that fact. From acceptance comes nurturance and from nurturance comes health and healing. I recognize that healthy bodies come in a diverse range of shapes and sizes. Health is not determined by weight, but by how we nourish our body through self-care, nutrition, and physical movement. In 2019, I will strive to honor and care for this body that I was given to the best of my ability by listening, trusting, and respecting my body.”