New insights from the Am I Hungry?® program continue to unfold for me. Not necessarily as new information (I’ve read the material multiple times), but rather as a deeper level of understanding of what I’ve learned. For example, this week I’m feeling great compassion for dieters, past and present, including myself. I now realize the sabotaging characteristics of dieting like never before.
Diet proponents preach sermons of how to be “whole” by denying ourselves the foods we love, tightly restricting our eating choices and portions, and pushing ourselves to exercise according to a predefined program, schedule, and timeline. And we try so hard because we believe them. We believe we’re not good enough until our bodies look like the ones in the pictures. We believe that being very thin is the perfect model for health. And we believe there is no other way to get there.
To be fair, maybe they believe there is no other way as well. Now I know that denying ourselves the food we love is a sure-fire way to trigger cravings. And, tightly restricting our portions and forcing ourselves to ignore our hunger is not evidence of willpower and strength, but rather the perfect way to engage our body’s protective mechanism to lower our metabolism to avoid starvation.
Because, our bodies don’t know that the restrictions are self-imposed, they act as if there is a famine. Furthermore, pushing ourselves to exercise to someone else’s program is a de-motivator in the long run, can make us feel like a failure when we don’t measure up and, even worse, can cause injury, which sadly we’re sometimes encouraged to wear as badges of honor. After all of that, we often add another layer of damage by feeling disappointment in ourselves for being weak, and hopelessness because we doubt that we’re ever going to be able to “get control” of ourselves. But, when you’re trying to achieve the wrong goal (someone else’s) and following advice that is counterproductive, as well as potentially harmful, you’re set up for failure.
So I send a big hug to Dr. May for reintroducing us to instinctive eating and for her ongoing compassion and support, and a HUGE group hug to all who have been trapped in the cycles of dieting and indulging. Then, I open my arms wide with gratitude for freedom!