I’ve waited a while before I dove into the most recent weight watchers commercial featuring Oprah. I enjoyed this article and this article written by others surrounding this ad campaign. And I finally feel ready to speak up.
Here’s the thing that both articles above point out, Oprah is the definition of success and yet she still is trying to lose weight.
There are some people out there who would be more attracted to her if she were thin.
There are some people out there who would accept her more if she were thin.
And of course people who would love her more if she were thin.
And unfortunately, due to that hard truth, she continues to drive toward this goal of losing weight, even though she is the definition of success.
I hate that she thinks it’s a miracle that she can eat bread and lose weight.
I hate that she thinks she needs to lose weight at all.
And without knowing her personally, I can only guess that she is struggling with an eating disorder or two. Maybe not your typical anorexia or bulimia but one of the many other eating disorders that are not discussed as seriously as the previous two.
But dieting inevitably leads to an adverse relationship with food, exercise and body image. I’ve done my own research on this and am continuing to do so. I am back in school studying human behavior to research this even deeper. Because the effects of dieting are not being taken seriously. And Oprah is now, unfortunately, backing up a diet.
Yeah, yeah I know, the new Weight Watchers program, beyond the scale is a hundred times better than what they’ve done in the past. I do think they are getting closer and closer to real strategies that work long term. But they still have you hyper focus on food, exercise and your body, and therefore it will not work long term.
It’s eating disorders awareness week so I think it’s the perfect time to bring up the discussion of all the people who are struggling with eating disorders brought on by dieting. The following may not be recognized as eating disorders, but I struggled with all of them, and so do my clients, and the power cannot be overlooked.
I asked 40 people a series of questions around dieting, and the statistics on these eating disorders was by far the most profound:
- 89% struggle with stress eating
- 78% struggle with over eating
- 68% struggle with boredom eating
- 49% struggle with binge eating
- 19% struggle with compulsive exercise (exercise bulimia as I call it)
- 16% struggle with anorexia
- 16% struggle with bulimia
Most people only think of the last 2 as eating disorders. And yet look at how many people are struggling with food. The other staggering statistic was about exercise.
55% of people said they hate exercising and when asked, “after dieting do you crave exercise”, 74% said no.
We cannot ignore these eating disorders heavily influenced by dieting. As long as you have programs out there that create hyper awareness for food, exercise and body image, we will struggle as a society.
So what does work? I sat down and asked myself… what did I do? The first time I lost weight was by accident and then after having my son I knew what to do (or more accurately who I needed to be). But I’ve got a whole book on being vs. doing.
However, the lessons were the same. I have a feeling this will change as time goes on, but for now here is what I came up with:
- The first thing I did was gave myself permission. This happened for me since I was injured from a car accident. I finally had permission to stop everything. And so I did.
- The next thing that shifted for me was to get out of stress and move into relaxation. I wasn’t trying to lose weight anymore so I relaxed about that. Whenever the fear crept in that I might gain more weight I told it to shut up and focus on moving again.
From those 2 steps along I lost 10 lbs in 30 days.
- Then I got educated in truth principles. Why did this happen? What’s the truth about food, exercise and body image? This is why I travel around teaching as much as I can. People need to wake up to what is true.
- Next I got inspired. I started living in passion and having a lot of fun. I took a different direction in my career and got excite about the future. I was interested in food and movement for me, not to lose weight, not to gain approval or receive a gold star. Just for me and nobody else.
- And lastly I found my groove in the world. I got in flow with the universe. I was excited about yoga and threw out my gym membership. I was inspired by certain cookbooks and loved the variety of flavors. I focused on living an incredible life and nothing else.
And then one day at the doctors office, I got on the scale and I was at my goal weight.
After having Rome the process was the same minus the education piece since I already had that.
- I gave myself permission to have any body I was supposed to have and permission to focus on my baby boy.
- I relaxed into uncertainty that I had no idea what this body was going to do and that is okay.
- I got inspired by Rome and danced and sang with him. I craved the gym again and enjoyed this new appreciation for exercise. But I only went when I felt like it without any pressure to “be consistent”.
- And found my groove as a new mom and got in the flow with food, exercise and my body.
Once again, got on the scale many months later, and boom, my goal weight stared back at me.
Here’s the thing… your steps will look different than mine. However the themes will be the same.
Oprah, you don’t need to lose weight. The minute you soften into that and welcome in the idea of uncertainty, unknown, criticism, judgement, and everything in between you will notice your body transforms.
You may or may not lose pounds, that’s not for you or me to decide, but you will have a very different body. Because from the inside you will finally be calling off the war, and letting your body be just a body. Perfect in it’s imperfect-ness. Loved for its flaws. And not an ounce less worthy for not being a smaller size.
And hey, if because you give yourself permission, relax around needing it to be anything other than what it is, and find your flow with food, exercise and body image it does get smaller, that’s cool. But it means nothing more or less. It just simply is.