When I was in my early twenties, I went on my first diet. I did it to support a friend and I ended up losing twenty plus pounds. That in itself didn’t start my dieting career though. It was the comment I received after the weight loss from a male acquaintance who I thought was a demi-god. He said I looked hot. And that’s how dieting became my new best friend.
How could that one statement have impacted me so? How could this one comment keep me dieting for the next 40 years? Let’s take a look, because that’s exactly what happened.
I remember the moment completely. I lived in southern California at the time. I was tanned and was wearing a swath of a Hawaiian print fabric wrapped as a skirt around my skinny little body. My outfit was completed with a bikini top. As I promenaded down the stairs to my backyard, I heard Mr. Dreamy say, “Wow, look at you. Nice.” And then he turned to my friend and said, “She’s looking hot.”
I don’t think I had even made it to the bottom step when my ego grabbed that comment and tucked it away in my subconscious mind to periodically remind me how awesome being thin was. It kept me in judgment and at odds with myself, reminding me of what I was not.
For the next 40 years, every time that image and those words flashed through my mind, I’d go into a spin. If I wasn’t on a diet, I'd go on one. If I was already on a diet, I’d diet harder. All to reach the moment of that image in association with that comment.
Have you ever thought about why you started on a diet or why you’re so committed to stay on one? Was there a particular moment that comes to mind? Was it something you took up because you thought it was what women did at a particular age? Was it something someone said to you? Was it something you saw in a magazine or on television that provoked a desire or need to be thin? Was it a conversation with friends about how “that woman over there” looked and you started wondering if they said about you?
What seeded the notion to go on a diet?
There are so many subtle ways we can become attached to dieting. Taking some time and reflecting on these questions will help you get a sense of why dieting is important to you. Sit with them, journal with them, expand on them. Don’t be afraid of what comes up. Consider yourself an explorer or an investigator of you.
Dieting is not about you or your body. You’re perfect just as you are. The diet is the result of a thought, a statement, a moment captured by your ego and stored in your subconscious memory.
I recall the exact moment I consciously saw the image I had been holding onto for forty years. I was standing in front of the mirror in my bathroom and the image of me in my Hawaiian print skirt and bikini top floated through my mind. I suddenly made the connection between that image and my need to diet. It hit me so hard, I stumbled backward.
But I was free. Once I made the connection, I was free to step into a new way of being. I was free to choose how I wanted to show up.
Telling the body, through dieting, that it needs to be thin is a disservice. For me, at age 55 or 60, to think I needed to be an image of myself at age 20 was ridiculous, but there I was. Until I became consciously aware of this image and shook it loose, I was hostage to it.
The image still exists in my mind, but the energy associated with it is gone. Now when the image floats into my mind, I can say, “I recognize you. You're the young woman I enjoyed being, but I am no longer you.” The struggle over wanting to be someone I am not is gone.
Maybe you’re not ready to step away from dieting and that’s okay. It’s not a matter of right or wrong, it’s more a matter of having an understanding of why we do what we do; of bringing our subconscious behaviors into our conscious awareness.
What if you were the one who looks at your beautiful body no matter what it looks like or its size and says, “Wow, you look awesome. I love you.”