During my competition days, my entire life was ruled by countdowns and fresh starts. I would have specific dates that I would “start my diet” for a show or a photo shoot.
And when I was dieting, it was always a race to GET AS LEAN AS POSSIBLE AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. If I lost 5 lbs, I’d bump cardio to lose 10. Once I lost 10, I’d cut carbs to lose another few. I’d take drastic measures to lose as much as possible by the deadline. UNTIL … show time!
But here was the trap: by the time I reached the show, I was so depleted and deprived that I couldn’t NOT binge. I was out of my mind, eating whatever and however much I wanted, no thought to consequences or mindfulness. I felt miserable and disgusted with myself the whole time.
But then: “I need another show to get me back in shape!”
And I’d pick a date to “start my diet” again, and after I decided on the date, it would be game-on with food because at some point in the future, ALL THIS YUMMY FOOD was going to be off-limits!
Can you see the trap we fall into when adopting an urgency mindset? What IS the big freaking rush?
And it wasn’t until I quit competing, reached my breaking point with misery and food disgust that I finally, FINALLY said, “Okay, no more deadlines. I have to figure out how to eat healthy once and for all.”
And I started sitting back and allowing myself to not be perfect. To not follow every nutrition rule to the T. To mess up and learn from it. To consider my actual lifestyle, personal preferences and psychological sensitivities.
It wasn’t until I slowed down and started taking me into account, that I actually started getting sustainable results.
“Jill, I want to learn to eat moderately, but I am so scared I will gain weight. Will I?”
I get this question a ton. And it’s a great one. But it’s also indicative of the person’s intention who’s asking it.
And I get that mindset because for years and YEARS, I yo-yo dieted precisely because I was terrified of gaining weight. I’d do anything–even things that we making me super miserable!–to avoid gaining weight.
The problem is that I never asked myself what it would mean if I gained some weight. I never asked WHY I was so terrified of it.
At a clinical level, gaining 5-10 lbs in the name of forever sanity and being able to maintain my physique forever and not be anxious about food every second seems like not a bad trade-off?
Could I still love myself 5-10 lbs heavier? Would my friends and family still love and accept me? Would my business still do well? Could I go speak at a fitness conference and be taken seriously?
I asked myself all these questions and the resounding answer was (I found out) … YES.
Yes, I am still good enough and worthy of respect and love and affirmation and acknowledgement. I am 100% FINE 5-10 lbs heavier.
And for me, that’s what happened when I started eating moderately–I gained a few pounds and learned to be fine with it because it was part of the process of quitting the deprive-then-binge cycle.
My body needed time to adjust. My metabolism needed time to heal and balance itself.
And it was ONLY after a year+ at the same weight (finally!) that my body started losing a little. Not a ton, but every year since I started eating moderately (~5 years), I’ve lost a pound or two. Not because I was trying but because I was finally giving my body enough breathing room to actually respond, sustainably.
It is possible. But not without you giving yourself the permission to be okay no matter what.
Your motivation to quit the deprive-then-binge can’t be to lose weight. It has to be that you are just fucking sick and tired of being obsessed with food.
ONLY THEN, will you be able to sustainable work toward your physique goals. And actually enjoy it.
But it takes time, patience and a shitload of self-compassion.
Successful people take the long view.
They don’t need all the results right this second. They trust that they have the time and introspection potential to “get it” over time.
AND THEY DO.
Successful people also know that lots of tiny wins add up to big successes if you can just harness the patience and perspective necessary.
Weight difference: 10 lbs (left: 145 lbs in 2008, right: current at 155 lbs)
Mental burden: 180 degree difference
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