- 3 red flags that you’re addicted to dieting
- when I woke up in an empty bedroom I realized I was addicted to dieting
- how YOU can stop being addicted to dieting
Am I addicted to dieting?
That idea didn’t dawn on me, until I’d:
→ canceled countless Friday nights with friends to sit alone at home and plan a new diet.
→ wasted a redwood-worth of graph paper to write a list of what I had to do on my new diet. (And each letter had to be PERFECTLY-formed.)
→ spent money I didn’t have on symbolic jewellery (butterfly necklaces, heart-shaped rings, and so on) to mark the start of a new diet.
And gained and lost and regained, again… and again, the same 20+ pounds from overeating between diets.
But none of these losses (or gains!) were able to shake me from trying to prove to myself I had the willpower, determination and discipline to stick to my (self-defeating) diet.
That is, until the morning of October 31st, 1995.
The day I woke up in an empty bedroom.
My Am I addicted to dieting? epiphany
The night before I’d told my housemates, as I roller-bladed past the TV and out the front door carrying a big, black bin sack, that I was on my way to do laundry.
(I’d already quietly lowered nearly a dozen bags off the back porch to collect later.)
…A brilliant switch-and-bait on my part.
I mean… bait-and-switch!
(I always get my expressions wrong.)
Reality: All my friends were glued to the TV to see the referendum results on Quebec voting to separate from Canada.
“A rather worried looking news anchor, Peter Mansbridge during the coverage of the referendum vote as it swings on a narrow margin.”
Photo Credit: screen shot from that night’s news cast
I wasn’t worried.
(It’s hard to see anything when you’re standing at the center of your own storm.)
All I knew was that I was on a mission.
To separate from myself.
…This weak person I believed I’d become.
I knew I could be more determined!
That’s why I wasn’t going to the coin laundry.
What being addicted to dieting can look like
Instead I was rollerblading down the street, distributing bags of my belongings to the end of other people’s driveways so I could:
- punish myself for breaking my latest diet by doing something irreversible
- draw a line in the sand between the “old” me, who I thought lacked self control and the “new” me, who would have the mental toughness to see anything through that I set my mind to… just like I used to do!
- create a dramatic fresh start by clearing the slate
- motivate myself; with barely any earthly belongings to distract and keep me comfortable, I believed I’d finally stick to my diet
The bin bags were full of mix tapes made in high school, clothes—like a pair of vintage jeans that were in my dream size and had an American Flag painted down the right leg. (Uh! Those jeans were so cool.) And yup, all my symbolic “fresh start” jewellery.
With every swish of my skates a muffled jingle answered
But rather than feel sad, I was full of hope, believing this time would be different.
Believing this diet would be THE ONE.
The one that would change e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.
And I thought it was convenient, maybe even a sign… that this fresh start to my new diet so perfectly aligned with garbage day.
Realizing I *might* be addicted to dieting
At the time, and even for many years after, I didn’t have the language to pair with my actions or feelings.
But that Hallowe’en morning, in my 2nd year of university, at 94 Division St, in the heart of Queen’s University’s student enclave—distinct for its:
- couches on front lawns
- school flags draped over windows
- red solo cups abandoned in bushes
- and tri-colored painted steps, pillars and mailboxes, abound!
I found myself in an empty room.
Where I lived in 1995:
Photo Credit: Google Maps, 2020
I asked for the tiniest room in exchange for the small, white, unheated wood “office” at the front, left-side of the house where I put my Nordic Track and faux-skied for at least an hour a day, 7 days a week, in rain, wind, sunshine and minus 30 degree blizzards. And always at 6 am.
Exhibit A: School Flag
Photo Credit: Google Maps
Exhibit B: Red Solo Cups
Ummm… ok. That’s a total reenactment that was created, dismantled and then disposed of (recycled!) on a walk with Rocky.
Exhibit C: Painted Steps
Photo Credit: A photo of my computer screen opened to an article in VICE Magazine
…And when I woke up in that empty room, on that crisp, autumn morning, and realized NOTHING that actually mattered had changed, it was the first time I wasn’t excited about the new diet I’d written out the night before.
For the first time I didn’t believe this diet would be different.
Sitting on my bed surrounded by:
empty book shelves
bare wire hangers dangling in my closet
my cork board stripped of everything but scattered blue, green, yellow and red tacks
and a desk with nothing on it…
And having weeks gone by without me going to class or playing sports or seeing friends in any meaningful way…
I had no idea—NO IDEA!—what to do next.
As a straight A+ student, athlete of the year and student council exec., I’d jeopardized everything important to me, that I loved.
I’d tried everything I could think of, 100’s of times, to punish myself for not sticking to my diet.
In yet things kept getting worse, instead of better.
And there was nothing left to take away.
All I knew—the only thing I knew for certain—was that I loved life.
And my relationship with food was standing between me and a world of opportunities.
I was desperate to get control of my relationship with food
so I could find out who I was
when I wasn’t:
or counting calories.
That was my rock bottom
And a huge, important life-changing turning point for me.
Finally I was ready to STOP dieting and try something new.
So I asked for help.
And was 100% ready to TRUST THE PROCESS.
You don’t have to wait until you hit rock bottom to stop dieting
That’s a waste of time!
And you don’t have to go on forever with things never getting bad enough to really do anything about it.
You don’t want an ok life.
You want a spectacular life.
The first step?
Reflect on your relationship with food.
And figure out if:
- &/or feeling hungry
are interrupting your ability to live other parts of your life to their full potential—whether it’s sports, school, advancing your career, friendships or finding L-O-V-E in The City.
Or in the country.
My relationship with food interrupted ALL the above.
Am I addicted to dieting?
Have you seen this short clip from Sex and The City?
Listen to it, but every time they reference dating… PRETEND they’re talking about dieting:
Any sentences stick out for you?
Red flags you’re addicted to dieting
Whether you continually date people who don’t respect you
repeatedly eat in a way that doesn’t respect your body’s needs (aka dieting)
shop, gamble or use substances to try and make yourself feel better…
Well, all these self-defeating choices have a similar pattern of:
- exhilarating highs
- how-did-I-get-here-again? lows
- and renewed HOPE… that prompt us to try again.
Highs & lows of being addicted to dieting
“Madeline” left this comment in one of my blog posts and it PERFECTLY captures the destructive cycle of dieting:
As soon as I mess up something in my diet or feel like it’s stalled, I’ll give up my current diet then eat whatever I want while devising a new plan. It’s really hard to break this cycle since it’s kind of a relief to give up the diet for a while, and then kind of a rush to come up with something new that I’m sure will work this time…
I absolutely love ❤️ this woman for being so real.
Also, what she said could’ve been straight out of my diary.
Can you stop being addicted to dieting?
I’m living proof you can:
- Break this self-defeating cycle.
- Get control of your relationship with food.
- And find out who you are when you have FREEDOM from dieting.
So now I’m asking you:
Are you ready to redirect all your high-achiever energy
away from dieting
and into something that makes you want to tear off the sheets in the morning and jump out of bed?
I hope so!
Here’s the first steps—
How to break up with an addiction to dieting
Understand what being addicted to dieting can look like and the choices you’ll LOVE making instead.
3 red flags you’re addicted to dieting
Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha and Miranda all paint a pretty good picture of what being addicted to something that doesn’t serve you looks like.
Take it away, girls!
Addicted to dieting RED FLAG #1
Here’s the start of their conversation.
See if you can figure out the first RED flag:
We adore each other, we have fun together… we mesh.
And this is a problem?
It just feels odd. I’m used to the hunt. And this is effortless. It’s freaking me out.
I totally understand. You’re not getting the stomach flip.
Which is really just the fear of not getting the guy.
I totally understand your dilemma. From my experience honey, if he seems too good to be true he probably is…
The 1st RED flag that you’re addicted to dieting is…
YOU THINK BEING A HEALTHY WEIGHT HAS TO BE HARD
I thought that too!
The diet industry has conditioned us to believe weight loss is all about sacrifice, willpower and discipline.
For years I was sure my extra weight was a character flaw.
As a Type A person…
I loved, loved, LOVED having a set diet I’d map out (on graph paper!) over 10 days or longer.
Then I’d imagine how good I’d feel on Day 10 after working HARD, following my (self-defeating) diet perfectly.
<I’m all about delayed gratification.>
I thought weight loss was a measurable way to prove I was determined.
But I was wrong.
And I’m not alone.
Example of being addicted to dieting because you think it has to be HARD
I was just speaking to someone who read my book and this was her feedback:
As soon as I started eating the way you suggest in your book, I stopped thinking about food, had tons of energy and never felt hungry. But it’s been 3 days and I haven’t lost weight so I’m totally going in the wrong direction.
If you’ve been yo-yo dieting for 1 year, or 40 years (easy to do if you started dieting in your teens) your metabolism isn’t going to suddenly burst out of survival mode after 72 hours. Your body wants to keep you ALIVE. And needs some time to trust you to NOT hop on another diet and deny your body the basic needs it requires to function properly.
You can unlock your HAPPY weight simply by getting into a healthy routine—or what I call, if you want to be in optimum health, The GOLD Standard Routine—and STICKING with it.
BOOST your metabolism by staying away from dieting!
Another person I spoke with who’s addicted to dieting
Let’s call her Alicia.
Alicia: Ya… I’m not ready to stop dieting. No pain, no gain! I feel like I need to work for it. Like I have to suffer to lose weight or else I’m doing it wrong. I’m scared to try anything else.
Kelly (me): How long have you been dieting?
Alicia: 10 years.
Kelly (me): Well, if you’re willing to try dieting for 10 years without it working… would you be willing to try something new for a few weeks and see how that goes?
Weight loss should not be hard
(And LOVE shouldn’t be either):
One minute he’s all over me, and the next minute he’s pushing me away. And I just cannot believe this is happening… again. Why do I keep doing this to myself? I must be a masochist or something… That’s when I first realized it. I was in an SM relationship with Mr. Big… In love relationships there is a fine line between pleasure and pain. In fact, it’s a common belief that a relationship without pain is a relationship not worth having. To some, pain implies growth. But how do we know when the growing pains stop, and the pain pains take over? Are we masochists or optimists if we continue to walk that fine line? When it comes to relationships, how do you know when enough is enough?
-Carrie, Sex & The City
If you’re ready to get control of your relationship with food, remember… it doesn’t need to be difficult. In fact, it shouldn’t be.
Many “thin” people make being a healthy weight incredibly complicated.
Work smarter, not harder.
Here’s how ↓
Addicted to dieting INTERVENTION #1
I discovered the hard way that unlocking your HAPPY weight is about being KIND to your body.
Steve is completely predictable but that's what I love about him. He's just so comfortable and safe— Miranda - Sex & The City
Your body is natural. And everything natural works at its best when it’s in a healthy routine… A routine that’s predictable, comfortable and safe.
Or as one of my brilliant client’s calls it:
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, repeat!
Jerking your body around with extreme diets (like intermittent fasting—stop doing that) puts your body into survival mode. Then it’s easy to gain weight and hard to lose it.
Addicted to dieting RED FLAG #2
Can you guess this red flag?:
I don’t believe this. Now we’re dumping guys for being too available. This is all solid proof of what I’ve been reading in this great, new book. It says that if you really want to get married you shouldn’t be spending so much time around dysfunctional, single women.
How to apply successful business strategies to finding a husband…
…Fine. Make fun. It encourages professional women to approach finding a mate with the same kind of dedication and organization that they bring to their careers.
The 2nd RED flag that you’re addicted to dieting is…
YOU SPEND YOUR TIME TRYING NEW DIETS, READING ABOUT DIETS & TALKING TO OTHER DIETERS ABOUT DIETING
OMG! I did that too!
Just like Madeline, (quoted above) one “mistake” and I’d write-off the whole day. Then I’d be excited to plan and start a new diet.
Like I spent all my savings on magazines to learn more about how to diet.
(49 pounds in 4 weeks… riiiiiight.)
I thought I was patching together a comprehensive weight-loss approach. But in reality, I was just collecting diet rules, tips and tricks. And following these RIDICULOUS restrictions made my eating disordered.
Also, I pointed out and made fun of my extra weight All. The. Time. (Before anyone else could do it.)
And my best friends and most of my “light weight” rowing team were also on diets. And we swapped (set-yourself-up-to-fail) diet tips constantly.
First example that pops into my head?
The night before we raced in the final all 8 of us slept in garbage bags because one of the girls on our crew recommended it. (You only lose water BTW – not good for your skin or heart or your sports performance.)
And I’m not alone.
Example of being addicted to dieting because you spend your time reading, trying and talking about dieting
One of the last times I went to the gym before it closed, I opened the door to the sound of the tv.
I love finding a window when nobody’s there so I can just read my “gym” book.
As I hopped on the elliptical machine I looked up and saw that the woman beside me was watching Dr. Oz.
And he said:
Just as we head out for the commercial break I want to ask you, should you avoid hot or cold potatoes if you want to lose weight? We’ll let you know as soon as we’re back…
– Dr. Oz
Since I stopped dieting and unlocked my HAPPY weight, 22+ years ago, I’ve been eating:
- baked potatoes with full-fat sour cream
- roasted potatoes
- mashed potatoes
- chilled potato salad
- warm potato salad
- potato wedges aka French Fries!
- scallop potatoes
And tons of other kinds of hot and cold potato dishes.
(All types of potatoes I was scared to eat when I was dieting and 30 pounds overweight.)
These days I simply make my any-temperature-potato choice (or other carb) part of a ROUGHLY balanced meal or snack made MOSTLY of whole foods.
In other words, make carbs about 1/3 of what you eat.
Then… just as I was restraining myself from tapping the woman beside me on the shoulder to tell her to ignore Dr. O, two other women came through the door and I heard the trainer tell her client:
“…Like if you drink mint tea right before you work out you lose more weight!”
– Trainer at the gym
Everybody’s looking for a silver bullet or magic wand to lose weight!
And willing to try the wildest things to lose weight.
Like, ahem, sleeping in a garbage bag.
…Or, what I witnessed as a kid: eating a raw egg for dinner while everyone else ate a regular meal.
We’re taught from an early age that we have to do unhealthy things to be a healthy weight.
You really don’t have to do anything weird to unlock your H 🙂 PPY weight.
Stop getting lost in the details!
Addicted to dieting INTERVENTION #2
I hit rock bottom that Hallowe’en morning in 1995, before I was willing to try something new.
I mean, I didn’t even contemplate trying something new until I actually thought I ruined my life.
But I don’t want you to have to lose stuff you care about.
Or miss out on stuff that could be.
Or spend precious time punishing yourself in every way possible until there is nothing left to take away…
You don’t need to do that.
No more swapping diet tips with fellow dieters
Recognize that talking about how to count macros and build muscle with your friend who’s also been struggling to lose weight for years, might not be the best way to source info for something as important as your body. Or as precious as each passing day.
Stay away from dieters!
Do your best to surround yourself with people who have a healthy relationship with food. And I’ll say it again, so many “thin” people make being a healthy weight so d*mn complicated. Which is why they’re always on a new diet.
Recognize diets are short term solutions
Want a long-term solution? You have to lose weight the same way you’re going to keep it off. You don’t need another diet! Instead, you need to build habits you and your body love.
Addicted to dieting RED FLAG #3
Final red flag to mull over:
Eh, I’m more a student of chaos theory.
Anything come to mind?
The 3rd red flag that you’re addicted to dieting is…
DESPITE THE NUMBER OF TIMES YOUR APPROACH DOESN’T WORK, YOU GO BACK AND TRY IT AGAIN
Yup… that would be me too.
For 10 years I tried the same weight-loss approach (dieting!). Over and over again.
When I was 14 years old I started:
- weighing myself
- counting calories
- eating low-fat, no-fat and ultra-low-fat food
- drinking diet pop
- writing out (impossible) diet & exercise plans that lasted for days at a time
And I did tons of other diet-approved choices
But by Day 4 or Day 5 I’d get really hungry or be at a friends house where they had, say white bread rather than whole wheat… and I’d end up eating something unplanned or that I regretted. And then I’d feel incredibly anxious for not following my diet perfectly. So I’d do extra exercise or skip the next meal or eat all the stuff I couldn’t have “on” my diet, to draw a line in the sand (and because I was starving!!!)
Then start a new diet.
One that was full of promise and gave me hope—one that was even more restrictive to try to make up for lost time and get back to where I would have been if I didn’t break my diet.
(That actually slows down your metabolism!)
I gained more weight and built more bad habits between diets.
And this self-defeating pattern of extremes escalated for years.
Also, I was so quick to start a new diet to ease my anxiety, that there was never time to stop and reflect. See self-defeating patterns. And learn…
I know I’m not alone.
Example of being addicted to dieting because you keep trying the same approach that doesn’t work
Everyday I work with remarkable women.
Truly remarkable human beings who I love… who circle the starve, binge & purge cycle, just like I did.
Addicted to dieting INTERVENTION #3
So why do we—why do:
& hard-working women
keep dieting… and expect different results?
We keep going back and trying the same method that never worked
because we blame ourselves
rather than our weight-loss approach.
Ok… (putting my hands on your shoulders and looking you straight in the eyes… but not in a creepy way)
..it’s time to:
The diet industry got me addicted to dieting by making me question my character
As soon as I started dieting, I wondered where my willpower went.
And I kept thinking for years, including when I distributed my belongings all down Division Street in Kingston, Ontario… “I used to be so determined.”
I really beat myself up about it.
And let my inability to stick to my diet diminish EVERYTHING else I worked hard for and was good at.
…Well that, my friend, is all by design.
The diet industry is a 254.9 billion dollar industry.
(The wedding bridal wear industry is 79.8 billion, yo!)
So it’s fair to say that the diet industry’s got money to play with, and their marketing is on point.
And that’s why I’m standing here (sitting at my computer with my hair in a messy top-knot typing like a wild woman) to say… it’s time to stop blaming yourself for not being able to lose weight.
Stop feeling ashamed!
Shame isolates you with misinformation.
Instead blame your weight-loss method!
And be open to a new weight-loss approach.
Stop lining the pockets of the diet industry and build a healthy lifestyle you love by getting into what I call the GOLD Standard Routine!
Be open to learn from someone who’s been there and back and has a proven road map
And trust me, change can happen fast if you’re willing to (drum roll):
TRUST THE PROCESS!
Getting help is ideally not because you have a big problem (like I did), but because you want to prevent a big problem.
When I do my taxes I speak to a chartered accountant.
Leaky drain? We call a plumber.
Need flowers for a friend’s mom who’s hosting a Sex & The City-themed dinner Party?
I went to the flower shop at the top of my street.
I just brought some odds and ends:
And the uber-talented florist made this Carrie-themed corsage:
When efficient people need to get something done… they go to the experts.
Whether you’re addicted to dieting or dabbling with dieting…
Understand that asking for help is a strength.
Asking for help is a sign of intelligence.
Get the job done!
This was one of the big lessons I learned from overcoming my eating disorder.
And I’m pretty good about putting it in practice… Except for the time there was a pandemic and I had to highlight my own hair. Surprise! Big clumps of it turned orange.
(TRUTH: It still looked waaay better than before I did a home-dye-job, so #noregrets.)
Getting control of your relationship with food and unlocking your H 🙂 PPY weight deserves the same kind of attention.
Speak to an expert so you can get back to your own expertise
And be d*mn proud of it!
Feel empowered for getting off the diet roller coaster—that’s mentally and physically unhealthy.
And TELL other women so they can STOP wasting their time.
We need all this high-achiever energy focused on:
& choosing GREEN options to help the environment.
Say: “I got my shizzle together so I can stop calorie counting, weighing myself and checking out “how big I look” in every reflective surface (all things I did and worried about for years)… And instead I…”
[Insert whatever your dot, dot, dot would be. Whatever you LOVE to do—that’s way more exciting than dieting.]
My dot, dot, dot might be…
“think about what I should get painted on this purse that I found on a dog walk.”
Are you ready to STOP dieting, TRUST THE PROCESS and get into a GOLD STANDARD ROUTINE?!
Make Today Count
You did #MakeTodayCount by reading this blog post!
It’s SOOO much easier to break up with an addiction to dieting… break up with the addition to the PROMISE of diets, when you understand your behavior and how it sets you up to fail.
Knowledge is power!
Build healthy eating and exercise habits, a healthy weight will follow.
You know dieting doesn’t work. Take a moment to press pause today and ask yourself if you’re willing to try something new. If you are? Circle Wednesday, October 20th, 2021 in your calendar (I still love paper calendars) because that’s the launch date of my group program that gets you into a *personalized* GOLD Standard Routine.
And if you enroll on Wednesday, October 20th, you get an amazing Fast-Action Bonus sent straight to your front door. (It’s FAB!)
If you’re not already receiving my newsletter, sign up (below) to stay in the loop.
I’ve been working on this program for over a year and can’t wait to tell you about it!
Dieting kills the MAGIC
Stop dieting so you can unleash all the magic you have to give to the people, animals and projects you LOVE.
“If you want change
you can have it.
If you want love,
you can have it.
Just don’t kill,
Don’t kill the magic…”
When I was addicted to dieting (without realizing) I wish someone had asked me:
How many more years are you willing to waste,
trying the same weight-loss method
but expecting different results?
So now I’m asking you.
Whether you’re addicted to dieting or just want to get into a routine that gives you OPTIMUM health—
Are you ready to try something new?
Ready to put everything you’ve learned into practice?
Hope I get to meet you on Oct. 20th so you can do in 10 weeks what took me 10 years.
It's not that difficult to overcome these seemingly ghastly problems... what's hard is to decide to start— Robert Downey Jr, Actor
The whole idea is there is a start date so you get started!
And isn’t it always more fun to do it together?!
Let’s find your personalized GOLD Standard Routine.
Here’s what my friend Hilton Henhawke painted on my purse and on a pair of “blank” wood earrings:
Hilton is a magical person.
He’s a Mohawk Artist who I met at a garage sale a few years ago.
He’s incredibly talented and has a great sense of humor.
Alex, Rocky and I love visiting with him and his wife and hanging out in his building’s common room (pre-pandemic) and roof top garden this past summer. He’s 85 years young and a beautiful soul.
What’s your “dot, dot, dot?”
What’s your favorite hobby?
Is there something that makes you tear off the sheets in the morning and excited to start the day?
Let me know in the comments below!
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Sharing what I learned makes the 10 years I STRUGGLED worth it