- 1st thing I did when I wanted to change my life
- the mindset flip that makes it easy to lose weight
- these 3 words get and keep you on track
I loved running a health challenge.
The best part is always the people.
Participants joined from the USA, Australia, Israel, England and Canada.
For 10 days I got to answer thoughtful questions about losing weight naturally.
All this back-and-forth, heart-on-your sleeve banter got me thinking about the day I made ONE decision that got me on track to change my life. And unexpectedly… reach a healthy weight.
It wasn’t a big rah-rah event.
Rather, it came from feeling completely lost.
For the near-decade leading up to making the choice that changed my life—all I focused on was dieting.
I believed the extra pounds I carried around on the “outside” suggested I was weak on the “inside”.
But one of the traits I liked about myself the most was that I was determined. I’d stay up late to study and get up early to run.
Everything I excelled at came from rolling up my sleeves and doing the work.
So there was an urgency to get this weight-loss job done.
But no matter how hard I tried, I kept breaking my diet and blaming myself… instead of my weight-loss method.
I didn’t know you can reach a healthy weight WITHOUT feeling hungry.
Or that your weight has NOTHING – nothing, nothing, nothing… to do with your character.
It’s all about having good information and a healthy strategy.
Before I figured out how to change my life everything suffered
Despite all my efforts I was always:
- preoccupied by food, weight & hunger
- between 10 & 30 pounds overweight
- hardly attending class
- canceling plans with friends
- quitting sports I loved (there was no way I’d wear shorts)
…every part of my life was disrupted by my complicated relationship with food. And I worried I ruined too many opportunities to get back to who I would have been without disordered eating.
Sadly I’m not alone:
67% of women
between the ages of 15 & 64
withdraw from life-engaging activities,
like giving an opinion, going to school or going to a doctor
because they feel badly about the way they look.
The morning I changed my life
After throwing out all my belongings to punish myself (for breaking my diet again) and to draw a line in the sand to mark the start of a *NEW* diet, I woke up in my empty bedroom feeling lost in a place I loved… the house I shared with 5 friends in The Student Ghetto surrounding my university campus.
Sitting there it occurred to me nothing was different from the day before.
I’d tried 100’s of ways to get myself to stick to each (failed) diet.
But I was trapped in my secret life of starving, bingeing and purging.
I was READY to change my life
I was in my 2nd year of university when I thew out my clothes, mix tapes, letters, photos, books and a few silver rings that were sentimental (I thought the more my “purge” hurt the harder I’d try to stick to my next diet).
And I had no idea how to move forward.
But I wanted to move forward.
I desperately wanted to make eating simple so I could rebuild my life.
At last I was ready to STOP dieting, go back to the basics and eat breakfast, lunch and dinner so I could LIVE between meals.
I couldn’t have put it into words at the time, but sitting in my empty bedroom it became MORE important to me to be healthy than to be thin.
In that moment it sounded more like this:
Focusing on being healthy vs. thin changed my life
This simple mindset flip made every decision EASIER and an added bonus?
I reached a healthy weight naturally.
You can change your mindset too.
If you’re wondering how…
Look no further.
Here’s an easy way to check your decisions are based on being healthy instead of being thin—especially if you’ve been thinking in terms of dieting for YEARS like I did.
Simply run your decisions by 3 words: the acronym E.N.D.
I thought of this simple framework during the health challenge when our goal was to E.N.D. dieting, focus on health and start living a life you love.
For years I thought being healthy was:
- eating low-calorie food
- staying away from higher-fat foods
- doing lots of exercise
- sticking to my diet perfectly
- restricting what I ate
I was wrong!!
Reaching a healthy weight naturally and having FREEDOM from diet obsession happened to me, when I did something that goes against what the diet industry tells us.
I changed my life when I was kind to myself
Being kind isn’t just for Valentine’s Day… it’s every day of the year.
Are you ready to change your life?
Cross-check your decisions with these 3 words:
I’m going to change my life with an “E”
The “E” in E.N.D. dieting is to remind you to STOP going to EXTREMES.
For 10 years I was either “on my diet” eating just half a banana, drinking a case of diet coke, scared to eat anything with fat, grazing on little bits of food all day because I (falsely) thought feeling full meant gaining weight.
I was totally “off” my diet eating whatever I wanted before starting a new diet.
I didn’t see this pattern of extremes or recognize that I was ingraining bad habits between diets.
To me, I just had willpower and moments of weakness.
But when I started meeting my body’s needs by making a more moderate choice via eating regular meals, I could focus on everything else.
Getting in the habit of NOT going to extremes changed my life and I lost weight.
Here’s how to stop bingeing.The part of the challenge that was the most meaningful to me was looking at weight loss as a series of positive habits...— health challenge participant
My body isn’t different to everyone else’s
When you put your body through extremes your metabolism slows down. But you can ramp up your metabolism by getting into a healthy routine of eating ROUGHLY balanced meals made MOSTLY of whole foods (full meals like everybody else!) When you’re kind to your body you’ll also think about food less and have less desire to binge.
I’m going to change my life with an “N”
The “N” in E.N.D. dieting is to start eating NATURAL food.
Just like Apple computers work best with Apple software, your natural body works best with natural food.
The additives in processed foods are not recognized by your body and confuse it so you eat more than you need.
(Don’t shove a PC disc into a Mac!)
Sugar is MORE addictive than cocaine.
And artificial sweeteners are 100’s of 1000’s of times sweeter than sugar—which makes them more addictive!
But when you eat ROUGHLY balanced meals made MOSTLY of natural food, you meet your body’s needs—you get all the nutrients required for your body to function properly.
Eating natural food fills you up naturally.
Then you don’t eat more than you need.
Natural food takes time for your body to process (because it wasn’t processed in a factory). So the energy is released slooowly and you stay full longer. (Unlike sugar that gives you a sugar rush, causing your body to quickly store the excess energy and then you have a sugar crash… and crave <you guessed it!> more sugar!)
Then you eat fewer calories and reach a healthy weight naturally.
Check out these big, healthy lunches I eat regularly. They’re packed with a variety of nutrients.
Understand what natural food actually looks like
For 10 years I drank skim milk without realizing it works AGAINST you reaching a healthy weight. The whole time I thought I was being “good.” I even got used to the watery taste. But the truth is, WHOLE MILK is the more natural option and therefore healthier. So whole milk works with your body THE BEST.
I’m going to change my life with a “D”
The “D” in E.N.D. dieting is to stop getting lost in the DETAILS.
Worrying about eating one bite too many or going to a friends for lunch and finding out they only have white bread…
All these tiny details used to throw me off.The biggest message that caught my attention… was that a diet slip-up didn't mean I had to go on to binge, and that what I did after eating the bread or cookie was what really mattered. This is what I really need to work on, training my brain that I will no longer binge after eating a less-healthy/processed food— health challenge participant
I’d think I ruined everything because I wanted to follow my diet perfectly!
…And then I’d be back to “E”.
Putting my body through extremes.
Getting lost in the details would cause me to binge and then restart my diet.
Instead, keep making healthy choices after you think you’ve made a “mistake”.
The show must go on!
Focus on PROGRESS not perfection.
A healthy body is a reflection of healthy habits!
One unhealthy meal or choice won’t break you. And one healthy meal or choice won’t make you. It’s all the decisions you make over time added up that create healthy habits and in response… a healthy body. Keep track of healthy choices NOT perfect days.
I changed my life when I decided to E.N.D. dieting!
I stopped going to EXTREMES when I started eating roughly balanced meals made mostly of NATURAL food and kept moving forward after a choice I regretted—rather than get hung up on DETAILS.
Make Today Count
Say it out loud: I want to change my life!
Don’t wait until you hit rock bottom. Feeling lost is not necessary to change your life.
Pick one of the 3 words E.N.D. stands for to try out today.
Build healthy eating and exercise habits. A healthy weight will follow.
The first step to focusing on being healthy instead of being thin is being aware of your choices. How many times a day do you say to yourself:
“I really should eat X to lose weight.”
“I can’t eat X because I’m on a diet.”
During the health challenge I asked participants to do the scrunchie test (!)
Grab an elastic or even a fancy & easy-to-remove bracelet and put it on your wrist. Every time you make a choice based on weight-loss, switch that scrunchie to your other wrist. And keep track of how many times you make decisions throughout the day based on dieting. Then try to make one less choice based on “dieting” each day. Get in the habit of saying “I’m eating a whole egg, not just the egg white, because that’s the healthy choice.”
The healthy choice helps you lose weight.
Changing your mindset will change your life.
You’ll reach a healthy weight naturally when you focus on health. Be kind to your heart, lungs, intestines… When you focus on health your hair is shinier, your skin glows, your eyes sparkle, your brain is sharp…It’s WIN-WIN for your body and mind.
“…before it all came falling apart – That, then, take me back to when, we can do it all again.”
Don’t wait till you hit rock bottom. Make ONE healthier choice today.
Want to get on an interest list for my next health challenge or launch? Add your name here.
I hate waste!
up-cycled heart sweatshirt
– Preloved (my fave eco-friendly fashion house)
– Bogs (garage sale)
– found on dog walk: it’s from MoMA in NYC & washed on HOT!
– beautiful spirit – palliative foster Toronto Humane Society
Everything came together when I said:
I want to change my life.
Are you ready to focus on being healthy instead of being thin?
Have any questions about this article?
What idea resonated with you the most? Let me know in the comments below 🙂
Sharing what I learned makes the 10 years I STRUGGLED worth it