This is a follow-up to my last post, where hopefully, I helped you understand that if you’re sick and tired of diet culture, but you still find yourself wanting to diet or lose weight, you’re completely normal.
I’ll start where the last post ended: Since the world won’t be transformed when we wake up tomorrow, our only hope for freedom is to work on ourselves. With that in mind, here are some strategies to help you travel from understanding to believing, and ultimately to freedom from diet culture’s oppressive hold.
Self-compassion has been called the antidote to shame, and practicing it offers you a cushion to rest on when you find yourself lost between understanding and believing, or when you notice the pull of dopamine, or when you feel lonely or rejected, or frustrated, confused, ugly, fat or ashamed in any way. To learn more about self-compassion, I recommend you visit Dr. Kristen Neff’s Self-Compassion website.
When I was struggling in that uncomfortable and lonely space between understanding and believing, self-compassion helped me remember that I wasn’t alone, and gave me permission to cut myself some slack. I realized that maybe the best I could do at that point would be to have the intention to reject diet culture, and that was ok. Self-compassion remains my go-to strategy when I have a bad body-image day.
Self-compassion doesn’t make the hurt go away, and it doesn’t miraculously make you love the way your body looks; it works by soothing you like a warm hug from just the right person at just the right moment. When you practice self-compassion, you train yourself to be able to soothe yourself in the moments that hurt. And that’s an important first step.
Curate your Social Media
It’s extra hard to wire in a new weight-neutral belief system when your social media feed is inundated with images that reinforce fatphobia. I recommend you review your likes and follows, and get rid of those that leave you feeling bad about your body. You may be surprised to find lots of weight-neutral wellness sites, and fat-friendly and body-positive thought leaders and social media influencers. Start following them to help you get exposed to a more realistic view of what bodies look like, and to get used to seeing happy people in diverse bodies.
There’s a growing community on social media bushwhacking a path to freedom from diet culture, and they are ready, willing and able to welcome you. I have a really long list at this point; here are some of my favorites to get you started:
Check out Lexie and Lindsey Kite at Beauty Redefined, Hillary Kinavey and Dana Sturtevant at Be Nourished, Rebecca Scritchfield at Body Kindness, Jes Baker at The Militant Baker, Megan Crabbe and Body Posipanda (Instagram account), and Taryn Brumfitt’s Body Image Movement.
Reinforce Healthier Messages
Earlier I described the challenge of moving from understanding to believing, and that challenge is clear as we attempt to carve in new weight-neutral and unconditional self-acceptant beliefs to replace our ingrained fatphobic beliefs. When you come across inspiring phrases on any of the sites I just described, write them down and repeat them to yourself regularly. Find ways to talk to yourself to keep reinforcing these new ideas. For example, you can leave yourself reminders, make a collage, journal, meditate, or repeat those new ideas like affirmations. On the Beauty Redefined Instagram page, you’ll find dozens of inspirational quotes you can use. One of my favorites is “My body is an instrument, not an ornament.”
I’m not going to take all the fun out of humor by explaining why it’s good, I’m just going to remind you to laugh. Diet culture is ridiculous and offers plenty to laugh about. If you’re not familiar with Celeste Barber, you have to check out her Instagram page. And please, watch this hilarious video from Luisa Omielan (there’s some language and partial nudity in it).
and also, this Men at Work song parody:
Check out the resources page on my website for some book recommendations.
And Remember, It’s Still ok if You Want to Lose Weight
That being said, I strongly recommend that you use the tools and strategies I shared here, because, whether you ultimately lose weight or not, NEEDING to lose weight because you can’t accept yourself the way you are, plays right into diet culture’s hands, leaves you vulnerable to a lifetime of shame, makes you likely to pursue non-healthful and unsustainable methods for fast weight loss, and robs you of your freedom to truly thrive. I want you to use these tools until you finally believe (not just understand) that you’re worthy because you exist, and don’t have to earn worthiness by sculpting your body.
What I want for you is to care enough about yourself to take good care of yourself. You may lose weight and you may not. The work we’re doing here is to help ourselves be ok with that reality.
So, to close today, I want to remind you that if you’re in that frustrating, confusing and lonely space between understanding and believing, you’re not alone, it’s not your fault, you’re not nuts, and you’re not a hypocrite. You’re normal! Starting with some self-compassion, use the resources I shared to help you find firmer footing on the path to real well-being, better health, and diet culture freedom.