Recently, I completed a course on obesity and eating disorders. The presenter, Shan Guisinger, has studied these issues from an evolutionary perspective. She believes that dieting is the cause of the rise in over weight and obesity because the body fights you when you try to eat a very low calorie diet. Your body thinks it’s a famine and works to save you by storing more fat when you do eat.
She posed the question: What if your weight could never change? What if everyone were to stay at the weight they are right now. No diet would change how much you weigh. No exercise would make you lose inches off your waist. Take a moment to sit with that idea and see if you can imagine what life might be like.
So what if we were all to stay at the weight we are? How would you feel about yourself? Would you let yourself be happy? After all, there is weight diversity just like there is height diversity. Could you start to accept yourself as you are? Maybe you would focus more on your beautiful eyes or smile than on the roundness of your stomach. Or you could truly appreciate your sense of humor, your thoughtful nature, or your many other skills and talents. They could truly shine without you worrying about your weight.
I wonder how our relationship with food would change. What would you eat that is ‘forbidden’ now? I suspect that the power that food has would be greatly diminished. It is food- not good or bad- a fuel for our bodies. How would your experience of eating change? Could you allow yourself to savor a delicious piece of chocolate, instead of thinking “I shouldn’t be eating this.”?
Imagine what you could do that you don’t do now! Think of the extra energy you might have to give to other areas of your life that is eaten up now by worrying about your weight or appearance. Would you get on your bike just for the shear joy of riding through the warm air? How about that bathing suit and the freedom of swimming outside in the sun? Instead of waiting to lose the weight, you just might start living.
If the struggle to be a certain size or have a certain look was not there, and we were no longer comparing ourselves with others, I believe people would be happier and probably healthier. Being free of the stigma and shame of being overweight could free you to move your body just because it feels good. I think our focus of eating would be more on nurturing ourselves, not trying to find the perfect food that will help us lose weight.
Accepting ourselves as we are can begin now. What if you could start living that way now?