I hope everyone has had the most wonderful Christmas and spent it enjoying every second, eating and drinking whatever you wanted and spending time with loved ones making memories.
I hope you didn’t feel guilty about a single mince pie or glass of baileys. But if you did, I’m here to tell you I know exactly how you feel. In fact, I spent most of my life feeling this way. But it’s okay right? This is the time of year that everyone gets ready to start their New Year’s Resolutions. The time for new starts, new beginnings, new diets. In the past, I’d of joined in, in fact I’d of actively encouraged you to join in too, but now? It just makes me really mad. Because I know diets don’t work. I know we can set New Year’s Resolutions year after year but we will break them.
I know because that used to be me every year. For as long as I can remember, up until last year, my New Year’s Resolution was to lose weight. Every year I swore it would be different, this year I really would lose weight and finally love my body and be happy. But happiness didn’t come with a target weight. Happiness came from finding self love. It was no use me losing weight and then thinking self love would come after. Self love must come first. I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t believe this myself at first. How could I possibly love myself when I was overweight?
I got to my ‘target’ weight just before Christmas 2015. 28th November 2015 to be exact. I remember because it was ‘perfect timing’. I’d lost weight just in time for Christmas so now I could eat whatever I wanted, now I could be happy and enjoy Christmas without worrying about how I looked or how much weight I’d put on. How wrong I was. I remember feeling rubbish, I remember worrying about all the weight I was putting back on. I had literally got to target eating hardly anything, so naturally I put on about a stone just through December. I remember the January well. I was Godmother at the end of the month and I swore I’d get the stone back off by then. I didn’t. I’d put so much pressure on myself I didn’t stand a chance. And I remember feeling fat that day. I was under 11 stone. I wasn’t fat at all. Fast forward a few month and me and James bought our home, cue the endless days decorating followed by takeaways and I’d gained a few more stone.
I was really miserable by this point. It was our first Christmas in our home so obviously I was excited but I also felt terrible. My anxiety wasn’t great and my confidence was at rock bottom. So I decided to reach out and get some help. I ended up having therapy and by January 2017 my attitude had changed massively. My mental health had improved but I was going on holiday in the April with a big group of people and frankly, I was shitting myself over the thought of being in a bikini in front of people I knew. I’d seen a book on Instagram called ‘The Goddess Revolution’ and ordered it for the holiday. I’d also started casually stalking the author, Mel Wells. I went on that holiday already feeling better about myself but after reading that book, it completely changed my life. I never went back as a member after that holiday and then not long after, I left as a consultant too.
So when I reached the end of 2017 I found myself at a bit of a loss, what on earth could my New Years Resolution be if not to lose weight? I decided to devote 2018 to learning to love myself. I actually shared these words on social media, “I’ve wasted so much of my life, my time and energy on trying to lose weight. I want 2018 to be different. I want to spend my time wisely. I want to spend it doing things that really fill me up, with people I love spending time with.” And I am so so happy to say that I have done just that this year and I can’t even begin to explain how much more free time you have on your hands when you stop worrying about your weight and the way you look. I thought loving my body was important but it’s loving all of me that’s made the difference and now I love myself I can love my life too.
So this is a plea to anyone who is thinking of starting a diet in a few days time, maybe the guilt has already got to you and you’ve started eating salads and exercising excessively already. (I will admit when I saw Ferne McCann post a picture of herself in a bikini today advertising her new fitness DVD I almost got sucked in by it. But then I remembered the high pile of fitness DVDs I already have gathering dust somewhere in the house, along with the tiny little dumbbells, the boxing gloves, the punch bag, swimming costume and cap and all of the other exercise paraphernalia I insisted I needed each year). This is to anyone who has seen the new Slimming World offers trying to lure you in, or the new diet craze of 2019. This is to anyone who thinks losing weight will suddenly make them happy or will make them love themselves. I have been there, I thought it too, but the cold hard fact is diets do not work. It’s not me just saying it, they literally do not work. Not for 95% of us anyway.
Diets actually cause more problems than they solve. Binge eating is one of the things you can be almost guaranteed to start doing when you start dieting. I was a self confessed binge eater. I thought that’s just who I was but the fact is, dieting led me to binge eat. I’d get weighed and I’d go home and stuff my face, either to reward myself for the weight loss or to commiserate myself on my maintain or heaven forbid a gain. I’d eat and eat to the point I felt sick, then I’d have a little break while I went to work and ran my own Slimming World group, telling everyone how to follow the plan correctly, then I’d go home and I’d binge some more. I’d secret eat too. If I ate it in the car, or I hid the wrappers or I didn’t share a picture with my followers, it didn’t count. Until weigh day when I was confused as to why I hadn’t lost and the whole vicious cycle would start again.
They also stop us from listening to our own hunger and fullness cues. We eat because it’s time to eat, because eating breakfast helps you lose weight, because eating after 6pm stops you losing weight, but rarely because we’re actually hungry. We feel out of control with food because we’ve spent so long trying to control it. Having no willpower is not a bad thing. It means you listen to what your body wants and your body doesn’t want to follow a set of rules. Or to eat a full plate of pasta and potatoes even when you're full just because they’re unlimited.
We also feel terrible and guilty when we inevitably fail. I used to plan every occasion centred around how much weight I had to lose before that time and If I didn’t do it, I’d failed and therefore had not earned the right to enjoy that occasion. I’d spend it miserable, hating every photo and no doubt getting drunk to make myself feel better, before eating everything I could the next day and ‘starting again’ on Monday. Shannon Kaiser wrote, “When you can allow yourself to be where you are instead of where you think you should be or even where you want to be, freedom prevails.” Imagine the fun you could have at events if you weren’t sat disappointed that you’re not a certain dress size for it.
Our metabolism can also slow down when we diet, which is quite ironic, we can lose muscle mass and we can become completely obsessed with food and how our body looks and it can seriously effect our mental health. Megan Crabbe, another fantastic Body Positive advocate says in her book “We were born into a culture that’s willing to sacrifice half of the populations mental health in order to turn a profit” and we’re letting that happen.
And obviously there’s the weight gain. Yes, dieting causes weight gain. As I said, 95% of people who lose weight gain it again. I know I’m in that percentage. Weight loss groups rely on repeat customers. Weight watchers has even admitted that most of their business comes from repeat customers. If they worked, why would they need to rely on repeat customers? They know it doesn’t work themselves. I was a consultant and I lost it then started gaining it again, because it doesn’t work. The people it does work for are the people who really change the way they feel about themselves as well as the food. What we eat is just the tip of the iceberg.
Maybe the problem isn’t that you need to lose weight at all to be happy but that you need to love yourself enough to make better choices when it comes to nurturing your body with food, movement and the people you spend the most time with to be happy.
So if your New Years resolution has been to lose weight before and it hasn’t quite worked out, I urge you to try a different tactic this year. Try loving yourself first. I am going into 2019 the happiest and healthiest I have ever been in my life, and it’s all thanks to quitting dieting and finding self love. Go out and enjoy your life in 2019, spend time with people who feel like sunshine, do things that light you up and make you feel like a big kid, eat things that make you feel amazing, move in ways that help you feel healthier and stronger. Love every second, because life is happening right now and you’re missing it weighing our your all bran and worrying about how many pounds you have to lose until your next event. And in the words of one of my favourite actresses, Jennifer Lawrence, “If anybody even tries to whisper the word diet I’m like - you can go fuck yourself".
I for once this year, did keep up my New Year's Resolution. I have had a fantastic 2018. Lots of days out with family and friends, a wonderful holiday with James, booked Disney for next year, The Self Love Summit in London, weddings, parties, Shania Twain, the birth of some of my best friends babies as well as lots of other birthday celebrations rounded up by the most amazing Christmas and I am incredibly grateful that I have been able to enjoy every single event to its fullest because of self love and I can’t wait until that clock chimes at midnight and I can say those three words I’ve been dying to say … DISNEY THIS YEAR!!!!!!!!
Happy New Year everyone!
LOTS OF LOVE, LAURA X