With just a few days until 2017, many people are making diet and weight loss their top resolution for the new year. But author, speaker and eating disorder survivor Anne Lamott has a different message you might want to consider instead: Maybe don’t?
In addition to how emotionally discouraging it can be gain back all the weight you’ve lost and more, studies suggest that yo-yo dieting may tax your heart and put you at greater risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disorders like diabetes.
So what should we do instead of dieting, according to Lamott?
Love yourself enough to pay attention to what your body truly needs, whether it’s a favorite meal, a drink of water, a walk outdoors, a nap, meditation or an appointment with the doctor. In other words, your body needs radical self-care.
What your body doesn’t need, Lamott wrote, is starvation, chastisement, and too-tight clothing that hurts:
Wear forgiving pants! The world is too hard as it is, without letting your pants have an opinion on how you are doing. I struggle with enough esteem issues without letting my jeans get in on the act, with random thoughts about my butt.
Peace with one’s body doesn’t come from a physical, outward transformation but an inward, spiritual one:
It’s really okay, though, to have (or pray for) an awakening around your body. It’s okay to stop hitting the snooze button, and to pay attention to what makes you feel great about yourself, one meal at a time. Unfortunately, it’s yet another inside job. If you are not okay with yourself at 185, you will not be okay at 150, or even 135. The self-respect and peace of mind you long for is not out there. It’s within. I hate that. I resent that more than I can say. But it’s true.
It’s clear that America has an obesity problem. More than one-third of adults are obese, which means they’re also at an increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. And if you believe you may have a problem with overeating or struggle with an unhealthy weight as determined by a doctor, Lamott suggested sticking to a plan under medical supervision.
“Some of you need to be under a doctor’s care,” she wrote. “None of you need to join Jenny Craig.”
In other words: Be kind to yourself, do what’s healthful, but emphasize care that includes your whole body and self-love, rather than a few lost lbs.
If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.