When I look back at my history of dieting and weight loss obsession, I realize:
I have 2 decades of experience ignoring my body's signals.
I was skilled at drinking club soda when my taste buds really wanted a full-sugar Coke.
I chewed gum when instead of the slices of pizza I actually craved.
I was a master at pushing through the knee pain from too many jump squats, convinced that it could be overcome if I just flipped the switch to 'beast mode'.
My proficiency in dismissing my body was honed during 25 years of daily messages telling me it couldn't be trusted. I learned that, at best, my body was an uninformed, misguided problem committed to sabotaging me. At worst, it was just a straight up liar.
If you've ever been on a diet or made any attempts to lose weight, you're familiar with that disorienting feeling of not being able to trust yourself.
And that's because the myth that your body is a devious saboteur who can never be trusted is one of the cornerstones of diet culture.
Unfortunately, most of us believe this to be true.
Here's the REAL truth: overriding our natural body wisdom is one of the many ways diet culture disrespects and denies our humanity.
Ever since my early teens I've thought that fearing my body's natural wisdom was a necessary part of life. I was taught that my hungers should be questioned, my desires ignored and my cravings crushed. I was encouraged to view them as nuisances to be overcome and defeated, instead of seeing them as guides to help me navigate this world.
I've always believed that it was ok to deny myself what I wanted in exchange for the happiness, love and safety that comes along with being smaller.
Little did I know that I was being set up for a lifetime of disconnection from something so precious and natural and necessary for my physical, mental and emotional well-being.
It turns out that my body wasn't the one doing the lying. It's actually a smart, truth-telling machine...I just didn't know it until I let go of all the rules and lies.
Diet culture has normalized ignoring our body's natural wisdom, but there isn't anything normal about it. I want all of us to wake up and see diet culture for the life-sucking menace it really is. But first, we have to challenge the beliefs we've held on to for so long. We have to start thinking of dieting as something that disrupts our ability to connect with ourselves.
Being able to check in with our body's natural wisdom is a gift. It's a gift that extends beyond food and exercise. I'm learning how to use my body to tell me whether a situation or person is safe or not, if I like a guy enough to go out on a second date, or if I'm making the right business decision.
It's a gift that allows me to experience myself as a whole, complete human being.
My eyes have opened and I'm awake to the truth.
I don't have all the answers because I'm still learning. But here's what I know with 100% certainty: reconnecting with and learning to trust my body was one of the most kind and compassionate things I've done for myself.
My body has always known the truth and now I believe it.
P.S. I don't do this work alone. I'm always inspired and informed by the work of other people who are fighting for liberation. This post was inspired by a beautiful piece written by Isabel Abbott called Believing the Body. If you have a moment, I hope you'll check it out.