Dieting in a World Against Diet Culture

Nikki Before and After

For those who don’t know me, I have struggled with my weight most of my life. I was a chubby ten-year-old that was a victim of “diet culture” at a young age. Starting in middle school, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t on a diet or trying to lose weight. From the grapefruit diet, to Atkins, to juice fasting- I have seriously tried it all. My weight yo-yoed for years, and finally topped out in High School when I reached a weight of 225lbs. To be honest, I could have been heavier, but I stopped weighing myself at that point.

It wasn’t until I went to college at the University of Miami when I started to learn healthier ways to control my weight through healthy eating and exercise. Over the course of the next few years, I ended up losing 50 pounds, and leveled out at around 175lbs where my body felt happy and healthy.

I give this background as context to show that if anyone knows the harms and mental struggles that come with diet culture, I am one of them. I used to shame myself after eating certain foods, and I would exercise out of self-hatred and punishment, not because it made me feel healthy and strong. However, through years of self-work and group therapy (shout out to OA!), I can safely say I have come a long way in healing my relationship with my body and food.

But something interesting is happening now, where if you say you want to lose weight or that you are on a “diet”, you are accused of not accepting your body and being a victim to diet culture. Yes, so much harm can come from a lifetime of dieting mentality and constantly losing and regaining the same ten pounds over and over again. However, I do not believe that all body and aesthetic related goals come from a place of unacceptance or even self-hate.

I can safely say that it is possible to accept and love your body in its current form, while still wanting to reach aesthetic goals or milestones. It is very important to me to lose the last twenty pounds of my second pregnancy. While at the same time, being in awe and appreciating what my body has provided me and my children.

Pregnant Nikki

I think the key difference in the two scenarios is the self-talk behind the actions and motivation. Are you coming from a place of self-hate and judgement? Well then maybe a closer look at those feelings are in order, because I promise you, losing 10 or 30 pounds won’t silence that inner voice. Or is your motivation coming from a place of wanting to feel good, be healthy and optimize your life? If so, crush that goal sister! I am with you 100%.

Yes, it is possible to want to lose weight because you love and accept yourself and let me tell you, it is a much kinder, gentler and sustainable way to go about it. So, ask yourself where the motivation is coming from and start from there. Because you can’t heal your body and rock a bikini confidently, until you heal your mind and your relationship with yourself.

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