As a recovered binge eater and fad dieter, I've made many mistakes when it comes to my health. And in celebration of my birthday today, I'm reflecting on the decisions I regret the most - and sharing the lessons I've learned along the way, so you don't make the same mistakes I did!
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Oh, hi everyone and welcome to today's episode. My name is Lindy Cohen. I'm your dietitian, your nutritionist, and today is my birthday and I'm 34 years old today. I have made many mistakes in my life. I have many regrets, as I think all of us do, but I have three really big health regrets, things that I wish I'd avoided making. I wish I'd learnt these lessons sooner, and I've got some tips on how you can avoid making them in 2024, so don't make my bad mistakes. Number one is I kept trying diet after diet, only to fail every single time, and then I'd blame myself for these failings and I realised way too late in life that diets are designed to fail and this is how diet companies make so much money off us. I am embarrassed to tell you how much money I have spent on diets, diet plans, apps, programs like courses, all that stuff, over the years. I can list off so many diets, of things I've tried, and some of them were really, really crazy, and yet it seems like a good idea at the time, don't they all? I was so determined to lose weight that I was willing to do these diets. That would make me feel restricted. Then I'd fixate on the food and I'd obsess over what I could or what I couldn't eat, and then I'd get to the point where I'd end up binging or totally overeating on these off limits or red or bad or forbidden foods or literally any food I could get my hands on. And I think this is the thing I learnt way too late is that restricting your food isn't the only way, or certainly not the best way, to lose weight or to be healthier. What we know is that consistency is what really, really matters and this is something I talk about in Back to Basics and I help you in my Back to Basics app is how do we stop swinging that health pendulum from one extreme to the other? How can we be a little bit more untrack all the time? I think we fall into this pattern when we eat really well during the week and then the weekend comes and we feel like we have to start from scratch every single day. Breaking this trap is really critical, and I think one of the key things we can start to embrace is imperfect eating, healthy enough eating. We have very high standards of what we consider good enough when it comes to food, and this perfectionism is actually making healthy eating so much harder to stick to, and we don't have any room for fried foods or any room for chocolate or cake or all the yummy stuff. If we're being good and if we're being bad, well, we're not exercising, we're not doing any of the things, and so we're very much living in this yo-yo world. But I think the thing I'd love for you to embrace that I wish I embraced sooner was this healthy enough eating where you could add hot chips and you could have a salad, and you can do these two things at the same time. It doesn't mean that you're being bad because you had some hot chips and it doesn't mean you're being good because you had a salad. This is just what balance can look like. It means that, instead of eating perfectly when you're in front of other people and binging on whatever you can get your paws onto when you are by yourself, you just realize that anytime I'm out with friends, that is the perfect time to maybe have that scoop of gelato, share that dessert or have one to yourself. Big trap, I think, is that we're trying to get it perfectly and there's no room for failing, and actually just doing it imperfectly is exactly what you need and maybe the key to unlock a lot more consistency for you. So how can you forgive yourself for being imperfect when it comes to food? I think a phrase I really like is I don't have to eat perfectly to be healthy. So anytime I notice that diet voice creep up, I go. You know what? Hey, I hear you and I've listened to you a lot before diet voice and you have led me astray and I don't want to listen to you anymore. So I remind myself I don't have to eat perfectly to be healthy. This is great, this is wonderful. I'm doing it, and then I just move on with my day. That can be really helpful. Another big health regret that I have is fighting against my body to lose those last five kilograms when, in reality, my happy weight was not at all the same as my goal weight. Funny thing happens yesterday I was going through some clutter on my desk I have so much clutter on my desk and I came across a dexa scan, which I did in 2016, back when I was about 25, 26, a few months before my wedding. And, by the way, if you don't know what a dexa scan is, it's basically you get into a machine and it can kind of measure your fat, your muscle, your bone. I didn't actually pay for this. A friend of mine worked at the company and she just thought, hey, why don't you come do this? It'd be fun. I did, but I got the results and I was flicking through these results and one of the things it said is we suggest, based on whatever we've calculated in your body, that your ideal weight is 10 kilograms less than what I was when I went in for this dexa scan, which is crazy to me because when I went in for that scan, as I said a couple months after my wedding, I was the lightest I'd ever weighed. It's probably since I was like 14 or something. I was exercising six times a week. I was strong. All the other metrics on this dexa scan are going. You know, this looks like a pretty healthy human and the dexa scan machine suggested that my ideal weight range was over 10 kilograms less than what I was at that time. Now I've popped these numbers into the BMI and if I were to listen to that silly machine and get to that goal weight that it had recommended, I would actually be underweight according to the BMI. Now, bmi is nonsense, it's ridiculous. But I think this highlights to me how insane. These body goals have become where we have been taught that we should willingly sacrifice our well-being in order to weigh less. Remembering wellness is meant to make you well, not obsessed, and not the thinnest version of yourself. I've come to realize that at my healthiest weight, when I'm a few kilograms heavier than I always had, this idea of this is what I think I'd be happy at, or this is what the BMI told me I should be. Whenever I'm at this happy weight, I sleep well, I feel energized. The BMI or a dexascan machine can't predict what healthy, happy weight feels like, because it's a feeling. I feel, as I said, energized. I enjoy time with my kids and my family. I can lean into life and not spend every second thinking about food. So I've released the idea or the expectation that I need to be a specific number on the scales, and I've learned that my body and my weight do not make me a better or more lovable person, and I really do regret all the time I waste trying to force my body to look a certain way it wasn't comfortable at all, thriving in. Now that I've made peace with my body and my weight, it's like I've got so much more freedom, more headspace. And the funny thing about all of this is, once I stopped chasing a goal weight, my weight naturally found its happy weight through just all the lifestyle changes I had made. It simply became a side effect of me being happy. So if you are struggling to lose the last five kilograms or the 10 kilograms or get to your goal weight or whatever you weighed at your wedding, then I just want you to reconsider is the BMI or a silly Dexascan worth trusting or, in reality, could you potentially be at your happy weight? And if you aren't at your happy weight, if you're feeling a little discomfort in your body, you're feeling like, oh, I just want to make a change. I feel like something needs to give, then that is something I can help you with. Something I teach you how to do is be more consistent. Inside my Back to Basics app, and at the moment we are about to start a new challenge. It's called the F Diets Challenge and it's all about helping you do less to get more. I think so often we have these diet challenges, it's all about like giving us a huge list of all these things we need to do and accomplish in order for us to actually achieve our goals. I don't think that's the case. I don't think that's what you need. I think what you need is to do less so you can have more time for you, more time to be more consistent at cooking healthy meals that you enjoy and exercising, getting the rest that you need, saying no when people are asking too much of you. So that challenge is inside my Back to Basics app and it's starting on the fifth of Feb. So if you want to get involved, please hop on and I'll be supporting you all the way through it as well, and that's a really great way for you to kind of fall back on track instead of falling off track. My third biggest health regret is believing that my body and my weight made me a better or more more worthy person, and, honestly, I spent so long tying my self-worth to my body and my weight and I was convinced the most impressive thing a person could be was to be thin, especially a woman, and that is because of everything I'd been taught growing up. I thought that thinness was a marker of health, of happiness, of success, of someone's value as a person, and, as a result, I always, always felt the need to lose weight to look how I believed I needed to look to be lovable or worthy, even at that weight. When I told you, when I went to get that Dexascan two months before my wedding, at my lowest weight, I still looked in the mirror and thought could lose a little more weight. You really just need to. You need to tone up, you need to fix, you need to change. And you know I tell you what, even now, I've done a whole bunch of work on liking myself and my body. There are still days where I kind of look in the mirror and go don't love that. Or I lie in bed at night going oh, maybe I could just quickly, you know, restrict something. My diet voice still lingers. She's quiet these days, she does not as strong as she used to be. But I think Choosing to like yourself, to accept yourself, is something that is a practice, not a destination. When you live in this world, that's constantly telling us that we would be happier and better and more successful If we are thin. If I catch a photo of myself where I don't love how I look, that's what I remind myself. You know, it's actually no one cares how you look like in that photo. Your children will be grateful that they will look back at photos and memories and see them. In those photos, do not shrink, do not hide away from your life. Just choose that it's not a big deal, and that's what I do. I remind my brain that the size of my body is the least impressive thing about me, how I look is the least impressive thing about me, and that means I've got a lot more energy to focus on the things that actually do Contribute towards my self-worth. Now, if you want to avoid making these mistakes in 2024, of course, the number one thing I want you to do is stitch dieting, and what I mean by that is you stop cutting out, cutting out food groups or whole foods, or stopping yourself from eating the things you love to eat, because chances are you binge on the very foods you tell yourself you're not allowed to eat. I would know that more than anyone as a reformed Compulsive binge eater and a reminder to you food should be enjoyable and and dieting is setting yourself up for Unenjoyable yo-yo and extreme eating. That is encouraging self-loathing and criticism and making it so much harder for you to actually Find your happy weight. Number two, I want you to accept that your healthiest weight isn't the same as your goal weight, and I kind of want you to banish this idea of what dress size you want to fit into or what number you want to get to. If you can get a, get a pen and paper out, open the notes section of your photo and I want you to write down what does success mean to you in life? But mostly what we're talking about here is health. What would being healthy in your body feel like to you? What would it look like? Would it be waking up with energy? Would it mean Cooking more foods? Would it mean getting to the end of the week and not beating yourself up about what you ate? Would it feel Like calm peace? Would you feel relaxed? Would you feel happy and excited about food again? How does success around food and your health feel to you? Doesn't mean you're going to the doctor's office and you don't feel stress over it. Doesn't mean you're going on a flight and you don't have to worry about whether you're not. You're gonna fit into the seat. Doesn't mean getting dressed in the morning and not dreading that experience. I want you to think about, instead of setting goal weights, I want you to go. What do I want to feel? And this is gonna be a much clearer pathway and much more Easily achieved than trying to say it's a number I'm attaining because, as I said, at my skinniest weight I still thought I could have lost more weight, because what I hadn't achieved was the feeling I had just lost weight, but I had not learned to feel peace and calm within myself. I just want you to separate your self-worth from your body and ask people in your life why they love you, you know? Do they say you know what? She's really funny and all, but she really you know she should be thinner. Or does your, your, you know your mother say maybe not your mother, maybe someone else? Does your best friend say I'd like her a whole lot better if her arms were thin? On your deathbed, are the people around you going to be going oh, you know what? At least you were thin. That was my favorite attribute about you. No, the people in your life probably don't give that much of a crap about how thin you are. What they would like for you is for you to be happier, healthier, to have more consistency, to stop being on this yo-yo pathway. Imagine the things you could accomplish, the amount of self-worth you would feel by accomplishing those things, if you freed up all that headspace you currently spend on worrying about whether or not you're thin enough, whether you could be more beautiful, the things you need to change in your time imagine how much more you could accomplish and how much more confidence you would feel in yourself. I feel like the best way to invest in yourself is to stop dieting, is to stop attaching yourself worth to your weight. So if you feel like you wanna be the opposite of someone who let themselves go, the best way is to let go of those expectations that you need to shrink yourself in order to be more worthy. Now, if liking your body feels like a struggle, if it goes, you know what? I'm very far away from that. I'd like to get closer, but I just don't even know how. Then I have a toolkit, a body confidence toolkit. It's giving you loads of tips that I wish I had when I was that 25 year old girl about to get married who still wanted to lose weight. And it's giving you tips on how you can feel comfortable and happy and make peace with your weight. To free up the headspace, to help you be more consistent with healthy eating is cause. It's all tied in together. I'll leave a link for you to get that free resource in the show notes if you'd like. Thank you for listening to today's episode, cause it's my birthday. I'm off to go eat a double decker chocolate cake that my mom always makes for me on my birthday. It is my absolute favourite. I'm going to celebrate by going for a walk with my really good friend, going out for lunch and then a picnic with my family, cause you see how food can be something that should bring us joy and be something we celebrate with. You can be someone who does not diet and food can still be loaded with joy. In fact, I'd argue that quitting dieting will give you a lot more joy from food and you'll have so much more freedom in life. Thank you for listening to today's episode. I'll see you next time. I'll see you next time.