Today I’m talking all about the diet industry don’t don’t.
I’m not raging against the machine, maybe you’re surprised, maybe you’re not surprised.
I have a free Facebook group called Food, Fitness, Fat Loss for Real Life.
If you’re female 35 to 59 plus, that’s the place for you to go. I’ve had this group for over two and a half years now. There are about 4600 women from all over the world. It’s a very fun place to meet other women who are obviously looking for weight loss, fitness, or for reality. I think that’s what draws people into the group and keeps them there.
I like to have conversations in the group. Not just me talking at people or doing a live where nobody interacts. I like to ask a lot of questions, too. Every few months, I’ll post a very similar question. It’ll sound something like, what is in the way of your weight loss? Or what do you think is in the way of your weight loss?
What do you believe is in the way of your weight loss? Don’t say, me.
Of course, you write “me” as your answer. We are somehow in the way of our weight loss. It would be nice to put the blame somewhere else, but me seems to be the answer.
It might be something that we are,
- Not doing,
That is in the way of our weight loss.
It’s always interesting to see all of the different answers. Sometimes it is just about having fun and laughing about it, doing funny GIFs. Sometimes it’s more serious.
This last time, about two or three weeks ago, a woman had commented that the diet industry was in the way of her weight loss.
I responded back I said, “Okay, that’s very interesting. Why do you think the diet industry is in the way of your weight loss?”
She said, “well, because the diet industry idealizes thinness. I thought I was in the right group. But maybe I’m not, maybe this is not a group for me.”
I responded back, I said, “No, I think this is the perfect group for you. This is a perfect conversation, I’d love to talk about this.”
Then she left the group. She took her ball and went home. That’s okay. I fully respect that I understand sometimes, especially on social media you don’t always know if somebody’s just asking you a question or if they are disagreeing with you? Well, sometimes you might know. I find some platforms might be more friendly than others. I was not in my Facebook group trying to troll anyone. I’m really just trying to get more information and ask more questions.
When people ask us questions, sometimes we get defensive and we think well, wait,
- Is this not true?
- Did I do something wrong?
- Am I wrong?
- Do you think I’m wrong?
- Are you calling me out?
That kind of thing.
I assume she either felt called out or that she truly felt my group is just, hey, everybody who loves to diet come here. Let’s just talk all about how many grams of protein are in a can of tuna. Which tuna has the least amount of fat and all of that stuff. We can talk about that. I’m not opposed to it. But the group is not about just naming your favorite diet. Here’s my best 10 diet hacks. Here’s how to lose weight, by dieting.
The word diet, or the verb dieting, does not trigger me at all.
I’ve already had my come to Jesus moment with dieting. You might be triggered by the word diet or dieting, and maybe she was too. I thought it would be a reasonable, good, interesting, fun time to talk about the diet industry.
Obviously, I could talk for hours and hours about all the different diets, the marketing of dieting, and all of the history of diets, but who’s got time for that? I just wanted to say, number one, I could rage against the diet industry. I could find a lot of things that I don’t like about it. Things that are wrong, that I don’t agree with, that go against my own morals, values, or mission. I could also do all that with the education system, or the government, or politics, or the car industry or the fast food industry.
We could take a look at:
- Clothing manufacturers.
- Social media,
- Health education,
- Farmers/food supply
- Grocery stores
Any sales and marketing of anything.
We really want to drill down and find fault with who is to blame for dieting, and this idea that being lean or being skinny equals happiness. I think that’s really where my former group member was coming from. That the idealization of being in a certain body, and I agree. I think men, women and children are bombarded with this.
- Listen to the radio,
- Watch TV,
- Are on social media,
- Still look at newspapers, magazines or billboards
Everywhere you go, there are a lot of messages about how women should look and what your body should look like.
You see more and more influencers on social media that say, I’m going to show my body’s imperfections, I’m going to celebrate the different sizes. I’m going to be a bigger size and I’m going to celebrate that and I’m happy in my body. I think that’s totally fine too. I do take exception when we just go to all the extremes. I think it’s really hard to argue that somebody who’s 150 to 200 pounds overweight is healthy. That person is putting themselves at risk for diseases like diabetes or cardiac events. It does impede your physical health when you’re hundreds of pounds over a healthy weight.
We could argue about what is healthy. I tend to disagree with some of these BMI charts. The old fashioned height and weight charts that sort of say, Hey, if you’re a five foot seven woman you should weigh 129 pounds. Okay, if you have bird bones, maybe. I don’t really tend to comply with anything that’s government mandated like these are the charts and you need to fit in. But I think we could all agree that there is a reasonable amount of health you should expect by being at a reasonable body weight.
It is sort of interesting because it’s going to vary. I think most women are actually heavier than most of these charts and there’s nothing wrong with that. The average woman probably weighs 175 pounds. It’s not because she’s obese, or overweight, or over fat. Many women I know in their 40s and 50s work out all the time. They strength train, they do yoga, they go to dance class, they play pickleball, they do all the things. You don’t have to be 129 pounds. If you are 129 pounds, maybe that’s even heavier than you want to be. There is no one way or right way.
I don’t get too hung up on it.
I kind of got over this idea of diets, and dieting, being a bad thing. I think the diet industry is only a problem when you think it’s a problem. Ultimately, we as human beings get to decide what it is that we want to believe about our own bodies.
I don’t think it’s just the diet industry trying to tell us how we should look. I think you’re going to find if you really think about it, it’s much more in terms of fashion magazines, movies, supplement companies. I think there’s many more industries that are showing certain kinds of bodies than the diet industry.
When I see a Jenny Craig commercial or a Nutrisystem commercial, they show before and after photos. They show the kind of average women who have lost 30, 40, 50 pounds. That’s it. They’re not necessarily pushing an agenda of you don’t look good enough, you’re not good enough, and all of these women are now good enough. Once you lose weight, you’ll be good enough.
I think it’s way deeper than the diet industry. I think it’s much more insidious than just saying, it’s the diet industry. I think it runs in families. The messaging that you may have gotten from your mother, or your gym teacher, or your ballet teacher, or other girls. It’s out there.
What we can do now as adult women, is make a decision on what we choose to believe.
You know, I can tell you, I’ve been all sizes and all weights. My body has scars, cellulite, and loose skin. I want to change it but I like having this next level of food freedom. I hate using the words food freedom, but more like that freedom from obsession over food or dieting or worrying that I don’t look a certain way. That is a very happy place to be.
It’s not that being;
- At a certain weight,
- At an ideal weight,
- The right weight,
What I think brings you more peace, calm, confidence, and assuredness is the freedom from not dwelling constantly on;
- Can I eat this?
- Can I not eat that?
- How many calories is that?
- How many grams of carbs?
- Have I gone over my protein?
- Can I eat now?
- When can I eat?
All of that stuff.
I can’t necessarily blame the diet industry. I think we could spend a lot of time pointing fingers or we could say okay,
- What do I make it mean?
- What am I making it mean that the diet industry is idealizing thinness?
- What does that mean to me?
- Why is that a problem for me?
That’s where the conversation is, and not in a way that makes anyone wrong.
I think it’s interesting to talk about where some of your thoughts and beliefs have come from.
It’s not necessarily just Weight Watchers’ fault. It’s Weight Watchers, they came to my house, they pulled me out of the house, and they drove me to the meeting. They told me I was fat. They told me I wasn’t good enough and I had to be thinner. When I was thinner, I would be happy. Or maybe that was your experience. I don’t think so. Maybe your mom drove you. Maybe your grandmother drove you. Maybe you never did Weight Watchers, but you heard other similar messages.
Part of Unf*ck Your Weight Loss is being able to say, in my past there were people or things that got in my head. Somebody told me at some time that I had to look a certain way or my body had to be a certain way.
Maybe being a younger woman in the world, I started to pick up on those cues that hey, if you want to get ahead, if you want to be liked, loved, admired, want people to find you interesting or desirable that you had to look a certain way. Doesn’t take long if you grew up watching Gilligan’s Island. The movie star Maryann. I mean take a look around. You don’t have to look far to see what is on TV, in the movies, or in magazines.
During COVID I started watching Magnum PI, the original one from the 80s. I’d never seen it before. For those of you who don’t know, I have a very strange affection for Tom Selleck. He should probably take a restraining order out on me. I’m kidding. Anyway, I’d never seen Magnum PI, and it’s COVID so why not do something useless with my brain. I started watching all of the reruns and I liked the show, by the way.
This show I think went from 1980 to 1988. What I noticed was that all the females in this show were so thin. Teeny, tiny waists. Literally must be like a 20 inch waist. There were a lot of different women on the show. A lot of very famous women. I remember there was Morgan Fairchild and Mimi Rogers. Tons of famous people in general were on the show.
All of the women in the 80s, when I was growing up, that’s what I would see on TV. Even though I never saw that particular show. It was very reminiscent of other shows. Even another old show, like Friends, and it’s on Nick at Night. I occasionally catch it. I enjoy a good Friend’s episode. I just noticed, I think about it still, wow, those women are all so small and so thin. Sometimes I catch myself watching the episode and just really thinking about like, were they born that way? Or what is up with that?
As regular women, we become obsessed. Then we all get our hair cut like Rachel and want to be like Rachel and all of that stuff. I digress, as I’m known to do.
I want to tell you that if you have thoughts and feelings about diets, dieting, the diet industry, you’re not alone, and you’re also not wrong.
I think one of the dangers, however, is that when we feel like all right, I’m rebelling against dieting, and the diet industry. They’re wrong, they’re bad, and they’re perpetuating negative self esteem for women. Again, not untrue, but what happens is that we then seem to go the all or nothing route.
If I’m against;
- Diet culture,
- The diet industry
- Anything that reeks of a diet,
Then I tend to do the “I’m going to do whatever the fuck I want.” I’m going to eat as much as I want, whenever I want, because I want to. That’s how I’m going to take a stand against dieting.
I think that’s actually the problem. We feel like in order to uphold a mission, like to be anti dieting, or to be anti messaging about dieting, that instead we just do whatever we want without intentionality. In terms of how we eat or how we drink or how we move our body. You can be anti diet, you can be all about flexible nutrition, flexible eating, or even flexible dieting
and still have the intentionality with your food to make decisions that are the best for your health, your wellness, your mindset, and your goals. Physique goals or strength training goals. Whatever the goals we don’t have to make any of that bad or wrong.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting a flat stomach. There’s nothing wrong with wanting more defined arms or curvier bum. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to change your body. You can still love your body and want to change it. You can still love your body and want to change it and be anti dieting. Right?
I’m anti restrictive dieting. I’m anti crazy ass shit dieting. I am anti making diets so strict and unsustainable, that they are bound to fail. Every time we regain the lost weight, we also lose a little piece of our own sanity and our own self esteem. That’s where I stand on it.
I also want to make just a little asterisk. There’s another piece in my life when it comes to dieting, that is theI do work with clients on what is called contest prep or competition dieting. This is the type of dieting someone would do to get on stage. Someone who is in the sport of bodybuilding, or any of the other categories. Whether that is figure, fit body, physique, bikini, all of those types of physique sports. As an example, I want to tell you that level of dieting is not everyday dieting. It’s not even everyday dieting for them. It’s not a 24/7, 365 kind of thing. You just can’t sustain that. There has to be an offseason and an onseason for that.
Women sometimes think the only way to get lean and to have a bikini body is to actually do a bikini level type of diet. That’s what I am against. I think that’s where you get really in your own head and in your own way. It f*cks with you. That level of dieting is not meant to be sustained. It’s meant for 12, 16, 20 weeks max at a time. It’s hard on your body. It can be very depleting. You do need rest and recovery after that. For regular everyday women, if you want to Bikini Body, put a bikini on your body. I’m sure you’ve heard that before.
If you have thoughts and feelings about diets, dieting, or the diet industry, it is okay. We’ve all had the thoughts. For me, I realized diets are not a problem. Dieting is not a problem. It’s simply what I make those words mean.
If I make diets and dieting mean that;
- I can’t have anything,
- I can’t have any foods I enjoy.
- I’m going to be feeling restricted and deprived.
- It’s not fair and why me.
I have to cue the violins and I’m having a big major pity party.
That’s the problem. It’s what I make it mean. Maybe this will be helpful for you. If you find that you are feeling defeated, disappointed, deflated, all the D words. If you have feelings about something external, like the circumstance of a diet, or dieting, or the diet industry, it is just an opportunity to have a conversation to just figure out where that’s coming from because it’s probably blocking you from actually losing the weight that you want to and being in the body you want to at any actual size or weight.
There is no one size or one standard or one right weight, at least in my book.
I hope that gives you maybe some clarity. Maybe it is a relief. Maybe the diet industry isn’t the problem. The problem is what we make all of that mean, and that is good news. Because then we actually have control.
I can’t control the diet industry. Just like I can’t control the movie industry. I can’t control Hollywood. I can’t control the car industry, the government, politics, the teacher union. I can’t control these big entities outside of myself. I will feel very powerless, and very downtrodden if I feel like I’m just trying to rage against a machine that is unbeatable. Instead, I empower myself knowing I get to decide what it all means to me.
For me diets and dieting, just as another word for eating. It is just eating on my plan or eating what I’ve planned or eating my program or eating the foods that work best for me. That’s it. Dieting and eating are interchangeable words for me. It doesn’t mean I’m restricting. It doesn’t mean I’m taking away all my favorite foods. It doesn’t mean I’m fasting for a million years. I look at flexible eating, flexible nutrition, flexible dieting as all the same.
If dieting is a very triggering word for you, that is cool. Take it out. Let’s go to flexible eating. Let’s go to flexible nutrition and know that it’s not necessarily about this intuitive eating, which I think takes a lot of time in practice. It’s the intermediate step. It’s figuring out how I plan in the foods that I do like, the foods that I enjoy with my family, and not make anything restricted or off limits or a problem. That my friend is how we unf*ck our weight loss.
It is about feeling empowered right and making those decisions rather than feeling disempowered by the diet industry. We empower ourselves. We learn how to lose weight with flexible eating, without cardioing our asses off on Peloton and taking away all of our favorite foods.
NOTES IN ANCHOR
How can we approach diets and dieting without losing ourselves in the process? Let me start off by asking you this… What do you believe is in the way of your weight loss? Before you answer this question, let me warn you…don’t say “me”. If you are in my free Facebook group called Food, Fitness, Fat Loss for Real Life then you have probably seen me post this question. I tend to do it once every few months as a way to open up the conversation about weight loss. The last time I posted it a woman answered that the diet industry is what was in the way of her weight loss. This is an interesting thought. Is the diet industry in the way of your weight loss? If so, how? We are bombarded daily with commercials, ads, billboards, movies, TV shows, social media, etc that talk about dieting and being thin or lean. They make it seem as if you have to be a certain size to be happy, and that is just not true. The two things are not exclusive to each other. You don’t just reach a certain weight and instantly become happy. So how can we approach diets and dieting without losing ourselves in the process? Can we remain flexible enough to still enjoy the foods that we love and lose weight at the same time? Let’s break down my take on the diet industry in episode 45 of Unf*ck Your Weight Loss now!
ABOUT THE HOST
Bonnie Lefrak is a Life & Body Transformation Expert and Founder of Self Made, a program designed to help you tackle the physical aspects of health and weight loss as well as the beliefs and thoughts that drive our habits and behaviors. It is her goal to help women create certainty in their own lives, their own results, and their own abilities.
Weight loss is not about the one “right” diet – it is about MUCH more than that. Weight loss is not about the one “right” workout. Weight loss is not about being positive and putting a big smile on. Weight loss is about FEELINGS. All of them. Not trying to bury them or hide from them but knowing and allowing the full human experience.
Weight loss is not about grinding hustling and will powering your way to some end line. Transformation (when done well) is done from the inside out.
By addressing both the physical and mental aspects of dieting and weight loss, she has coached thousands of women ages 30-55+ from all over and helped them ditch the mindsets that are holding them back, achieve permanent weight loss, and get the bangin’ body of their dreams.
Bonnie is an expert at Demystifying weight loss. She helps you unf*ck your diet brain.
She is on a mission to help women love themselves, to find PEACE in the process of losing weight, taking care of themselves, and leveraging the power they do have to become who and want they want right now.
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