Speaker 1 (00:00):
I'm now in the less than 4% of people who lose weight and keep it off past a decade. And I feel like I have so much to share and teach about that process to help liberate you, to help you understand what it means to not have this constant dogged thought about how to manage and handle your body.
My name is Rebecca Thomas. I'm the founder of Not Another Diet, a program and now a podcast that teaches long-term lasting weight loss. I've been writing, teaching and thinking about this subject for many years after finding my own way out of chronic weight gain. I struggled with my weight for over two decades until I finally put dieting down forever and figured out what it meant to lose weight sustainably and joyfully. I want you to think of me as your wise and sexy auntie who's here to help you tune out all the information out there that is useless to you and point you in the right direction. My work is to offer clarity around a very confusing subject, how to lose weight and keep it off. I'll discuss my story more in a little bit, but first, I would like to dedicate this podcast to my dad who has been my champion. He has read every single thing I've put out and was my first success story. Thank you dad for all the love and support so that I can do this work now.
This feels like a great time to tell you my own story and what got me here and why I feel like I should be able to talk about this. So I was mostly a pretty normal weight teenage girl up until about 13 or 14, and that was about the time my mom decided to make me really aware of my own body. And I think this is a common story, so I'll speak honestly about my mom, but I think this is a story that we hear in a lot of households and it's mostly because our mothers had deep weight anxiety as well. They were also struggling and wanted us to conform and wanted us to find partners and have successful lives, and that meant getting our bodies in check, right? And so in my household, what that meant was about the age of 13, my mom started telling me that I was gaining weight or that she was worried I was going to gain weight.
That was actually the thing. I was pretty healthy weight when I look back at those old pictures, but she was worried about what was coming. And the funny thing about that is that when you worry about what's coming and you say it out loud, you manifest it. Now, who knows if I would've gone on to gain weight or not, but I definitely remember rebelling against her and this entire discussion about my weight and I loved, I was one of those free range kids back in the day, eighties kid, and it was mostly like, work it out kid. I'll see you at dinner. And that's more or less how it happened. And I took all my spare change to buy candy at the local store. I hung out with friends. I found chocolate milk at the school cafeteria. I was definitely a sugar oriented kid and found it, ate it and in fact did start gaining weight and that became a painful subject in my household.
The way it was handled with my mom was one day I came home and found the food in the refrigerator sectioned off between my mom and my brothers and me, and that was my first deep stab of shame over my body. And that pretty much continued all the way through my teenage years, up until my early twenties when I embarked on my first severe restriction and hard exercise diet. And yes, I put hard exercise into the diet category and I lost a bunch of weight. I was quite thin for, I don't know, a year I guess. And then slowly but surely it began to climb back on when I couldn't sustain it. Your life changes, your dedication to something like that changes basically life pushes back on severe food restriction and hard unsustainable workouts. You either get injured or whatever. In this case, I think I just sort of lost interest and decided to go about living my real life, which I think if you've been a dieter and gone off, you're going to recognize that pattern, right?
You do the thing and then you go back into your real life. And the problem is that the problem, there's problems on both ends of that. And so of course I gained the weight back and this was a story I won't bore you with every time I lost weight or gained weight or whatever, but let's just talk about it. The way I talk about with my members, it's chronic weight gain. And what I mean by that is that it has consistently gone up over time. Yes, there are periods where you sort of beat it back down. I did Weight Watchers for a little while. I'm old enough to remember the horrifying public weigh ins, and I honestly felt even though I lost weight doing that, I really hated it. And so how are you going to sustain doing anything you don't like? And that was the story for many years.
I had all kinds of ridiculous purchases. I remember the worst one that I'll admit to is buying a pair of tennis shoes. There were these balancing shoes. I don't know if anybody remembers this. And they were wildly expensive too. I think they were like 250 bucks. And the idea was that you were going to walk around all day and be off kilter. And the idea is so hilarious to me now, knowing what I know about what it means to actually live at a healthy weight, that a pair of shoes, albeit expensive ones, we're going to do anything for that it's really hope over a reason, which is essentially what you can say about diet culture in general. And that went on for a long time. I remember the moment though that I gave up dieting and that moment was actually at the gym. I was still exercising and going to the gym all the way through this.
I weighed myself one day. I summoned my bravery to stand on the scale to find out where all my efforts were going and where they were going was that I had now crossed the 200 pound threshold quite handily. I stepped off that scale in shock and in real distress, I felt deep distress over this situation. And I went home from that day and started rethinking everything, everything, every coping mechanism, every anxious scroll to figure out who's going to have the best tip, which is also hilarious. And you can't hack or tip your way into this. There are no tips. There might be tips on different strategies, but there's some deep fundamental understanding that has to happen. In any case, I really, within I'd say within a week or two of that experience, I had decided to never diet again. None, no books, no apps, no nothing.
And it wasn't that I had given up on having a healthy weight, I just felt deep into my bones that this was not going to be the way that number one, I still wanted this, but number two, this was not going to lead me anywhere. And it's not that I was at that time, I didn't even have enough knowledge to really indict diet culture the way I do now. I think what I thought was I can't succeed at this. I just can't. I just can't do it. I can't succeed at this. And so if you hear the sigh that I just gave, that was my deep internal sigh of I don't think I'm able to do this and I don't know what I can do, but I know that it's not any of these things and this is a good time to share with you how my deep love of food.
So I am an avid cook, have in my whole life. I grew up in a food household. I had a restaurant for 15 years. I am a passionate lover of food. I have a deep enjoyment of food. Maybe you can relate to that. And what I felt like with these diets, this was the initial, the number aside. The initial issue for me was how do I keep loving eating and still have what I want? And more importantly, how do people do this around the world? This is a uniquely western problem. If you have traveled, you can look and go see that other cultures enjoy food and don't end up in this situation. And this was my first little inkling, my first little foray into what would become two to three years of study about. I started reading books about nutrition. I started reading books about food. I started reading books about what it means to be a human being. How are we misunderstanding ourselves and putting ourselves in situations that we can never win?
That transformed my life. I don't know if I have even the words to tell you of all the ways that this knowledge benefited me, but the result was that I stopped gaining weight and the very first thing that happened was I just stopped gaining weight. And that lasted for a year or two. I actually just stayed stable trying to figure this all out, trying to be gentle with myself, trying to do things that I liked doing. What were those things? And then when I had sort of reached the end of my stability journey, I actually went into losing weight. And within a year it actually took me maybe closer to a year and a half, I lost 55 pounds and I did it without ever counting a calorie. I never restricted myself in terms of I never ignored my hunger. As a matter of fact, I'll say something radical to you now, I think your hunger is a very important part of having a healthy weight.
And what we don't do is respect and honor our hunger. But I didn't employ any of the tools of diet culture at all. I went in a completely different way. And where that ended me up at the end of all that, although I think of it as an ongoing journey of self-care, is I had lost the weight in a way that felt incredibly good to me. Every day felt good. I felt good. I felt like I was learning about myself and honoring myself and seeing the world more clearly. And so not only did I end up in a place where the weight had come off, but I liked myself better as a result of having employed these tools. And not because I lost the weight by the way. I think self regard is actually a very important part of the weight loss journey. You have to learn to love yourself at any weight in order to love yourself to a healthy weight, which is, think on that for a second, how radical that is.
So much of diet culture is approached with this idea of like you're going to like yourself so much better when you lose the weight. Well, I got news for you. If you employ restrictive strategies, you will like yourself no better at the end of it and you'll have even less clarity about how to keep going. That's my little story. Now, I'm 13 years past this initial weight loss. There's been some minor fluctuations over the years because bodies are always in motion, but I have learned how to keep things remarkably stable. And so I'm now in the less than 4% of people who lose weight and keep it off past a decade. And I feel like I have so much to share and teach about that process to help liberate you, to help you understand what it means to not have this constant dogged thought about how to manage and handle your body.
I met a woman and her husband at a party recently, and as it often happens at parties, people ask you what you do and everyone tells you not to, but it does still seem to be the go-to question of what you do. And I always get a little bit of a moment before I talk to people about what I do because we're now at a very difficult place in culture where we're both weight loss is both an 80 billion industry and at the same time, we're now not supposed to talk about it anymore because that's anti human. I don't know. I don't know. It's a difficult place to be. So in any case, I'm always a little sheepish before I tell people what I do, but I'm also proud of my work. So I just went ahead and told them that I have a weight loss program that teaches weight loss outside of diet culture with none of the tricks or tools of diet culture.
And then I wait for the landing, how it lands on people. And what was interesting about this conversation is that they both immediately got very interested in what I had to say. They wanted to talk to me about it. They really wanted to talk to me. And I come to find out, even though the wife looked perfectly lovely to me, I wouldn't have assumed that she had issues with weight. She in fact had been struggling with her weight for a number of years. And the reason she didn't appear to me to be doing that is because she was now on appetite suppressants, which I will give you a little bit of wisdom right now that comes directly from my program. And it goes like this, anything you can't do for the rest of your life isn't worth considering. I didn't tell her this, but I'm telling you now that this is the immediate phrase that popped up to me.
And this is a particularly important point because if it is a temporary measure, it is a temporary result. And if it is a temporary result, everything then any work that you've done to get that weight loss is going to be undone when you go back into the life that caused the issue in the first place. So the problem is never some sort of temporary solution and you can actually go back and look at all of the things that you've done over your lifetime to lose weight and tell me if they were a temporary solution or not. If this isn't something you can keep up for the rest of your life, you should feel free to set it down. Gaining and losing weight is incredibly bad for your metabolism and your long-term health. It's just not worth it. I didn't tell her that, I'm telling you that now.
But in any case, the conversation, they both dove in and they wanted to talk to me about what she was doing and the husband kept saying to me, she's doing everything right, but she's doing everything right. And in my mind, of course, what I'm thinking is the translation for that is we're doing everything diet culture is telling us to do and it's just not working. Okay. And then I started asking questions, which is my style. And the questions of course were not related to whether or not they were consuming super foods or if they were getting up and having a morning routine or were they having green juice or did I don't employ any of that kind of thinking. What I started asking was, tell me about your routines. Tell me about how much time you have in the day to take care of yourself.
Tell me what taking care of yourself looks like. Tell me about the food that's in the household. Tell me about the foods that you're serving your kids and perhaps are eating as well. And I can understand why someone would get impatient with me when what you have learned over a lifetime or diet culture methods, why are you talking to me about my time? Why are you talking to me about what kind of food I'm making? And often I talk to people, are you preparing your own meals? That's a good one. I actually don't know how I would maintain my weight without the ability to at least assemble my meals from home. And so this is why I say, I'm your auntie. I'm going to talk to you about the practical stuff. In any case, they both, they were super polite and by the way, I had their permission to have this conversation.
I actually reached out to say I'd like to talk about this conversation. I thought it was such a good illustration of how we think about these subjects and then the kind of solutions that we seek out. But I ended up, so they got a little impatient with me and the husband. This is great. I love this line. It's so good, right? He basically sort of leaned in and said, alright, I want you to bottom line it to me. Bottom line, what's the thing? What's the thing? And I thought, oh, here's my answer. I don't know what answer I gave them in the moment. It was probably deeply unsatisfying. But here's my actual answer. There is no thing that is an extension of diet culture thinking, and it is also an extension of how we misunderstand change. Change is actually meticulous work. It is the work of creating awareness of who you are and how your life looks and making one change at a time that you can live with for the rest of your life.
There is no thing, there is no thing, there is no super food, there is no perfect diet. There is no one food that will fix all of the issues. There is no perfect workout. And I don't care what trainers say. I don't care what you see on Instagram. And by the way, trainers are some of the worst perpetuators of diet culture with their meal plans and calorie counting. But if you take anything away from this episode, I want you to understand there is no thing weight is a thorny issue. And what I mean by that is that it actually comes into your life in all kinds of different ways. Obesogenic food comes through the form of relationships. It comes through your time management. It comes through your misunderstanding of how you can create boundaries in your life about what it means to even be a human being and constantly ask yourself to rely on willpower when what you actually need are to reshape your environment, to reshape your time.
If you don't have time to take care of yourself, if you are constantly surrounded by food that is contrary to your healthy weight, I don't know how to help you. I think you have to rethink those things. So what I would tell you is that the thing is to calm down. The thing is to offer a little kindness to yourself. The thing is to learn how to create awareness of what is actually upending you. And that is in fact what I teach one by one. How do you have awareness? How do you have good self-talk so you can be kind to yourself through this process? It's actually a lot about being kind to yourself and very little about pushing yourself and shoving yourself. And I'm going to have so much willpower. I'm going to have so much motivation. I'll tell you a little secret about myself.
I'm now a decade past my weight loss. I exercise every day. I make all my own meals. And you could say that I'm very dedicated to all of these things. I have no willpower and I have no motivation. I mean this mean this sincerely. I'm not a motivated person. I'm in fact quite lazy and I rely on that. And my willpower is actually quite low, and I don't judge myself for this, and I don't create narratives about what a failure I am. What I do is create a lot of situations that are positive and affirming, and I've constructed an entire life that makes the healthy weight that I live with now for over a decade, a consistent byproduct of that life. So if that sounds a little confusing, don't worry. It's actually a complex subject and it is not a one and done. And what I'd love for you to do is tune in over this season where one at a time, I'm going to take apart the ideas that are really holding you and trapping you and keeping you from really handling something that might be troubling you. And it's okay if it's troubling you. It's okay if this is something that is bothersome to you. What's not okay is doing a lot of temporary measures to handle it.
And finally, I want to talk to you about why weight loss is not a shallow issue. I know the way it's marketed is get into a bikini, look good in this outfit, show up in pictures looking amazing and everybody's jealous of you. This is nonsense. This is a way to sell you diets. It's sort of this glimmering idea, but the work that it takes to produce a healthy weight is actually very affirming and holistic. And my members tell me a lot of things I've learned a lot over the last couple of years. One of them is how persistent or chronic weight gain creates this vein of anxiety that you live with, and maybe you'll recognize some of the behaviors, not wanting to look at yourself in the mirror. I had one member tell me that getting out of the shower, she would just put a towel over herself so that she didn't have to get a look at herself in the mirror, which is so difficult to hear, especially to me who feels like everybody is a good body.
You have your body. It's one body you don't need to worry about whether it's a good or bad one. It belongs to you. It is therefore good. But this persistent nagging feeling is one that I deeply relate to and understand, and I understand it a little bit differently, of course, which is that when you don't know what the problem is and you don't know how to fix it, but you have to live with the result of it, that creates a lot of difficult thoughts all day long. So it's not just this matter of like, you should look better for other people, you should look better so that you are presenting in a particular way that's more societally acceptable. No, what I think real enduring stable weight loss is the work of sorting out who you are, what you need, and how to ask for it.
Those are incredibly affirming things to work on. Your weight is a byproduct of those things. It is a byproduct of how you organize your life and your thinking. So thinking of your body is not a goal, but actually as showing up the result of how you care for yourself, that's a very different approach. One that endures, one that heals you. I know that's a very sort of, healing is a bit of an outlandish idea when it comes to weight loss. But hear me out. What I am really teaching you is the work of caring for yourself and caring for yourself on a day-to-day basis is a very healing thing to do. It has produced so much calm in my life that I've actually been able to go on and tackle other issues that were bothering me or upending me. So really it's turned into a template for how do you understand yourself as a person and how do you deal with that person with love and kindness to produce the result that you're looking for. So I hope you'll join me as we go episode by episode to bring you the kind of clarity that has really changed my life and my members' lives. You can find me anywhere you can access your favorite podcasts. Don't forget to subscribe and leave me a review telling me what subjects you would like for me to tackle. I'll see you next time.