Speaker 1 (00:00):
So what is a diet? I like to call it living out bad ideas over and over again and expecting a permanent result, but we're going to dive into all of the different ways you can spot a diet and why is that important? Well, number one, companies are, especially diet companies, are marketing themselves with greater and greater frequency as a response to the anti-D diet, culture backlash as not a diet when they are absolutely and totally a diet. And the problem is that most of us don't actually know what a diet is, or if we think about weight loss, we think, well, I have to have a diet, so let me go do this unpleasant thing to have the result I'm looking for. And that's just not true at all. You don't have to do an unpleasant thing and you can learn how to evaluate what's around you or what's being offered to you or what you're considering through the ways that I'm going to lay out for you today.
And the reason this is really important is because diets hurt your metabolism and your self-concept. So gaining and losing weight temporarily is one of the few ways you can actually damage your metabolism. And the other problem that I run into a lot with my members is that it damages your self-concept. It turns you into a person who says things like this to themselves, I can't stick to anything. I just can't. I have no willpower, I'm lazy, I'm this, I'm that. And over time, this kind of self-talk really degrades your self-concept and you don't deserve that. I don't know you, but I know you don't deserve that. And I know what you're doing is basically trying out bad ideas over and over again and then calling yourself the failure. It's really important for you to understand what you're embarking on. Let's talk about how you can evaluate or are, what are the hallmarks of a diet?
Number one, it focuses on weight loss from day one. From day one, you are expected or pushed into losing weight. One of the big ways that they get you to do that is through a goal weight goal. Weights are a tool of diet culture. I have a whole article on medium about this. It's one of my most popular ones because it turns everybody on their head. But you do not need a goal weight of any kind. And in fact, I think goal weights cause people to do unsustainable things, things that they have no intention of continuing on because there's that sort of shimmery number. I'm going to do whatever it takes. And then when you have that shimmery number, any crazy thing that you're being told to do sounds reasonable, right? Like, well, I just won't eat carbs ever again. Yes you will. I promise.
No one's going to live without carbs for the rest of their lives. That is an unsustainable thing. And in order to lose weight immediately, immediately, you have to deprive yourself. You have to start in it from a deprivation based. So forcing yourself to eat less, much less. If you've done an app and it's 1200 calories, that's a huge drop in most people's eating that is done so that you start losing weight right away so that you have success. And if you are listening to this podcast as opposed to watching me, I put success in quotation marks. The reason for that is that that is another way that quick weight loss is forced is this idea of you're successful if you start dropping weight right away, that is absolutely incorrect. That is not how sustainable weight loss works. But today we're focusing on what is a diet.
And if you have any of those things involved in what you're doing, you are on a diet, don't care what the marketing says. Number two, it's a you problem. What does that mean? Your body is the wrong thing. You aren't doing the right thing. You don't know how to make good choices. That's a big one. You just eat too much. You have a faulty body. If you've ever found yourself in this sort of self-talk where you have, I'm struggling with my body, I'm fighting my body, I'm suppressing it and pushing it down and doing all kinds of things, you are encouraged to be essentially in a war with your body, which is not at all how sustainable weight loss works. That's sort of the opposite of it. But basically the underlying notion is that you are the problem. You are the problem. You don't have to think about anything around you or anything about how your life is constructed or anything about your relationships, which I'll get into more as we go through what is a diet, but that you are the problem and you need suppressing or your eating needs suppressing.
That's a diet. Doesn't matter how it comes to you, that's a diet. There's no discussion. Number three, there's no discussion of household or relationship changes. And that's a big one. That's a big one. And I'll get into a little bit more about willpower because that's one of the aspects of it. But in dieting, because you are the only focus of change and you might be thinking, well, yeah, I'm the one who's overweight and I'm the one who's eating and I'm the one who's this. But you don't live in a vacuum. You are highly affected by your home environment, your work environment, your internal environment, how you feel about things. Think about for a second how we evolved as human beings. And I'll talk a lot about this and I certainly expand a lot on it in my workshop that you can my free workshop. But we evolved to be highly in tune with our environments and with one another. And to disregard all of that and just focus on you being the issue is really to sort of wipe away a huge part of your humanity.
And I understand why diets do this. It's a difficult thing to address, but it has to be addressed. It has to be addressed about how you conduct your relationships. I'll put it this way, do you have a friend who only wants to brunch with you? You love that friend, you really love that friend, but their idea of a good time is to go to brunch on Sunday and bottomless mimosas and blah, blah blah. And I dunno, whatever yummy thing at brunch. And that is a problem for you. That's a problem for you. There's no moderation possible in that scenario. That is where your relationship environment meets obesogenic food, which is essentially food that puts weight on you.
You have to manage your relationships to manage your weight. That's an easy way for me to just lay it in that way. And if you have no guidance through that, then you are forever going to be upended through these relationships that many of them could be altered to benefit both of you. But unfortunately, diets don't talk about any of that. What they talk about is you're the problem. There's no mention of your environment or how to help yourself or anything. It's all about how you could do better and be better. Which I don't know, I got to tell you, 13 years into my own weight loss, I'm not really sure I'm any better about the things that you step in me.
I don't think I am actually. I think I'm relatively the same person. What I've done, which I'll discuss more in the weight loss aspect, is to change my relationships and to change my home environment. Those are far more powerful than you hear. I'm sure you've heard this term. You could just make healthy choices, which I think is hilarious. And also diet culture. I know it's wild to say that, but healthy choices. The idea that you are just this autonomous robot walking through life and if you could just make healthy choices, then it would all be fine. Is diet culture. I know that's a diet, that's diet thinking and that's diet culture.
Number four relies on deprivation or just eating less. Just eat less. This is a product of magical thinking. The idea that you're going to wake up one day for the rest of your life and just decide you are going to eat less and your brain is not going to push back on. That is so funny to me. If it wasn't so tragic that people are walking around thinking that they can do this to themselves and that that is going to fix the problem. I do understand you have to eat less to lose weight, but there's way better ways to accomplish that that actually make you feel good and nourished and keep your brain happy. But if your brain is pushing back on you, which I would say from my experience with my members about two weeks into a diet is when your brain really starts pushing back on you. And if you are trying to make that work, you are employing magical thinking. And I understand it's not a criticism. That's the way that weight loss is presented in culture is through dieting. If you've been trying to make that work over and over again, I get it, but it's magical thinking that you can just suppress your eating artificially.
And some of the ways that that's done, let's talk about some of the ways that that's done In my workshop, I talk about this as being a pot pot of boiling water and there's a fire and it's raging. The pot is raging and instead of turning down the flame, what we do is put a big heavy lid on it, but the flame is still going, which is all the things that are triggering your eating right, they're going and going and going, and how long is that lid going to last? And that lid looks like counting calories. That lid looks like for some people fasting. Now, the only thing I'll say about fasting is if this is something you want to do for the whole of your life, awesome, get after it. But for most people, what they think of is, I'm going to do this thing that's really painful for a while and then I'm going to have this result and then I'm going to move forward and that it is going to be great.
And that never happens. So fasting is another one that uses time to restrict your eating. That's it, that's all fasting is. It's a time restricted method of holding your eating down, eating carbs or not Eating carbs is another one. I can't live without carbs, so I don't know what to tell you on that one. There are some people who can make that work for the long-term. Again, this is a very small amount of people and I personally just, and I think most people to be honest, really do want carbs back in their lives. They just would like to stop being afraid of them, which is an entirely doable thing to do. And the other aspect of deprivation is that what you're doing is essentially outsourcing your body knowledge. And it looks like this. You come to the table and ask a question, what do I need to do to lose weight?
Give me the formula, give me the steps exactly. I need the exact steps on a daily basis and then I'm going to be a good robot and follow those and then I'm going to have the desired result. Well, the problem with that is that one, as we covered those steps are probably deprivation based. So I don't know how long they're going to last. You might have more sticktoitiveness than I do. I like to tell people that the longest I ever lasted on one of those diets was four days, four days. So I wasn't even long enough to lose any weight really.
I couldn't make it work. I don't know. I don't know what to tell you. But when you outsource, when you go to this idea of having a formula that is given to you, what you don't realize is that you're outsourcing all kinds of really important things, being in tune with your body, being in tune with your emotions, being in tune with your hunger, using your hunger to help you manage good nourishment practices. What you actually need are methods to tune into yourself instead of constantly. Think of it this way as you're showing up on the doorstep of people and being like, what do I have to do? Just tell me what I have to do. Just tell me what I have to do. But what that ends up doing is causing more chaos and more confusion. What you need is a guide back to yourself, back to your essential self so that you can listen to yourself, so that you can listen to your body so you can see and experiment with how different practices end up working for you, whether you like 'em, that's important and if they produce the desired result that you're looking for.
So that's a very different thing. So if you're thinking, if you just give me a formula, what you're doing is cutting off really important information that you need in order to talk to.
Number five, it's a willpower based method, right? So again, this goes back and a lot of these are going to refer back to each other, but I separated them because I want you to see that all the different permutations of diet culture. So willpower has nothing to do with sustained weight loss. I'm going to say it again. Willpower is a useless idea. I'm not saying we have no willpower. I am saying that it's finite and unreliable and therefore not useful in the context of modifying your behavior for the long-term. So if you have a plan that just simply requires you to eat less or to never want a cupcake again or to, you're going to be happy living the rest of your life, not eating until 2:00 PM or whatever it is that is being pedaled to you. And what you have to do is sit in an environment, and I mean the environment of your life, let's talk about that. So you keep your life exactly as it is, but now you have to employ a bunch of willpower to make this solution go. That is a diet that is 100% a diet. And in general, the way I think about willpower is this, I have enough that I'm not going to be running to the store every 10 minutes to get chips, but I don't have enough that if you leave a big bag of chips in my kitchen, I am going to stay away from them.
The way I like to describe this to my members is that I'm like a dog. Have you ever had a dog sitting in front of you with a treat in your hand and you can put the treat behind your back, but that dog knows exactly where the treat is and exactly how many inches between himself and the treat at any given moment. That's how I am with certain foods. The idea that I am going to have to employ a lot of willpower to keep that away from myself is pretty ridiculous. Now, that's an extreme example, but if you think about all the different ways we ask ourselves to have willpower as we go through our lives, it's not reasonable, especially in the modern context where we're literally being offered obesogenic food at every turn and you're just expected to, you could say no nine times and then the 10th time it's like, alright, I guess I'll eat it.
How many times are you going to say no? So this is why I'm not in any way a believer in willpower. And the other thing that I really want you to know is that where people feel a lot of shame in failing diets comes from willpower based approaches. The very concept of shoving people into an idea that's based on willpower is what is going to produce shame. And if you have struggled with shame through your weight loss journey, which I definitely did, I struggled with shame in tandem with my weight for 20 years, and it wasn't just having the weight, it was the fact that I kept failing at these things that created so much shame, willpower, the more you employ willpower, the more you're going to create shame. That's the best way that I can put that. So ditch any idea that willpower is somehow a useful idea as you go through your weight loss journey.
Number six, it uses glimmery tricks like goal weights or my personal favorite these days. I keep seeing an ad over and over again for a weight loss calculator. If you do this diet and then you put in your desired weight and then it tell or how many weeks you're willing to do it, then it tells you what you're supposed to weigh. I don't know. These are, like I said before, you don't need a goal weight at all to have a good weight loss journey. In fact, I think you shouldn't. In fact, I preach the exact opposite. And you might be thinking, yeah, but how do I know what I'm supposed to weigh? That's such a good question. Let's explore that for a second. Your weight is a reflection of your daily practices, which you can sustain what you want to do and what you like doing, and your weight will fall to what that is.
So the amount of difficult things that you're willing to change, the amount of exercise that you want to build up to, whatever, think of it like a little algorithm, you make a little change here and then it changes over here. You make a little change here, it changes over there and it will fall to that level. I'll go into this more in the what is sustainable weight loss, but essentially it's an exploration and not a goal. Anything that really holds this glittery thing out there for you to get to or a chart you can throw out the B M I chart, you can throw out a lot of things. This is really about you and grounding you to your actual life and what it is that you can sustain. So if you're being pulled by some sort of little trick or this, and it doesn't feel like a trick I guess in the moment because you think like, oh my God, I'd love to weigh 1 42 or whatever.
But when you're being pulled like that, when something glimmery is being put in front of you, you should back up. Your reaction should be to back away from that because what you're going to be asked to do between now and that glimmery number is not good. Number seven, the actions that you're being asked to take are temporary. So look at this in the context of say, a meal plan where you're being given meals for the day or you buy meals and you have no thought to keep going and doing this for the rest of your life. What they're relying on in that, what these diets are relying on is something called a weight loss phase and a maintenance phase. That is not a real thing. This is not a real thing in the context of real sustainable, practical weight loss. These two things are not separate.
And the way that I put it is how you lose the weight is how you have to live. Choose carefully. So if you're doing something that is completely temporary by nature, it could be counting calories, it could be a hard exercise. I do put in like Allah, the biggest loser, that kind of exercise in diet culture because it's totally unsustainable. Who can live like that? And a lot of people think, well, I'll just do this for a little while, and then somehow that'll transition into long-term success. No maintenance phase is another idea of diet culture. It has no bearing on your ability to sustain a healthy weight for you going forward. And it is another way, it's another sly way to convince you to do something unsustainable for the short term, which anything you do for the short term is going to have a short-term result if you can stick with it, which kudos to you if you can stick with it, but I never could.
And by the way, I now think of that the fact that I couldn't stick to any diets is now a badge of honor for me because what it tells me all these years later was my internal wisdom, my essential self, it doesn't really matter, didn't want to sustain bad ideas. At the time I thought I was failing. Now when I look back on it, I realize, oh my God, I actually was resisting terrible ideas. That's really what was happening. And I feel a lot of pride about that. So number eight, it's asking you to change all in one go. And I like to call it the big heave hoe, and you'll hear it in people's language. I'm going to buckle down. I'm going to get serious. I'm going to go all in. These are ways that we use language to essentially tell people that we're about to do something unsustainable.
Because what you're really talking about is creating change. That's really what you're talking about. You're talking about creating behavior change. And the way behavior change works is that it's a lot closer to the Titanic, like you're the Titanic and are you going to just flip the Titanic around and go the opposite direction? Or is it a series of incremental changes, slow incremental changes that actually really add up over time to a new direction? But again, when you're being sold a plan, a diet, an idea, a workout, what the big heave hoe is part of the glimmery future that you can include that into the glimmery, the glimmery thing, the reason that's unsustainable. No human being ever changes in one go ever. That's just not how it's done. And think about another aspect of your life that has nothing to do with weight loss. Think about you wanted to stop interrupting people. That's one I work on, by the way. So that's why I pulled that one up. You have to notice it. You have to change the behavior each and every time you have the impulse, right? It's actually a lot more of self-awareness and meticulous change.
But am I going to just wake up one day and be like, I am never going to interrupt anyone again? I mean, it's a lovely idea and I wish I could do that, but that's not how our behavior patterns go. And so weight loss is absolutely no different. You are never going to change things in one go. And if you were being sold something, it's lovely. The idea of I can make it all different. You can make it all different. Actually, I'm not so sure that I don't disagree with that. But it's never going to be in one go, never. And if you feel yourself being drawn in that direction, understand that you're being sold a fantasy that is a fantasy about how human beings work. It has nothing to do with what you actually want to accomplish, which is long-term change.
So number nine is handing yourself over to a plan. And we talked about this a little bit before, but I'm going to expand on it. The idea that you're just going to hand yourself over to this plan, and I do sell a program of my own, but it's very different in that you have to create a lot of self-awareness and then make decisions about what you are and are not willing to do a little bit different. But if you're handing yourself over to a plan, you lose your sense of agency. Again, we talk about you have this, what you give up when you hand yourself, when you hand all your decisions over to somebody else is you lose a very important thing, which is your agency. And this is a secret sauce that I'm about to give you both in my approach and in anyone who sustains anything, is that you have got to make these changes through your own power.
And what that means in this context is that you want to make this incremental change. It feels right to you. It is suited to your life. I could tell you, go walk to the grocery store every day. If there are no walking paths from here to the grocery store in your life, that advice is going to ring hollow to you. And much of the ways that we don't see this because we think here's the faulty thinking underneath is, well, I screwed it all up. Look at me. I gained weight and I messed it all up and I should just hand it over to someone else who clearly knows better than I do. Well, you didn't mess anything up. What you did was not have the awareness that you needed about the right things, and that's why you gained weight. It's not a personal failing. It's actually a product of the environment that you're living in now, and you just can't see it very different. So what you need is the agency to make the right changes inside of your own life. And if you give up that agency to hand over to a plan, you're really handicapping yourself and you're kicking the can down the road, eventually, you're going to have to do what I'm telling you to do if you want the weight loss to last.
Number 10, this is my favorite one of all of them. I don't know why I put it at number 10. I guess I felt like I had to talk about the other things first, but I want you to know about this from the bottom of my heart. Diet culture disregards your hunger or asks you to suppress it. No, no, no and no. Number one, I have a visceral response to this because of all the years I tried to go hungry myself and what a disaster that was. You're really just setting yourself up for a boomerang. And if you've experienced this before where you tried to stick to a diet, but you got hungrier and hungrier and then you went off the diet and ate up a whole bunch like the feedback was on, that's actually a very normal reaction to hunger. You are not supposed to go hungry.
You are not supposed to disregard your hunger. And further, you actually need to learn how to honor your hunger, which I'll talk about under sustainable weight loss a little bit more. But diets conveniently or inconveniently just don't really mention the hunger thing or mention it a little bit, but they don't actually teach you how to manage tune in and respect your hunger. And respecting your hunger is a big word. It actually has a lot in there. It's foundational to my approach to make your hunger the central to your life actually, and how do you honor it through the way you live and your food choices and all kinds of things. But here we're talking about how to spot a diet, and it's very clear to me if the idea of being hungry is just swept away i e 1200 calories, then you are being asked to abuse your hunger.
You are asked to disregard it, and your brain is never going to put up with that. Your brain is not going to allow this to happen. So if there's no discussion on hunger management that is most likely, or respecting your hunger or inviting your hunger in, think about that, then you are on a diet. I hate to tell you that, but you're on a diet and it won't last because your brain knows better than you do. Number 11, and this is the final one, really important too. The changes you make, feel unnatural, tedious or wear you out. In my workshop, I actually have a link to the study that there was a study done on women on a diet, and then while they were on a diet, and these are diets where you're tracking your food, tracking your calories, there's a lot of cognitive things to do.
They performed worse on cognitive tests, worse on cognitive tests because of being on a diet. Why does that matter? Well, if the goal is to sail on in your life with a healthy weight that you can manage, how are you going to get there by doing things that actually drain you, that feel draining, that pull you down in other aspects of your life that are difficult and or impossible to sustain because they're not fun. And I will tell you, tracking my food, I think of that as one of the circles of hell. There's no chance I find it disrespectful to the food I'm eating to sit around, logging it in. But also, I don't know anyone who wants to live like that for the rest of their lives. Maybe they're out there, but if this isn't you and you are thinking of this as a temporary thing, I'm going to do this temporarily and I will lose weight and then I'll sail on with my life. No, you won't. That's maintenance phase, diet thinking. But also I don't quite understand how that process turns into natural eating, and I don't think the diet companies do either. I think they know very well that these are tedious things that are designed to create immediate weight loss, which is what consumers have been trained to get. But I'm telling you, all of that is a diet. Those are diet culture ideas and that this is the thing that I think we don't talk about enough. You are abusing yourself when you're doing these ideas.
You're hurting yourself both in terms of what you think you can do, what you think you have to do, the amount of. And if you are on a diet, this is another great way, actually, I didn't even put this on my list, but let's talk about it. If you are doing something to lose weight and it's generating a lot of negative self-talk, you're talking to yourself in a very disrespectful way, in a very critical way. I want you to understand that that is a byproduct of doing a diet. You're talking to yourself in this way because you're doing something that is awful. And instead of blaming the diet because we think, well, we want to lose weight and therefore here's this method and I must be the problem, you're not the problem. The problem is the method. The problem is you're lack of having a greater understanding.
The problem is not enough awareness of good nutrition, and there's some other things that need to be understood, but you and your essential self are not the problem. And so what I really want you to do, now that you've heard all the different ways something is a diet, I want you to leave here and go sit down and think about what I've said and forgive yourself. That's what I want you to do. I want you to forgive yourself for every time you couldn't sustain a diet, for every time the weight came back, for every time you watched other people supposedly succeed and you didn't. I want you now to forgive yourself. You were never going to win. Diets are not set up for you to win. They're set up for you to do something temporary and have a temporary result. That's it. That's all that ever happened.
There is a better way. And in the next episode we're going to discuss this was the dark and we're going to discuss the light. What does it look like to go through a process of sustainable weight loss? Tune in two weeks to hear what sustainable weight loss looks like. How do you know if you're embarking on a process that is going to be healthy, good for you, and something you can sustain for a long time? I'm going to get into it. Please join me on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or YouTube anywhere you get your favorite podcasts. I'll be there.