“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” - Mahatma Gandhi

Many who come in to work with me are interested in losing weight. It is no surprise. After all, our society tends to judge us based on the size of our body. Size discrimination is rampant and perceived as acceptable.

If you are reading this newsletter, you probably have some experience with the fact that diets don’t work! Perhaps you have tried diet after diet with no long term success. Perhaps you aren’t on any specific diet, but you approach life with diet mentality. However, you feel more obsessed with food and you continue to hate your body. This is not healthy living and you can feel it.

Yet, with the focus on weight loss, you will continue to feel good or bad about yourself based on the number on the scale, how you see yourself in the mirror, or how your clothes fit. This might even lead you on the fast track back to dieting, even if you know it won’t work.

So, how can you move your focus from weight loss to healthy, non-diet living?

A paradigm shift.

According to Wikipedia, a paradigm shift is defined as: “the term first used by Thomas Kuhn in 1962 to describe a change in basic assumptions within the ruling theory of science. The term "paradigm shift" has found uses in other contexts, representing the notion of a major change in a certain thought-pattern — a radical change in personal beliefs, complex systems or organizations, replacing the former way of thinking or organizing with a radically different way of thinking or organizing.”

Be radical… shift your thinking from dieting to no more dieting… for your health. You may end up surrounded by friends who don’t get it and still encourage you to diet or try the next fad that comes along. Trust yourself. You know that diets don’t work. Create that shift and teach your friends to do the same with your results.

Here are some examples of creating a paradigm shift from diet thinking to non diet thinking:
Issue Diet Thinking Non Diet Thinking
The Goal Weight loss
I know that dieting doesn’t lead to permanent weight loss but only to distrust in myself and more weight gain. I am learning to trust myself and to gain freedom from the obsessive thinking that dieting brings.

Progress Weight loss
When I don’t limit myself by dieting, I feel more freedom around food and less obsessed with how I look. I usually eat less because I give myself exactly what I want. I am not controlled by a diet.

Self and Other Acceptance I am more acceptable when I am thin. People like me more when I am thin.
I am learning to accept myself and my body just the way I am. My friends and family love and accept me the way I am.

Health Being thin is healthy
Health is possible at any size. Freedom from dieting and freedom from hatred of my body feels healthy and good.

Exercise No pain, no gain; should and shouldn’t thinking
I choose activities that I enjoy and are fun. I feel more energy and other benefits from exercising that feel good.

Food Is the enemy, either good or bad for me
Tastes good and I only eat what I enjoy. Food is not good or bad, it if fuel for my body.

Food Talk
Is it good for me or bad for me?

What do I want?
Thoughts Black and white thinking; all good or all bad.
I can have it if I want it; I can save it for later if I don't want it or am too full to eat it now.

Hunger I eat out of reaction, not because I am hungry
I eat when I'm hungry, I eat what I want, and I stop before I'm full. (see my article “Put your hunger on the scale”)

Success Lost weight
I feel good about myself, my body, my relationship with food. I spend much less energy and time thinking negatively about food.

I eat to deal with feelings or uncomfortable situations

It is okay to have and express my emotions. Emotions are good and natural.

Making these paradigm shifts may take time and practice. Paired with many of the other suggestions from my newsletters, your thinking and feelings toward food and your body will naturally shift.

Some statements of change I have heard from clients are: “I used to go to bed at night and wake up in the morning thinking about how much I hated my body. I no longer do that.”, “I thought I was as big as a house, but now I am more realistic about my body and don’t think about it nearly as much.”, “Feeling my feelings reminds me that I’m alive.”

This week try to notice your thoughts around the above issues and see if you can start your paradigm shift. I suggest saying the new, non diet thinking concepts out loud so you can hear them as well as say them. If it doesn’t fit right the first time, keep trying it on. After all, changes in thinking are not all or nothing, rather a process.

Author's Bio: 

I am a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in California and a Licensed Professional Counselor in Oregon. I hold a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Antioch University, Santa Barbara, CA. My counseling experience spans 8 years and has included studying and working with experts in the eating disorder field, teaching counseling and communication skills classes, and assisting and managing several personal growth seminars and support groups. I have provided counseling to people with a variety of relationship issues, including adults who were abused as children.