Diets, detoxes, cleanses are pretty words for self-abuse

Success is sexy and validation is addictive.  We want so desperately to be in a different size jeans, to see a different number on the scale, to receive the praise of others and feel worthy of adoration, to finally “let the thin person out,” that we let our judgment be clouded with what we see in the market place.  There are flashy titles, promises of quick results, and the notion that this program is “the one.”  But, when it is all said and done and we take a long, hard look at what is being forced down our throats, it is disturbing.  As it turns out diets, detoxes, cleanses are pretty words for self-abuse.

I’m not talking about food abuse, though that could probably qualify.  I’m actually talking about self-abuse.  The kind that makes you feel inadequate, produces shame at every turn, and makes you doubt your ability to succeed.  The self-abuse of dieting, cleansing, and detoxing is deeply rooted in our culture.  It sets us up to fail.  It steals our dignity.  It creates dysfunction in every corner of our lives.  It needs to stop.

 The self-abuse cycle:

  • desire to lose weight (because we don’t feel _____ enough)
  • purchase of program (so we can be successful)
  • intense focus on execution (because we crave results)
  • lose interest, get distracted, program is too rigid (negative thoughts about self)
  • return to prior habits, routines, life
  • feelings of failure and doubt
  • thoughts of punishment rush in and the cycle begins again

Why is this self-abuse? According to the dictionary, here is the definition:

reproach or blame of oneself; abuse of one’s health

Let’s tackle the first part: blame.  How often do we blame ourselves for not being able to eat a certain way?  We use words like failure, lazy, sucky, pathetic, lame, stupid to describe why we stopped dieting, cleansing, detoxing.  “I must be an idiot if I can’t get results that everyone is!”  or  “I have to try harder next time.”  or  “If I just had enough willpower to do this, I know I could lose the weight.”

We are willing to take ALL the blame for why a program didn’t “work.”  And yet we aren’t willing to take a look at the culture of the health and wellness industry and see if it plays a role.  (Hint:  it does.)

And now let’s look at the second part of the definition: abuse of one’s health.  The definition of abuse alone is to treat in a harmful, injurious, or offensive way.  Hmm.  If restricting food, making negative comments about ourselves, and the punishing ourselves for not making certain choices, changes, “improvements” isn’t abuse than I don’t know what is.

What saddens me the most is that we are so caught up in this cycle of wanting results and doing almost anything to get them that we can’t lift our eyes high enough to see what we are doing to ourselves.  It’s self-abuse.  There’s no other way to describe it.

While we each have personal responsibility to make the best choices we can, to take care of our bodies, and to seek health, the burden also falls on the diet and fitness industry.  After all, the guerrilla marketing is what we are exposed to all day, every day, without fail.  Let’s take a look at that role.

This is how the diet, cleanse, detox industry is setting you up for self-abuse:

  1. Restriction:  this is the biggest part of it all.  Take away some foods or entire food groups, even if for a short while, and it creates the relationship of good vs bad.  Words like “always” and “never” set you up for the the expectation that certain foods will never allow you to be healthy while others always will.  It’s a fallacy.  Clean, Paleo, green, cleansing foods aren’t the end all, be all of nutrition.  Trust me.  In fact, for many, these phrases and restrictions further reinforce the culture of not-good-enough-ness.  If you can’t follow this, that, and the other, then you must suck.  There’s no consolation that maybe it’s just not right for your mind, body, and soul.
  2. The War:  for years, we’ve heard of the battle of the bulge.  We aim to blast the fat, use grit to get through, follow no pain, no gain, and more.  The imagery used to show body change is one of battles to be fought and the war to be won.  This is problematic for two main reasons:  it implies that it has to be painful, miserable, and hellish and it also implies that there is an end point when you are done.  Changing your body, getting healthy, and simply treating your body with respect looks nothing like misery or torture.  And if there is an end point, then your results have an end point, too.  Taking care of your body never ends.  Why make it painful if it never goes away?
  3. The Guilt:  from images that show women pinching their stomachs to memes telling you how many burpees you have to do or miles you have to run to earn your food, the opportunity for guilt is endless.  If you aren’t working toward a goal, then you must be lazy, right?  WRONG.  You are expected to be grossed out by a body that doesn’t grace the cover a magazine.  You are supposed to always be prepping, toting, thinking about food, because, if you don’t, well you are just not trying hard enough.  We have to think about food several times a day because we need food to thrive.  But to have the guilt on top of it all makes it easy to become self-abuse.

There is one common theme amongst the 3 listed above:  they all prey on your own insecurity.  If you can feel inferior, hate yourself just enough, then you, too, can have this self-abuse (diet, detox, cleanse) for three equal payments of $19.99, or whatever the going rate is these days.  Because if you can get results with that plan, you will finally be worthy.

Bullshit.  All of it.

Here’s a little something to consider.  What if you ate in a way that showed your body love instead of hate?  What would that look like?  How would that change the conversation in your mind?  How would that change the guilt?

Here is what it looks like when you eat like you love yourself:

  • You willingly choose foods that nourish your body (instead of choosing what fits a plan)
  • You can trust yourself around food because there are no restrictions
  • Food becomes less important because it doesn’t consume your thoughts, your day, your life
  • Shame lessens because there’s nothing to hide about food choices and thoughts anymore

I know what you are thinking.  “Julie, this sounds all fine and good, but I have no idea how to do any of this!  I don’t even know where to start!”

So I’ll reply with this:  

Join me for the FREE 7-day Mini Course called

Eat Like You LOVE Yourself.  

Got hesitation?  Think about this:  If you’ve spent this long trying to change your body with restriction, war, and shame and it hasn’t worked, why not try a little love?

Go HERE to sign up!

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