Picture yourself as a hiker at the base of an extraordinary mountain. This mountain symbolizes a journey to better physical and emotional health. This process may be challenging, but given the right tools and skills, it can be full of fun and adventure with some great scenery along the way.
Now, picture yourself at the top…what do you see from there? What would like to accomplish?
Many “dieters” might find they have a rather narrow focus: “I’d love to get to X lbs. I have to fit into that bikini, or I need to lower my cholesterol”. Because they are so focused on a narrow goal, they tend to forget there is a broad horizon at the peak and can fail to see the big picture. They might feel desperate to reach their goals and look for maps that promise the quickest way up that cliff no matter what the cost.
As they examine the map, they find it is far less of a guide and much more a set of strict rules dictating each and every step of the way. These sojourners may be so consumed with calorie-counting and rule-following, they lose sight of other very important factors that make their situations unique. They forget that their new habits need to last a lifetime but realize that isn’t attainable. They soon grow tired, feel restricted and lose their balance. Believing they have failed, they head back to the base to start again from the beginning, often even worse off than they started.
Others take a different approach. These people might envision the top of the mountain and consider the big picture. They know the process is challenging but they also know it’s worth it. They know quick fixes aren’t the answer and trust the support of others to start the journey.
These hikers might see their goal as something more like: “I’d like to finally feel good in my skin and learn to accept my body on a whole new level”. “I’d love to have balance and peace in my relationship with food and have my body feel balanced and peaceful as a result! I’d love to be able to think neutrally about food; to eat guilt-free, when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. I would like to be able to have a pack of cookies in my house without feeling the need to eat the whole thing at once!”
These types of climbers look at the mountain ahead from a different light…
They might ask themselves: “What am I ready for? What would I like to experience on this journey? What is safe for me to explore at this time and what boundaries might I create to keep myself safe without hindering my freedom in this process? What tools and practice should I get before going places and doing things that can still be a bit tricky for me?”
They see, along with 95% of failed dieters, that strict rules with food simply don’t work! Instead, they create their own patterns and boundaries through their personal experience and with the help of a supportive team. They might refer to a compass to guide and remind them where to go when they feel lost. They certainly take into account their nutritional needs when they make food choices, but also don’t forget about other important factors, like:
“What is my body telling me right now? Am I hungry? Am I truly satisfied? What foods do I really enjoy and what is practical and realistic given my lifestyle and schedule? Are my food choices being driven by my emotions? If so, how can I address my emotional needs, without abusing food? After all”, this hiker tells herself “the joy is in the journey. I’m ready to stop dieting, restricting, obsessing, and binging. I’m ready to start living.”