It happened again.
A potential client’s husband enrolled her in a diet program, without her request or consent.
She has some emotional eating and body image struggles, and maybe she’d like to lose weight, but mostly she wants to lose the weight of self-hate. She’s tired of struggling with food and what she thinks are willpower issues.
And he just… put her in a diet program and told her to show up to the first meeting.
I’m mad on her behalf. I think this is a violation of boundaries and a dismissal of her sovereignty.
I’m sad on both of their behalf. Because I’m sure he was trying to support her and show love. I’m sure she wanted that love. In fact, I think she was probably desperate for it.
But they were both confused.
The question isn’t really about finding the right diet. And it’s definitely not about having someone else force you into what they think is the right diet.
Even if we’re not willing to admit it, we know diets don’t work. We know shame doesn’t work.
If eating less and exercising more were going to work in a long-term, sustainable way, they would have done so by now.
It is beyond time for us to acknowledge the fact that the question is bigger than simply calorie counting or eating more greens. The question is bigger than weight, it’s bigger than whether or not you approve of someone’s body, it’s bigger than whether a body fits an ideal.
This is important, so listen carefully.
Even if you think you do need to find the perfect diet or get the perfect body, let’s start here:
Every unwanted habit you have is an attempt, however distorted, to achieve wholeness.
Most of our unwanted behaviors make perfect sense. Our bodies are always trying to achieve wholeness and balance.
We love emotional eating. We are emotional beings.
If you eat to feel better, that’s great! That’s a powerful genetic and cellular memory. Even babies know that food = touch = love = mother. Food is the easiest form of love we can reach for.
So you can relax. You’re right. You don’t need to reject yourself because you keep reaching for food. It’s an excellent strategy to cope with the deeper issues you don’t know how to address.
No one should be here to fix you. There’s nothing wrong with you.
Wholeness is remembering who you are, not fixing the dysfunctional you that seems to be who you are.
You are a whole and complete human being, worthy of love and belonging. Act from that place.
Say it after me, “There is nothing wrong with me. I am not broken. I do not need to be fixed.”
“Wherever there is a ruin, there is a hope for treasure — why do you not seek the treasure of God in the wasted heart?” – Rumi
You got confused about the reach of your jurisdiction. Other people’s bodies do not belong to you.
I don’t care if it’s your spouse, your significant other, or your child. You do not get to bully or bulldoze someone into a diet program so that you can be comfortable with their weight or looks.
You might have also gotten confused about how to demonstrate love.
Maybe you think that love is to take the first desire someone voices and to run with it, making a plan and getting organized for how to achieve it.
So often the love we want is presence.
We crave the life where we speak the truth of our longing and the person witnessing our truth reflects back their love for us and their trust in both our desires and our actions.
You could be the person that demonstrates love.
You could demonstrate how to love both the person they are and the person they’re becoming and how it’s possible that one is not better or more worthy than the other.
Even if someone says to you, “I really want to lose weight,” you could act like they are on the cusp of the greatest, most inspired decision of their life. You could say things like, “Wow, what makes you want to lose weight? What do you think would be different about your life if you lost weight?”
You could listen to what’s underneath the desire to lose weight rather than stamping down with a to-do list.
And you could remind them that you love them, that whatever choices they decide to make are the right choices, that you have faith in their ability to make their own decisions about their body.
“People stared at me wherever I went, but this was different. To the girl I was not an object of ridicule but a creature of interest.” – Dietland, Sarai Walker
I believe in you both. xo
If you know diets don’t work but aren’t sure where to go next, I have 5 Chocolate spots left for September! Basically, you + me + 30 minutes + chocolate. Read more here.