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Finger Trap cropped

Maybe you tried the very low fat diet… you know, for your health.

Maybe you tried the very high fat diet… you know, also for your health.

Maybe you tried the eating plan that said you had to space your meals out at different times…you know, for weight loss.

Maybe you tried the diet that combines specific foods at specific meals… you know, to help your metabolism. Which really means for weight loss.

Maybe you tried the convenient meal replacement plan that made you want to scream, “Soylent Green is peeeeeeeeee-ple!”

Maybe you tried the juices and the supplements and the special-secret-foods-of-our-ancestors*… you know, to help your thyroid. And your gut. And your heart.

And then there was the one whose schtick you couldn’t figure out – but it was for weight loss, too.

Oh, wait – they’re all supposed to make you lose weight. Ultimately. Even the ones for health. And yet you weigh more than you used to. More than you weighed back before you started all this dieting nonsense. You know, back when you first thought you were fat.

But now, when you look at pictures of yourself from back then, you just want to stroke that girl’s hair.

You want to warn her that if someone in the schoolyard tells her “Just try this. It’ll bring you everything you ever wanted: happiness, popularity, and love,” she should run away and tell a trusted adult. “This” could be counting calories. It could be willpower. It could be a pseudo-cleanse. It could be an invitation to the Church of Paleo.

You want to tell that girl never to listen to anybody in Spandex who is skinny and has NO EXCUSES but secretly hates her body, too.

But you can’t go back and tell her any of this. And her trajectory has left a trail of tears.

Because you’re trapped in a diet mindset.

The more you try, the more trapped you feel. Things (and maybe even your weight) seem great for a while. Eventually, though, you can’t hold out on the butter (if you’re on the very low fat diet) or the pasta (if you’re on the low carb diet) or you can’t always follow the rule that says combining pineapple with oats makes the peristalsis of your digestive system stop working, and who has the time to deal with that? (Of course I made that up. I promise your digestive system’s peristalsis will not stop if you combine pineapple with oats.)

Or maybe you don’t give in. You have iron-clad willpower, but you still regain the weight you lost.

How is it possible that you can work so hard and never really achieve what the diet-pushers told you was the reward?

Because it was never true to begin with.

What if you stopped trying so hard and leaned in to your own experience? Like a toy finger trap – the more you pull, the tighter it squeezes. But if you stop for a moment and slow down, you’re free. And it feels effortless.

*Technically, one could argue that the food of at least some of our ancestors was TV Dinners and Tang.