What I Learned When I Got Sucked Back Into Dieting

I always talk about how awesome Intuitive Eating is and how it changed my life, but let's not pretend there haven't been a couple detours. Last year after ditching diets for 5 months and adapting to a new life of food freedom, I found myself struggling with weight gain, my perception of self, some insecurity and holiday season was upon. Suddenly I didn't feel so confident that I had made the right choice to ditch the diets.

I found myself caught in a comparison trap, complete with jealously and seconds guessing. I watched people reaching goals, shouting success and proudly proclaiming "I lost ___ pounds!!" I watched as they made the same claims I used to market my former business- anywhere from "I'm a better mom" and "I'm no longer self-couscous"! The list goes on.

It was October and I couldn't fathom going into the holidays the way I looked. At that point I had gained back 35 of the 40 I had lost post-pregnancy, it wasn't slowing and it had happened very quickly. How could I have thought this was a good idea?! Why did I quit dieting and give up on ME?! How can I take pictures looking like THIS?!

So I freaked. I went on the South Beach Diet with one of my friends after confessing to her I felt horrible about myself. I realized after 4 days what a huge mistake it was, and I realized right then and there diet culture is heavy and seductive. I made it through the rest of the holiday season with no freak outs and found myself relieved that I was able to apply Intuitive Eating Principles, enjoy time and food with family with no restrictions, weight gain or binging. It was all fine and dandy until….

February hit. "SWIMSUIT SEASON IS ALMOST HERE!!!!! Don't let the world see your fat, cellulite and in order to do this EAT ALL THE FAT AND FORGET ALL THE CARBS!!!" Ahhhhh, my fallback (low carb) diet has made a crazy comeback. I've been added to so many freaking Keto OS groups I want to vomit. I even told my clinical nutritionist I thought I needed to go lowcarb to once again solve the problems in my life. She told me politely what I already knew: "well, it's very hard and yes it can work for weight loss BUT it's very hard to maintain. I don't recommend it." Against her advice I still decided I had to do something because the rest of the world was losing and cruising. My all or nothing mindset kicked in and 1-2 weeks later I realized again the mistake I made and reeled it back.

I learned a lot those 2 incidents. I think the biggest thing I realized is diet culture is pervasive, seductive and heavily prevalent in every facet of our lives. It's hard to turn your back when your culture is obsessed with eating a specific way and are preaching messages demonizing anything that doesn't follow their specific diet. Other things I learned:

  1. I turn into flipping crazy person. Weighing myself, my food, measuring every flipping thing, obsessing over timing of meals, making sure I was "on plan/in compliance". Playing the mental game that goes with placing oneself on a diet is exhausting. When you're on a diet, every waking moment is consumed with said diet. (And this has been normalized by our culture).
  2. The diet/weight loss industry preys on so many of our fears: death, judgment, ridicule, and we like to blame literally every medical illness on obesity. Many obese people even avoid making appointments because they fear instead of being seen as a patient, they'll be seen as a person that simply "needs to lose weight" rather than being seen as a whole person needing more than just a guilt trip about how being fat is ruining their health.
  3. I realized I was treating Intuitive Eating like a diet. Ever since the beginning I had told myself "if it doesn't work, I'll just go back to diet XYZ". I had one foot in, one foot out.
  4. It's hard to think you're succeeding when you are used to being to measure results, can say you were "good" or "bad", or hop on a scale and quickly confirm if you are still winning your personal fight against yourself.
  5. I had to admit to myself that yes, becoming smaller is still a desire of mine. BUT I also knew I wasn't willing to do anything that included restricting food groups, buying a program, counting stuff, following black and white plans, or basing my successes on numbers. I later found a solution to this quandary which I'll share in the future.
  6. I was faced again with some white hot truth- dieting does not work. I had an "ah ha" moment when I was going through my Intuitive Eating workbook and tracked every diet I had been on, the length of time it lasted, my start weight and the end weight. The path led up, up, up. I had convinced that my increased weight was because of my food addiction, lack of self-control, and blaming myself. Reality is there is a huge correlation between dieting, weight gain and obesity.

Here is the single most important thing you can take away from this: Intuitive Eating has no measure of success or failure or perfection. There is no end date. If you think you're failing you're wrong- you're learning.

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Dear Moms, Let’s Dive In

As my legs sunk deeper into the water, my pride rose higher than my head. I watched my little boy smile with joy that his mommy was in the water with him.

"As I walked to the edge and waited for our turn I heard a little voice say, "I like your suit Mommy. It has waves on it. "

As my legs sunk deeper into the water, my pride rose higher than my head. I watched my little boy smile with joy that his mommy was in the water with him.

As I laughed and cheered I forgot that my thighs touch.

As my oldest son started his turn, I remembered how it feels to put the fun first and shrug off insecurity.

As we high fived over and over I celebrated that I am enough. I am MORE. I am brave and normal all at the same time.

Today I won. Today my boys won. They got their mom with them in a pool for parents day.

Today my body was the least interesting thing about me.

I freakin' did it." Beautiful words shared with permission by Rachelle McLean; founder of Light It Up Fitness

Photo credit Michelle, founder of Mom Dance and Yoga Pants and Zumba with Michelle Phillips

Make sure to follow MD&YP for your daily dose of Mom Body Positivity❤️

Put the Phone Down Mommy

We are living in an age where we can get validation, a medical diagnoses, new recipes, news, laughter and even build businesses on the tips of our fingers we can easily miss out on what matters most.

Facebook. Snapchat. Instagram. Pinterest. Texting. YouTube. I wrote this for my kids when one day I was able to see clearly, that we were all missing out on life because of my lack of true presence. Not just me being there physically, but also emotionally present. I had lost my temper mid-post for getting interrupted again and I found myself face-to-face with a teary eyed little girl that was now completely silent. We are living in an age where we can get validation, a medical diagnoses, new recipes, news, laughter and even build businesses on the tips of our fingers we can easily miss out on what matters most.

As I looked into the little girls eyes who matched my own, she didn't have to say a word for me to understand what she was feeling and wanted to say.

"Put the phone down mommy, and take my little hand. I know that you get lonely but this journey is so grand.

Put the phone down mommy, social media can wait. I promise that we'll still have fun, trust me it will be great.

Put the phone down mommy, I know you have #momboss dreams, my brother and I are growing up fast; surely you can see?

Put the phone down mommy, watch me without the lens. This day will soon be over, this time with me will end.

Put the phone down mommy, please focus here on me. I'm about to make you laugh, can you listen to my story?

Put the phone down mommy, I don't mean to bug. But if you look over here I'd like to give you a really big hug.

Put the phone down mommy, I know that life gets hard. That newsfeed isn't important, your presence goes so far.

Put the phone down mommy, I really want to run! It's so much better when you're with me, let's go have some fun.

Put the phone down parents, see what's in their eyes, you're pouring into tiny souls and creating better lives."

Put the phone down parents. Give the gift of your presence.

Why I Broke Up With My Fitbit

There wasn’t really a straw that broke the camel’s back or any particular event that made me decide to no longer wear it, I just decided I was done allowing myself to continue to be manipulated by numbers as a method to define my success.

In 2015, I found my tiny, electronic swolemate. My present to myself with our tax return was a Fitbit Charge. This sleek black gadget helped me track EVERYTHING. As a mom of a 5 month old, it kindly showed me on a daily basis how shitty my sleep was, initially it helped me see that I wasn’t as active as I thought I was and then it also tracked steps/distance/calories/etc. I was in love and this little gadget was helping me on the fast track to “operation lose the baby weight” I set for myself in the New Year of 2015.

At first our relationship was amazing. I loved how the silent alarm made it easier for me to wake up early without waking up my husband. I loved weekly competitions with my friends, getting more active, and seeing myself high on the leaderboard after stepping up my daily steps goal. Our relationship was amazing, until it wasn’t.

I started doing weird, unhealthy, competitive things to keep up with the step count. Feel free to laugh or maybe give me an eye roll because you’ve been there, done that. Most of these behaviors were a result of friendly competition gone awry, but I’m still going to say I don’t think these things are healthy. And if you think I’m the only one who does this… I’m not. I might just be the only one to admit it. (mic drop)

I didn’t do activities that rounded out my fitness regime but didn’t give me as many steps (cycling, yoga just to name a few). I began to march in place while watching TV with my husband. I would do squats/march/run in place before bed to quick reach my step goal. I would “house walk” and speed clean. I would go for extra walks. If it was Friday close to midnight and the clock was ticking on our workweek competition; I would do similar things to get/stay ahead instead of sleep. It wouldn’t matter how tired I was. THAT IS DUMB. Just saying.

There wasn’t really a straw that broke the camel’s back or any particular event that made me decide to no longer wear it, I just decided I was done allowing myself to continue to be manipulated by numbers as a method to track success. Let’s just take a second to think about that very last sentence. So many people get sucked into verifying their efforts through measurable, numerical proof. We are encouraged to track calories/carbs/points/containers to make sure we’re eating the right amount. We are encouraged to track our weight, measurements or body fat. We are encouraged to track statistics on our runs, workouts, endurance— whatever it is.

Our society cannot fathom doing things without being able to visualize a purpose or measure of success.

Looking back, the extensive tracking from Fitbit, MFP, Runkeeper etc was stealing the joy that I was getting by making sure I was doing enough. I never felt like I was doing enough. So I sold my Fitbit, deleted apps/trackers and just started doing life without tracking. You can measure your happiness, stress levels, enjoyment, fulfillment, and health in so many other ways, and you can make the changes sustainable by focusing on what you enjoy not how much you did.

As I wrap this up, I feel the need to add “you do you”. I know that many of my friends and readers swear by their trackers, apps, devices etc. And that’s fine- you do you! My only word of advice is to consider if the methods you are using to track your daily activities are reasonable or obsessive. There are so many things that are becoming normalized, acceptable, even admirable habits that are on the fast track to an obsession with weight loss/health. Don’t miss out on life, sleep, cake or whatever because a tracking method says you’re not allowed to.

I Quit Dieting and Became a Better Mom

I was stuck in the idea that in order to be a “good mom” I had to be a mom that conformed to a specific idea of what was healthy. As I started to focus less on fit mom status, and more on living a balanced life, my eyes were opened to all of the things I was missing by obsessing over the wrong things.

You see it everywhere. “I’m a better mom because I take care of me!” or “once I lost the weight I turned into a better mom!” or “No Excuse Mom!” We see moms showing off colorful fruit/veggie kabobs and trays of organic, unprocessed food with shiny, smiling faces #fitmom.

I used to be that mom.  After going through an emotional and physical nightmare to have our 2 babies, I found myself sucked into what I’m going to call “the no-excuse, get your prebaby body back, run yourself ragged, sleep isn’t as important as your workout, sugar/carbs are the devil club.  I would share beautifully crafted healthy meals, skinny recipes, sweaty selfies, progress pictures and Fitspo, wrapped in a pretty bow and a #healthymom.  I was applauded for getting healthy but what wasn’t shown was the sleep deprivation, dietary restrictions, frustration, stress, closet emotional/binge eating when it all caught up with me. I burned out and still felt like I was failing my kids for not being enough. I was stuck in the idea that in order to be a “good mom” I had to be a mom that conformed to a specific idea of what was healthy.

Eventually I had enough of striving to be a woman I wasn’t. I started to focus less on fit mom status, and more on balance and my eyes were opened to all of the things I was missing by obsessing over the wrong things.


My daughter and I started baking more. Baking is something I’m not that great at and didn’t care to get better at because baking meant having “temptation” in the house which held the potential to send me into binge mode.  This little lady LOVES to bake, so we started to enjoy it together.  We started to bake some of the recipes passed on from my grandparents.  It’s still not something I’m good at, but we bond over baking fails and just enjoy the company.


I let my kids walk when I walk.  Walks with the kids used to frustrate me. I had to coherse the kids to stay in the stroller with snacks and any other means necessary so I could speed walk and get more steps for a Fitbit Challenge, negate the calories I had consumed from a meal where I was “naughty” or hurrying to get a workout in while I could. It was rare to let my kids out of the stroller when I was striving for #fitmom status. Now they get out for about half of the walk. They get to bike, skip, run, smell flowers. We take the time to enjoy the ride. We pick flowers and find insects to examine. We search the skies for birds and make up adventures to have on the way.  It’s a beautiful thing.

I’m always in the pictures these days. I stopped avoiding pictures. When I gained some of the weight back I had lost while dieting I felt shame regarding my body. After embracing myself exactly the way I am I ask to have pictures with my kiddos. Not just pictures when I was wearing makeup or using a filter. Not staged or flattering or perfectly posed. Just pictures of me living my amazing life.

We eat mostly the same things rather than making separate meals for myself. What a huge time saver this been. The kids are also exposed to a greater variety of foods. It’s not divided into healthy/unhealthy, processed/unprocessed, low carb etc. it’s just food. I also incorporated the Intuitive Eating for Kids chapter from the Intuitive Eating book to help our kids develop a positive, non-restrictive relationship with food. Meal times at our house are smoother and more enjoyable for all of us!

We enjoy going out to eat together and nothing is off limits. I love being able to embrace restaurants and not feel obligated to grill the staff on modifying my order into the walls of my diet or stressing over fitting the meal into a caloric deficit. Other good thing- eating out used to be my “cheat meal”. Cheat meals were the epitome of binge/disordered eating characteristics. My kids now witness me setting an example that is calm and not obsessed/ravenous with getting my money’s worth. It’s more about our time together.

I stopped sharing 90% of my workouts and what I ate. I see so many coaches/distributors/insert-madeup-title-to-sell-promises posting the same crap day after day. Workout, shake, selfie, inspiring message about how they didn’t feel like working out but still did it, repeat. I’m all for inspiring people to lead better lives, but we are in a world where people seem to live more of their lives online rather than in person. I have loved being more deliberate about my time spent on social media and creating time that honors my goals.

Balance is a beautiful thing. You don’t need to be perfect, adhering to the standards set by a billion dollar weight loss industry or post only the highlight reel to be an amazing mom. By showing our children balanced, sustainable health we are helping empower them to break the cycle of health obsession that has taken over our society.

Intuitive Eating Resources:

Mom Dance and Yoga Pants is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. These books contain my Amazon affiliate code and helps support my personal goal of providing women with body positive content, supporting my family, as well as helping me give back to my readers and community. Your support is appreciated ❤️

Ditching the Diet Mentality

Ditching the diet mentality isn’t easy. Everywhere you look there is a message about healthy vs healthy, scare tactics surrounding sugar/fat/carbs/gluten, and diets promoting avoiding food groups or counting points/calories/carbs/everything but the kitchen sink. How do we create lives of balance, not fear based rules?

Ditching the diet mentality isn’t easy. Everywhere you look there is a message about healthy vs healthy, scare tactics surrounding sugar/fat/carbs/gluten, and diets promoting avoiding food groups or counting points/calories/carbs/everything but the kitchen sink. How do we weed through the money making scare tactics promoted by the weight loss industry to find peace with food instead of using it as a weapon to get our money? 

What I imagine someone eating when they tell me about their diet.

I had been a slave to the diet industry since age 19, when I went on WW and was up and down the diet/binge rollercoaster since then. I’ve come a long way in the last year but also have been able to get deeper into subconscious behaviors and the depths the diet mentality exists.  


Using this workbook, I’ve been able to identify I STILL have some deeply ingrained carb fears.  As the Keto diet and Atkins are making a comeback, the fear mongering surrounding carbs and gluten is stronger than ever.  During my mid-winter slump I even told my told my clinical nutritionist I thought I should take the keto plunge after reading about how dairy, gluten, sugar (whether processed or natural from fruit) was the devil and was probably leading to my untimely death.  I was ready to pull the trigger on yet another diet promise when I was thankfully reminded of the lack of sustainability and that the last time I completed a keto style diet the rebound and gain was the worst to date.  Can I reiterate there’s a reason we’re all so screwed up when it comes to food? We’re all or nothing, there’s no balance and the diet industry loves to play into our fears to keep us coming back for more. 

This workbook has definitely helped me identify that I am struggling with some carb fears.  This comes out in the form of subconsciously avoiding fruit, and then feeling like a failure/overwhelmed when I want something sweet to eat and end up reaching for chocolate, candy, chips- basically easy access carbs because my body wants some darn carbs!  I don’t restrict sweets so when I have a desire for a sweet food I don’t mind enjoying it.  What I’ve realized though is my closest avoidance of carbs ends up leading me to making choices I wouldn’t if I would’ve just included fruit or starch in my balanced meal.  I’ve decided to experiment and see if purposely consuming more fruit, starchy foods (rice, potatoes, quinoa, couscous etc) that give sustained energy will help me to not be so drawn to the more processed foods.  

If you are looking to change your relationship with food and no longer feel chained by the weight loss industry, make sure to check out the Intuitive Eating book and workbook using my link here.  They are excellent resources for understanding why diets fail and where to go next to achieve your version of health, inside and out. 

*The link does contain my affiliate code which helps support my coffee and leggings addiction, as well as provide giveaways for products and services I wholeheartedly believe in. 

Intuitive Eating Resources:

Mom Dance and Yoga Pants is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. These books contain my Amazon affiliate code and helps support my personal goal of providing women with body positive content, supporting my family, as well as helping me give back to my readers and community. Your support is appreciated ❤️

Breaking the Clean Plate Club Cycle

The Clean Plate Club.  It has been said that eating patterns are passed down from generation to generation.  As a child I was raised by adults who were by products of the depression era and had encountered food scarcity and it wasn’t uncommon to hear tidbits about the starving children in Africa, being forced into eating food after we were full, going to a buffet hungry to “get your money’s worth”, not getting to eat dessert unless our plates were empty and when all else failed, the guilt that would ensue.  Oh the guilt.

It has been awhile since I first spoke about the Clean Plate Club and how hard it has been for me to stop clearing my plate.  I remember how exhilarating it felt to push my plate away and say “I’m done, I’m full” without feeling sick to my stomach with internalized guilt.  During my dieting days, I would eat what I was entitled to per my calorie/carb/point/container tracker rather than listening to internal fullness cues.

To say the least, quitting the Clean Plate club has been extremely hard and has been an ongoing process.  Over the last year I’ve made changes not only in my own view of a Clean Plate, but also how forcing my kids to eat certain things, eating their leftovers out of guilt, or clean their plate for dessert was doing them a disservice.  So what changed?

It was when Lauren Koski, of the Healthy Habits Happy Moms movement shared her perspective on cleaning your plate that things really clicked for me. “Food waste will happen whether it’s on my plate, or in my body if it’s being eaten when I’m already full”. 

Mic drop.

I’m not helping the starving kids in Africa.

I’m not getting my money’s worth or throwing hard earned dollars in the trash.

I’m not doing myself a service by eating my kids leftovers because they won’t clean their own plates.

I’m a grown up who can eat dessert whenever I want.

It’s not an inconvenience to put leftovers (regardless of how much is left) in the fridge for later if I want to.

I don’t need to force my children to eat because their little bodies know better than I do how hungry they are.  My job as a mom is to give them variety and choices. (Here is an excellent Facebook group/resource on helping children continue the natural Intuitive Eating habits they were born with).

So I encourage you to think critically on this one.  Were you raised in an environment where clean plates were part of your childhood?  Has it changed how you eat as an adult?  Have you found yourself continuing the clean plate cycle as a parent?  Does this change your perspective on food waste?

 
Intuitive Eating Resources:

Mom Dance and Yoga Pants is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. These books contain my Amazon affiliate code and helps support my personal goal of providing women with body positive content, supporting my family, as well as helping me give back to my readers and community. Your support is appreciated ❤️