The diet industry is really good at painting a picture and showing you what your life could be if you follow their latest dodgy diet.
How often do they show you ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos — supposed proof that their diet works? You’ve seen them hundreds of times. The ‘before’ photo showing you an overweight, unhappy person and the ‘after’ photo showing you a slimmer, happier version of the same person.
But photos can be deceptive. They don’t tell the whole story – just the part of the story they want you to believe. They don’t tell you that to achieve that result this person has had to starve themselves, restrict food, cut out food groups, and probably do excessive amounts of exercise. They also don’t tell you that while this person may have lost weight and therefore LOOKS better, their energy levels are low, and their body probably isn’t working as optimally as it should. In other words, they have traded how they look, with how they feel and function.
Another thing they don’t tell you is that diets don’t work for long-term weight loss. Yes, thousands of people have lost weight by dieting, but they never keep it off. Science shows that 98% of these people regain all the weight they lost (and often more) within 2 years. So if you take the same person in the diet commercial and compare the ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos after 2 years, they’re likely to end up looking and feeling worse than when they started.
However, what the diet industry tends to stay silent about the most is the damage that diets do — physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Which is why we’ve written this blog.
Because one thing is guaranteed — all the diets will fail.
You’ll continue to gain weight
This is important to understand because with every diet you go on, you make it harder to lose weight and keep it off. Every time you come off a diet, you’ll gain all the weight back and more, until one day you’ll find you won’t be able to lose it no matter what you do. This is because diets slow down your metabolism. When you come off the diet (which you will because they’re unrealistic), you’ll gain the weight again. This is because diets don’t help you change the habits that led you to become overweight. So when you go back to doing what you were doing before the diet, you’ll gain the weight you lost, plus more because now your metabolism is sluggish. With every diet you go on, you compromise your metabolism even further, making it physically harder and harder to lose weight. We explain the perils of dieting in more detail in our blog Why doing nothing is better than going on a diet.
You lose confidence
One of the first things to happen with repeated, failed attempts to lose weight is that you’ll lose confidence. The diet industry blames us when we can’t lose weight on their dodgy products (even though they are proven not to work). They are so good at pointing the finger back at us that we believe it’s our fault we can’t lose weight. So we go on another one, convinced that if we do it perfectly, then we’ll be a success story. Of course, the next diet and the next, and the next don’t work either. But instead of blaming the diet, we blame ourselves believing that we’re not good enough, that we can’t lose weight, that there must be something wrong with us. And then the battle with our weight becomes even harder because lack of confidence contributes to weight gain. You can read about that in our blog How lack of confidence affects you and your weight.
You’ll feel worthless
Along with losing your confidence, you’ll also begin to feel worthless. Diet culture promotes the idea that our value is based on our weight, dress size and appearance. Because repeated diets leave you looking, feeling and functioning worse than when you started, it’s very easy to feel worthless. You’ll begin to put value in the scales and let that number dictate how you feel each day. You’ll discount all the other qualities about you — kindness, loyalty, intelligence, work ethic, etc. — that are important and valuable, and only feel worthy if you weigh a certain number, or fit into a certain dress size. If you don’t, then you feel worthless.
You’ll need others to validate you
Because you lack confidence and self-worth and don’t like yourself, you’ll need other people to like and validate you instead. And to guarantee that, you’ll become a people-pleaser. To feel loved and liked by others, you’ll start saying ‘yes’ to everyone else, except you, putting everyone else’s needs above yours. Trying to be all things to all people not only causes you a great deal of stress, but it will prevent you from ever losing weight. We explain this more in our blog Are you too nice? Why people pleasing is making you overweight.
You’ll become obsessed with your body and how it looks
Because your focus when dieting is to shrink your body, you become obsessed with how you look. You will only ever see its flaws and will see your body as something that must be improved. It’s very common for people who diet to engage in negative self-talk, calling themselves ‘fat’, ‘disgusting’, ‘large’, ‘horrendous’, etc., even if they’re a healthy weight. You’ll spend a lot of time and energy looking for clothes that will cover all your ‘problem areas’, and when you go out socially, you’ll spend more time worrying about how you look than actually enjoying the social event.
You’ll end up hiding
Because you lack confidence, you’ll always worry about what others think of you, especially if you’ve been trying to lose weight for a while. You’ll start to tell yourself stories of what others are saying, (e.g. believing that they judge you for your weight, and your inability to lose it). This fear of judgement will cause you to hide away from anything that may bring attention to you. Slowly but surely, you’ll avoid social situations, saying ‘yes’ to promotions at work, and posting on your social media feed. You’ll stop voicing your opinion, will seek to follow the crowd, and be afraid of conflict (which will feed right back into your people-pleasing behaviours). Before you know it, you’ll be living a small, unfulfilled life, too scared to chase your dreams or to go after what you really want, because you’ll be so afraid of being judged.
You’ll compare yourself with others
When you’ve tried and failed to lose weight, you begin to feel very insecure and end up comparing yourself with other people. You’ll either compare yourself as a way to punish yourself or to justify to yourself that you’re ‘not that bad’ after all. If you still believe diets are the answer, you’ll watch other dieters very carefully and end up copying what they’re doing. Comparing yourself with other people creates a whole lot of other problems that will prevent you from losing weight, which we go into detail in our blog How comparing yourself to others slows down your weight loss. But rest assured, a life of comparing yourself to other people is a life filled with misery.
You’ll resent other people who are ‘succeeding’
When you’re trying so hard to lose weight and failing, you’ll begin to resent those around you who succeed or don’t have a weight problem at all. You’ll feel jealous of other people who are confident, happy, and wear the clothes you want to wear. You’ll resent them because they go swimming, play with their kids, confidently post on social media and don’t seem to have a care in the world. You may even become so bitter that you’ll gossip about them behind their backs, as a way to feel better about yourself. This concept is explained more fully in our blog How tall poppy syndrome affects your weight and happiness.
You’ll feel ashamed and embarrassed
Dieting and failing will cause you to feel ashamed and embarrassed. Most people who struggle with their weight feel shame about their body, their habits, their appearance and how they let themselves become overweight. You’ll also be ashamed of the fact that you can’t seem to lose the weight, and that you’re always on some kind of diet. Unfortunately, shame and embarrassment not only make your life miserable, but they make it harder for you to lose weight. To understand why read our blog Struggling to lose weight? The real weight you need to lose to change your body shape.
You’ll develop a poor relationship with food
People who diet have a very poor relationship with food. If you’ve dieted for a while, you’ll probably feel guilty for eating food, avoid certain foods altogether, and may also be afraid of food. You probably believe that there are good and bad foods, and that to ‘indulge’ in your favourite foods is a sign of weakness. You’ll avoid eating out or going to social events because of your fear that you’ll gain weight. You’re most likely undernourished because even when not on a diet, dieters don’t eat enough food. However, this restriction means that you’re likely to engage in binge eating and emotional eating — because whenever you restrict food, you’ll binge. And when you binge, you end up restricting food again as a way to make up for the binge. In short, your life will revolve around food — how to avoid it and how to control it — and you’ll never be free to enjoy food.
You’ll feel overwhelmed and you’ll lose hope
Dieting doesn’t work for long-term weight loss. Yes, you may lose a few kilos here and there but you will always gain them back with interest. This will see you stay in a vicious circle, constantly losing and gaining weight, but never really progressing at all. You’ll begin to feel overwhelmed with how difficult it is to lose weight, and you’ll start to lose hope that you ever will. This may lead you to look for more desperate solutions such as weight loss surgery, or you may give up completely, and resign yourself to living a life of being overweight and unhappy. As a way to cover up the fact that you’re unhappy, you’ll end up settling, being complacent and telling yourself that you’re happy, even though deep inside you’ll be aching with the pain of it all. And unless you find the courage to admit that you want more in life, and seek a coach who can help you, you’ll be destined to live this way forever.
The solution that doesn’t involve diets
The truth is dieting sucks! It steals your happiness, your money, your health and your life and keeps you doing the same things over and over without getting the results you want. In fact, things only get worse.
If you choose to stay in the dieting cycle you’ll be destined to always struggle with your weight.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Because there is another option.
You can ditch the diets and do something different because unless you change what you’re doing, nothing will change.
At Imani, we help people just like you who have struggled with their weight for decades, despite trying every diet under the sun. We understand the physical, emotional and mental toll diets take— from the dread of going clothes shopping to the fear of wearing bathers in public.
We understand how dieting causes you to lose yourself and become someone that you were never meant to be. We know firsthand the shame, embarrassment and frustration that diets can bring.
But we can also help. We can help you to:
- Regain your confidence so you can stop hiding
- Eat and enjoy food without fear, guilt or deprivation
- Love yourself and embrace who you are
- Feel worthy regardless of your weight and what you look like
- Stop comparing yourself and feeling resentful of others
- Put your own needs first instead of pleasing everyone else
- Feel proud of yourself and hopeful for your future
- Lose weight, keep it off and never struggle with it again.
Just because you’ve dieted for a while and always struggled, doesn’t mean you’re destined to keep doing so. There is another way.
But the choice is yours.
Who will you decide to become when all the diets fail?