Real talk: Diets suck. More than that, they don't really work. In fact, research shows that 95 percent of people who diet for weight loss re-gain the weight back within five years. Moreover, diets tend to be restrictive, can lack nutrients, and are often unsustainable. Plus, since many quick-fix diet plans are designed as a temporary way to lose weight, they often don't teach you anything about long-term healthy eating habits.
That's why we're glad that today is International No-Diet Day. Initiated in 1992 by Mary Evans Young, the director of British organization Diet Breakers, No-Diet Day was born out of Young's own experiences with anorexia and body-shaming. While I believe every day should be a no-diet day, I'm taking the opportunity today to reflect on my well-being, not my weight, and to remember that being healthy and happy is about more than burning a certain number of calories per day or avoiding specific foods or hitting a certain number on a scale.
How will you celebrate No-Diet Day? Here are our suggestions:
1. Try to look on the positive. It's so easy to get caught up in all the things you don't like about your body, but try to remember all the positive things your body does for you too. For example, on days when I catch myself wishing that I was 10 pounds thinner or a few inches taller (alas, I'm built more for comfort, not speed), I remind myself that I may not have legs as long and lean as Heidi Klum or Adriana Lima, but they're strong and toned and let me dance all night without stopping, which I love and appreciate.
2. Stop waiting until you lose the weight. I know that I often fall into the trap of thinking that, "Oh, when I lose five or 10 pounds, I'll buy that really cute bikini I saw" or "I'll buy an entirely new wardrobe." Instead of thinking of your life in terms of "When I lose X number of pounds..." start living in the present: Buy super cute clothes that fit you now, wear something you love, have sex with the lights on, have a bite (or two or three!) of whatever sweet or salty thing it is you're craving, try the new workout trend you've been intimidated by, plan your beach vacation, take a selfie and update your Facebook photo, flirt with the hottie at Starbucks, drink a margarita, and enjoy every minute of it.
3. Seek help. This last tip comes courtesy of the Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt in Maryland: If you've found that chronic dieting or weight-loss attempts are leading you to depression, anxiety, or disordered eating, first remember that you're not alone. Then reach out to your friends, family, and professional resources near you for help. If you're unsure of whether you should seek help, try taking this self-assessment and go from there.