The first principle of intuitive eating is to reject the diet mentality, the idea that we need to eat a certain way in order to lose weight or, prevent weight gain.
It is easy to get caught up in this mindset when it comes to fitness also.
Rejecting the diet mentality around fitness is all about moving away from the idea that we need to exercise in a certain way in order to burn calories with the main outcome being that we will lose weight or, prevent weight gain.
Any form of eating or method of exercise that constitutes a desire to change the way your body looks, is a diet.
If you’ve ever said the words, ‘It’s a lifestyle, not a diet’ but you’re still weighing yourself or body checking as a measure of success, by the very nature of diet culture that is a diet.
In order to ‘reject the diet mentality’ your intention and mindset around your eating and exercise patterns must align outside the realms of trying to change the way you look.
That’s where performance based goals come in.
Performance can be anything from lifting heavier, running further to simply just feeling nourished and fabulous throughout the recreational sport/activity or your choice.
A performance based goal is the first step towards rejecting the diet mentality in a fitness context.
Trusting yourself, rather than trying to control yourself, goes against everything you have been taught about your body, your health and fitness.
But it is possible.
It is also worth baring in mind that anti-diet fitness is scientifically backed. It isn’t just a bunch of people who were sick of diets giving their opinion on being more wholesome.
Taking the emphasis away from weight loss leads to higher levels of exercise motivation, participation and satisfaction and intuitive eaters are more likely to exercise for pleasure, seeing physical activity as part of their identity.
For a summary of the science, please visit this post by Emma Green, PhD.
Not to mention there is a huge body of research that shows using exercise or diet to control body weight or aesthetics can increase the risk of eating disorders, body dissatisfaction, food and body preoccupation, cravings, distraction, low self esteem and weight stigmatisation.
The following steps can help towards rejecting the diet mentality around fitness…
- Realign your goals by finding your ‘why’ and ‘what’.
- Focus on performance & how you feel.
- Avoid workouts that use stigmatising language like ‘fat burning’ or ‘belly busting’.
- Unfollow fitness influencers who uphold unhealthy and toxic narratives around food & exercise.
- Challenge your perceptions of what fitness is by following a diverse range of body sizes within the fitness/movement space.
Remember there are so many great reasons to exercise, see my previous blogs here and here to help you with the first bullet point above. If you’re not there for the right reasons, you’ll find no enjoyment or sense or accomplishment in what you’re doing…
Before you go, I just want to let you know that I provide my coaching emails and blogs for free with no marketing ploys like *buy my work out plans* or *join my squad* etc but if you find this free content useful and you want to support me, you can find the paypal link to buy me a coffee anywhere on the right side of this website. Think of it as my own personal tip jar.