It’s so easy to get caught up in weighing our food, in weighing ourselves. It’s so easy to get caught up in counting calories, in swearing off dessert forever. It’s so easy to spend hours cooking food we don’t even like because it’s on our meal plans, and we’re trying to eat “clean.”

It’s so easy to get caught up because it’s everywhere.

You’re on a random popular website, and you see tips for fasting (which I just came across, which I find to be absolutely irresponsible and disgusting). You’re on Instagram, and there’s a sponsored post around weight loss. You’re out to dinner, and the menu reads “guiltless chicken,” and your friend opts for a small salad with dressing on the side. You’re taking a kickboxing class, and the instructor starts “motivating” you by talking about all the calories you’re burning.

As I wrote in this piece several days ago, acknowledge these obstacles and challenges. Acknowledge your mixed feelings—your desire to stop dieting and your fear that you’ll be unlovable if you do. Acknowledge all of it. And then start building your life, start prioritizing pleasure, start using your senses, start scheduling activities that you enjoy. Below are additional options and ideas:

  • Pick a project you’ve never tackled before and frankly never thought you could.
  • Give yourself permission to relax for an hour or an entire day, depending on what’s available to you.
  • Identify one question or subject you’re curious about every week—and explore it. Read about it. Write about it. Paint it. Photograph it.
  • Explore different ways to move, different ways to dance, to stretch, to soothe your soul, to energize yourself. Instead of picking exercise based on the biggest calorie burn, let your needs and desire lead the way. Maybe one day you need something relaxing, so you take a gentle yoga class. Maybe another day you need something fast and fun, so you try a dance video.
  • Get curious about why you crave certain foods (or anything really) and how you can meet your needs in all kinds of ways. I love these words from Rachel Cole in this piece: “It’s also possible to get a craving for a specific food, recognize that it’s a food that won’t leave you feeling the way you want to feel and to drill down to see if you can scratch the itch another way. For example, a craving for ice cream might be a craving for something sweet, or cold, or creamy and all of those qualities exist in other foods. So you may explore alternative ways to get your craving satisfied OR you may decide that ice cream is really what you want, regardless of how it will leave you feeling and that is entirely okay. And because part of this approach to eating is curiosity and noticing there will be times, if you inquire, that what first appears as food hunger, is actually hunger for something unrelated to food. There are times when the urge to eat is a proxy for the urge for human connection, physical touch, adventure, or emotional comfort. This is normal and what you do with the information is up to you.”
  • Make time to play. Just because. Play a board game. Make a silly drawing. Run around the park. Play with your kids’ toys. Ride your bike. Blow bubbles.
  • Identify your dreams, and divide them into smaller, doable steps. Take one step this week.
  • Have deeper conversations with your friends—instead of talks of calories, diets and workout routines. Start with, “How are you—really?”

Make a list of activities you’d like to refocus on. Explore these questions: What is pleasurable to you? What are your values? What are your dreams? What do you want to do in this life? What inspires you? What rejuvenates you? What makes you smile? What do you find to be magical?

It’s easy to get caught up in numbers and diets and in whittling down our waists, in whittling down ourselves. Remind yourself that there are other options. Options that genuinely feed and fulfill you. Options that expand your days, not narrow them.

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash.