For years, I've enjoyed TED Talks. The presenter's ability to deliver succinct messages in a way that informs, entertains and inspires often creates lasting impressions. From topics such as "The Forgotten History of Autism" to "Why it's Time to Forget the Pecking Order at Work," experts leave you glued to your seat.
Of course there are plenty of people who have spoken about health, which always gets my attention. There's one I've watched numerous times, and I want to share it with you.
Making the Case for Ditching the Diet
"Why Dieting Doesn't Usually Work," starts with neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt telling the audience that her New Year's resolution one year was to give up dieting. She even said the decision was the best one of her life.
At a time when many people decide to go on a diet in the wake of indulging in champagne, pastries and potato chips, Aamodt said nope. Not gonna do it. Instead, the woman who says she began her first diet at the age of 13 says she has now learned eat mindfully and pay attention to her body's signals. She's positive that you too, can do the same (skip to 9:13 in the video to learn how).
For me, there were two "wow" moments.
Your Brain, Weight Obsession & Eating Disorders
Wow moment #1: "Your brain also has its own sense of whatever you should weigh," she says, "no matter what you consciously believe."
I can understand this now, having tried to control my weight through bizarre eating and mental habits several years ago; it's ludicrous to try to be 120 pounds if you're simply not meant to be 120 pounds. While I initially lost the weight in a healthy manner, it was my own fixation and excitement about my new figure and energy levels that propelled me into some scary, eating-disordered behaviors. I once brought the scale on vacation and eventually became satisfied eating nothing more than an apple, pork chop and some popcorn all day. Yikes.
For the record, I'm in a much better spot these days. I'm over my food fears and while I eat healthy foods like whole yogurts, salmon, beans and plenty of fruits and vegetables, I enjoy the occasional pizza slice or ice cream cone. A few years ago, you wouldn't have caught me eating anything if it wasn't zero- or low-fat or zero-calorie, let alone entertaining the notion of ordering pizza. It's great to feel and look strong and healthy, not to mention so much better to not be in that dark spot.
The Weight/Body Image Struggle is Very Real
However, there are moments I mentally slip back into those days; today's belly button challenge, for example, is a craze that triggered bothersome thoughts about my body, reminding me that perhaps I still have work to do. Maybe I always will. Cliche as it sounds, overcoming eating disordered behaviors and body image struggles is a journey.
As Aamodt explains, it's important not to fight the scale. Obviously, if you're very overweight that's one thing. But if you're within five pounds of a "goal" weight, don't obsess. You're brain's telling your body certain things for a reason.
Wow moment #2: Aamodt also mentions that in the United States, 80% of 10-year-old girls are on a diet. It's a statistic I've heard before, but it still gets me every time. Sadly, many girls who begin dieting at such a young age go on to develop eating disorders and other problems.
Throughout her talk, she hones in on the fact that dieting and weight obsession leads to eating disorders, adding that people who are teased by family members are often thrust deeper into such unhealthy patterns. Be an intuitive eater (again, back to "mindful" eating) rather than one who attempts to control what you eat through willpower. You'll be happier and healthier--and no, not obese either. In fact, she explains that her say-no-to-dieting outlook has allowed her to shed needed weight, minus the obsession and strict thoughts.
Her video is definitely worth watching. You'll learn about the types of eaters that exist (do you recognize yourself?), the brain's role in eating behaviors, what drives hunger and that not dieting--contrary to what many people think--is instrumental in creating a healthier you.
Want to learn more? Check out some of my related articles:
Why There's A Rise in Eating Disorders Among Older Generations
Why You Should Ditch Low-Fat, Zero-Calorie Foods
Why Dropping the Word, "Diet" from Your Vocabulary Helps You Lose Weight
Jennifer Lea Reynolds
Jennifer Lea Reynolds is a weight loss success story who enjoys living a healthy lifestyle. A fan of the elliptical, roasted asparagus and remembering to put the lid on the blender, she’s appeared in many national and local print publications. She lives in New England where she writes professionally about health and wellness in online publications including U.S. News & World Report, Reader's Digest, Woman's Day, The Huffington Post, and more.