Intuitive Eating & Body Image Health Coach, Lisa Dahl, shares her views with DeliveryRank on the damage diet culture has caused and reveals how working with her can UNdiet your life, building confidence, happiness and love for self, regardless of size.
I struggled with my weight and body image since elementary school and became a chronic dieter at 13. Like most chronic dieters, with time, I knew EVERYTHING there was to know about dieting and nutrition. With my real-life diet experience and a health and wellness certification, I thought I would be "the best" weight loss coach!
Before creating Lisa Dahl Wellness, I had my own catering business nine years ago, working out of the home I bought with my then-husband. When I chose to divorce, I lost the house and health insurance, and everything became more challenging. I merged my business with another catering company to create greater financial security for myself. I knew it was what I needed to do while knowing I would lose my autonomy and creativity.
When I met my now partner and decided to live together, my life dramatically changed as he afforded me the gift of time. I quit my job because I had lost all my autonomy and everything I loved about catering. I went back to school for Personal Training and Health and Wellness Coaching. From there, I began working with my clients and discovered the negative mental, physical and emotional impact of weight loss as a primary goal for health and wellness coaching.
When asked to share their progress (a weekly weigh-in talking about pounds lost or gained), I became aware of the negative impact of dieting on my clients and myself. They would often feel depleted and defeated because all the hard work they put in was not giving them the results they 'needed' on the scale. They noticed positive shifts in their food choices, mindset, energy, lifestyle, sleeping, and strength and then felt like a failure because they didn't reach their goal weight. Diets focus on success based on the ultimate destination, that number on the scale. This process made me think about my behavior with food and weight. I soon learned that all the things I took great pride in about my relationship with food and body were disordered eating patterns and, although normalized by society, were not healthy and leading me down a path towards a potential eating disorder.
Fortunately, I came across a book called Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon. This book changed everything I thought to be true about Health and Wellness. Thinner bodies were neither healthier, better, or happier. From here, I learned about the practice of Intuitive Eating, which shifted my entire life, both personally and professionally. It helped heal my relationship with food and body, and I moved my whole practice from weight loss to being weight-inclusive and now only support my clients in a non-diet perspective of health and wellness.
How would you define 'food freedom', and in your experience, how many people practice this in reality?
We are all born with food freedom until someone tells us there is something wrong with our body, or our food choices are bad or wrong. Food freedom enables you to choose without the chatter and rhetoric in your head of what is good vs. bad or what you "should or shouldn't eat." Instead, you can focus on your body's needs and feelings and be true to yourself. It removes the phrase 'guilty pleasure' and allows you to connect with what feels good for you without judgment, guilt, or shame.
Recently, I was traveling, and food freedom allowed me to have an ice cream cone for dinner and grilled cheese for dessert. No mind drama, judgment, or broken rules; it's what worked best for me at the time. Several years ago, in a dieting mentality, that would have never happened.
Yes, you can say goodbye to diets, AND it needs practice. I always tell my clients that it takes time, patience, practice, and compassion, especially for someone with 40+ years of diet history. Intuitive Eating is about understanding where that first diet came from, rejecting diet culture, and learning with a beginner's mind and curiosity. It's crucial to be open to the thought that there can be a different perspective on health and wellness than the traditional metric of the number on the scale. One needs to be open or willing to shift beliefs, have autonomy, and believe they can learn to listen, trust and respect their body - only you know what is best for yourself. It is a false belief that diets keep us safe; the truth is, the diet is what keeps us stuck and feeling out of control.
Only when your beliefs shift about dieting, what a healthy body looks and feels like, and you gain trust in yourself, connecting instinct, emotion, and rational thought does the diet process start to fade away. It is an ongoing process - and if you can continue this practice of knowing you are the expert of yourself, then you will feel the freedom that comes over you when you are in this space of connectedness with yourself, heart, mind, body, soul, and food.
When I curate my social media feed, I no longer see the diet rhetoric; I see the world I have curated, filled with all-sized bodies, self-compassion, and acceptance. If more of us curate this world, body diversity will become more accepted and standardized. I believe we are in the beginning stages of modern acceptance. The seeds are just beginning to be planted, and we must continue working hard to get the message out there that the diet is the problem. Sadly, when we hear misinformation often enough, that is what we believe. There is a lot of unlearning that needs to happen.
It is my mission and passion to continue to do what I do. I believe in what I do to the core. It has become part of who I am, how I live my life, and how I support others. I hope my business continues to thrive, and we continue to share the message with the world to make it more accepting of ourselves and others. I am proud to be a health and wellness coach with a weight-inclusive lens.
If you would like to find out more about Lisa Dahl Wellness, visit https://www.lisadahlwellness.com/ or follow on https://www.instagram.com/lisadahlwellness/