Healthy and Sane

Diet free living: first set back

March 2nd, 2011 · 52 Comments · diet free living

It’s been a week since my decision to stop dieting and I’m ready to share some progress thoughts with you.

1. I have not yet tried by-the-book “intuitive eating,” I’ve just literally been eating whatever I want.  Lots of sandwiches were involved- all delicious and basically healthy. I am still me, which means that greasy junk food is of no interest to my palate. Good news. My daily desserts have also been consumed guilt free. Actually getting rid of food guilt has been the main “goal” for the week and it’s been easy so far. Maybe reality will hit if I start gaining weight like crazy but for some reason I feel like I’m not so all is good.

2. Speaking of weight gain – I think that’s really the only thing that I’m fearful of as part of this process. So I decided that a little shopping spree was in order to buy a few items that are looser yet flattering and that make me feel good at my current weight. It’s hard to fight off the urge to diet when all your clothes remind you of the former/thinner you.


[My new sweater – it’s soft and comfy and makes me smile :) ]

3. I wore the sweater above, feeling like hot stuff all day long only to come face-to-face with my first set-back while getting ready for dinner. None of my boots fit my calves anymore.


It took a lot of will power to fight off the tears and remind myself that these things don’t matter (we were almost late to our reservation because of course the boots thing threw me off as I was trying to find an alternative outfit, sans boots). This was the first time in a week I felt weak and defeated since I can’t just go out and replace my entire wardrobe (or even pretend like that’d be ok!).

4. Despite this curve ball, I’ve been happier this week than I have in a while. It could just be the honeymoon stage. I do not look forward to analyzing my hunger between every bite and I hope I won’t need to do that. Right now my focus is 100% on guilt-free eating and FITNESS. I told my trainer I’d like to stay away from the scale for a while as it will surely derail me (just like the boots almost did!) so we did a bunch of fitness tests yesterday that will be the baseline for my progress. That’s a much more positive thing to focus on in my opinion, and hopefully will also continue to motivate me to make healthy choices (because they will make me feel my best and will improve my fitness level).

Thoughts? Recommendations?

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52 Comments so far ↓

  • #1 - Rebeca

    I 100% feel your pain about the boots.

    … ruins the boots sometimes but I applaud you for your positive example!

  • #2 - fooddreamer

    I think you have the right attitude, but it sounds like it’s taking some time to really BELIEVE what you are telling yourself. It will ring true soon, I think. Dieting can become so integral in a woman’s life, she forgets how to think about food properly. It takes some time to renew your healthy relationship with food.
    Eating mindfully without dieting, plus lots of good healthy exercise…that’s the way to be happy and healthy!

  • #3 - Lauren at Keep It Sweet

    Congrats on your first week of no dieting! Sounds like you are going in with a really good attitude. I think buying comfortable clothes was a great idea- I probably would care a lot less about my weight if more of my clothes fit! That is also a good step mentally to tell yourself that the weight doesn’t “matter”, because in reality, it doesn’t.

  • #5 - Patty

    Spring is around the corner, pretty soon you won’t care about boots anyway! :)

    What you are doing for yourself is so much more valuable than a pair of boots. Stay positive!

    • #6 - Elina

      I’m SO looking forward to spring – thanks for reminding me that it will actually come. Forget those boots! πŸ˜‰

  • #7 - Julie (A Case of the Runs)

    A focus on fitness is awesome. I think it will help you gravitate toward a balanced eating pattern. Once food choices start affecting fitness, suddenly it’s like eating [fill in the blank] isn’t worth it anymore.

    When I think about it, I basically eat whatever I want for the most part. Eating too much of certain things I like makes me feel ill, so because of that, I can’t eat a whole lot of it. I think you have the right start by not saying “no” to any food.

    • #8 - Elina

      You’re so right. I’m really trying to shift the focus on how certain foods (or amounts) make me feel. If the chocolate feels good – go for it, if something greasy makes me feel gross, not worth it!!

  • #9 - Michelle

    I lost about 15 pounds since January by eating very low carb/sugar. Since the beginning of February, I’ve been maintaining/losing by following intuitive eating, making healthy choices and never skipping on the workout (which is the hardest part for me). In the end, I’ve found that not following a strict regimen of dieting can be tougher but life is too short for me to deny myself those carbs I enjoy so much. I hope you will find success in your intuitive eating and I am rooting for you 100%!

    • #10 - Elina

      I think you made the right choice – denying yourself something you love for a prolonged period of time is not only unsustainable but can also backfire in the long term (exhibit A over here). Any tips on intuitive eating?

      • #11 - Michelle

        Whenever I’m hungry, I drink a glass of water, wait a few minutes, and if I’m still hungry, I’ll eat something to satisfy whatever I’m craving but staying mindful of portions. I hope that helps!

  • #12 - Heather

    You are doing AMAZING!!!!! I feel like you are doing all the things you need to do & that included by some comfy clothes that will still make you feel like a rockstar! Setbacks like the boot thing will happen but it’s just a gauge….just like the scale & both can get better.

    This initial phase of “diet free living” (which I LOVE, btw) is rough & you might gain a little but as I’ve mentioned, once the food stops being “illegal, etc” & just becomes food, it’ll all fall into place!!!!!

    Have you read Bethenny Frankel’s book? Similar concept but I feel like it’s geared for “real” people!

  • #15 - A Boston Food Diary

    Good for you!!!!! What you’re doing is amazing- and deserves much applause! I totally hear you on the boots thing- I have ridiculous calves- so most boots dont fit me anyway- its sad but ultimately small :-)

  • #16 - MelissaNibbles

    Sounds like it’s working for you. If you just focus on the fitness and don’t weigh yourself, I’m sure you’ll end up just eating the healthy foods you enjoy with little indulgences here and there.
    Also, if you take the boots to a good shoe repair shop, they can stretch the calf portion.

    • #17 - Elina

      Whoa, seriously? I think they’d have to stretch it pretty drastically but maybe it’s worth a try!

  • #18 - Maryz

    Good for you! Weighing myself always defeats me…continue on with the focus of fitness and you will succeed!

  • #19 - Corey @ the runner's cookie

    I think it is 100% a positive and healthy thing to be focused mainly on working out and eliminating food guilt, in place of dieting. In my mind, that is a very necessary first step to any potential future weight loss. The mindset of dieting can really wear people down, and your happiness is definitely not worth weighing a little less. I think you look gorgeous in that picture!!

  • #20 - Jessica

    I think your new outfit looks GREAT on you! Having clothes that flatter your current figure can do loads for your body confidence and self esteem, so good call on the shopping spree πŸ˜€

  • #21 - Jess

    good idea to stay away from the scale, there are so many ways to measure progress and feeling good is most important thing!

  • #22 - Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic

    Congratulations on a successful first week. I think it’s a good idea to stay away from the scale and focus on fitness goals.

    Also, have you been running a lot lately (or any other activity using your legs)? That might also have contributed to bigger calves… Either way I think you’re on a great track and I wish you the best! Good luck!

    • #23 - Elina

      I have been running a bit more but I’m under no illusion that it’s extra muscle. I’ve gained about 15lbs since buying those boots so it really should be no surprise that they no longer fit.

  • #24 - Bridget

    You even sound much less stressed in this post! I think you’re doing awesome! New clothes always help and I always feel so much better during the day when I know I have a great outfit on :) I totally understand how the boots and stuff like that can cause almost minor panics, but you’ll get through it…esp boots, I know people of all sizes that have issues with boots and its nothing to do with weight. You just have killer calves πŸ˜‰

    I also think that using fitness goals at the gym is way better, plus it gives you a much better/more important goal to stive for.

  • #25 - heidi

    My doctor suggested to find a dessert that is “equally sinful” but less calories and fat. Whereas I used to eat a snicker’s bar, I now eat SmartOnes desserts. In my brain, it feels like a similar type of food consumption. This might help with the “guilt-free” eating. It has for me.

    Also, I recently bought new clothes to help me look slimmer. At first, I resisted and had the mindset of “lose the weight and fit into the old stuff.” But it just made me unhappy squeezing into those clothes. The new wardrobe idea is a good idea. Good luck. I just subscribed to your blog. :)

    • #26 - Elina

      Thanks for the suggestion, Heidi, unfortunately there is something “mentally” different about eating a “real” treat and a SmartOnes dessert, for example. I just never felt as satisfied with those and couldn’t shake the diet mentality. Let’s see if this new approach works better for me :)

  • #27 - Kelly

    I think clothes can definitely be the hard thing. It’s weird because people at work think I look great but it’s hard when things in the closet don’t fit. I agree that it’s great to buy things that make you feel good at your current weight. Sadly the image of you in your new clothes isn’t showing up but I am sure you look fantastic.

    • #28 - Elina

      Yeah, people at work have no idea how long it takes to pick an outfit that actually looks half-way decent! I get the same comments…

  • #29 - Martha@simple-nourished-living

    Congratulations on all you have accomplished in just a week – buying clothes you feel comfortable in and focusing on getting fit and healthy instead of what you weigh! I love that you are feeling happier, a sure sign that you are on the right path!
    The truth is that your body wants to be loved and accepted just as it is and the more you can do that the healthier you will become.
    There’s another great book I would like to recommend. It’s called Eat What You Love Love What You Eat by Michelle May, MD, another recovered yo-yo dieter with lots of helpful information to share.

  • #31 - Jaime

    I had the same epiphany as you about 4 months ago when i turned 35. I was a lifetime meber at weightwatchers but had gained back ALL the weight. I tried ww on and off for about a year but just gained 15 more lbs. Discouraged and exhausted, i gave up dieting even though i was very uncomfortable with my weight.

    I did read IE and found it very helpful, but I didn’t focus on it for the entire past 4 months. I just ate whatever I wanted and worked on the guilt around food and missing workouts. I also had my husband hide my scale. Then i got to a point recently where fear of having gained weight was worse than weighing myself. So I did. I had gained about 2 – 3 lbs in 4 months. From my perspective, that’s not bad. IE teaches that you don’t focus on weight loss and I have found that very difficult.

    When i first made the decision to stop dieting everything was really easy and I even lost a few lbs. I have since realized that it really is a process, though. Now I am at the point where I do want to focus on weight loss again, but not through dieting. I want to do it through really focusing on my hunger and fullness signals and exercising regularly.

    I think buying new clothes is one of the most important things you can do as well as fighting the voice inside your head. I wish you the best!!!

    • #32 - Elina

      Thanks for sharing your story, Jaimie. Sounds like I have a long journey ahead but I’m ready. Good luck with getting more in tune with what your body is truly craving (not just food-wise). You can do it!! :)

  • #33 - One Healthy Apple

    I think you are doing a fantastic job. You said you are HAPPIER and that’s fabulous!

    The best thing I ever did was replace clothes that didn’t fit with more comfy, stylish ones. This is something I’m still working on- clothes really help with self confidence, no matter what the issue is.

    Oh- and I can fit into the calves of very few boots. You probably have buff calves like some of the other posters said!

    • #34 - Elina

      Yes, I’m happy with the fact that I’ve been happier and that’s my biggest take-away from this week. If I just focus on that, hopefully things will fall into place! Yay for comfy clothes!!

  • #35 - Haley

    Great job focusing on fitness and taking out the guilt!! I LOVE your necklace in that first photo!!!

    And I NEVER could fit into the calves of boots. So lame! I agree that it’s great that we have strong calves :)

  • #36 - Melissa @ TryingToHeal

    i think the fitness focus is great! who needs a scale!!

    and i love that sweater! sure does look comfy!

  • #37 - Meghan@travelwinedine

    Sometimes you just have to (literally) throw your hands in the air and let go in order to move forward. I feel like you are doing that. The intuitive eating will come, but letting yourself be free is a really big step. I always think you look awesome and am amazed by your intelligence and strength. Don’t forget about all of the positive things you have to offer.
    And warm weather will come soon which will hopefully make it easier for all of us to want to move more and to feel healthier and more alive in general. This winter has been brutal!

    • #38 - Elina

      Thanks, Meghan – it means a lot since we’ve met in person and you know me outside of these posts. PS- Spring couldn’t come soon enough!!

  • #39 - Pete

    Just read this article in the NY times the other day and thought of you

    • #40 - Elina

      Thanks for the article, Pete. Sounds like I’m on to something here πŸ˜‰

  • #41 - Jessy

    I’m glad you’re feeling weel in regards to your new approach. I hope it’ll only go up! And please, DON’T weigh yourself, because then your mood will only depend on that.

  • #42 - Sveta

    Elina love the outfit!
    Screw the boots!! I have never been able to close a boot even at my skinniest, they are made way to small =)
    I take back what i said to you in a previous comment, those were my own fears typing lol, but I think what you are doing is great. I think being a generally happier person will make you lose a few! I also think that on average a person eat the same amount of cals every week (with whatever they want) so if u add exercise to that mix you will be fine im sure.
    Small tip I once learned about intuitive eating is that it takes your brain 20 minutes to realize you’re full, so eat whatever you want is a normal portion, wait, then if you really want more go for it but u very likely wont want it anymore. Also I always think to myself when I eat something not so good for me is “Every bite will taste the same of this same food, is the next bite worth it to me”
    Enjoy your new clothes, thats always exciting because no matter what size you buy them is they still look fantastic and new is fun!!

  • #43 - Rachel

    It looks like you are off to a great start Elina! When I stopped dieting and thinking about food ALL OF THE TIME a while back, the first step was to stop weighing myself every day and start going by how I feel. Instead of eating what I thought was “healthy’ or “diet-friendly” I ate what I wanted, but learned to listen to my body. Am I really hungry? Do I want that cupcake or some more fresh fruit? Soon I learned to listen to what my body wanted, and that ultimately got me to my “happy weight.” Best of luck to you. I am so proud!

  • #44 - Katie @ Health for the Whole Self

    I think you did a GREAT thing by buying sexy, flattering clothes that fit your current body! It was really hard for me to do that, but it made a world of difference. And I have to say, I think you look totally beautiful RIGHT NOW!

  • #45 - Tracy

    What you’re doing sounds great Elina, and I’m sure with your enthusiasm for going to the gym and exercising you will see results without having to step on a scale!

    If you’re worried about gaining weight but don’t want to step back on a scale consider taking bi-weekly measurements of your bust, waist, and hips. This’ll reassure you that you won’t all of a sudden put on a TON of weight.

  • #46 - Lori

    I was 120 pounds 15 years ago and I now weigh 190. Talk about dealing with emotional eating over the years! I no longer diet either! I live in the cold country and do not belong to a gym, so I walk when I can and I am just mindful of my eating. I try and eat healthy but I have my slip up days. I’m married to an Italian who loves the pasta meals! But you know I have to say this I just don’t care like I used too! I am now 40 years old. Married with 2 kids. That sounds like a cop out but I am a size 12-14. I don’t gain inches like I used to. I have not given up but there is more to life then what the scale says! And how come my husband has gained some 50 + pounds over 15 years of marriage and he feels just fine and is happy! Why is this!? His friends and family just laugh but look poorly at me! : (

    • #47 - Jaime

      Lori – you should be proud of yourself. There is so much more to life than what we weigh or what we look like. I have a very similar story to yours – even down to the husband (mine is 6 foot 6 – not Italian). Let’s keep focusing on life so that when we are at the end of it, we don’t look back and realize that we flattened the whole experience with food and weight obssession. You are beautiful NOW.

      And Elina – you look amazing today. You don’t ever need to change anything about yourself. And that goes for the rest of you too!! and oh yeah, for me too…. :)

  • #48 - Bluebell

    I think focusing on fitness vs. weight loss is a much better goal! I’ve found that I’m much more likely to stick with my efforts if I’m trying to reach a fitness goal. Sometimes when I’m working out for a while, I find that the scale doesn’t really budge, but I feel better and look at my body in a different way anyway!

  • #49 - Shannon

    oh man, i keep putting off buying new clothes… because i want the old ones to fit and i don’t want to waste my money. but i deserve to feel good about myself πŸ˜‰

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  • #52 - alicia

    Good for you!!
    I hate boots for the very same reason – my shoe size and the size of my calves are not compatible. Just like buying the new clothes to flatter you, consider bringing your favorite pair of boots to a shoe-maker.

    Every pair of boots I’ve bought I’ve brought to my shoe-guy and he either stretches the calves, or adds some elastic so they fit me.

    I’ve always thought you’re beautiful, and I’m excited that you’re on the road to seeing it for yourself!