Recently some of my clients have been going through the process of grieving their dream body. I understand that process, because I’ve had to do it to! When you start a new diet, you usually have an idea about what you’re trying to create, right? And no matter what that looked like for you, the reality of intuitive eating (and saying NO to diets) usually means letting go of that dream. That’s hard, and it’s okay to notice and allow yourself to grieve what you’re releasing!
Have you heard about my latest training? It’s called How to Ditch Food Guilt + Body Shame to Gain Confidence + Feel Free, and it is on-demand, FREE, and available now! You can learn more by clicking here! (And don’t miss the BONUS options for my Quit Dieting For Good Program!)
Are Your Dreams Holding You Back?
Sometimes we have dreams that feel amazing…but they hold us back from what we really want. For example, say you’ve had a dream of owning a second home for vacations. You might be working hard, saving your money, and even preparing to go home shopping! But if you dig a little deeper, you might realize that what you actually desire is to take more vacations.
The concept of owning a vacation home was a placeholder for your true desire – taking the time to vacation.
Once you realize that, you might take that second home off your vision board. Instead of working extra hours and saving all their extra money for that house, you might realize you could use more time off and invest in dream vacations right now.
Maybe a time share would be a better fit for fulfilling your true dream.
Maybe just giving yourself freedom to vacation now would allow you to live out your dreams in a way you never imagined.
What Is the Dream Behind Your “Perfect” Body?
Your dream body works the same way. You might have imagined the perfect number on the scale, all of your clothes fitting like a glove, or some other picture of what your dream body would mean to you.
But in reality…
Having that dream body often isn’t even about your physical body. Instead, the real dream is often about finding the perfect partner, achieving a certain fete, having a specific career, or feeling confident and comfortable. We tell ourselves that our dream body is going to be the catalyst for all of those things (and more!), but in reality….it’s not.
The good news is, you DON’T need to change anything about your body to go after your real dreams. Your ideal partner, salary, career, and life can be lived in the body you inhabit right now – no changes (or dieting) required!
Giving yourself permission to give up one dream is what allows you to embrace reality and experience joy right here and now, in the present.
Giving Up On My Own Dream
I’ve always dreamt of my children being a boy and a girl. One of each. I grew up with a brother, and it seemed perfect. Plus, I loved doing “girl” things with my mom – baking, drawing, crafts, and more!
So when I had Cooper, I was super excited to have a boy. And when I got pregnant again, I was ready for a girl. My pregnancy seemed different, and I was mentally convinced I was having a girl. Since so many people seemed to also think it was going to be a girl, it felt like my dream was confirmed. I was so excited!
And then we got the results back — it’s a boy!
That was really, really hard for me. I had a beautiful dream for my future, and in one moment I suddenly realized that it’s not a dream that would ever come to be. No little girl to do girl things with in the kitchen, or get our nails done, or any of the other things I had pictured. (I know that we might have a boy we wants to do those things with me! But I also know that it’s okay to grieve the loss of what I had expected and hoped for.)
Now that I’ve had a chance to adjust, I’m getting excited to think about having two little boys running around the house. Cooper will have another bother, and we get to bring another little baby into this world. There are so many people who want a baby, and of course I recognize our privilege in having children at all. I also want to be sensitive to those who may be grieving other dreams related to conception, fertility, or losing a child.
No matter what your dream is, though, it’s okay to recognize it and allow yourself to grieve for everything that will never become a reality.
Grieving Your Dream Body
With intuitive eating, your body will settle into a set-point weight that is right for you. (After all, it’s based on your DNA!) However, your set-point weight may not be at all like your dream body.
Many women are hoping that intuitive eating might be the answer that allows them to lose the weight and finally keep it off. And for many women, embracing intuitive eating DOES lead to losing some weight. However, it’s unlikely that your set-point is going to be as low as your “dream” weight.
That’s where the first stage of grieving comes in: Denial.
Often this means you still have a hope or desire that intuitive eating is going to naturally lead to having the weight you’ve been dreaming of. You’re not quite willing to release that dream body you’ve been working towards for years….even though you DO know you want to be done with diets!
Eventually, you start to understand that the diet industry sold you a terrible dream to begin with. You realize your dream was never realistic or good for you in the first place.
That brings us to the next stage: Anger.
This comes when you start to realize that you’ve held yourself to unrealistic expectations. You might be angry at friends or family you encouraged you. You might be angry at an industry that took advantage of your hopes for years. And you might simply be angry at yourself.
Eventually, you’ll end up in stage three: Bargaining.
At this point, you start to think about dieting again. Maybe if you could diet with a new mindset, right? You could intuitive eat AND lose weight AND still get your dream body! Or so you think…
Going back to dieting will not help you move forward in the long run. By avoiding the temptation, you can move forward more quickly. Unfortunately, however, there tends to be one more hard stage of grieving to pass through…
The fourth stage is: Depression
This tends to happen once you’ve been working through intuitive eating for a few months. At some point, you realize that your body intutively wants to be a different size than you had dreamt of.
Often you find yourself asking if intuitive eating is even worth it. You might also start to realize how you used dieting to exert control in your life. What ever you were using diets to cover up (as a band-aid cure) starts to rear up. The bigger issues in your life, the issues dieting was helping you deal with, start to reveal themselves. This can be a hard stage! Not only are you releasing the ideal dream body you’ve expected, but you’re also coming face to face with other hard things in you’re life that you used dieting to avoid.
You can do this! You can release that old dream body, you can accept and love yourself the way you are, and you can face your life without using diets as a form of control. Don’t forget to show yourself love and plenty of self-care as you pass through this stage!
And finally, you’ll reach the fifth stage: Acceptance
When you’re here, you start to accept that you have a body that wants to be a certain size. You are able to let it be the size it desires to be, because you realize how much you’ll GAIN by doing so! You can experience freedom, self-love, and body confidence as you begin to accept yourself and your body in ways you never have before.
Finally, you understand that your dream body is what’s really getting in the way of your true desires.
Rather than chasing after a fictional dream body that keeps you in a constant pattern of restricting, binging, and dieting, what would happen if you allowed yourself to grieve your dream body….and finally release it?