Her face was tightly drawn. Her body: skeletally thin. Her clothes: designer. Her shoes: worth more than my monthly mortgage. Picture the perfect stereotype of a wealthy New Yorker from the Upper East Side. All that was missing was the teensy poufy lapdog.
I was getting a pedicure at a nail salon and she was seated in the chair next to mine. We made small talk for a few minutes. She asked me why I was in New York. I explained I was visiting NYC to lead a seminar for women.
She asked, “So, what do you do?”
“I’m a life coach. I teach women how to stop dieting.”
Her skin practically melted off her face in astonishment. I could see the bewilderment in her eyes.
“You teach them how to… stop?”
I nodded. She looked at me as if I was a three-headed alien from another universe.
“Well, I don’t diet,” she told me proudly. “I just eat very healthfully. I weigh 100 pounds,” she added, although I hadn’t inquired. She went on to tell me exactly what she allows herself to eat (basically: lettuce, air, and steamed fish with no butter or seasoning) and what she doesn’t eat (everything else). “Sounds like a ‘diet’ to me,” I thought to myself privately.
“I don’t get it,” she continued, eyeing me incredulously. “If you tell women to stop dieting, what happens? Do they get totally fat?”
I smiled. I’ve been asked this about a hundred times. (It’s exactly what I used to fear, myself.)
“No. Actually, the opposite happens. When women stop dieting, that’s when they finally lose weight permanently. They learn how to take care of their bodies in a loving, respectful way, and the excess weight melts away.”
She nodded, but I could tell she was highly skeptical. Which I can fully understand.
I used to be the ultimate skeptic.
10 years ago, if you had told me, “Susan, you are going to stop dieting, and as a result, you are going to lose 35 pounds and never gain it back,” I would have laughed in your face. But that’s exactly what happened.
The 100-pound lady began tapping away on her phone, signaling that our conversation was over. I watched her leave the nail salon. As she disappeared into the manic blur of Manhattan, I sent her a silent love message:
You might not believe what I’ve just told you.
But you know what?
People used to believe that the earth was flat.
People used to believe that smoking was good for you.
People used to believe that women shouldn’t be allowed to vote.
Millions of women currently believe that something is “wrong” with their bodies, that their bodies need to be punished and beaten into submission through calorie restriction and grueling exercise. Millions of women believe that’s the only way to lose weight. And millions of women believe that they have to lose weight before they’re “allowed” to have beautiful clothes, beautiful experiences, love, attention, and respect.
But just because something is considered “common knowledge” doesn’t mean it’s true.
The truth might be the exact opposite of everything you’ve been taught to believe.
PS. The BARE DECKS have arrived! I created an illustrated card deck—similar to a Tarot deck—filled with
52 messages to remind you that your body is beautiful, precious, and worthy of care and attention. Because it’s the only body you’ve got.
Each card features custom artwork and they’re sooo pretty. I’m in love. You can pre-order your deck now. Get one for yourself. Then get five more so that you can give one to your daughter, mom, auntie, niece, and best friend. (Holiday shopping: done in one click.)