281: The Dieting Game Is Rigged
Regardless if it is intentional or not, most diets are set up for you to fail in 3 ways:
They market to your insecurities.
They do not take into consideration your unique individuality or the wholeness of your life.
They don’t teach the real skillsets of sustainable behavior change.
In this episode of the Grace & Grit podcast, I do a deep dive into how the dieting game is rigged and, more importantly, give you REAL solutions to the challenges that compel you to sign up for them again and again.
Welcome to the Grace and Grit Podcast made for women who want their healthiest years to be ahead of them. Not behind them. Join your host Courtney Townley right now. As she breaks down the fairy tale health story, you have been chasing all of your life, indispensable action steps and lasting change.
Hello, my friends, and welcome to the Grace & Grit Podcast. This is your host, Courtney Townley. So grateful you’re here. Now I don’t know where in the world you’re listening to this Podcast from. But here in Northwest Montana spring has sprung. And it is such an awesome time of year. It’s like everything comes back to life. Right, the green grass starts to emerge, the birds are starting to chirp, the flowers are starting to bud. It’s a really awesome thing. And I am so here for it. I am so ready after a long, dark winter, to be rolling into spring.
Now, before I get into today’s episode, I want to let you know that I am offering a new workshop on May 24. This is going to be a 90 minute workshop, it’s going to be interactive, it’s called Shut Out the Noise, there is a charge for it. It’s 29 bucks, which I think is super reasonable for what I’m going to be offering in this class.
And I want to tell you, of course why I’m going to teach this workshop, I was trying to think of something that I hear constantly come up when a woman is talking to me about the frustrations that she has in terms of improving our health improving her life. And one of the topics I bump up against time and time again, is overwhelm, women are so overwhelmed, not just by everything they have to do, or everything they feel like they should do, but by all of the advice coming at them about how to optimize their health and their life.
And so the purpose of this workshop is really to help silence the noise to reduce the overwhelm, and most importantly, really give you your power back in terms of you taking charge of designing your own roadmap to a happier and healthier you. I want to help put you back in the driver’s seat in a confident way.
So if that speaks to you, if you love what you learn on the podcast here, I would really encourage you to register. You can register by going to graceandgrit.com/shutoutthenoise.
Invite your friends, let anyone you know who you think would be interested in this. Let them know everything is always more fun with friends. And we do plan on keeping registration open for as long as possible. But of course, because this is an interactive workshop, we do also have limited seating. So food for thought.
The Podcast today is going to speak a lot to why I’m teaching this workshop, because the Podcast today is going to talk about the dieting game being rigged. And what does that mean, right? Anytime we say a game is rigged, we’re basically saying that someone has set up the game. So it can’t be very easily won by the players. And there are four specific ways in which I really believe the dieting game is rigged. Meaning again, it’s very hard for you to win at the dieting game.
So first thing on this list is that the dieting industry loves to market to our insecurities. Right? If you just lose 10 pounds, if you just make your body look better, you’ll feel more confident you’ll be happier, you’ll make more money, you’ll find the man of your dreams, right whatever the marketing scheme is. And if you listen to the last episode of this Podcast, I made a very strong case for all the ways in which we tend to make the human body the scapegoat for all of life’s unfulfillment. If anything is askew in life, hyper focus on fixing your body, that’s the answer that we’re sold.
Furthermore, we’ve been conditioned to believe by our mothers by reality TV, I think of like the Kardashians or that like kind of the new show if you’ve seen like selling sunset, which is about these realtors in Hollywood culture at large, has led women to believe number one, that diets work even though we have so much evidence that they don’t. You should be on one because your coworker, your mother, your best friend, your sister has spent her entire life on one.
And it’s it’s really worth questioning why. Why are people always on a diet? Well of course because they don’t work. So we have to keep doing them. And you’re worth, it sold to you that your worth is wrapped up in your body, that message comes at us hard and fast. But we don’t have to believe any of that. We don’t have to believe the diets work, we don’t have to believe that we need to be on one, we certainly don’t need to believe that our worth is wrapped up in our body. Because remember, beliefs are just recycled thoughts, you get to decide what you want to believe.
The other thing that I want to speak to about marketing to our insecurities is that you know, humans have a very primal instinct to fit in. We tend to do what other people around us are doing. Because it makes us feel like we belong. And it feels safe.
And when we go against the grain of cultural norms, we go against the grain of the behaviors that the people we spend the most time around are engaging in. It doesn’t just feel uncomfortable. It feels dangerous, on a subconscious level, your amygdala, right, your amygdala is really that that primal part of your brain that really only has three objectives, seek pleasure, avoid pain, exert the least amount of effort, your amygdala is very reactive. So anytime it senses danger, it interprets that as you might die.
So when we are partaking in these practices, even though they don’t make sense to our brain, right, or our more thoughtful brain, which is the prefrontal cortex, the amygdala kind of freaks out, it feels very uncomfortable to be doing something different than everybody else.
So you know, I’m a big fan of asking yourself good questions. And if you have been in any of my programs, you have taken any of my courses, you’re a Rumble & Rise member, you know that one of the first things I always asked my community is to get very clear on what health means to them at this age and stage of life. What is the vision they have for their life moving forward? And does this program that you are about to sign up for make sense when you look through that lens?
When I asked a woman what health means to her, she doesn’t normally say a number on the scale. That is not what I hear, what I hear is I wake up feeling excited about my day, I have energy to get through my day, I can do whatever I physically want to do, because my body is able to support me. So when you look at health through that lens, does the program you’re about to engage in make sense?
And the other thing I think is really worth considering is dieting, certain diets. First of all, all diets are not created equal, right. Like there are some diets that make more sense than others that are not as extreme that are more gentle. But dieting is really intended to be a nutritional therapy, right, a very temporary thing that we do to kind of help our body out in some situations.
But what we have made it into in our culture is a lifestyle. We don’t just use it as a nutritional therapy. In fact, we kind of use it as a form of abuse, and a form of abuse consistently so that abuse becomes a lifestyle that’s so dangerous. I don’t need to tell you that you already know that.
I’d also encourage you to consider what do you want to believe about your worth? Where do you want to believe your worth comes from? When I ask women that question, they don’t say to me my body. I want to believe my worth comes from how I look. No one ever says that. But we live that way. So I want you to decide hard here now just make a decision. Do you want to continue to live by your insecurities? Or do you want to start living by your standards?
What does that even mean? Well, insecurities and standards are kind of the driver of why we do what we do. And is what’s driving you merely survival or is it because you really want to thrive in your life. If you want to live by cultural standards. Let’s just be clear on what some of the cultural standards are, cultural standards for survival, because that’s really I think what we’re we’re talking about a lot when we think about cultural standards, we want to stay safe. We want to stay secure. We want to get by, keep up with work and family.
But we also have cultural standards like indulging in pleasure at our own expense. So engaging with things like, you know, super rich foods or alcohol, or lots of Netflix, that feels lovely at the time. But of course, there’s a price we pay on the other side of that. I think another cultural standard a lot of people live by is hustling for their worth, wrapping their worth up in their physicality. Avoiding emotion, preventing discomfort, not making other people uncomfortable. So we people, please, all the time.
You can live by those standards. Or you can decide what your own standards are for living. I’ll tell you what a few of mine are: I want to be a fully expressed and authentic human, I want to spend my life energy going after things I feel are worth failing for. I want to take charge of my thinking, and manage my brain in a way that is useful to me rather than harmful to me.
I want to have a willingness to be a beginner, I want to be a lifelong student, I want to embrace the full experience of what it means to be human. Meaning, I want to expand my capacity to feel all emotion and stop fearing it. I want to live more honestly. So not buffering every time I feel something that’s uncomfortable, right, which is basically hiding from the truth of our life.
So I always give the example of drinking when you’re stressed. Living honestly, is acknowledging the stress, feeling the stress, and doing something to process the stress that actually serves your well being. I want to lean into the discomfort of living in alignment with my standards for life. I want to contribute value to the world.
So it may be worth if you are someone who is like constantly buying into sort of the the sales pitch of the diet industry. Get clear on what your own values are for your health in your life. And again, does this thing make sense to that.
The second thing I want to speak to in terms of how the game is rigged, its diets don’t take into consideration your unique individuality or the wholeness of your life. And I won’t spend too much time talking about this because I have done so many episodes on this. I’ve run lots of free programs about this.
But in essence, this boils down to two things. Health is multi dimensional, meaning it’s not just physical, and what are a lot of diets really focused on they’re just focused on the physical component of health. They’re not focused on mental health, emotional health, relationship, health, your spiritual health. And yet as humans, all of those things are a part of our health story.
So you can really hyper focus on one dimension of health and sometimes you need to right because that’s how we make progress is to hyper focus on something for a while. But you still need to take into consideration how the thing you are doing affects the rest of your life. How does eating this way affect your family life? How does exercising in this way affects your mental and emotional health.
The second piece of this is that health is dynamic. stress loads are always changing, Nothing stays the same all the time. And so are you learning skill sets that allow you to be flexible when the stress loads of life change?
I think the diet industry is terrible at this. The diet industry really promotes that we should do one thing all the time forevermore. But that one thing that worked for a period of time when we weren’t carrying much stress could eventually create a lot of distress because our stress level has changed. So we have to be learning skill sets that allow us to honor the dynamic nature of health.
The game is rigged also because diets largely teach How to follow, not how to lead. And to lead yourself, because that’s really what I’m speaking to leading yourself, to lead yourself, you need to learn how to think for yourself. And we get this as sort of parents or mentors of young children. Right, we we teach them skill sets. So eventually, they can think for themselves and move through the world confidently without us. And sure, they always need community all of those things. But they are so much more self sufficient.
So are the programs that you are considering, actually, do they have the objective of setting you free? Because you won’t always have someone in your life telling you what to do. Or if you do, you probably won’t feel very fulfilled in your life. Because back to what I was saying early, you’re living by someone else’s standards. Right, or you’re always following the same list of rules and regulations, but you’re evolving as a human. So sometimes we outgrow processes that once worked for us.
Learning to lead yourself is the only way you will ever sustain behavior change. And that means learning how to think critically, right? Which really means we question everything. And we specifically we question, what we are being told, and how does this actually fit into my life? Do I want to adopt this practice? Because it does make sense? Or do I want to find something that fits better? So critical thinking is challenging the approach to knowledge and wisdom that we come across.
I want to talk to you really specifically here about gateways to self-leadership. Because I’m always saying, really at the core, what I what the work that I do in the world, is I am a health coach, and I am a self-leadership coach. And those two things are really not in my opinion, they should never be separated. Because health is a practice of self-leadership.
What does that mean? Well, it means really four primary things. These are the gateways to self-leadership that I teach everyone who works with me. Number one, you have to get radically real with yourself. brutal honesty with yourself.
I always joke that a lot of women are going through life a lot like how my son cleans his room, they first ignore that there’s a mess to clean up at all. And then eventually, they just kind of sweep things under the rug and into closets. So it appears that the mess has disappeared. But the mess hasn’t gone away. It’s just been really well hidden from view. Here’s what I want you to hear. You cannot heal your life in any way, if you don’t expose the truth of your life.
So this is where we ask ourselves really good questions. to critically think, is this thing helping me to live the life I want to live? Do I like my reasons for doing this thing? Who would I be without this? What’s holding me back from going after what I truly want. These are just like a few, right? A small sampling of the type of questions I encourage people to ask themselves.
But getting radically real, is really speaking to the practice of self awareness. That’s what self awareness is, right? It’s a practice of getting radically honest with yourself. So what practices do you have in your life? Where are you learning to consistently stay very aware of how you’re moving through the world? Because awake and aware are not the same thing. A lot of people are awake moving through their day, but they are not aware. And we can’t change without this hyper developed self awareness.
The second step into self-leadership is really, really rebuilding self trust, which I always say is stepping into sovereignty. Right, because when we have self trust, we are such better leaders of ourselves. And like I said earlier, a lot of advice that you get from the diet industry, or from the fitness industry or from the wellness industry at large, may not make any sense to your life.
Only you can decide that. Most programs don’t want you to know this. But you don’t need more information. You really don’t if you want to make progress. Right now, you don’t need more information. What you need is more consistent application of the things you already know. Right and consistent application boils down to living your life by design, rather than by default.
So to live your life by design, you have to be aware, not just awake. And this we plan for sovereignty, we plan for leading ourselves. Planning is a written commitment to yourself. And a declaration of how you want to show up in your life based on your standards, not based on other people’s.
So we learn how to devise a plan when we learn how to devise a daily plan that feels totally in alignment with who we are, where we are, and where we want to go. And then we work on managing our thoughts and emotions on the way to getting there. So we actually follow through with the promises that we make to ourselves.
That’s how we lead ourselves. We make a plan based on the best of what we know about ourselves. And then we manage ourselves in a way to keep those promises. That’s how you rebuild self trust.
But how a lot of women are going about improving health is number one by following right having someone else design the roadmap. And they’re using strategies that again, are rigged, they’re set up for you to fail their strategies that overwhelm your brain, it’s too much change too fast. And it doesn’t take into consideration that your stress loads are always changing. So my plan does not look the same every single day. Because my stress loads are different every single day. I have never done a diet that teaches me how to be flexible.
The third thing I think that we need in order to step into self-leadership is we need to do the real work of behavior change. And I will tell you, I think that again, the game of the diet industry is rigged, because they don’t teach these skill sets. The reason most change doesn’t last when you go on a diet is because most programs don’t teach the real skills, the real skill sets of sustainable behavior change.
What are those skill sets? You’ve heard me say them a million times. Thought management and emotional agility. I often say that humans who don’t know how to manage their mental and emotional landscape are a lot like toddlers running around with a pair of scissors. It is dangerous. It is chaotic. It is very stressful and highly unpredictable.
If you want to rebuild yourself, trust it that means you have to follow through with the promises that you make to yourself. And in order to do that, you’ve got to learn how to take responsibility for your brain for the thoughts you choose to think for the for the beliefs you choose to have about yourself about your life, and you have to regulate your emotions in a way that supports you rather than depletes you.
The fourth piece that I think really offers a powerful gateway to self-leadership in the health arena is protecting your power learning how to protect your power fiercely. We’ve all had the experience right of of showing up for ourselves more consistently feeling really good. And then inevitably something happens. That throws us off our game misaligned moments in life is a certainty. It is going to happen often and much.
So missing misalignment is a certainty realignment is not. I know people who have spent years decades a lifetime being out of sync with the life that they truly feel called to live. Because, again, they were moving through the world, awake but not aware. Or, and or because they were unwilling to do the things that helped them to protect their own life resources. They were unwilling to set boundaries. They don’t acknowledge their misalignments. Right, so they just numb them, they deny them, they shove them in the closet and under the bed.
You can’t change you can’t protect when you hide. Again, healing happens in the light. It’s a process of exposure. I know that sounds so unwelcoming, doesn’t it? I know when I first like started to really understand that. It was like, wow, I don’t want to expose any of the stuff I’ve been hiding for years. Because of course, all the vulnerability and the shame. Trap travels with us in that doesn’t have to, but it’s often why we’re not doing that work.
So the four pieces that I just talked about in terms of the gateway into self-leadership. Just to kind of recap, we talked about getting radically honest with yourself. We talked about stepping into sovereignty, which is really that practice of planning and learning how to keep the promises you make to yourself. We talked about the real work, learning the real work of behavior, change, how to manage your brain, and expand your capacity for emotion. And then that final piece was protecting your power.
So those four parts, this is a sampling of what I’m teaching in the workshop on May 24. This is the framework that I am using for that workshop. So if that speaks to you, and you are someone who Yeah, you know, the game is rigged, and you want to stop playing the game which by the way, you can’t lose the game if you don’t play the game.
You can stop playing the game anytime. And this workshop is going to help you stop playing the game, the dating game and learn those skill sets that I just mentioned. So once again, if you’re interested, you can head on over to graceandgrit.com/shutoutthenoise and sign up to join me in learning how to draw your own roadmap. Take responsibility for all your stuff and rebuild yourself trust.
Alright, my friends. That’s all I have for you today. I hope you have an awesome rest of the week and I will see you again very soon, take care.
Thank you for listening to the Grace and Grit Podcast. It is time to mend the fabric of the female health story. And it starts with you taking radical responsibility for your own self care. You are worth the effort and with a little grace and grit anything is possible.
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