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My Naturally Thin Girlfriends

The Scarcity Mindset

 

Over the years, I’ve had girlfriends who have never gone on a diet and seem to be able to eat and drink whatever they want without gaining weight. I’m betting you’ve had a few of these friends, too. 

 

I never got the sense they were thinking  “I will enjoy this indulgence tonight and work out extra hard tomorrow.” Or that they ever felt disappointed in themselves for something they’d eaten or had to recommit on Monday.

 

I always figured they just had a better metabolism than I did.  And maybe that’s a little part of it but now I’m confident something else was at play.

 

I took part in diet culture for decades, and diet culture says:

 

I have to be doing something very different than what I want to do to lose weight

I have to follow specific rules to be successful

If I don’t follow those exact rules, then I don’t have the willpower that is required

I have not been successful because I haven’t tried the latest diet supported by the latest research, and everyone else is having great success with it—see the before-and-after photos for proof that everyone else can do this easily.

 

I really did not realize that I was focused on what I didn’t do, what I didn’t have, how much progress I still needed to make, and what was not working.  

 

I had thoughts like this:  Even though I’m full, I need to finish this delicious food because I won’t get another chance to eat food that tastes this good. I’m starting my diet tomorrow, so I will enjoy extra today.  I would be satisfied with less ice cream right now, but I won’t allow myself ice cream again for a long time, so I will have more now.

 

I’d love to tell you that I suddenly became conscious of this sabotaging mindset, decided to put it behind me, and was immediately successful in doing so. But it didn’t happen like that. I wasn’t even fully aware of it until it went away.

 

Fortunately for me, I did decide to zoom out and look at the big picture regarding my nutrition and weight loss goals. To experiment like a scientist and think of things that didn’t work as data rather than failures. To work on limiting my emotional responses to self-compassion. To be patient and to gently keep going even though I felt discouraged.

 

It took some time to get going, but I did start having success, and I eventually reached my goal weight. I was surprised at how easy it was to stay there without feeling like I was still on a diet. It’s been months since I’ve eaten when not hungry or eaten to the point of feeling overly full.

 

In the past, reaching my goal weight would have come with thoughts like this: I probably won’t be able to keep it off. I have to really stay on top of things if I don’t want to gain the weight back.

 

But my thoughts today sound more like this: I no longer think of myself as eating on plan or off plan so I don’t need to take advantage of being off plan. This food is delicious, and I am fortunate to have access to delicious food often, so I don’t need to overeat now.  I love ice cream but I don’t need to eat a lot of it because I will have hundreds of other opportunities to eat it in my life.

 

And then it dawned on me - This is how thin women think, why they rarely overeat and don’t gain weight.

 

I don’t mean to oversimplify what’s at play when people struggle with extra weight. I know it’s more complicated than just deciding to have an abundant mindset. But I really underestimated how big a factor it is, and that’s what I want to share with you.

 

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