- Angela Clucas is a registered nutritionist who struggles with yo-yo diets.
- Even with a foster degree, she couldn’t shake the desire to be smaller.
- Working on her mindset and focusing on strength helped her finally change her attitude.
This essay is based on a conversation with Angela Clucas, a registered nutritionist from the Isle of Man, UK. It has been edited for length and clarity.
It all started when I was 16 or 17. Y2K diet culture was everywhere. When I look back at some of that stuff now, it’s so crazy. You see the “plus-size” women onAmerica’s Next Top Model,” and are literally a US size 6.
I wasn’t very confident, and I think I started looking at those messages and thinking, if I change my body, if I lose weight, if I can be like that, I’ll be accepted better.
So I started trying to diet and I think it was a bit of a control thing. I did the Cabbage Soup Diet, the British Heart Foundation Diet, which is not from the British Heart Foundation charity: you basically live next to nothing, and then one day you get bananas and milk. It’s really crazy.
I did diet after diet and the crazy thing is that I never really lost weight in the first place. Every time I did one of these diets, I would lose some weight and then gain it back. I got stuck and stuck in that cycle and it kept me thinking: I can’t do it. I can not diet hard enough. Why have I failed?
And that coupled with my low confidence at first… It went on and on for years.
But now, I realize that I never lost any weight. Since my attitude changed, I feel much more confident in myself. I know that focusing on strength, health, and happiness is a much better use of my mental energy than constantly trying to punish and shrink my body.
Long diets are not sustainable and healthy weight loss excessive restriction or cutting out food groups does not apply. It took me a long time to realize that.
A nutritional degree didn’t stop me from fad dieting
When I was 22, I was so obsessed with nutrition that I decided to go and do a degree in it. But I couldn’t get a nutrition job after that, and I kept doing even worse diets 30 in total and Insanity, which was a 90-day workout plan that was meant to be the ultimate shred, but make you push harder, harder, harder.
There was a lot of scientific information at the stage about what protein, carbs, and fats Yes, but he did not enter psychology. I could write a meal plan for someone to lose weight, but now I know I’m not being told about it. We all know we should eat more vegetables, but we don’t.
I was still working in an office and trying all these things and still knew that more than anything I wanted to work as a nutritionist. So I went back to college when I was 34 and did a master’s degree in sports nutrition, which I loved. He went deep into understanding metabolism, but still never gave me the answers as to why I couldn’t diet hard enough.
The irony is that I have always been overweight by most measurements, such as the BMI. I always felt like I needed to be smaller. Then again, I don’t know any woman who doesn’t say they want to lose seven pounds.
banish diet culture by changing my mindset
I reached a turning point when I read a book called “The Chimp Paradox,” which is about understanding the voice in our heads.
I was like, hang on, this stuff is so much more than just trying to get smaller. And then from there it just spiraled, in a good way.
I read a lot more about how to change the way you think, for example I love Braan Donn‘work. It really got me thinking that there is a better way to either sustainable weight loss and to keep it off or get out of that mindset you even need to lose weight in the first place.
A lot of mine came from working with a great personal trainer. We bounced body image ideas around all the time, and it gradually dawned on me that I didn’t need to cut my calories or feel bad to eat a donut. That constant message along with focusing on getting stronger was a game changer for me.
And now I’m a full-time nutritionist, helping others achieve their goals.
Through my journey, I learned how important it is to work on yourself mind. My teaching is now based on more than just, say, telling someone to eat more protein. It’s about thinking about goals and habits and setting yourself up for success.