Kari Dahlgren

Coach | Author | Advocate

feel normal around food again

Truth Bomb: Get Ready for Life at Your Natural Weight to Suck More Than Expected (& Why It’s Actually Really Great)

The road to reaching your natural weight is tough, and today I want to talk about that tough part. Because if I can be honest with you… It’s going to suck.

Stick with me, please. This is important.

Being your natural weight is a lot of fun. There will be many joys — many already in your dreams, like fitting into form-fitting clothes, and even wearing clothes that aren’t all black! But getting to your natural weight and staying there isn’t the fun joy ride that many of us think it will be.

You can get there, though, if you are willing for life to suck more than expected…

Side note: I originally wrote this “truth bomb” in 2018, two years after I gave up dieting. (My anniversary: August 8, 2016.) I learned a lot from this rude awakening, and I hope to pass that lesson on so that you can anticipate something similar. (Note that I didn’t say ‘avoid,’ I merely said ‘anticipate’ — because I am quite confident this is a rite of passage we all go through.)

When Life Sucks, It’s a Call for Authenticity

There are two ways to lose weight, both of which suck: dieting and feeling your authentic discomfort (aka, Stop-Drop-and-Feeling). Dieting leads to short-term weight loss but long-term weight gain. Clinical studies have shown this.[1], [2], [3] The only upside — and to call it an upside is truly a stretch — is that you get to play ostrich and stick your head in the sand to keep bad, icky feelings at away. Temporarily, of course.

However, the feelings we keep away with overeating only come back stronger, so really, this isn’t an upside at all. It’s a rollercoaster that’s stuck on the same track constantly going around in the same loop over and over again… Never really going anywhere and making us sick and frustrated the entire time.

Feeling your authentic discomfort, however, may lead to weight loss if you’re above your natural weight, but it takes much more time, patience, and grit than dieting. The only downside is that you have to be willing to feel the emotions that you dislike the most. For me, this includes loneliness and rejection — woof. For you, it could be anxiety, stress, disappointment, dread, or some other blend of ick.

The upsides are plentiful though.

When you choose to feel your authentic discomfort instead of reaching for food as a buffer, the benefits may include but are not limited to: reaching your natural weight, gaining confidence in yourself, discovering who you truly are at your core, gaining clarity on your purpose in life, increasing authenticity in every corner of your world… The list can go on and on.

Feeling your authentic discomfort is clearly the winner, so why is it so gosh dang hard? Why is it so much easier to slip back into dieting instead of sticking to the well-trodden path of giving up dieting and feeling your authentic discomfort instead?

I believe the answer is toxic positivity. We live in a culture that worships thinness and happiness, and the two have become inextricably connected. We think that we’re doing something wrong when we feel unhappy, and we’ve been trained to believe that thinness will secure our worth.

Except it doesn’t.

Authenticity: A Call for a 50/50 Life — And Why That’s Really Great

the 50/59 of life: maybe life isn’t meant to be 90% happy. maybe life is meant to be 50/50 — in a really good way [yin yang symbol]

In my opinion, an authentic life is 50/50 good and bad, where 50% sucks and the other 50% is really freaking amazing. Toxic positivity, however, has taught us that life should be 90% happy and if it’s less than that, you’re doing it wrong.

This belief can lead to overeating because, when life doesn’t feel happy, we turn to food to buffer our pain.

What we resist persists. When we feel unhappy and then resist the unhappiness, we feel worse. This kickstarts the vicious cycle of toxic positivity leading to increased unhappiness and, as a result, overeating. Unfortunately, many of us have rehearsed this unfortunate dance so many times that we practice it on autopilot.

A culture of toxic positivity never prepared us for an authentic life.

Toxic positivity told us to “go to school, get the good job so that you can afford the good things and life a good life.” Oh, and don’t forget: “do all this while making everyone else around you happy, or you’re doing that wrong too!” This created an enormous expectation for continuous happiness and positivity, and when life inevitably falls short, we feel bad. And then we eat.

Pain shouldn’t be numbed — it should be felt with courage and an open heart. That’s authentic living, and that’s how you reach your natural weight.

When You Want to Lose Weight, It’s a Call for Courage

The simplest road map to success is the Psycho-Spiritual Wellness eating guidelines, and it takes courage to follow. It asks you to stop dieting, listen to your body, and feel your authentic discomfort when you want to eat past fullness — especially the uncomfortable feelings that make you want to crawl out of your skin.

That last part is the doozy. I mean, the whole ‘listening to your body’ part is really hard for those with a history of overeating, but the feelings part? Can we just skip that, please?

This is why so many people say:

“I don’t have any problems, really. My life is great. It’s just the weight thing that I need to figure out.”

Nope. That’s not how it works. I subscribe to Geneen Roth’s school of thought: the way we eat tells all. Even if you went to school and got the good job and have the good things and therefore think everything besides your eating is great… you’re not living in reality.

Here’s an edgy analogy that I hope drives the point home: Compulsive eating is like the giant, beautiful skin tag on my dear Obaachan’s (grandmother’s) face that sucked up all her loose skin and prevented any wrinkles, even at the ripe age of 92. It’s not that she “didn’t have any wrinkle problems” — it’s that the skin tag was picking up all the slack, and so the wrinkles never had a chance to manifest.

The same goes for compulsive eating. When we run around and do all the things and please all the people and work all the hours, we’re cutting a corner somewhere, and that cut corner shows up in our eating.

How I Discovered the Pool of Emotion I Once Ignored

When I started this whole “feeling my authentic discomfort” thing back in 2016, I thought that it was just a coincidence that I started going through a rough patch. Things went going wrong left and right, and I felt it deeper than normal. I thought that the rough patch would end at some point, like usual, then it hit me…

After a few months of these heavy feels, I realized that it was just the normal discomfort of everyday life! But because I used to numb with food so often, I wasn’t even aware that life was normally uncomfortable 50% of the time…

In hindsight, I was transitioning through the 3rd stage of giving up dieting:

the 5 stages of giving up dieting

When you give up dieting, you go through several stages, the third of which is “when life seems to get worse in non-food-related areas.” Yep. When we open ourselves up to our authentic discomfort, it doesn’t just mean life sucks when we want to overeat. It means that life sucks more in general — but it’s authentic discomfort, and as we discussed earlier, this is the better problem to have!

Dieting keeps you focused on the surface level of food and therefore never really leads to useful skills other than the willpower to restrict your diet, which just keeps you stuck in the restrict-binge cycle. Feeling your authentic discomfort, however, provides you with the evergreen skill of emotional tolerance: an ability to withstand discomfort more than usual.

With emotional tolerance by your side, you’ll be able to achieve your dreams because dreams require hard work and hard work requires you to slug it out sometimes, and it’s not pretty. Until it is.

Feeling Not-So-Great Is Normal

I used to think that discomfort meant that I was doing something wrong, which is why I would numb with food whenever I wasn’t happy. Since embarking on this journey seven years ago, I have become much better at tolerating discomfort, and at first, I was honestly surprised by how much of it existed in my life.

That’s why I’m writing this article: to prepare you for the discomfort ahead… the discomfort that’s also coupled with the awesomeness of reaching your natural weight! But still, the truth bomb remains: This road is going to SUCK. But hey, at least this time you’re building a skill that will help you everywhere else in your life, unlike dieting.

What This Might Look Like for You

When you choose to feel your feelings instead of numbing with food, many uncomfortable things begin to happen:

  • When you have a bad day, you can’t come home and eat junk food. You have to actually come home, sit down, and process what’s going on…
  • When you feel rejected by a friend or significant other, you can’t reach for a pint of ice cream. You have to actually feel that heavy feeling of rejection… without ice cream  😮
  • When you feel anxious and you don’t know why, you have to actually sit with that feeling instead of distracting yourself with food…

When you stop numbing with food and choose to feel your authentic discomfort instead, you’re vulnerable… but it’s normal!

What This Looks Like for Me

Here’s an example from my life about one year after giving up dieting:

The heaviest emotion to me is rejection. You can give me anxiety and depression and shame (and I won’t like it), but rejection? Nuh-uh. When rejection comes around, I run for the hills. And usually those “hills” are actually my kitchen cabinet.

When I started “feeling my authentic discomfort” instead overeating, I had to start practicing staying with the feeling of rejection instead of spinning out and reaching for food. It took me a while (over a year) to develop that skill. It was tough.

But allowing myself to pay attention to the feeling of rejection is much better than overeating to numb the pain, and ending up feeling both rejected and bloated… In this way, life at your natural weight sucks a lot more… and it’s also full of magic. It’s a trade-off, and this one is worth it to me.

Last Thoughts

Maybe your gremlin isn’t rejection. Maybe it’s vulnerability, shame, self-loathing, anxiety, or depression… Whatever that big, scary feeling is… see if you can open yourself up to it. It just might be the toughest thing you ever did, but you’ll get better at it.

As you develop the skill of being good at being uncomfortable, it gets easier to achieve your natural weight and feel normal around food. Being willing to feel your pain instead of choosing to numb takes crazy amounts of courage, but you can do it.

And when you develop the skill of feeling your feelings instead of overeating, weight loss happens naturally.

So, so naturally.

  1. Lowe, Michael R et al. “Dieting and restrained eating as prospective predictors of weight gain.” Frontiers in psychology vol. 4 577. 2 Sep. 2013, doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00577
  2. Maclean, Paul S et al. “Biology’s response to dieting: the impetus for weight regain.” American journal of physiology. Regulatory, integrative and comparative physiology vol. 301,3 (2011): R581-600. doi:10.1152/ajpregu.00755.2010
  3. Del Corral, Pedro et al. “Dietary adherence during weight loss predicts weight regain.” Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.) vol. 19,6 (2011): 1177-81. doi:10.1038/oby.2010.298

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Some say ‘feel it to heal it’ but this workbook takes it a step deeper and helps you ‘see it to heal it.’ If you’re the kind of person who logically knows how to live a healthy lifestyle but you compulsively do the opposite, this workbook will illuminate what’s standing in the way. Then, you know exactly where to focus your energy.

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8 thoughts on "Truth Bomb: Get Ready for Life at Your Natural Weight to Suck More Than Expected (& Why It’s Actually Really Great)"

  1. Lizsays:

    This is deep, insightful, and absolutely truthful! No one wants to look at these truths – I think these truths never enter our conciousness unless someone insightful presents them. It’s just easier to distract with food or another diet or fad. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom.

    1. Kari Dahlgrensays:

      Thank you so much for the comment Liz! I’m happy that you read it all the way through even though I mostly talked about how much life is going to suck 🙂 in the best way possible!

    2. Erikasays:

      Hi Kari.
      I live in South Africa. Your entire approach is amazing and ground breaking. Well done girl.
      I am giving this a go at the age of 59 and i started while on holiday in the Netherlands!!
      I find that after only about 4 days the SDF method comes naturaly and as you said i use it in more areas of my life.
      I will invest in the work book to start off with.
      Thank you for being available to me. I might need you yet .
      Erika Breytenbach

      1. Kari Dahlgrensays:

        Hi Erika! How amazing that I am able to reach you on the other side of the globe! And I am so so proud of you for actually doing the SDF. It is not an easy practice, and I hope that you know I am cheering you on. 🙂

  2. Sofiasays:

    This is an amazing read for someone who is just starting out on this journey. It’s reality, and it’s great to read it upfront. I’ll be referring back to this read when times get tough. Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. Kari Dahlgrensays:

      Music to my ears Sofia!! It makes me sooo happy that it’ll be a resource in the times when you need it.


    Kari, I love how you word everything in NORMAL SPEAK, with very descriptive words and phrases. I know I am an EMOTIONAL EATER, my depression dictates how and what I want to eat, you can betcha it ain’t a salad…. nobody ever looked at a head of lettuce and though, All my problems can be cured by this head of crunchy water.

    1. Kari Dahlgrensays:

      Gurrrrl, ain’t that the truth! Salads are only good when they sound good 🙂 thank YOU for dropping me a line!

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