Prizm News / January 1, 2019 / By Rachel Turner
Rachel Turner. (Photos by Stef Streb) 

Diets DO work. Until they don’t. So be honest with your resolutions and set achievable goals.


By Rachel Turner

The new year is upon us, and with it rings the familiarity of setting new goals, joining another gym and high intentions of slaying your body, life and fitness. There’s something about this fresh beginning that makes it easier to make big commitments to yourself.

But are you making the kind of commitment that will lead to long-term freedom? New year, new you, right?

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The idea of extremes seems less intimidating when everyone is hopping on board the all- or-nothing train with you. What if, though, there was a more efficient way to reach your goals this year? Perhaps a bit rebellious, but if you allow yourself to lean into this new way of goal-setting, you may find yourself the happiest you’ve ever been in your body.

Over the last seven years, I’ve worked with more than 1,000 people to help them break up with diets for good and find radical food and body freedom. This means that while the majority of the world is gearing up to completely cleanse their body, say no to all sugar and cut out gluten as well as all happiness, I help my clients create a new reality for themselves where they can step out of all-or-nothing and into a place where they can happily—and easily—say hell yes to Sunday brunch without an explanation or feeling of guilt.

Diets are easy to follow because they have a set book of guidelines. You know that if you do X, you’ll get to Y. If you don’t do that, you know you’ve been “bad.” This structure perpetuates shame and a constant yo-yo of your body, emotions and wallet. Why then, do you keep going back to said diets, feeling more defeated each time?

The diets work, that’s why. They do what they say they’ll do. That is, of course, if you follow the rules. The diet doesn’t promise that once you’re done you’ll be happy, confident or feel normal around food. That means the moment the diet is over becomes a simultaneously happy and terrifying experience because you now want to celebrate with a big “cheat meal.”

Having said no to feelings, gluten, sugar, happiness, carbs and essentially all other good things in the world, that one meal typically will spiral into 10. Or a week, month or year of feeling “off” again because you have no sense of knowing how to listen to your body.

All right, so maybe this is making sense now. You’re like, “Yes, I feel this. I hate diets, but I want to look good naked and feel confident in my body. How?”

First, you must understand that it’s not a number on the scale you’re looking for when you start something new. Well, you think it is, but if you sit in a circle and sing “Kumbaya,” we can typically uncover that it’s much deeper than that.

When a new client starts with me, I ask them, “How do you want to feel?” They all respond with confident, brave, powerful, strong, etc. Mainstream media has taught them—and you—that you have to chase a size to feel those things, which is why you so easily fork over money to the things that seem the most extreme. You feel like if you go balls to the wall, you’ll get to that feeling faster.

There are three key factors in setting realistic goals that will help you feel more at home in your body this year without going balls to the wall or cutting out things you like. Be ready: These things aren’t sexy, but they will help you feel happier, more confident and at ease in your life and your body when you truly apply them to your life.

First, know that the more extreme the diet or workout program is, the harder you’ll swing back. Restriction works like a pendulum. The more you cut out, the faster and harder you’ll crash.

When you’re planning the shifts you want to make in your body or around food, I want you to look at your life and see what you can fit into it. Meet yourself where you are.

If you haven’t been working out at all and now you want to join Crossfit six times a week, that’s aggressive. And the moment you don’t make that schedule work, you’ll feel like a failure. As unsexy as it sounds, you will find more confidence in yourself when you evaluate your schedule and your physical readiness and say, “OK, so I can definitely get two times a week in. Anything else this first month will be a bonus.”

You’ll build more courage, confidence and resilience in meeting yourself with realistic standards. Each week or month, do a quick check, see how that felt. Could you go more? Do you want to go more?

The average person doesn’t need to sign their life in blood to a gym to make changes. Getting consistent with one to three times per week will drastically change the way you look and feel.

Secondly, if you can’t stand your body or life right now, working out six times a week won’t help you get to a place of more ease. Remember when we talked about feelings? Now is the time to get clear on how you want to feel.

When you know how you’d like to experience your life and body, you can make small choices and actions that align with that feeling. How many times have you said, “I’ll go to the gym after work,” and as the workday quickly approaches, you talk yourself out of going because your coworkers want to go to happy hour? Cupcakes and happy hour will always win over workouts when your physical movement is rooted in shame-based reasoning.

When your movement is rooted in a feeling that you’d like to experience, you can make choices from that. For example: You want to feel grounded in your life; if working out for 20 minutes a day creates a sense of grounding in your body, you’ll find it much easier to make empowered decisions for yourself.

Finally, you don’t have to do things you don’t like. If you’re constantly eating chicken and asparagus and you hate chicken, you’re going to dump the meal and pick something fast and quick.

Get curious as to what you like and don’t like. Remember that when you force yourself into something, it’s going to be easier to drop it just as quick. Allow yourself to try new forms of movement until you find one that feels like a solid fit.

In regard to food, find the things you do enjoy and remember that when you don’t like it, you’ll wind up quitting.

When you weave these things into your life, you’ll find that you aren’t “falling off” because there won’t be something to fall off. You’ll be finding your version of freedom and ease.

It’s hard to break up with dieting when the rest of the world is going gung-ho into extremes. But remember this: discomfort over resentment.

Realize that your willingness to get uncomfortable in the stretch of feeling at home in your body and free around food will lead you to a life of experiences and endless mimosas without guilt.

Rachel Turner is a food freedom and life coach in Columbus. She’s the author of “Brave and Afraid,” a collection of stories, tools and lessons on leaning into courage. Her coaching offers insight and education on how to feel more at home, confident and happy in your life and body. Visit her website at and find her on her Instagram @strongchicksrock.