Lifestyle Weight Loss

Why I Quit Dieting.

It all began in middle school. Things were fine. I was a happy kid, great friends, loving family, positive attitude… but for some reason, I wanted to be skinny. I wasn’t fat at all. I was pretty normal, but I wasn’t skinny. So I started skipping meals and restricting my calories, and checking out my growing shape in the mirror. But then I’d come home from school RAVENOUS and I would start inhaling all the foods I was trying to avoid…. granola bars, chocolates, cereal… anything I could get my hands on. And then I’d feel guilty, of course, and I ‘d promise myself I wouldn’t do it again. This unhealthy cycle continued until I was a sophomore in High School. The yo-yo dieting led me to gain weight. I was unhappy with how I looked and how I felt and most importantly I began to hate my relationship with food. At that point in my life I can’t even remember a day where I ate “normally”. I was either starving or stuffing myself.

The summer after 10th grade I decided it was time for a change. I was not getting healthy and I was certainly not getting happy. I realized that thinking of my weight as the “problem” was only going to cycle me deeper and deeper into disordered eating. I had to see the problem for what it really was- not my weight, not the food- the problem was my relationship with food.

At that point I moralized food. I labeled foods as “good” or “bad”. I thought I was having a good day if I barely ate… but once I did eat something( other than string cheese and bland crackers) I couldn’t seem to stop! To say I had the “All or Nothing” mindset is an understatement. I remember getting on my knees and crying- asking God why I had to struggle so deeply with food. Food is something we’re all faced with everyday and when you’re obsessed with it (or with not eating it) it can be hard to focus on anything else in life. 

That summer HONESTLY changed my life. I left Rhode Island to work at a summer camp upstate New York with one goal- to quit dieting. I was 15 years old. I didn’t know what I was doing. No one in my family struggled with food the way I did. And none one of my friends seemed to either. I felt SO isolated.

One thing I did know- I was SO done with the voices in my head and the obsession I had with food. I just wanted to enjoy each day and I wanted to feel GOOD! 

Here are 5 things I did that summer that helped me lose 10lbs and (FAR more importantly) change my relationship with food FOREVER:

  1. Quit dieting. Wayyyy easier said than done, but each morning I would tell myself, I’m done with dieting. I made a promise to myself that summer, that I would NEVER diet again. I was out. Adios! Goodbye. I stopped doing anything that made me feel restricted. I was in search of food freedom. I figured if I could learn to stop starving myself I could also learn to stop stuffing myself. Turns out I was right.
  2. Eat 3 meals a day. God really blessed me with that summer job. I was on staff with about 300 other people and we all ate together at the dining hall 3 times a day. I made some sweet friends and learned the importance of meal time. I was working HARD and meals were a time to relax, refuel and unwind with my friends. We’d go through a buffet line and fill our plates. While it wasn’t the healthiest food (it was camp foodafter all), it was fairly balanced. I created a little rule for myself- “No seconds.” I could have whatever I wanted, but it would have to fit on my plate. I slowly learned to eat enough, but not too much.
  3. Eat whatever you want (in moderation). I LOVE desserts. And part of quitting dieting meant that I would no longer deprive myself of them. At the dining hall we only got dessert a couple days per week, so I could either have something there (like a small piece of cheesecake, brownie, or cookie) or I could “save” my dessert and go to the local ice cream shack. Many evenings my friends and I would walk into town (about a mile away) and get an ice cream there!
  4. Forgive yourself. I remember the first few weeks after I quit dieting, I was doing so well. There may have been a couple days that I ate a little too much, but for the most part I felt like a different person. Then one night I somehow bought myself a big bag of Swedish fish at the penny candy counter. I ate way too many. I felt SO sick. I was incredibly disappointed that I binged… but instead of waking up the next day and restricting myself (like I used to do) I reminded myself that I had made a promise. I had quit dieting. So I got out of bed, threw on a sweat shirt and a smile, and I ate a balanced breakfast. I got on with my life. I didn’t let one mistake ruin all the progress I had already made. It happened again… and again… but these little mistakes seemed to happen less and less often. 
  5. Really LIVE your life. I learned a LOT that summer. I learned HOW to eat. I overcame over/under eating, but most importantly I found food freedom. I learned how to quiet those voices in my head- the ones that were obsessed with food and dieting and weight… I learned that life is SO much more than that. I made friendships. I laughed (a lot). I spent a lot of time with Mitch (my then close friend, my now boyfriend!!). I made so many memories. I learned that Skittles taste better when you eat them with your friends, and popcorn is more fun when your tossing it into each other’s mouths. Ice cream is sweeter when it’s dripping down your arm on a hot summer’s night and you’re not worrying about it. And pizza is better when you eat it on the beach with people you care about (although it can get a little sandy!). The point is, LIFE includesfood, but life is not food. And really learning that has changed my life.

There you have it! The top 5 things that DRAMATICALLY changed my relationship with food. That summer set the foundation for how I eat today. Seven years later and I still believe those principles are KEY to getting (and staying!) healthy & HAPPY!! 




  • Reply Melissa

    Thanks for sharing this! #2 is really giving me something to think about-“if I could learn to starve myself…” etc. Love it! You were so young to shift your mindset, good for you!

    March 6, 2018 at 4:36 am
    • Reply Cailee

      Looking back I can’t believe I started dieting when I was in 8th grade! I was SO young… it makes me so sad to think about the hard times, but God is good and He totally changed my mindset!! Thanks for the support!

      March 13, 2018 at 1:08 am
  • Reply Bridgette Mady

    I LOVE this!! Gahh so much wisdom and vulnerability. Thank you sweet lady for being so open and real!(:

    March 6, 2018 at 10:43 pm
    • Reply Cailee

      Thank you so much Bridgette!! It’s definitely been a journey!!

      March 13, 2018 at 1:09 am
  • Reply Sarah

    Wow!! Thank you so much for sharing this!! My health journey has actually been much the same, except as soon as I hit puberty I started putting on weight and my metabolism was GONE! That’s when it all started for me, when I realized I was chubbier than the other kids my age. I started binging but not purging. In college I took a nutrition class as I started working out and realized I had a type of disordered eating and I wasn’t ok with it. From that point on I’ve changed my life for the better. While friends go on “diets” I have a lifestyle change. Some days are better than others, but it’s my journey and I’m proud of it. Thank you for so eloquently stating yours!!!

    March 7, 2018 at 4:14 pm
    • Reply Cailee

      Thank you so much for the support Sarah! I’m glad you liked the post 🙂 I’m so happy for you and your journey!! Congrats!

      March 13, 2018 at 1:13 am
  • Reply Melissa

    I absolutely love everything you said in your post and love reading your thoughts on healthy eating! Slowly my mind is changing and I hope to be in a place like this one day too!

    March 9, 2018 at 5:34 am
    • Reply Cailee

      Thanks so much Melissa! I’m so happy that you liked the post!

      March 13, 2018 at 1:06 am
  • Reply Nicole @ Foodie Loves Fitness

    Love this post! It gives some great insight into your relationship with food – and I can totally relate. I had such an unhealthy relationship with food when I was younger as well. It’s awesome that you realized it and developed healthier habits at such a younger age… It took me years longer to start figuring that out myself! It’s so obvious now that you have a healthy, balanced relationship with food. And I love the term FOOD FREEDOM!

    March 12, 2018 at 9:05 pm
    • Reply Cailee

      Thank you so much Nicole!! It’s been a journey. Yay for Food Freedom!! Congrats on your journey as well!!

      March 13, 2018 at 1:15 am

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