Say f**k it to dieting, and lose weight
Do you want to say f**k it to your diet?
If you’re on a diet, I’m sure there’s nothing more you’d like to do than just give up. That’s what’s so rubbish about dieting. It’s not a natural, happy state to be in. So nearly everyone on a diet gives up. That’s been proven by scientists. And the trouble is, everybody that gives up soon ends up heavier than they were. That’s been proven too.
But what if saying ‘f**k it’ could really help you lose weight?
Turns out, it can.
Let me introduce you to John C. Parkin. John was an ad-man like me, and we worked together back in the 1990s. But he said f**k it to the rat-race and escaped to Italy with his wife Gaia in a camper van. And now, from beautiful places like ‘The Hill That Breathes’ in Umbria or the volcanic island of Stromboli, he teaches his amazing ‘f**k it’ philosophy.
John is a wonderful man. In between writing adverts for Pot Noodle and the AA, John used to take a small group of us on guided shamanic journeys into a trance-induced world. Meeting your spirit protector on a Tuesday lunchtime always made for a good break from office life. Then after twenty years of studying alternative and eastern religion he found a brilliant way to put centuries of wisdom into a philosophy for life that’s easy for us all to follow: f**k it.
If I dare to try to summarise John’s thinking, there are two great points to f**K it. One is to stop trying so hard. Stop striving, do less and go with the flow. The other to say f**k it to being stuck in a rut. Stop being trapped by fear and uncertainty, and instead say, ‘Fuck it, I’ll go for it’.
Neither of these things are about passively just giving up. F**k it is a much more powerful, much more useful tool than that.
Giving up a diet is an altogether crappy experience. In the first place you’ve been on a diet, so that’s not much fun, for starters. And then you eat something that’s not part of the diet. And you feel bad. You might think of it as something you shouldn’t. And then you feel guilty about it. And you might think you’ve let yourself down. And then you feel so f**ked off with the whole thing that you just stuff yourself stupid. In for a penny in for a pound. Anyway, you can always start on Monday… but you don’t.
We all know this is not good for us. Not for our waistlines but, more importantly, not for ourselves and our happiness.
One of the great things that John and Gaia have always embraced is a healthy balance of spirituality and more ‘earthly’ pleasure. They advertised their first retreats as "Holistic holidays, Italian nosh". "I couldn't see what the problem was with starting at 10 o'clock after a hearty Italian breakfast," John said in an interview. "And I didn't see why I couldn't both do yoga and drink wine in the evening. Ice cream, too. I like ice cream. Does that make me any less spiritual?”
Treating your diet as a regime of rules and limits, and things to avoid, and foods that are bad, and calories you must count, is never going to work. It’s over-wrought, hard work and stressful. Associating food, one of life’s great pleasures, with striving and punishment will never help you lose weight.
So, taking the first part of fuck it mentality. F**k it to calorie counting. F**k it to banning foods. F**k it to striving to stick to limits and rules, day after day, week after week.
It’s nearly five years since I said f**K it to that kind of struggle. I’d dieted over and over again all thorough my life and I’ve only ended up officially obese as a result. But five years later I’m over four and a half stone lighter. And happy with my weight. And happy.
Five years ago I said f**K it to being fat. I hated that. And I tried to find a way of eating that I could live with. I thought a lot about what John said and looked for ways to learn to eat well that fitted with my inner ‘f**k it’ attitude. What I found works was a very gut-feel kind of way to lose weight. It’s not about particular foods. It’s not about denial. It’s about rhythm, and patterns and instinct. I call it the Diet Groove. Because it’s about finding your own groove and because I’m corny like that.
And when I enjoy a plate of fish and chips or a tub of ice cream or bottle (ahem, or two) of wine I say f**k it with relish. And I put that on my burger too.