Moritz Warntjen says we often do not realise that dieting is not about losing weight; it’s about a feeling of not being good enough.
A road trip in France sounds like a dream come true for most of us. But for Moritz Warntjen, the Founder of BodyListeners, it was a mixed experience. Driving across France with his brother several years ago, he has fond memories. He got to sample the amazing French cuisine, especially the famous Parisian croissants, explored the scenic countryside and even fished with his brother, but the trip also holds one of his worst experiences. As a young man in his early 20s, he was lounging shirtless on the beach when his brother clicked his photo. This immensely upset Moritz as he was overweight and felt unattractive.
That one incident triggered a decade of dieting experiments. Moritz would start dieting, lose a few kilos and his friends would notice the slimmer look and start complimenting him. Then he would lose some more weight and even the way strangers reacted to him would start to change. However, after a few months, he would stop counting calories and gain back more weight.
In between all this, Moritz moved from the small village he grew up in south Germany to one of the bigger cities, Frankfurt. He completed his studies and started working as a molecular biologist. But the cycle of dieting, losing and gaining weight continued.
In one such phase, when Moritz had gained a lot of weight and hit a very bad phase mentally, he went through an emotional breakdown. As the saying goes, once one hits rock bottom, there is no choice but to climb back up. So, after hitting a low point, Moritz went on a trip to India and immersed himself in the new culture and cuisine for a few months.
He finally understood how his obsessive dieting had less to do with getting healthy and fitter, and more to do with poor body image.
Speaking at the just concluded two-day TechSparks 2017, Moritz says,
We often do not realise that dieting is not about losing weight; it’s about a feeling of not being good enough. It is fuelled by fantasies of winning peer approval, becoming the heart and soul of parties, and having a different life as compared to the unsatisfactory current one.
Moritz, also a molecular biologist, has authored a book called Food ‘n’ love – Ich ess’ dann mal normal. The book delves into the tendency of sacrificing the happiness of the here and now, in the hope of a fantastic future.
Since dieting is not fashionable anymore, people talk about making “healthy choices”. However, these choices are still driven by fear. Food is the only thing in the world that is good for us physically as well as for our mental and social health.
Moritz’s BodyListeners is a way of life propagated by him and based on the principles – “enjoy food”, “stop fighting your body” and “be you”.
Moritz signs off with the reminder,
Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.