The Life Diet is a short guide to curating the core aspects of your life and mind; acting as a reminder to enforce boundaries and only give your energy to the things that hold real meaning for you.
The fourth book by Laura Jane Williams, The Life Diet is an easy-to-consume ebook/audiobook broken down into chapters about working through your belongings, wardrobe, money, culture, time, relationships, goals and thoughts. Despite the title, the premise isn’t about the kind of dieting associated with calories or cutting out food groups, nor is it about minimalism versus maximalism. Rather it’s a philosophy aimed at inspiring the audience to reconnect with their inner selves and consider what they consume internally and externally, then curating that in their own way.
Williams openly admits that this isn’t a ‘how to’ manual – it’s a manifesto of what works for her when she finds the courage and self-discipline to uphold the boundaries she sets.
As somebody who has experienced depression, Williams recognises the challenges of trying to curate and set boundaries when you aren’t in strong mental health.
Her gentle words encourage doing as much or as little as you can because without starting, “we’re just hamsters trying to keep up on a never-ending wheel, mentally knackered”.
But it has to be an active, ongoing choice to show up for yourself, to reinforce your boundaries, to curate the physical and mental areas of your life.
Curation is a self-caring act of putting ourselves – our needs and wants, our values and goals – first. She explains, “I have to be kind to myself all the time. Not when I am perfect and everything is going right, but kind to myself when I am imperfect, and when I am messy, and when I am trying and failing”. We can’t only embrace this when we feel like it – it’s not about waiting until a certain time, until we reach a target, until we have the resources – because all of these things are taking up our energy now. We have to reflect and decide how much we are going to continue to give to it. “Half the battle with curating my time is honesty” – is there anyone this doesn’t apply to?
Williams also suggests that “trauma makes us shun kindness” but at a certain point we have to accept that who we are comes from us. One of the most important questions we can ask ourselves is “what would the me who loves myself do?”. This is something Emmy also regularly reiterates – talking to ourselves how we would to a close friend. I think it’s so important to be brave and show ourselves compassion, and committing to our very own life diet is a great way to ensure we’re doing that.
Nurturing readers/listeners throughout, the book explores the other benefits of curating including how it makes you a more interesting person and stops us comparing ourselves to others.
“When we fit our own oxygen mask first we’re better able to breathe as we help others” really resonated with me as I progressed through the book – how I can do better work, be a better friend, be a better daughter when I take care of myself and what I’m consuming first. For Williams, curating her external world helps her to clear a path to her inner self too and supports being true to herself, “curating our wardrobe means owning clothes and accessories not for the person we think we are or who we want to be, but for who we are”. She also states, “when I love myself I can choose to be in a relationship because I enjoy that companionship and it enhances my life – not because I need it or am dependent on it or somebody else to feel complete”.
Williams reminds us that, “you are resourceful and capable, and can go beyond the norm”. I certainly came away from reading this feeling empowered to take action, to be honest with myself and to do what it takes to protect my energy; opening myself up to the journey my life is meant to take and the one I need/want to lead. This book references many individuals such as Brene Brown, Cait Flanders and Lucy Sheridan – strong women I’ve also followed for years – and others whom I felt immediately warm to. Although I finished this read in just a few hours, it left me ready to explore the concept of granting myself permission to prioritise or let go.
The Life Diet applies similar principles as books from Sarah Knight (author of The Life Changing Magic Of Not Giving A F**k, Get Your Sh*t Together and You Do You) but in a more concise format. Having read all of the latter, Williams’ take is the one that feels most approachable for those venturing into their first foray of creating boundaries, showing more self-compassion and actively curating their life.
I’d like to leave you with this:
“Finding joy in the path we least expected to take, and letting the chips fall where they may. We might surprise ourselves with the strength we find to pick them back up, and discover that we thought we wanted was never really meant for us at all”.