It hit me hard when I read those words today in an article in the Can-Fit-Pro magazine. I have never read truer words in all my years in the fitness and nutrition industry. At 42 years old I’ve watched all kinds of torturous diets and fitness regimes come and go. And I have participated in my fair share of them myself. I can honestly say from experience that in order to follow through with most of these schemes you have to hate yourself. You might think you are doing it to get healthier because you love yourself but to tourture yourself in this way it is not love. It’s true you can hate yourself skinny but you can not hate yourself healthy. And I think that is where things have gone gravely wrong in my industry. It’s become clear to me that the industry promotes weight loss as health. And by losing weight you are now becoming healthy. In my mind health is so much more than your body's shape and size. Healthy is your mood, energy level, social well being, financial situation, and so much more… These diets, exercise programs and supplements can leave you drained of these things. You may be “skinny” when you’ve finished with them but 9 times out of 10 you are drained physically, emotionally and financially. This is not healthy!
In the last few years I’ve embarked on a journey to go against my continuous pattern of torturing myself through grulling workouts, and restrictive diet patterns. And I am here to tell you mentaly and physically I am in an entirely different place. I feel strong, physically and mentally. My workouts are amazing and I do them because of how they make me feel. I no longer strive to feel the most pain I can endure in each set in order to see results. I find movements I enjoy and celebrate my strength not my soreness. I have developed a love affair with food. I find gratitude in each meal for the nourishment it provides me. I have let go of my judgments around these meals and labels of “good, bad, carbs, fats, junk, healthy” and strive to find the most nourishment in each meal for my body and my soul. In doing this I've grown to love more natural foods and less processed foods.
I will say my old patterns around exercise and dieting were difficult to change. Each time I found myself comparing my body to others on social media I felt compelled to find the next diet plan that would help me look more like them. So I had to learn to recognize those triggers in my life and remove them. I am still working on these triggers around the media and my body to this day, but my dedication to my health and well being far outweighs the pressure I feel to be like the images I see on social media.
Here are a few steps you can take to move yourself in the direction of health and self love when it comes to your fitness and nutrition journey.
Get real clear about the images you see on your social media feed and how they make you feel. I don’t care how bubbly or fun that influencer or friend might seem if they make you feel less than or triggered about your body unfollow them. You might be able to go back to them later in your journey, but for now this trigger will keep you stuck in your old patterns.
Focus on workouts that make you feel good and be honest with yourself about it! A shocking 85% of people who start a fitness program quit. There are times when your energy is high and a hard sweaty workout will have you flying high when you leave the gym. But there will be times when you are absolutely dreading the thought of the workout you have planned and in those times ask yourself would you truly feel better or worse if you went for a peaceful walk in nature or took a nap instead. Somedays the answer might be yes and you need to honor this. By curling up in bed and resting you may recharge a part of yourself that will have you back and better than before. Who knows maybe you are fighting off a virus and your body needs the extra rest and by not resting you might end up sick. By honoring your body's signals and wishes you have expressed a love for your body by your action. This will go a long way in developing that trust in your insitics around your body again.
Tune in to what your body is asking for when it comes to food. The only way you can truly do this is by getting rid of distractions around your meals and giving your body enough food to fully nourish all body functions each day. A lot of the fuel our body uses each day goes to fuel our brain, immune system, mood (serotonin levels), organs, skin, hair and nails. By not feeding your body enough to do these functions properly it will crave high calorie easy fast foods that bump up your energy intake and allow the body to store excess fuel (aka fat) for the future times of scarce energy. If you have a pattern of restiching your body enough energy (fuel/calories) your body will store fat to be prepared and feel protected. The best way to avoid these binges on highly processed and calorie rich foods is to give your body the nourishment it needs before it signals these intense cravings. By eating enough food at each meal you can fuel your body for long periods of time and reduce cravings. Your body is not a machine that only needs an exact amount of a perfect ratio of calories/macros each day. Just based on the amount you have had to use your brian that day you may need more carbohydrates. So by giving your body that fuel you can avoid cravings for sugars later. At first it may feel difficult to understand what your body needs for fuel. A good way to learn to tune in to your body's messages and signals around nutrition is to put away all distractions when preparing and eating your meals. Far too often we eat our meals distracted by T.V., our phones or driving. How can you notice subtle signals of what your body is needing when you are completely distracted by these things. I know finishing all the food on my plate was really ingrained in me as a young person. Since learning to eat my meals in peace and quiet and savoring each bite I have learned when I need to stop eating and when I need more. Another surprising discovery for me is when I am about to prepare a meal I have noticed on occasion picking up a food item and getting a sense to put it down and take something else. Every single time I have not listened to this intuition I have ended up with cravings later on in the day. I would have never been in tune enough with these subtle messages if I was rushing around preparing my meal with a youtube video or T.V. playing in the background.
I hope these tips help you on your journey to health and self love. Please reach out if you would like more information, recipes, workout programs or just a supportive positive person in your life to help boost you up in a positive direction.
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