The New Year is the the time of diets and lifestyle change. Even on this blog you’ll read posts like “Running and Whole30” or see me write articles for local magazines about how to lose weight in the new year, but this + a million other opinions out there can get pretty confusing. You want to become healthier, but there’s just too much on the internet to even know where to start. Here’s my advice: you do you, do it with self-love, and stick with it.
I can see why food can be such a problem for so many people. It’s nearly impossible to find that certain balance between enjoying it and not overindulging. It’s even more confusing when you are at one extreme and looking to someone at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. With that being said, I feel like I need to give a little background on my relationship with food in order to show how I may be different from someone who has struggled with an eating disorder, or even more different from someone who’s always had a high metabolism and never had to think twice about food.
Me, I’m somewhere in between. I’ve always been a big eater and a lover of all things food, especially sweets. I wouldn’t say I have an addictive personality so it’s pretty easy for me to stop before I feel like I’ve gone too far, but if cupcakes had the same nutritional value as kale, I’d eat them all day. I grew up very thin until a little something called puberty knocked on my door and gravity has been trying to catch up with me since.
If you read my post on “Why Running Makes Me Mad,” you’ve seen the side where I did successfully lose weight, but that a very low weight isn’t sustainable for all my running. This just goes to show that I still struggle with finding the balance between being happy with the way my body looks, being lean enough to run faster, but also having the amount of body fat I need to sustain myself long term.
I gain weight very easily, but I’m lucky to have this hobby that keeps me in check. Running helps to keep me in my healthy range, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t still have to worry about what I’m eating. I wish I was one of those runners who could eat pizza and baguettes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and not be packing on the pounds with each week of training, but thats not how my body works.
More importantly, thats not how my mind works. Anyone who has experienced an eating disorder, is close to someone who has, or even gets warm fuzzy feelings at Starbucks like me, knows very well that we do not only have a physical relationship with food, but it’s also pretty stinking emotional. And that’s my second problem. If I start eating a bunch of pizza and baguettes it doesn’t stop there. I can’t just do a free for all diet to get myself where I want to be. I really wish I could and really respect those who can, but it’s hard for me to set limits for myself in the moment without pre-set and well thought out parameters.
In my experience, finding that healthy balance is a game of trial and error. I think it’s important to go at it from a place of self-love and respect. So often people start a diet or health kick out of desperation. It’s like when you finally go get your oil changed because your car literally just broke down or when you finally clean your house because it’s gotten so bad that you can’t find anything and you’re past the point of pulling your hair out. You’ve gotten so far off track health wise that you have no choice but to go on a diet or you’ll surely lose it.
When you’re there it’s easy to look in the mirror and say this needs to change and it needs to change immediately. You hate the way you look and you want it all gone within the week. I think right then is a good time to take a step back and gain perspective because body shaming is going to knock you right off balance before you even begin to strive for it. It’s important to start a diet with a clear mind and a heart of kindness for yourself or you’re putting yourself at risk of making poor decisions for your body and forming habit of doing so.
This time last year I started my diet in that place of desperation. I didn’t hit rock bottom or anything or do anything terrible to my body, but I was at constant battle with my mind. I think the entire thing would have been just so much easier if I had just worked out my insecurity before ever changing the way I ate. I’m not saying it’s easy, but this year I did it. The top picture of me in the navy shirt was taken 5 days ago. I definitely don’t look like the smaller picture of myself from the summer, but I still think of myself as the same way. Our bodies are dynamic and they’ll go through different seasons just like we do.
The points that I want to make are that first of all, everyone’s different. Not everyone is going to thrive on the same diet. If you are looking to be healthier this year in whatever way that may look, choose the way you want to do it and then make it work for you. Secondly, I don’t mind if people have different opinions on the way I eat or if it’s not for them because my diet doesn’t define me. I’m much more than the sum of my paleo meals and I’m doing what works for me right now. Third, and most importantly, whatever we’re striving for in this new year, we need to do it with the intention of self-love and improvement and not out of desperation and shaming.
I shared my thoughts- please share yours!