With summer (slowly, but surely) rollinnnn’ on in, alongside my own body insecurities, let’s talk about the dreaded d word : dieting.
Before I continue, I just want to affirm that I understand the desire to do it. I’m not about to go on some redundant rant about how we should just love and accept ourselves the way that we are instead, because I feel as though that would be ignorant and dismissive of me.
God knows, that I know, that we humans don’t always love ourselves as we are. It can be a huge struggle to find comfort and confidence within our own bodies, especially with added pressure from bathing suit season and society’s beauty standards. We’ve all succumbed to this pressure once or twice before (
probably definitely more) and if I’m being honest, it‘s likely to happen again.
I want you to know that it is okay to struggle with this, and that it is also okay to want to better yourself by improving your physical appearance. We all want to look and feel our best and to that I say: kudos to us! xo
That being said, I want to clarify that I am in no way promoting or in favour of dieting. Yes, I understand the pressure to do it and yes I have also succumbed to that pressure on many occasions, however, to put this lightly, I am not an advocate for dieting. Diets are harmful and Diets do work. Period.
As I struggled with my mental health over the course of these last few months, my nutrition and exercise habits were heavily impacted. Sometimes when I’m struggling emotionally/mentally I cope by committing to a very strict exercise and eating regime (this will be a topic for another time) and other times I fall sedentary and binge for weeks at a time, which is what I’ve been doing for the last several weeks. Needless to say, I feel crappy, my skin has broken out, and I’ve put on a few extra pounds.
Overall, I am not feeling my best and the pressure to get “back on track” is definitely there. Part of me wants to dive in, go hard, and strive for fast results, and the other part of me knows that I need to prioritize my health before anything else.
If you’re in the same boat as me, I want you to know that though the feeling of being strongly dissatisfied with your appearance is in fact very normal, very human, this dissatisfaction can also act as a very menacing motivator, please proceed with caution before resorting to a drastic course of action.
^ What I’m alluding to here is that diet culture preys and relies on our insecurities; the worse that we feel in our bodies, the more extreme we are willing to go, thus, the more the industry benefits. This cycle breeds detrimental health risks, eating disorders, and perpetual low self esteem.
Having been down this road before, and having experienced first hand the consequences that come with fad diets, one of them being unsustainable success, I am at a place where I know that I need to try something different.
This topic has been weighing heavily on my mind as of late, and I’ve spent countless hours trying to orchestrate some sort of a plan. Through my brainstorming, I had an epiphany of sorts that I want to share with you. Let me try to break this down in simple terms (bare with me):
Feeling insecure in your body and dissatisfied with what you see in the mirror represents a struggle of self love. We attempt to combat this, to remedy this, to actually strengthen and acquire love for ourselves and our bodies, by dieting (usually with the intent to lose fat and gain muscle).
Diets are composed of restriction and deprivation. Diets act as a means of punishing ourselves for not living up to ideal standards. Diets leave us defeated, unmotivated, lonely, and hungry, which to me, doesn’t sound very ‘’loving’’. To me, this is a manifestation of self hatred.
Ponder this: by denying our body, our organs, our muscles, our brain the energy and the nutrients that it needs to survive, are we loving ourselves? Are we sending the message to ourselves that we are worthy? Are we setting a solid foundation for self-love and acceptance to grow? Absolutely not.
Logically, it just doesn’t make sense. We want to love ourselves and our bodies and yet we’re hurting and hating them?
Let me ask you this: Would you refuse to feed your child if they were hungry? No. but if you did, it wouldn’t be empowering, it would be neglectful and abusive. So why are we okay with doing this to ourselves?
I can’t answer that, but I have come to the conclusion that self-love can never grow from self-hatred.
I’m owning up to not feeling comfortable in my own skin right now, but I’m ready to take a different approach to overcoming this. I want to love my body, and in order to develop this loving relationship, I’m going to have to treat it lovingly, which means no more extremities, restriction, deprivation, or dieting.
So, If you’re a seasoned diet vet, like me, whose ready to try something different, here are some tips to getting back on track in a healthy and loving way ♡
I know, I know! You’ve heard this time and time again, and that’s because it works! Water helps to minimize water retention (ironic, I know), helps to dissolve minerals and nutrients to make them more accessible to the body, and it also helps to remove waste products.
If you are planning to exercise regularly, you will need to double your water intake, and if you are someone who struggles with bloating, this tip should be a priority for you.
Since I have started back on my ‘’health kick’’ and increased my water intake significantly, I’ve been watching the number on the scale that scared me so much just a few days ago drop, bit by bit, day by day. What this means is that the initial number that I saw on the scale (the one that told me I had gained nearly 10 pounds) was largely made up of water weight which was the result of my high sugar and sodium intake.
Which brings me to my next point…….
2. Screw the Scale
Toss it out, hide it, cover it up, I don’t care, just don’t look at it! At least for those first few days. That number on the scale is often instantly associated with fat. When I saw my number go up, that was my exact thought instantly and I felt so defeated. I later realized a lot of that was water weight, so this just goes to show that there are soooo many things that need to be factored into the number that we see on the scale. Are you building muscle? Are you bloated? Constipated? Are you a female and are you on your period? Allllll of these things can contribute to a higher number. Our weight can fluctuate day to day, hour to hour, meal to meal, and it does not mean that we are getting fat. Just do yourself a favor and don’t give the scale the opportunity to discourage you.
3. Beware of Burnout
This is a very real thing. Especially when you’re first starting out in making the transition to a healthier lifestyle. Please move at a slow pace. Don’t just dive right into hardcore workouts and a strict diet. This will be a shock to the system and I assure you that it will wear you out almost immediately.
I recently listened to an amazing podcast that touched on this topic. It was ”The Ground Up Show” Episode 090 ‘’Keeping Fitness Simple’’ where @fitmencook shared his story about struggling with weight loss. Through trial and error (repeated error), he realized that his problem was that he was doing too much too soon. He would fall off the wagon and then make an intense comeback, which always resulted in burnout. Taking the ”hardcore” approach only sets you up for long workout hiatuses and binging, and that’s exactly the pattern he fell into. He experienced this several times before deciding to revamp his approach. He started out by just tackling one meal a day (he chose lunch). Every day he made sure to incorporate a healthy lunch, because this was often the meal that he was spending the most money on and consuming the most calories. He committed to this one meal everyday, and the rest of his day was free game. This allowed him to ease in to a healthier lifestyle comfortably. Eventually, he would gradually start to focus on other meals such as breakfast, dinner, etc. until one day he was able to eat healthfully for each meal. This gradual approach resulted in his long term success.
Case in point, diets involve drastic measures that aim to produce fast results, but this is why they do not work. slow and steady will always win the race.
Contrary to popular weight loss guidelines, you never want to let yourself feel hungry. If your tummy’s grumbling, you don’t need black coffee or a lollipop suppressant, you need food. real food (crazy, right?)
Our bodies are so amazing in that they literally tell us what they need. We often overlook the fact that calories = energy and our bodies need that energy to:
A. KEEP US ALIVE and
B. to help us shed fat and build muscle.
Calories are not the enemy, they are our friends. Just be mindful of the calories you are consuming; opt for healthier options as often as you can.
Skipping meals will slow your metabolism, strip you of your energy supply (thus, impacting your workouts), and cause your body to start working against you. If your body is constantly left to wonder when the next meal is coming, it’s going to lose trust in you. It’s going to resort to taking preventative measures to protect itself against the deprivation you are putting it through, by holding onto every inch of fat that it can. Your brain, your muscles, and your organs are priority #1, so If you’re food intake is very low, your body is going right into panic mode, hoarding all the fat that it can in order to survive the ‘’famine’’. There’s no way your body is going to let you shed that weight or build muscle if it’s not getting enough calories and nutrients.
Work on building this trusting relationship with your body. If it asks for food, feed it. Assure your body that the coast is clear, that it can relax, that more food is coming therefore it is safe for it to stop storing.
5. Food Quality
I recommend increasing your fruit and vegetable intake (duh). Add some to every meal or use these as snacks to tie you over until the next meal (pair it with a protein such as nut butter or yogurt to make sure that you are adequately satiated).
Fruit and veggies are full of fiber which help to keep you regular and are largely made up of H2O thus, helping you reach your hydration goals.
(and No. the sugar in fruit is not bad. Eat the fruit).
Also, NO CUTTING FOOD GROUPS. I’m mostly alluding to the ‘’low carb/no carb’’ diets that EVERYONE is suggesting now a days. All I have to say to that is NO x1000. Did you know that your brain and your muscles SOLELY rely on carbohydrates for energy? You need carbs. Carbs are good. And if you plan on exercising regularly you definitely need to be eating your carbs. Remember, you want to build a trusting relationship with your body which means giving it the fuel that it needs so that in return, it can give you the results that you are looking for.
6. Balance, Balance, Balance
This relates to tip #1 beware of burnout and is so important. Too much of anything is never a good thing. Don’t become so consumed in trying to change your body that you forget to take care of yourself and enjoy your life along the way.
You don’t have to deprive yourself of foods that you enjoy, you don’t have to kill yourself in the gym everyday, you don’t have to skip out on social events in order to avoid temptation, you just have to find a balance. If you want to order pizza with your boyfriend or grab drinks with the girls, go for it, if you want to have some chocolate every day, do it, if you’re not feeling the gym one day, don’t go, none of these things will sabotage your progress. Your goal will come into fruition, but your happiness and well must come first.
To wrap this up, I want to share a piece from one of my favourite articles, ”The Real Reason Your New Year’s Resolution Will Fail” by Martha Beck:
How much did Florence Nightingale weigh when she founded modern nursing? How much did Rosa Parks weigh when she took her seat on that Alabama bus? How much did Malala Yousafzai weigh when she started writing about the lives of girls in Pakistan under Taliban rule? You don’t know? That’s the right answer! Because it doesn’t matter.
For so many people, January 2 is D day—diet day, that is. Losing weight can be a laudable goal, but this year I’m going to think about weightier matters—weighty s in “of great importance,” a definition that does not apply to dress size. I have found that I feel instantly lighter when I stop asking “Why are my thighs so squidgy?” and start asking “What would really make me happy right now?” Whenever body shame creeps up on me, I resolve to refocus on adding meaning to my life.
What a beautiful reminder that we are so much more than our weight, than our appearance, than our bodies. I know that it is not always easy to love ourselves and to feel beautiful, but I hope you find the same comfort from this article that I did, even if for just a fleeting moment. Read it again if you find that you need that reminder.
If you’re struggling right now, know that I’m right there with you! I feel your pain and I am cheering you on from a distance (big hugs) being a human is hard.
Best of luck and lots of love, we got this!!! ♡ ♡