Parts of this post have been sitting in my drafts for almost a month now. I start thinking about things and get fired up about topics, then figure instead of letting all of these thoughts swirl inside my head I might as well get them out. Everyone has a story. And while no two stories are exactly the same, they are often similar. I know that hearing others’ struggles often helped me realize that I too was struggling. Hearing those stories and relating to them, eventually then led to a positive change down the road. So today I am thinking out loud and chatting about food, exercise, and body image.
I’ve been listening to various podcasts lately and reading more and more articles with topics surrounding body image. Not just having a positive a body image because that is easier said than done. But more so understanding a woman’s body. How everyone’s genetic disposition, hormones, etc. play a huge role in the type of body we are actually meant to have –– not the one we try to manipulate year after year through fad weight loss diets and exercise.
I guess maybe when you’ve tried everything under the sun to get the body you think you need but either never achieve it, or when you achieve it and life quite frankly just sucks… then you probably understand.
Awareness is key
At some point you will become aware that your so-called “healthy habits” maybe aren’t so healthy after all… I wasn’t aware until I started reading others’ stories, which is why I am writing what I am right now. Sometimes you’re in so deep you don’t realize how your thoughts and decision are affecting you. But eventually all of the tracking, restricting, negative though patterns start to catch up with you. You realize that it is no way to live your life. In a constant state of fear around food.
Drew and I were out to eat the other night. He asked if I wanted to order an appetizer since we were both starving. I said, “Yeah, sure. You pick.” He chose fried mushrooms. I said, “Sounds good to me – I’m so hungry…”
Two or three years ago I would have silently shuddered to myself… “Ugh, fried mushrooms? They’re so unhealthy. I can’t eat those. They’re just fat…” I would have maybe eaten one. Silently reprimanding myself for eating one because they were “bad” and didn’t belong in my diet. I’m sure many of you can relate. Having those good food/bad food feelings.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately how thankful I am that those times have passed for me. The constant stress I put myself under to make sure pretty much everything I ate was healthy, clean, whatever you want to call it. I look back on those years and can admit I was restricting too much. For what? To try and become a certain size that I was truly never meant to be? I will admit sometimes it is hard looking back on pictures from three to four years ago, and seeing how much my body has changed. Overall I have more muscle on me but my body is just changing. And guess what? That’s normal.
What is not normal
When all of your thoughts are consumed by what food to eat.
Thinking about foods you should avoid at all costs.
Over-exercising and under-eating.
Then be able to flip that all around and actually start enjoying food again. And not obsess over every. single. ingredient.
There are plenty of “unhealthy” foods that I restricted back in the day, that I actually just don’t care for anymore. I think that is bound to happen when you start eating a more whole foods diet. BUT, there are also plenty of “unhealthy” foods, for lack of a better word, that taste pretty freaking awesome. And there is also a difference between the inner dialogue you may have with yourself. For example: “I actually don’t even like those anymore…” versus “I can’t eat those anymore… but shit I really really want one…”
You don’t have to swear off certain foods because you think they’re going to make you (insert negative body image feelings here). Dairy is not the devil. Gluten is not the devil. Sugar is not the devil. Do I believe in eating the way that is going to make you feel your best? Absolutely. Do I share recipes on my site for certain food intolerance and allergies? Yes. But everyone is different and what works for one person doesn’t mean it is going to work for you. Everyone is on their own journey.
But also: balance and moderation
BALANCE and MODERATION are big players in figuring out how to have a healthier relationship with food and exercise. How you incorporate that into your lifestyle is going to be different than how someone else approaches it. You may have to ask yourself if you really need a third cookie at lunch… And if you had the third cookie, get in some extra veggies for dinner, you know? It’s not the end of the world. Life is meant to be enjoyed and you only have one, so do you really want to spend it constantly thinking about what you should or shouldn’t eat?
I’m not preaching anything new here… But I am glad that positive overall wellness and positive body image are a hot topic right now. I think it allows us to gain some perspective on some underlying issues we may have, or had in the past. I think it allows us to be honest with ourselves, and shift our focus from how we look, to how we feel.
You know what I am saying?
The shift doesn’t happen overnight and I think it will probably be something you deal with for a very, very long time. But if you start getting honest with yourself about how you feel towards certain foods, that is a step in the right direction.
P.S. If you want to read/listen more about the subject of balance, positive body image, intuitive eating, wellness, etc. you may find these links helpful.
Unlearning Food Rules, Intuitive Eating & Body Acceptance with Kylie Mitchell from Imma Eat That – In it 4 the Long Run Chasing Joy Podcast
You Don’t Have to Believe What you Think – Imma Eat That
4 Signs You’re Not Eating Enough – The Real Life RD
What Else I Gained When I Gained 15 Pounds – Emilie Eats
How to Listen to Your Body – The Balanced Berry
The Healthy Maven Podcast So many great episodes around body image and wellness, but definitely check this one out Episode 12 “Is there a downside to the wellness industry?” and Episode 18 How to quit the dieting cycle and manage our blood sugar
Do you have a story surrounding food, body image and/or exercise you’d like to share? I genuinely want to hear from you <3 Feel free to reach out via email if you’d like: fitmittenkitchen(at)gmail(dot)com
much thanks to Amanda for the series “thinking out loud”
Disclaimer: I’m not a professional, nutritionist, health coach or registered dietitian. I’m just sharing my experience and thoughts because sometimes hearing other’s stories helps you realize your own <3 I highly suggest seeking professional help if you’re struggling.