In college, after realizing the dreaded “freshman fifteen” had become my reality, I became interested in anything and everything about health and wellness. While working my way through school at a local nutrition store, I had all kinds of information at my fingertips. In the beginning it was so exciting learning about macros and micros, reading nutrition labels, making healthy substitutions, forming food rules, feeling my first case of food guilt, restricting and dieting and counting out my salad’s spinach leaves…
Oh wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.
After years of delving deeper and deeper into the world of health and wellness, I should’ve known that one day I’d eventually hit my head on the bottom. I’d dabbled in the world of diet foods for years without ever fully committing to a diet. I’d have a shake for breakfast…but then I was still hungry so I’d grab a fat-free blueberry muffin…or maybe two, and I was good. I went through phases with my workouts. Usually balls to the wall for a few weeks, but
When I didn’t see results, I’d get discouraged and quickly trade in my circuit training for TV surfing.
Then I discovered the world of healthy living blogs, reigniting my passion for eating clean…but in the summer of 2o12, I started taking it too far. In an effort to get in shape and shed a few pounds, I began counting calories. It was fun at first…kinda like a game or a puzzle. Fill in the [food log] blanks and get a prize:
Finally getting into those size four skinny jeans!
Over a six month period, I lost about twenty pounds by logging my food intake and working out 5-6 days a week. At first glance, that doesn’t sound unhealthy at all, but my days were governed by an endless list of food rules and all day long, I thought about food…what would I eat, where would I eat, WHEN would I eat. Each meal was planned and counted down to the spinach leaf and if I was still hungry after everything was logged, I was a failure. I’d feel guilty if I DIDN’T work out 5-6 days a week, my palms would get sweaty if faced with the “surprise” of dining out with friends, and we don’t even want to talk about how it felt when a meal didn’t live up to it’s expectations. And then there was the fact that, for my height, I was at the very BOTTOM of my healthy weight range.
In a short period of time, I went from loving food to becoming a slave to the numbers. It wasn’t long before my body and mind started rebelling. I can’t remember my first all out binge, but I do know that each time it happened, I was left just as confused as the last. I had no idea what was going on psychologically. Food was now the enemy and obviously, I couldn’t be trusted around it. Why else, after all this time, was had I lost all my willpower!?
Then I discovered Intuitive Eating.
At first, I thought it was a complete fluke. Eat what you want whenever you want. Yeah, yeah…ok…I’ll do that and I’ll be fat as a fucking cow in two months! But then I started do a little research. I read the book Intuitive Eating over the course of two months, studing each and every page. There were a lot of “ah-ha” moments and a lot of “oh my god, I’m not alone” moments that helped lead me to a point of clarity. By posting about my journey and the things I discovered, I found other bloggers and readers that were having the same problems. Click HERE to read the those posts.
I recommend this book to anyone and everyone who has ever felt trapped in a world of dieting and food restriction.
I deleted my calorie-counting apps, ditched my scale, and with the help of life coach, Jamie Mendell, began to learn that it wasn’t a matter of willpower, it was a matter of loving myself…unconditionally…no exceptions. I learned what foods I really loved and what foods I was holding up on a pedestal, I learned that it’s possible to live in a world of salads AND cookies, and surprisingly, I learned that food was never really the problem…just a distraction…something to control when life got hectic.
That was the summer of 2013.
I’ve come a long way since then. It’s been a long and mentally torturous journey and I would never consider myself completely “healed”. There was a lot of rebellion, there were thoughts of giving up, and the binges got worse long before they got better. In those moments where I felt lost, it was a struggle to fight that voice in the back of my head telling me I should feel guilty for having that cookie, that I don’t “deserve” that slice of cake, and that I better work off that pizza and beer from last night.
For the most part, things are different these days. Moderation is finally a familiar term in my vocabulary (I once couldn’t even fathom the idea) and talk of diet and exercise doesn’t give me PTSD flashbacks. While I’ve actually gained back all that weight I originally lost over two years ago, I know that I learned a LOT of life lessons along the way. I’m still at a healthy weight, I have a healthier relationship with food, and omg, I’ve got this killer booty!
If you feel like a world without dieting and body bashing can’t exist, I’m telling you right now that it does. I’m telling you that it’s a SHIT-ton of work, but it’s worth it. As humans, food is a big part of our lives…but it doesn’t have to be our everything.
When you look back on your life and accomplishments, do you really want to draw a blank, only remembering years of being tortured by food and self-hate?
No! Just like we don’t want to be defined by moments that were far from our highlights. Life is so much more than that. I’m a killer dancer (after a few drinks), I love screaming the curse words in unedited music (completely sober), I can walk and read at the same time, I have “mermaid” hair that’s like it’s own being, I’m a loving daughter, caring sister, that friend who sends care packages just because I saw a ton of shit I knew you’d love at TJ Maxx, I’m hella good at my
day night job, and I can make one mean stack of pancakes. Yeah, put that shit on my tombstone…not, “she was a meticulous record keeper.”
There will be days where we overeat, but naturally, there will be days where we under-eat too. Life is about balance and our bodies do a pretty damn good job of finding that balance if we just let go of all the rest.
Because when we stop thinking so damn much, good shit just…happens.
Sorry I’m not sorry for being so blunt.