The other day, I was catching up with my good friend, Maria, who was telling my about a recent conversation she had that left her feeling confused and quite frustrated. Maria’s friend was telling her about her latest diet plan, one that required elimination of certain fruits and vegetables. Maria nodded through the conversation, trying to be happy for her friend, but ended up thinking about how often she eats those “bad” foods and debating whether she should stop. After the conversation, Maria had this unsettled anxious feeling. And when we spoke, she was to the point of frustration.
She asked me, “Are tomatoes bad for me? I thought I was doing a good job, eating fruits and vegetables. This healthy eating stuff is so complicated and confusing. It feels like no matter what I do, I’m going to do it wrong. And to top it off, I haven’t been able to lose any weight. Maybe I should go on that diet.”
I’m sharing this story with you because I think most of us can relate to Maria’s confusion and frustration to some degree.
There is an abundance of information out there telling us how we should eat, what our weight should be, how often we should exercise, etc. And while general recommendations can be worthwhile, and nutrition science continues to deepen and expand, healthy eating and movement are not supposed to be complicated.
Feeding your body is not supposed to be this hard.
Moving your body in a way that feels good is not supposed to be this hard.
Living in your body is not supposed to be this hard.
But when we are bogged down by information and everyone else’s opinions, not to mention the billions of dollars spent in advertising that encourages us to be at war with our body, it’s no wonder why we are feeling lost and looking for something to save us.
This feeling of lostness and hopelessness is where diet companies/coaches, certain supplements, and work-out “fixes” find their place in people’s lives and pocketbooks.
So, what’s the answer? What do you do when you’re absolutely fed up with diets, but you know you don’t want you to give up on your well-being?
You open yourself to something entirely new.
Something that will require practice. (Most worthwhile things do).
You stop looking for someone or something else to save you.
You start listening to you.
Well, how do you do that? I’ve found that starting with some questions can help.
What do I think of my body?
- How has my view of my body been influenced by my mom, my dad, other family members, teachers, peers, and the culture I live in?
- If I believed my body was good, no matter its size or ability, what would change for me? What foods would I choose to enjoy? What movement would I want to participate in? How would I talk to and about my body?
- What would be different for you if you didn’t have to prove your deservedness of health through being on a rigid diet or exercise program?
- What do you appreciate about your body?
- If you didn’t have to strive to be thin, toned, and blemish free, who would you be?
- Think of a time when you felt comfortable in your body. What were you doing? Who were you around?
- How could you create more moments of comfort in your body this week, month, and year? (Hint: it may include doing more of what you answered in question 6)
These questions may be hard to answer for some of us. This tough, yet honest, awareness gives us a new window to look through, when we’ve decided to finally shut the door on diets and programs that don’t facilitate long term wellness.
When you have clarity on how you want to exist in your body, you’re able to make decisions about food, movement, and health from a place of empowerment. You decide based on your individual needs at that time, using the wisdom in your body and your mind.
Friends, let me tell you. This transition from outside affirmation about whether I’m eating right, exercising right, or looking right, to the place of trusting the wisdom in my body and mind to know exactly what it needs and wants has not been easy, but it has been so. incredibly. liberating.
You are the expert on your body.
You are the expert on your desires.
You are the expert on your life.