This is embarrassing to admit, but it’s taken me almost 30 years to figure out how to eat. I mean, I knew the mechanics. You load the utensil with food and then deliver it to your mouth. But the other kind of ‘how’ to eat. Like what, when, and how much. Last year was the year I decided to be done with dieting for good, and would own my relationship with food. Both the good and the bad.
Until about a year ago, I thought I needed someone else to tell me how to eat. It seemed like being my own expert on my own body was far fetched. Doubts and fears filled my head.. I wondered if I could I trust myself to take care of me?
We’ve been taught to trust others for the answers when it comes to our bodies. In seeking out the answers from others, we’ve forgotten how to tune into ourselves and make decisions around food and exercise.
This might seem like a stretch, but you don’t have to accept cultural beliefs about what is beautiful or healthy.
We get stuck because in our culture disordered eating seems normal, even healthy. There is nothing normal though about being obsessed with food, exercise, or the way our body looks.
Despite what you think, It won’t will lead to bingeing or being a couch potato. I promise. In the beginning you might eat more than you would normally. But we aren’t trying to be normal. We are trying to be free from the constant worry over food, so that we can actually get on with living our lives.
You don’t want me to tell you what to eat
Even though the women I work with say they want someone to tell them what, how, when, and how much to eat, that isn’t what they really want. If it were, diets would work. And people would have lasting success.
They want to feel empowered and in control around food.
That comes from learning how to trust yourself as the expert of your body, making decisions with mindfulness & intention, and taking ownership.
Healthy lifestyle or more dieting?
I had the fear of failing and eating everything. The fear of looking like a fool for trying to do it on my own without following another diet or lifestyle change was real. I doubted this would work for me. Would I eat chocolate everyday all day and stop exercising?
Deep down though I knew that the old way wasn’t going to cut it anymore. I was trying so hard to follow my nutrition plan, yet still started going back to food obsession and bingeing on the weekends.
I’d ‘be’ good during the week, but the weekends were a different story entirely. Giving in and eating everything I could before Monday became a regular occurrence.
As a fitness and nutrition coach, I felt like a fraud and so defeated.
How could I keep living like this? I was supposed to be an example, a leader in the health and fitness space. How could I keep selling this diet and calling it a healthy lifestyle?
It felt like I was back in diet shackles.
I had lost sight of what fitness had really made me feel back in the beginning of my journey. Instead it became about always having an amazing transformation. But in order for that to happen, that meant I always had to have a physical change–which ultimately meant gaining weight only to lose it again (like so many of us women do).
The realization that I was still dieting and calling it a healthy lifestyle was a blow. It was like someone pulled the rug out from under me.
I was still counting portions and carbs. Monitoring calories eaten and burned. Obsessing over my body and how much it changed from the day-to-day.
As a fitness coach it seems like we are expected to be a perfect example of what health looks like. We’ve all been conditioned to see health in such a narrow way. My behavior seemed normal.
The ‘aha’ moment
The idea that we were made to be the experts of our own bodies seemed foreign to me at first. After all, culturally, we are raised to rely on others to teach us right from wrong, safe from dangerous.
Sometimes though, that ends up looking a bit more like silly sheep being led straight to slaughter without even realizing it.
We were made to be the experts of our own body–we don’t need someone else to tell us how, what, or when to eat. We don’t need someone else to tell us how to move our bodies.
I had heard this rumor that if you let yourself have permission to eat whatever you wanted, the cravings and the urges to go nuts would disappear.
Honestly, it seemed a bit too good to be true, but what was the alternative? What I’d been doing wasn’t working so well.
I tested this out. I decided to give myself permission to eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted it. It felt scary and exhilarating. This was so foreign and felt like I was breaking some unwritten rule.
Thoughts swirled in my head that I’d get fat (as if that was the worse thing I could be). I was afraid I’d not eat the healthy foods I had at one point come to crave.
For the first few weeks I did go a little crazy. I started to feel a little fluffy and didn’t like how I felt in my body.
Rather than running back to restriction and rules, I leaned it.
I stuck with it, and you know what? Slowly I started making decisions around food with authority, self control, and mindfulness.
I started asking myself in the moment if x food would make me feel good afterwards or not? Would it serve my long-term goals of being wholly healthy, present for my family, and able to carry out the purpose I was specifically created for?
For the first time ever I felt empowered around food.
I felt free.
It felt like I could finally breath and focus attention on my business, my clients, my family.
For the first time in years, making healthy choices felt natural and relaxed.
This journey has taken some time for sure. And there are still moments when I hear the whisper of diet culture in my head. In those moments, I politely tell it to shut up, and I move on.
It feels good to be more engaged in daily life. I’m more present, and I’m able to eat as a way to nourish and honor my body with joy and pleasure.
I hardly think about food anymore and I’m confident and happy in my body. Instead of using my time and energy on what to eat that will comply with my diet or how bad I want something I ‘can’t have’ or how much my body sucks and it needs to be fixed. I can use my energy to invest in those around me and in the things I feel I was created to do.
The sad reality is *most* women don’t know they are operating from a diet mindset. This is a shame, because you can’t fix what you don’t know is broken. We’ve come to see falling off the wagon as ‘normal’, and balance as swinging from one end of the pendulum to the other. That’s not balance. That’s dieting.
If you’re ready to get off the diets for good, but just need a little help figuring out how to do that, grab my free guide to help you transform your mind and learn the mindset hacks to help you reach your fitness goals once and for all. Sign up below 🙂
PS. Not sure about working with a coach to help you get off the diet rollercoaster? Schedule a free consult call here. I’d love to see if I’m the right fit for you.