New Years Resolutions. We either believe in them and get serious or we laugh them off. Most of us will choose weight loss. The gyms will be flooded for the next couple of months until most of us give up. We’ll go stock up our fridges with all the right stuff and we’ll read new diet books. We’ll start up calorie counting apps and refill our water bottles. But it never seems to last, does it?
So what if we looked at it differently this time? What if we stay away from diets. What if we don’t count calories. What if we say yes to carbs and don’t pass up the glass of wine?
Did you get nervous reading that?
I am so sick of our diet culture. You know, the same one I have been a part of all of these years. We set a goal, develop a new plan and what happens? We ultimately fail. We might lose weight, we might start to take better care of ourselves but it doesn’t seem to last. Why?
I think we are getting it all wrong.
I think we are so busy looking around at what everyone else is doing and not doing that we have such an unhealthy relationship with our bodies, our food, our minds.
I read a quote from Bethenny Frankel years ago that I still love:
“No one ever got fat from eating one cookie. We get fat because we beat ourselves up for eating the cookie, then we eat a pint of ice cream and three slices of pizza and say we’ll try harder tomorrow.” (paraphrased)
I love the sentiment because it gets at the root of what is really going on when we diet. We add such a thick layer of guilt that we start to give up loving food, and remembering that there is much joy to be had over a good meal. We give ourselves so little latitude. But, what if we looked at it differently?
What if…I stopped coveting my friends flat bellies, and just stopped the comparison?
What if…exercise was something we did for enjoyment and to fill us up, rather than just for results?
What if…instead of mindlessly snacking throughout the day, we gave ourselves the gift of sitting down for a nice meal?
Here’s what I’m thinking for a plan:
Stop comparing. Your thighs are your thighs, your boobs are your boobs, your tummy is your tummy. It’s ok. The people who really love you don’t care if your body is a pear, and apple or a banana (I don’t think a banana is a body type but whatevs). I will never be taller than 5’4″ and I will always have a propensity to gain weight in my waist. Ok. It’s all OK. Some of the most beautiful people I know do not have perfect bodies.
Let’s see food as a gift, not as another layer of guilt. I think most of us don’t need a diet or food plan to know what to eat. We know that spinach is a better choice than potato chips, and too much sugar is bad for us. We know what to eat, what to avoid and how much is enough.
We also know that food is amazing, and meant to be enjoyed. So we should have dessert, sometimes. We should enjoy it and not have it next to a heaping side of guilt. If we have a cookie, we should not scarf it down or “sneak it” and immediately feel horrible that we “messed up”, but we should enjoy it! And I think if we allow ourselves some treats, and allow ourselves to savor it, we can stop there.
Let’s pay attention to our emotional health. How many times are we stressed or emotional and we say we deserve a treat? What are we really doing when we reward ourselves with food? Wouldn’t the reward really be eating something that helps us take better care of ourselves? Let’s stop the cycle of beating ourselves up when it comes to food and enjoy our not so healthy food when we are in a good frame of mind.
Stop the mindless eating. I eat standing at the kitchen counter or in the car all the time. I know if I take the time to prepare myself a nice lunch and sit down and savor it, I enjoy it so much more. And I’m giving myself the gift of a nice meal instead of mindlessly snacking and not even really enjoying the food at all.
Exercise because we can. I will never forget the day I was running and I got a wake up call. I was training for a half marathon and I was on one of the longest training runs. I was cursing and annoyed that I still had so much pavement left to cover, and then I passed a sweet boy. He was also training. He had crippled legs and was using a walker to support himself, and going at turtle speed. But he was smiling, and he was determined. I realized just what a gift it is to be able to run. Here I was with a bad attitude because I was tired and weary, but I had the freedom to run! It was a gorgeous day, the sun was shining, and my body could allow me to do something amazing. It changed my perspective. Exercise should not be an obligation, but a freedom we can take advantage of. Even if it’s just a quick walk.
So that’s what I’m going to focus on in the New Year. Turning off the guilt and the shame. Giving my body the gift of good food and exercise. Enjoying meals and the freedom to move. That’s it.
And sometimes a cookie. Because #yolo 😉