With New Years resolutions fizzling out, many people who planned to finally take charge of their health, and make a difference in the way they eat, exercise, and take care of themselves find themselves losing willpower. Maybe you want to lose weight, lean out, run your first 5k, start training for a marathon, or be able to lift your bodyweight.
Maybe you’re nodding your head, picturing those extra pounds you’ve put on melting away, and your new, glorious, fit life on the other side of the year, but you’re exhausted from eating bland frozen meals, and you’re already bored of your workouts. You just want to curl up with a pizza and some Netflix, and find yourself wondering, is this even worth it?
Yes, it is worth it, but your approach to fitness shouldn’t be draining. It shouldn’t feel like all sacrifice and no play.
The real way to commit to fitness and health is actually pretty counterintuitive. A lil pizza and Netflix may be just what you need to stick to your goals. Sound too good to be true? It’s not. It’s just a happy medium.
Now, I’ve struggled with my weight for years. I’ve been too fat, too thin, too muscular (for my taste), and I have tried every diet du jour: low carb, high carb, vegetarian, IF, vegan, etc. etc. What I’ve found is that when we take on these extreme diet and exercise plans, we don’t stick to them because they’re not sustainable, so we inevitably go back to our old ways, and gain the weight back, until we find a new diet/burst of motivation, and the cycle continues.
Unless we find a way we can eat forever that supports our health and allows us room to indulge and enjoy life.
Sure, it might sound glamorous to eat only lean protein and vegetables for the rest of your life, but what happens when a box of your favorite doughnuts enter the party? What happens when your friends invite you out for pizza? What happens when you just want to eat popcorn on the couch and watch Queens Gambit? What happens when you eventually lose willpower, like 99% of us?
Willpower is finite, and our bodies are literally designed to crave high calorie, sugary, carb laden, fatty foods so that we can survive! Don’t get mad at yourself for loving pizza, it’s just biology, and pizza is life and fucking delicious. You deserve delicious things.
Once upon a time, I had abs. It wasn’t worth it. I promise.
When I was obsessed with having abs, I was indeed, the leanest I’d ever been (shockingly only about 5-10lbs less than I am now) and I was also miserable. I was constantly obsessed with how much I was exercising, how many calories I was eating, avoiding carbs, drinking whiskey and diet soda instead of my beloved wine, and I would literally avoid social interactions because I didn’t want the temptation of food and drinks and extra calories. Sigh. This is no way to live. My social life nearly disappeared and I was kind of a bore to hang out with anyways because my life revolved around being as lean as possible. Total snooze fest.
My mood, self esteem, and energy tanked, despite having abs. My relationships were on the rocks, and I was more insecure than I’d ever been. Did I look good in pictures? Yes. Was I happy and confident? Nope. Funny how that works.
The turning point came when one night, having a dessert of berries sprinkled with a few chocolate chips, I decided to go for seconds. I ended up crying and berating myself after seeing a heavily photoshopped image of a super thin celebrity, and I realized I had taken it too far. I didn’t want to spend my life crying over chocolate chips and berries, so I made a change, and I committed to learning how to eat in moderation, even if it meant saying goodbye to abs.
Health is More than Weight, Calories, and Exercise
If you want to get healthy, and get in better shape, and stay that way, you need to find a way you can live, eat and exercise forever. Period. End of sentence. Health and fitness are not just about looking a certain way, but feeling great, sleeping well, and having good mental health as well.
Plus, if you don’t find a lifestyle that is sustainable, you are bound to revert back to old habits, and exactly where you started. Obsessing about carbs and abs is no way to live. I tried. It sucked. Not worth it. I swear.
If you can’t imagine eating just chicken and vegetables for the rest of your life, then that’s not a good way to start your diet. Ultimately, people who diet gain back the weight they lost plus more. Dieting often convinces your body it’s starving, and lacking resources, and so it eventually smells chocolate, and next thing you know you’ve lost your shit, eaten an entire pizza, bag of popcorn, or a pint of ice cream, and when you come back to your senses you say, “I’ll get back to eating chicken and veggies on Monday.”
But see, if you just allow yourself to have all foods, in moderation, all the time, you have no need to go off the deep end like that, and you typically end up eating less overall, because your body isn’t trying to “make up” for your crazy diet.
Putting foods “off limits” makes them so much more desirable. When you can eat whatever you want, eventually, that forbidden fruit syndrome wears off.
Restriction leads to binging. Binging leads to weight gain. Excess weight gain can lead to a whole host of health problems, and decreased confidence.
So while intuitive, mindful eating isn’t something most people can easily transition with, especially if they have a history of extreme diets or lack self trust, it’s really the only way to lose weight and keep it off, and enjoy your life, and good mental health as well as physical health.
I may have gained 5 pounds and lost my six pack, but I am able to enjoy food, life and relationships infinitely more, my confidence, sleep, and well being improved. That is worth so much more to me than being a certain body fat percentage. Plus, life is just better with a little pizza and wine.
Stay tuned for a how to guide to intuitive eating.