Re-programming Diet Mentality

So, I have a very close and dear and precious and important and wonderful friend who has fairly recently also become a health coach, and until very recently I have been very uncomfortable whenever I see his posts. It’s not because of anything he is saying or doing at all- well, maybe the booty shots in leggings… (I kid… I LOVE YOU, CHRIS!)No, it’s about me, and my own insecurities. First, I’ll admit, I’m a little jealous, because it’s a job title I’ve always wanted (and hope to still have, but that’s not the point.), and because I miss being able to more actively help people pursue their best selves. So, that aside, what else is bugging me? Well, it’s this deep rooted fear/belief/ insecurity I have that I’m “doing it wrong” , especially in the area of weight loss. Chris has a fantastic program that is changing people’s lives, and that is SO amazing! But, if i have gotten any message loud and clear the past couple years it’s that in this season, I need not to be doing a program. My mental health issues will take that program (which, from what I know, is very close to the way I eat anyway, after allll these years of learning what makes my body feel best) and turn it into restriction and rules and bondage, and pass/fail. I don’t want that, and I know Chris doesn’t want that for me. He could train me in the least restricted way possible and I’d still turn it into crazy extreme self defeating nonsense. Another factor is that it’s a very educational program, probably mostly meant for people who have been struggling their whole lives with diet mentality and culture and “one weird trick’ and just want to LIVE!It’s also for people who have been yo-yoing, and want to find something sustainable once and for all! I was that girl for sure, about 7 years ago, and if you are in that place now and need some help getting a handle on nutrition as a lifestyle- NOT DIETING- please go check out https://www.theoptimizedlife.net/ ! I know what works nutritionally for my body, and as much as I’m not content with my body composition, I have kept off most of the fat that I lost in 2013-2014 (even if the scale tries to tell me I haven’t, I am only about 1.5 pant sizes up from my smallest ever, instead of 7). Right now the only real challenge is caring for my body in a way that gives me the resources to follow through on all the things it needs. Unfortunately, my situation is not a typical one, and it never has been. That’s OKAY though! God is with me, and He is teaching me something NEW!

Digging into this yucky guilty shame feeling I was having whenever Chip posted anything on Social Media made me realize that I am still battling against dieting mentality, the idea that I HAVE to do XYZ , and I can’t eat ABC or I won’t succeed. I know SO much better than that, y’all. It is absolutely not all or nothing or about assigning morality to foods. It’s not about calculating and tracking every calorie or perfectly balancing my macros- both of those last two have their place in a fitness journey temporarily, depending on your athletic goals, but as a lifestyle, it’s not that complex.

Here are the simple principles that form the framework for a healthy lifestyle in my experience:

  • eat mostly (80% or more) meals made from real whole foods- you will be so surprised at how easy and tasty this can be!
  • lots of veggies, some fruit.
  • plenty of protein and good fat (DO NOT FEAR THE FAT!)
  • learn to listen for and respect your hunger cues.
  • move your body every day in ways that you enjoy! Exercise should never be a punishment!
  • if there is a food you want, that’s not super healthy, well, that’s what that last 20% is for. listen to your body, though. Eat until you are satisfied, and know you don’t need to overindulge, because you can absolutely have that food again. A lot of the yo-yo dieting comes from foods being off- limits and bingeing either as a “last supper” or out of defeat. both of those are a sign of an unhealthy mindset about food.
  • recover and rest on purpose! when you exercise in a way that has an impact, you are causing microtears to your muscles that make them stronger, but they need time to heal! I personally have such a tendency to overtrain and this has been a huge hindrance to my success at times. I am still trying to find my happy balance of all the activities I love.

I also have found a few things that are more specific to me and my body:

  • my body works best with little to no wheat products. I’ve been entirely grain free, and that was great, but not sustainable as a hard and fast rule. I now try to keep it to oats, some rice, and very occasional wheat- about once a week or so.
  • I try to make dairy and sugar choices count. I am mindful of how much i am using when it comes to cheese and sugar and am working at transitioning my dairy products to organic or grass fed, and alsways full fat- they add stuff to a lot of nonfat or low fat products to make it taste better. Blech.
  • I’ve mentioned before that I do some very moderate and flexible Intermittent Fasting. All that means is I go 10-14 hours between my last meal and first meal (many IF fans would say this isn’t long enough, but it is what works for my body, hunger wise. )
  • I do some very flexible carb cycling. this just means 2- or sometimes 3- days a week, usually on the days i have worked out more intensely or for longer, I eat a carb source at each meal, and the rest of the days I don’t, and focus more on protein, veggies, and tasty good fats. The third day, when it happens, is usually Saturday, because Scott is really good at breakfast and sometimes that means hash browns or a *gasp* bagel.
  • I do not do “cheat” days , simply because it implies something that isn’t healthy as a mindset, that there is something forbidden. I make conscious choices to eat that bagel, or pie, or chocolate chip cookie. Sometimes that includes knowing the effect it’s gonna have on how i feel, and doing it anyway (fried chicken!), and sometimes i realize after that the price isn’t worth the taste. I’m also looking forward to, as my energy level increases, being able to take the time to bake tasty treats that won’t make me feel gross or sluggish.

All this to say two things: If you need a program to help you learn what works for your body so you can break out of dieting mentality and live more free forever, please contact my amazing friend Chris (seriously he’s one of my top five people in the world that I’m not blood related to, and one of my pastors), and also that long term, what’s going to make you healthiest, happiest, and most free is breaking the chains of diet mentality with its rules and boxes and one size fits all restrictions. It’s not that complicated to be healthy, and if it feels that way, we are not living how God wants us to.

I LOVE YOU!

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