I have been working on this post for a
few weeks forever. I have been trying to figure out everything I want to say and it turns out I think of something new everyday!
Often in the blog world, everyone seems so perfect…and rightly so. When you are putting your most vulnerable self in such a public space aren’t you going to want to make yourself look the best possible?? It can be intimidating and discouraging to keep up with bloggers who seem to have everything go right all of the time. I don’t want to make a sweeping generalization that all bloggers are fake…most of them probably are their most authentic selves. They have conquered healthy living and balance and good for them.
But sometimes I wonder when it’s more of a façade for the reader’s sake. I guess we’ll never really know, but putting on a front is not something that I want to do so I am about to be extremely open and honest with you about the fact that I do not have it all together!!
Please bear with me because this is a long one.
Let’s start with the nitty gritty truth: I have been having a bit of a struggle in my health lately. I think it all stems from the fact that our lives changed dramatically and quickly. One day I was working my 9-5 office job in a town where I had friends and family. Fast forward a couple of weeks and we are relocated to a new town where I know two people. My comfy office job and routine changed to working from home and feeling like there was no structure in my life. I tried to use this newfound personal time to “work on me.”
What I ended up doing was taking a headfirst dive into uncomfortable territory. All of the time that used to be spent focused on work was now focused on diet & exercise (I was still working, just in a much different environment).
I’ve been at the same weight for almost 2 years. What I should have realized is that apparently my body was super happy where it was at. I’ve gone through all kinds of routines in the past two years from moderate exercise to hard exercise to only running to only weights to combos of both. I’ve had a traditional diet, vegan diet, high raw diet, and junk food diet. During all of this my weight barely budged. Sometimes I wouldn’t workout for a month and nothing changed. Sometimes I would eat veggie burgers and fries 4 times a week and nothing changed.
Hello light bulb? I see you now…this is where I need to be. We all need to find a weight that is easily maintainable and our bodies do a pretty good job of knowing what that is.
What happened over the early summer is that my mindset shifted from a health-focused perspective to an appearance-based perspective. When I focused on health and everything that goes with it (exercise, fueling my body with whole foods, water, rest, strong relationships, etc.) I was not only full of energy and thriving, but I was so damn happy. I felt good about myself and my body and I enjoyed my life.
When I worried about what I looked like and not how I felt, I was miserable. All of a sudden all I could think about was food. It was in my head constantly and I felt crazy. In thinking about food for weight loss I became obsessive about meal planning and food restrictions and what would be the best way to lose weight…not what would be the best way to fuel me and give me energy.
I felt like I couldn’t see the forest
for the trees
Now I feel like I finally found my back to a place of peace and confidence. Maybe that’s why it took me so long to write this post – I wanted to have some kind of handle on it before I opened up and shared with you.
Here is what I have learned about myself over the past couple of months: I don’t want to spend my life worried about my weight and looks. I want to spend my life doing things I enjoy with people I love. What helped me most was to talk it out with a trusted friend and come up with a plan to retrain my brain and get back to a healthy lifestyle.
Steps to bringing my life back to a health-centered mindset
*Put away the scale (again) – I know better than to let daily fluctuations bother me…yet they still do. For the past 20+ months my weight has barely changed so I don’t know why I continue to worry myself if I see a higher number on the scale even though I know it is period bloat that will be gone in a few days.
Also, now that I am working on major strength gains I am gaining weight as I add muscle to my body. This just goes to show that the scale is not the end all be all in terms of your health. It is much more about how you feel than what you weigh.
*Stop comparing myself to others – I imagine this is hard for just about everyone. Turn on the TV or pick up a magazine and you will be bombarded with photo-shopped models telling you that you will only be good enough when you wear this makeup, chose this diet plan, get rid of those wrinkles, or buy this brand of clothes. GIMME A BREAK. You should never strive to look like someone else because you aren’t them and never will be. Every person and body is different, your uniqueness is what makes you awesome. Just remember that most of the time the people in magazines don’t even look like that…it’s all photoshop magic!
Also, my husband’s aunt once told me that people who have been overweight (I used to weigh 50lbs more!) generally see themselves in the mirror 10lbs heavier than they really are. Just because the weight is gone, doesn’t mean that your mind has caught up yet…be forgiving with what you think you see.
*Step away from circumstances that could breed obsessive food/exercise thoughts – This kind of goes with the previous step. It’s something that I see constantly in the blog world and on twitter. Girls are always “checking in” with extremely detailed accounts of food intake and exercise (down to exact number of calories burned!). Other girls end up comparing themselves and feeling “less than” if they aren’t exercising as much or eating as little. So then they become obsessive about comparing themselves to others and trying to be the best. It’s an unsettling situation to say the least. In the recent weeks I have seen a handful of girls admit on twitter that they are stepping away because being in that environment is bad for their mental state. Good for them!! If something makes you feel bad about yourself or makes you feel like you aren’t good enough then you need to separate yourself from it…be it Twitter, facebook, healthy living blogs or even certain friends.
This also was a factor in my recent decision to remove the “vegan” label and be more relaxed with my diet choices…something I briefly touched on earlier this week.
*Celebrate my successes – I really need to take a moment and remember how far I have come. We tend to get caught up in a mindset of constant improvement. Everyone is always trying to be better than they are…don’t forget that you are good enough as is. I have made so many vast improvements to my life in the past few years and it’s easy to forget all of that hard work and only think about the now. I have to remind myself that I am already so much healthier than I used to be.
*Continue to exercise because I love it – I consider myself insanely lucky that I enjoy exercise and don’t look at it as a form of punishment. I’m rarely happier than when I am sweating outside in the sunshine. Also, my body confidence is never better than when I am covered in sweat at the gym…even if I am struggling I am able to appreciate just how strong I am and how much my body can do.
*Eat whole foods – this sounds simple enough and I do it the majority of the time, but for a while I had been in a rut eating processed junk and a ton of sugar. I needed to go back to the basics and eat fresh, whole foods that nourish me. I needed to eat for fuel (not for vanity). I also want to be more relaxed about food labels and choices (which I touched on Sunday).
*Release the negative connotations others impose on foods – I had to quit thinking of certain foods as “bad” especially when they give me tons of energy. Just because someone says beans/oats/tofu/coffee is bad doesn’t mean it’s true. Every body is different and I know what works best for me. You should never listen to any nutrition advice that claims there is only one right diet.
Someone is always going to be ready to tell you that you are wrong. I’ve seen it so many times in this “healthy living” world. It goes like this: People who eat clean are better than those who eat junk food. Vegetarians are better than those who eat clean but still eat meat. Vegans are better than vegetarians. Vegans who are vegan with everything in their life are better than just food-based vegans. High raw is better than cooked food. All raw is better than high raw. And it goes on and on and on — for some reason people just can’t wait to put themselves above others. In the end remember that only you have the power to choose what makes you feel the best.
*Transition from meal & workout plans to guides – this is something I am actually excited/relieved to do. I used to plan out my meals and workouts to a T and then feel guilty if I didn’t follow them perfectly. Now I give myself a “guide” that tells me what workouts and meals I would like to get in this week (based on my schedule and what food we have in the house) and then I can flow more freely and not feel so regimented. And if it doesn’t happen? That’s ok!
*Lose the guilt/toxic thinking – Doing the June Affirmation Challenge helped my mind in so many ways. I hope to do a post about my favorite affirmations and just how they helped to change my thinking.
*Remember to spend time doing the things I love – spending time with my husband and friends, being outside, hiking, cooking, etc… The more time spent enjoying life, the better!
Most importantly I want to start making decisions again based on how they will make me feel…and not how they will make me look. What a freeing feeling!
Bonus points if you made it all the way through this novel of a post. As someone who has a “healthy living” blog, it’s a bit scary admitting that you don’t really have it all figured out.I hope my honesty can help somebody else who may be going through this same thing.