For a long time, I was torn between two worlds. One part of me thought I should be a thin, kale-eating health coach, while the other half knew what I really wanted was to become totally sane around food, and actually learn to love my body. I needed to start redefining my definition of what healthy was, and I needed to start accepting that I might never be a Size 2.
This was not an easy thing to accept. I knew it was necessary, but I still had one foot in the dieting world. A part of me still believed that a cure-all diet was out there. That if I just sucked it up for long enough, I, too, could be thin, with a body I'd love because it was thin.
But that never happened.
It never happened because it couldn’t. Every time, my emotions and physiological needs would outweigh my “willpower.” I'd crash and burn each and every time, more discouraged, more frustrated, and fatter than ever.
I’m just starting to figure things out. I am slowly peeling my lead foot out of the dieting world, and it's one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. I may never weigh less than I do right now. I may never have a flat stomach. My thighs could actually get bigger than they are now. To tell you that this doesn’t terrify me would be a lie. It does. But to be honest, it doesn’t scare me as much as other things do.
I have setbacks as a normal person would. Some days are harder than others, but these days of struggle are becoming rarer. I’ve been having days where food feels “easy.” There are days where I look in the mirror and actually feel pretty. I have days when I feel totally free from food. And yes, there are still battles.
Some days I don’t trust my body not to go on a diet tomorrow. I still don’t always trust that the food I’m eating won’t be off-limits next week, and that's when I take a step back. I get caught when the thoughts of wanting to be thin creep in to my mind. But to be honest, I don’t actually think these moments are a failure, I think they are hurdles that I am working to overcome and as I overcome them, they stay away longer and longer each time.
My point is; it's nearly impossible to tackle both losing weight and developing sanity around food at the same time. You can't develop positive body image while wishing the body you have were different. You need to pick a side and stand your ground in that decision. Own it. It may not be the popular decision, or the socially acceptable decision, but it's your body, and your choice to make.
If you're currently struggling with this, here are some tips to get you headed in the direction of living your life and loving your body:
1. Stop tracking your food.
I tracked calories, points, and kept food journals for over 10 years of my life. While stopping was difficult, it actually helped me to stop thinking about food all the time. It helped to create a more instinctual relationship with food and my body.
2. Start finding body role models who actually look like you.
As a former dancer, when I started CrossFit three years ago, I noticed that some of the most amazing women were not stick thin. I was faced daily with women who were my size and were amazing athletes and people. I started looking up to women who did not look like models and I quickly learned that a woman did not need to be super skinny to be beautiful, strong, healthy, or inspirational.
3. Make a list of all the amazing qualities about yourself.
We tend to focus on our flaws and rarely what we love about ourselves and this can make all the difference. When you break it down, the way we look has very little to do with who we are as people, yet all we think about is how we look. Make your list and hold onto it. When those “bad body” days come up, pull it out as a reminder of just how unique and wonderful you are.
4. Clean out your closet and go shopping.
This one may sound a bit silly, but it works. For years, I had a closet with clothes ranging from Size 0 to Size 10, and every time I caught a glance at those teeny tiny pants, my heart would drop. If it doesn’t fit you, toss it or donate it. I also lived out of sweatshirts and yoga pants for years because I refused to go up a size in clothes. When I finally bit the bullet and went shopping, I realized that I deserved to wear beautiful things that made me feel great, no matter my size. Now it’s your turn to do the same.
Want some more steps? Check out my 4-step guide to Ditching Diet Drama by heading here.
Now it’s your turn: what do you choose, your life, or a diet?