The other day, I had a burger. And it was awesome.
But a friend of mine didn't think so. She said, "How can you be a health coach and eat a burger at the same time? You need to be a better role model and stop being a double standard."
That comment hit me hard. And like with any other criticism, my reaction was to wonder if she was right.
Was I breaching some kind of "Health Coach Law" by eating a burger? Was I some kind of impostor who talks about health but eats something labeled as "unhealthy" behind the scenes? Were people going to stop hiring me because I had some kind of naughty secret?
The more I thought about it, the more I feel that I'm a better health coach because I can enjoy burgers. Here are four reasons why:
1. Health isn't about shunning foods.
Getting healthy and to a comfortable weight isn't about learning how to shun all of the foods you love.
I wish I'd known this when I was struggling to lose 40 pounds. I kept on searching for diets and health information that would "fix" some kind of problem I thought I had.
I would search for things like these: how to overcome sugar cravings (because I thought the answer to my problem was to never eat cake again); low-calorie meals that make you feel full (because I thought I had to eat less but didn't want to feel like I was eating less); how to burn the most calories in the least amount of time (because I thought I could make up for everything I was eating with more exercise, but I didn't have much time to spare).
These answers I kept searching for? Band-Aids.
The goal is to learn how to have foods you love without sacrificing your health in the process. And it's about bringing other healthy options into your life for a full scale of scrumptious goodness that makes you feel awesome—mind, body, and soul.
2. It's about rewiring dieting patterns.
Yo-yo dieting starts because you haven't planned for what you want to do once you've met your goal.
Most health and weight-loss programs set the bar too high. People are attracted to the initial results they can get from a program but forget that there will be upkeep once the program is over.
That's exactly how yo-yoing starts—when you don't know what to do once you've reached your goal.
Is your goal to commit to something strict for the rest of your life?
If you just want to lose weight, feel comfortable in your pants, and eat the foods you like occasionally, then you shouldn't be looking for a weight-loss program in the first place.
Instead, you'll want to start exploring what foods you like and don't like. Look into what lifestyle patterns are triggers, habits you know aren't good for you, and proactively strategizing how to rework these patterns.
It's about deeply exploring food options and using your own opinions (based on how your body feels) to determine which path you should take.
3. Being strict about "being healthy" isn’t healthy.
There is actually a word for this: orthorexia. It's a term used for people who are afraid of what will happen if they eat or do something unhealthy.
You see it more with people who are fit and slim because they have met their goals and are afraid of undoing them, but people who are overweight can also have this fear as well.
Basically, any kind of fear of not being able to lose weight or fear of gaining weight is really what we want to work on. Learning how to eat without this fear is at the core of making this mental shift.
4. I crave fruits and veggies, too.
Those people who can have pizza without gaining weight are usually the same people who crave fruits and veggies.
Back when I was overweight, I thought that cravings were what you have when you want junk food. And I wanted junk food all the time.
But the thing is, you can crave healthy foods, too. And now, I can have strong cravings for all kinds of foods from fruits and veggies to, yes, burgers.
So before you start doing another diet program, take one step back and reassess what your overall goal is. Because you can have health and happiness without sacrificing burgers.