You Can Put It All Down.
There’s a reason I don’t write much about food anymore.
You may know that I’m not much of a food tracker, and I’m sure you’ve read countless blogs discussing how a life of obsession and restriction led to a relinquishing of the counting habit and newfound freedom. You’ve even read it here.
It’s not that it’s not true. But, for a very long time, I felt that I shouldn’t give it up. Not because I believed I should hold onto it, but because a lot of those fitness accounts who have popularized this phrasing went through fitness competitions, disordered eating, extreme leanness, and are still very thin. And I felt that because I hadn’t pushed my body to extremes of leanness, that I hadn’t earned the right to give up counting yet. I must not have mastered it to the level that signals giving it up is the better choice, because I still had physique goals that involved dropping some body fat.
Food has been a major part of my life from even before I was born (rumor has it my mother ate a chili dog every single day in her third trimester). I’ve always seen food as more than just fuel; it’s comfort and culture and education and bonding and creativity. I enjoy cooking, and I enjoy eating. I was even accused of only studying nutrition and health in school so that I could heal my binge eating disorder, and I can’t honestly say that’s wholly untrue.
There WAS a time when food consumed my life: it was ALL I thought about. If I wasn’t avoiding food and firm-joystick-gripping my way through a diet, I was food blacking out, putting everything in my body that had been forbidden (and even things that hadn’t, in an effort to “balance it out”), bathing in shame and renewed promises and wondering how anyone ever trusted me.
What I found was a painful lesson to realize: I didn’t trust myself.
I didn’t think I could take two bites of food and be satisfied. I didn’t believe I could say no to dessert, even when I rationally knew that if I found I wanted it another time, I could always order it. I knew all the tips and tricks to living a moderate lifestyle, and I thought that because I hadn’t ever been 12 percent body fat, I hadn’t earned it yet.
If you find yourself there today, I’d like to be the first to tell you: YOU CAN PUT IT ALL DOWN.
You weren’t meant for guilt and shame. You don’t have to wait until you’ve been to either extreme to cultivate a healthy relationship with food. You don’t have to have a certain body fat percentage or BMI or raw total to want to learn to decipher the messages your body is trying to send you.
I found I had to stop writing about food and stop sharing tips and tricks and recipes to fully understand that that message is important, regardless of what level of leanness I find myself sporting today.
I had to let my own relationship with food evolve to a place where I had honestly let go of the obsession and tying my worth to my nutritional performance – rather than hope I had, since I didn’t feel the need to count calories anymore.
The process by which each woman comes to a place of peace with food looks different for almost everyone, but it begins with knowing that we have so much more to do than worry about how many minutes of cardio we did, how many grams of fat, and how many rolls we let show this week.
Fitness and nutrition are important because they show us that we can do hard things: that we can work toward a goal, find a process that lights us up and makes us more alive, and discover layers of ourselves as yet unintroduced.
A lot of times, that looks like trying a few things out before we get there. The part we often forget to talk about, though, is that it often also looks like disconnecting, going inward, and trusting ourselves to figure the shit out. You don’t have to be (or have ever been) a bikini competitor or varsity letter athlete to get started; you can start right where you are. You’re the expert on you, and I’m here to guide you along the way.
On my Instagram Stories intermittently over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to be sharing some of the practical strategies I’ve used to help me get to know myself and heal my relationship with food. They’re all based in mindfulness, self-awareness, getting real, and aligning with our highest selves, so we can stop thinking about food all the damn time and create space for bigger things. Join me there by clicking the follow button on my Instagram page and check the stories (that will all be uploaded to the “story highlights” section as well!).