I figured since I have been blogging for a while about various topics my next should be a bit more personal but to be honest its not always easy to be vulnerable about past experiences you aren’t very fond of but here I am putting those to paper, well virtual paper that is. However, sometimes its those moments that lead us to who we are today and for that I am grateful to have experienced them as I truly believe it was a blessing in disguise.
I often get asked how I got to where I am today or what I changed to have the relationship that I do with food, my health and my body. Well to be honest, I can’t sit here and type out every step because 1. That would be way too long and 2. I don’t remember every aspect. Change comes with time and it’s not going to happen with the snap of a finger.
Everyone’s story is different but I believe we can learn something from everyone so my hope is that I can inspire someone with my own story to help them create their own. A big reason why I chose this specific career path. The struggles that now lie in my past are ones that I don’t want others to go through and if they are I want my story or experiences to help them move past those struggles.
So lets paint a picture here……
Flashback to my junior year of high school. I was on a competitive cheerleading team, as a flyer, after pursuing many years of gymnastics before hand. We were at a competition in Dallas, TX and had just performed one of the worse routines of the year. Upon stepping off the floor we got a talk from our coaches where many statements were made but there were two that stuck with me far more than the rest. The first, I remember word by word…. “If you are a flyer and your waistline hangs over your skirt you are not fit to be a flyer.” The second was in regards to what we shouldn’t be eating to in order to maintain good conditioning to perform our skills.
Now let me give you some background information. I was very active as I also did track and field in high school therefore I was training for that year around as well as cheer practices. I will admit my eating habits weren’t the best in terms of fueling my body for performance but that doesn’t justify the comments that were made to my teammates and I. My initial thoughts were well I workout all the time so maybe this is just how my body is built and then it slowly shifted to becoming wrapped up in achieving that ideal body image for the sports I participated in and being self conscious of how I looked.
To be honest I hated the reflection I saw in the mirror but today I realize those thoughts were driven my diet culture. Back then I didn’t think much about how damaging they could be but today I understand that the underlying themes that lied in those comments are why people struggle and why diet culture is so prevalent and damaging to the people around us. No one has the right to tell you how you should or shouldn’t look. They don’t get the opportunity to demoralize the way you think of yourself. They are not you and you are not them. We are all special and unique in our own ways and its time we are able to embrace that to the fullest.
So where did I go from there?
Well I spent some time learning about what was in the foods I was consuming and trying to figure out why I couldn’t loose the weight I wanted if I was so active. But truth be told you can’t out exercise a bad diet. So I focused on improving my eating habits but that also led me to fear eating certain foods. I was stuck in this cycle of not being happy with how I looked and not allowing myself to eat the foods I wanted. I also found myself feeling guilty about eating something I knew (or was told) I shouldn’t and then compensating with more exercise.
As I was entering college I felt like I had made progress with my eating habits but still wasn’t full satisfied so I started tracking macros. This is where I found the most success because I now looked at food as fuel for my body and as carbs, proteins and fats rather than “good” or “bad.” I was able to eat foods without guilt that I use to fear and never felt like I was restricting myself. Now some would argue that counting macros is still consider a diet and I’m not here to counteract that argument because to some extent it still controls how much you eat but not what you eat. But I have found that it works very well for me in the aspect of knowing I can eat a donut or a slice of pizza if I want but more specifically know that I am fueling my body properly for my training.
However, over the last semester I have found myself more intrigued by the whole intuitive eating, non diet approach and health at every size mantra. While I still track macros I have been much more “loose” about it so to speak lately. Mostly because I have found its not worth stressing over hitting numbers every single day, some of my days are so busy that making it fit just isn’t worth it and I’m human so I’m going to have cravings. If those cravings don’t fit within my day I honor that craving and I’m not bent out of shape about it. A few years ago that would have bothered me but today it doesn’t even phase me. So I guess you could say I’m like 80% tracking macros. I have battled with the idea of stopping completely to practice more intuitive eating but like I mentioned previously change can be scary and it takes time. If I had to look back over the last few years I have come quite far in my mentality with how I view food and myself. Therefore it will take more time to keep making steps in the right direction and combatting the influence diet culture has on us today.
It is so liberalizing to know food no longer controls my life or my thoughts. As much of a foodie that I am I love being able to try new restaurants on a whim or a new recipe that I once would have scrolled over because of the ingredients involved. Food is so prevalent in our culture and it is not something that should be feared but enjoyed. I don’t ever want to feel guilty, anxious, stressed or fearful towards food again. I have also learned to love my body for what is does rather than what it doesn’t. I am continually amazed at what I am capable of and I spent too many years always focusing on what it wasn’t giving me that I was missing all the great things it already did for me. As much of an emphasis that is put on body image today I am going to be remembered for much more than my weight or looks.
As much forward progress I have made I am still far from perfect but I’m in a much better place than I was a few years ago and sometimes baby steps in the right direction is all you can ask for in the moment.
So I guess I can’t really pinpoint an “aha” moment of when things began to click for me. There’s no black and white answer just as nutrition isn’t black and white. There will be trial and error but finding what works for you and having it be something where you can be happy with your relationship with food and the body your in is something worth searching for. If you feel like your drowning in the influence of diet culture reach I hope my story can shine some light that you are not alone. Reach out to someone who can relate to your struggles because sometimes the support of others can make a world of difference. But also know that no two peoples paths are going to be the same. It is going to take some self reflecting on your own struggles and how to overcome those but I hope hearing my story can help inspire you.
I’ll share a fun fact about me to end: I actually wanted to study meteorology in college but as you can see I am far being a storm chaser. My story has a big influence on why I chose this career path. I don’t want anyone to feel the way I did back when those words were spoken to me and if you do I want to be a shining light into your transition out of that dark place.
So that’s my story. What’s yours?
love and donuts,