This question would have yielded a different answer depending on the stage of my life it was asked. In high school, Gary Taubes released “Good Calories, Bad Calories” and Atkins was all the rage, so I was vehemently against carbohydrates.
In college, this mindset continued until a guy in one of my classes, a bodybuilder, started talking to me about the need for long duration cardio sessions coupled with a low-calorie diet. Hmmm—seemed contradictory to everything I swore up and down to with my “low carb, calories don’t matter” approach. I wasn’t continuing to see results with my low carb ways though, so I took the plunge and gave it a whirl.
I proceeded to lose weight rather quickly, which of course led to a rapid rebound a few months later, but I then pledged allegiance to this approach.
After all, if it worked for me once, that means it’s universally applicable to all bodies as a long-term approach to a healthy lifestyle, right? :)
After my college graduation, I read in the popular fitness magazines that a vegetarian diet was the key to fat loss, so I adopted one for a few months while exclusively doing yoga. This was actually a very calm and healing time in my life, but I assumed that a centered, meditation-focused lifestyle had to be accompanied by meat-free meals and yoga. I lost weight over the course of a few months, so I assumed I would continue this lifestyle forever.
Upon moving to Denver, heavy drinking resurfaced in my life, and my yoga and plant-based lifestyle quickly went out to window. Plus, I just feel so much better eating meat! Crossfit was becoming popular at the time, as was the often-accompanying Paleo diet, so I dove head first into reading about the success stories and adopted one shortly thereafter. Save for the binge drinking, of course.
High-intensity interval training coupled with a grain-free, dairy-free diet became my new bible, and I thought I had struck a gold mine. This is a diet based off the eating regiments of cavemen, so it made sense to me that our bodies would respond favorably. Suddenly, every other approach to eating seemed ludicrous.
Fast forward a few years, and there are still times when I have to consciously choose to throw these dogmatic beliefs in the garbage. And yes, many of them are contradictory, so that only adds to the confusion.
The appealing aspect of each of these dogmatic approaches to nutrition is their hardcore, black-and-white rules. They eliminate the need to think for ourselves, to tune into our own bodies, or to practice any form of awareness.
We abide by the strict lists of foods, eating times, and portion sizes, and we’re then able to turn our brains off. However, this is also the reason the wheels fall off the bus the minute we go “off plan."
Follow a dogmatic nutritional approach for any length of time greater than a few weeks, and you’ll likely forget how to work with your body when it comes to your food choices.
These approaches are sexy, as they often provide drastic before-and-after results. (Let’s not get into what those people actually look like a year after that “after” photo is taken).
Tuning into our bodies, practicing awareness, digging into the reasons why we’re reaching for food, playing the long game—these aren’t sexy. They require turning inward, a sufficient amount of trial and error, and time.
But wouldn’t it be great to only have to go through this process once, despite it requiring more time and effort upfront? To never have to settle into another camp of dogma and extremity?
If you’re answer is yes, then you can take a few action steps today towards liberating yourself:
- Give up the desire to change your body, at least for some time. This doesn’t have to mean forever, but if you’re simultaneously trying to control your body, you’re going to have a very difficult time releasing your controlling ways around food and establishing your baseline eating framework.
- Learn your hunger signals and begin to abide by them. This is very simple yet difficult-to-implement behavior can be a game changer for many people. Observe when you’re usually eating on this scale today and adjust your behaviors according to your satiety and hunger signals after you’ve taken the time to uncover them. It takes time to change these deeply-rooted behaviors, so be sure to show yourself plenty of patience and grace while you’re re-integrating yourself with your body.
Please note that it’s perfectly fine to overeat or eat when not hungry, the key is to engage in these behaviors consciously!
These two steps are meaty, so they often require support to continue on the path when temptation to revert back to those comfortable, dogmatic approaches surfaces.
If you find it difficult to go at this alone, I’m here for you with my one-on-one coaching, and you can email be here for more information!