I often look back on my life and think “woah, I have come really far.”
The truth is that I have. I spent an entire decade of my life on a diet. Seriously.
I started when I was 13 attending Weight Watcher meetings and counting points.
I then did Atkins, South Beach, Zone, Cabbage Soup, Juiced, Body for Life, Detoxed, Cleansed, Paleo, Primal, 21 day Fix. You name it, I have done it. I was a serial dieter and a damn good one.
Once I started to regain weight from my “plan” I would urgently start a new diet hoping to “fix” the damage I had done. I was stuck in this cycle and blamed myself for always “falling off the wagon.” Needless to say my weight was all over the place. I was puffy, bloated and my hormones were a complete disaster.
I was a hot mess.
I spent years saying “I can’t eat that. I am not allowed to eat that. I can’t buy that.” All my own set of rules that I gave myself out of fear.
If I ditched the rules, I would “let myself go” and would…
Eat all the food?
Gain weight overnight?
Not being able to “make up” for it by spending hours in the gym?
Honestly, it was a combination of all but mostly it was that I feared trusting myself around food. I thought if I could just control myself with all the rules, I would be ok.
I literally LOL when I think about the things I used to say. Things like…
I’ll have veggies dry please.
I’ll have an egg white omelette, no cheese and cooked without oil.
I’ll take the salad…no cheese, no croutons, no dressing.
I’ll have the grilled chicken breast…can you just not put any grill baste on that?
I can’t eat that..too much sodium.
I can’t do that…too many calories.
I don’t do red meat.
Every statement around food was I don’t, I can’t, I am not “allowed”…
Right now, I am not on a diet. I am not on a plan. I do not follow a certain “way” of eating.
I eat protein.
I eat carbs.
I eat fat.
I eat sugar.
I eat some processed foods.
I eat at restaurants.
I eat fruits.
I eat vegetables.
I eat some grass fed and some organic.
I eat some conventional.
I eat anything but not everything.
That is my motto for life: moderation and balance when it comes to food. We know how I feel about balance because it truly doesn’t exist when it comes to motherhood but when it comes to food, that’s a different story. I have spent too much time and energy trying to follow a set of rules only to find myself miserable around food.
Not only did my food suck, I was usually hungry, tired and craving everything I wasn’t “allowed” to eat. Can I get an amen??
I was eyeing everything in sight that I wished I could eat and secretly hating all the people who were actually eating food without the stress I was feeling.
How can they do that? That’s not fair. I wish I could do that. #pityparty
Every single time.
The thing is that a few years ago when I got pregnant with my first I had to come face to face with these issues.
Being pregnant was the first time in my life that my decisions about what I ate were not just about me. They were no longer about the desired “look” and about the health and well being of my child.
I had a responsibility to grow a healthy child.
It was an “ah-ha” moment for me. The lightbulb went off.
Did I want my daughter to think this way about food?
Did I want to raise her thinking of food as evil?
Did I want her to see mommy restricting herself and hearing I wasn’t allowed to eat certain foods?
Did I want her to be comfortable and free around food?
Did I want her to start her first diet at 13 and suffer from body image issues like I have?
Did I want to tell her I couldn’t eat ice cream or cake with her because of my diet?
It got real. Very real.
Of course I cannot protect her from everything but I can damn well try. I had to.
This was no longer about me.
It was about raising my daughter to understand food as nourishment so she doesn’t have to live on a diet like I have. So she can respect her body and see it as capable. So she can be proud of who she is beyond the number on the scale.
I needed to teach her:
To see food as fuel we put into our bodies to be healthy.
To understand that balance and moderation are essential parts of living a happy life.
About food and instill healthy habits without restriction.
That food is in no way “bad” if consumed in moderation.
That what we eat is not always about how we look, food is so much more than how many visible abs we have.
It was time to ditch the diet once and for all. I had to find another way. I had to find a way that was sustainable for myself and my family. It was no longer about me and my diets.
It was about what I was teaching my kids. It was about how I wanted to love my life as a mom. I wish I knew this during my twenties when my self worth revolved around my jean size.
I get the need to have the “look.” Been there, done that. But right now as a mom, it has to go beyond that. It has to be about something bigger than the size of your pants. Because nothing magical happens when you get there. You aren’t better or worse in a size.
Think about your kids. Think about what message you are sending to them. I personally make it my “job” to do it a different way so they grow up to understand what it’s really about. If I do nothing else right, I will do my best to show them that life goes far beyond your “look.”
If I could tell every mom one thing it would be that what you are doing right now is what your kids see. If you are on a diet, they are watching. If you are eating junk all day, they are watching. If you say you hate exercise and don’t make it a priority to move, they hear it.
Ditch the diet. Find a way that is sustainable and manageable. Most of all, find a way that works for you. Do you. Create your own rules. Shut out the noise and take some time to learn about your body and what it needs. But most of all, remember that there is so much more to you than how you look. There is so much more to life than being on a diet.