lemon water-milo-mcdowell, unsplashWe cut out gluten, dairy, and sugar in the name of better health.

We incorporate phrases such as “clean eating” and “cheat meal” into our lives in the name of better health.

We try cleanses and detoxes in the name of better health.

We control our portions and count calories in the name of better health.

We order salads and skip sweets at restaurants in the name of better health.

We keep food journals and watch what we eat like hawks in the name of better of health.

We berate ourselves, our lack of willpower, and our too-big bodies in the name of better health.

We buy scales and weigh ourselves weekly, at a minimum, in the name of better health.

We buy the latest exercise equipment and workout DVDs in the name of better health.

We stop eating at 7 p.m. in the name of better health.

We hold onto too-small clothes as motivation for losing weight in the name of better health.

We vow to lose 30 pounds—or more—in the name of better health.

But what if we were honest with ourselves? What if we named why we really do this? What if we said what we’re really thinking and feeling? What if we said that we are afraid?

We are afraid not of ill health but of judgment and rejection. We are afraid of not being loved, accepted, approved of, respected, of not belonging and fitting in. We are afraid of feeling shame.

Of course, this isn’t true for everyone who adopts these behaviors and habits. But it is true for some, maybe even most people. So before you cut out an entire food group, before you join the gym, before you change your eating in any way, consider the real reasons you’re doing it.

Consider whether you, too, are afraid. And if you are afraid, explore what’s driving your fears, and try to work through them. Because you don’t deserve for fear to dictate your life. Because life is too precious and short for that. And simply because you deserve better.

P.S., One of my favorite people, Anna Guest-Jelley, is giving away a copy of her must-read book Curvy Yoga: Love Yourself & Your Body A Little More Each Day. You can enter the giveaway here. Thanks so much to everyone who’s already commented with such thoughtful responses.

*The title of this piece was inspired by a line in Maya Stein’s poem “Overhead: Wild Grapes.”

Photo by Milo McDowell.