It seems like everyone is talking or posting about “clean eating,” meal plans, or eating “real food.” Bread has become some terrible, horrible-for-you food, along with bagels, pasta, cake and cookies. People are now waiting to eat their favorite foods for their “cheat meal,” which happens just once a week.
When there’s talk of exercise, pounds, calories and other numbers are inevitably mentioned, as if people only work out to lose weight or change their bodies in some other way. You regularly hear statements similar to “no pain, no gain,” statements about making the most of your workout—getting the maximum calorie burn.
When it seems like such punitive messages around food and exercise are everywhere, it’s hard to think differently. It’s hard to walk a different path, to take a different approach. It’s hard to eat something that is solely, 100 percent a carbohydrate, with no protein in sight (since our society regularly prays at the altar of protein: protein oatmeal, protein pancakes, protein cookies, protein pasta; soon we’ll have a protein-packed tea or potato chip; maybe we already do). It’s hard to eat something because you want to, solely to satisfy a craving.
It’s hard because you assume you’re doing something wrong, maybe even unforgivable (and it’s certainly hard to forgive ourselves when it comes to eating and exercise). After all, you’re in the minority here. It seems like everyone else is on some diet, tracking calories or points or macros, tracking their steps, their weight, their size. And you wonder, should I join them?
Which is why it can help to follow people who, too, are walking a different path, and taking on a different approach. Below you’ll find a list of incredible individuals—authors, writers, dietitians, therapists, yoga teachers. Read their writing. Follow them on social media. Remember that you are not alone, and you don’t have to subscribe to punitive, judgmental, restrictive practices and perspectives. There’s another way…
- Linda Bacon
- Anna Guest-Jelley at Curvy Yoga
- Mara Glatzel
- Jennifer Rollin
- Rosie Molinary
- Haley Goodrich of Inspird Nutrition
- Emily Fonnesbeck of Nourishing Confidence
- Ashlee Bennett of The Fat Therapist
- Yoga & Body Image Coalition
- Ragen Chastain
- Rachel Cole
- Rebecca Scritchfield
- Christy Harrison
- Colleen Reichmann
- Michelle Allison of The Fat Nutritionist
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a powerful place to start. What’s also helpful is to save or print out words that resonate with you, reminders that you need when the diet mentality slips in, when you’re second-guessing yourself, when you feel shaky in your own skin, and you wonder for a split second if ______ diet or exercise routine is the answer.
For now, here are some reminders: It’s OK and wonderful to eat pop-tarts and pasta, and savor a big bowl of cereal or ice cream or fried rice. It’s OK and wonderful to eat fruits and veggies, not because you should, but because it’s another way you’re choosing to feed yourself. It’s OK and wonderful to focus on the joy of movement, to stop doing something because you just don’t like it anymore (or never did). It’s OK and wonderful to do something that empowers you and helps to calm your body. It’s OK and wonderful to move your body in ways that are fun, and don’t feel like a frustrating, boring chore.
It’s OK and wonderful to tune out messages that are steeped in guilt, shame, fear, restriction, messages that focus on rules, control, weight loss. It’s OK and wonderful to ignore them—you’re not missing out on some universal, vital truth. It’s OK and wonderful to disconnect from these messages, and to reconnect to the small voice inside that says, I’d like to eat that. I’d like to not be scared of eating that. I’d like to move my body another way. I’d like to live a life where my weight doesn’t determine my mood or the state of my day, or what I’m going to eat, or how I’m going to treat myself. I’d like to own my life.