I recently came across an article in a popular women’s magazine on how to “weekend-proof your diet”. It was the kind of article I used to devour while on the elliptical at the gym- soaking in every word and vowing to follow it like religion in my pursuit to get skinny.
They’d dish out tips like:
- Hang out with calorie-conscious friends!
- Craving chips? A banana might not cut it, but try some carrots!
- If you get hungry later in the evening, just go to bed!
I took advice like this to heart and prided myself on going to bed feeling ravenous because that meant I’d had good self-control all day.
What I didn’t know at the time was that these “tips and tricks” that I followed zealously were laying the foundation for an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise that would continue to spiral throughout my 20’s.
The relationship that we develop with food and exercise is a complicated one. Popular media portrays getting in to shape as an all-out war on food and our bodies. The media promotes unhealthy eating habits as a “healthy” way lose weight and in doing so, they are perpetuating unhealthy and ineffective eating habits among young women- something that I am working passionately to counteract.
“Staying on track” during the weekend wouldn’t be an issue if we weren’t on a diet in the first place.
Dieting has somehow become synonymous with getting healthy, and that’s no fault of the people that are going on the diets. We’ve been fed so much inaccurate and misleading information that it’s become impossible to discern how to actually lose weight and get in shape. Should I cut out carbs? Do a juice cleanse? Count macros?
At the heart of it all is the fact that every diet is based around restriction in some form- although restriction is neither necessary nor conducive to long-term weight loss or your overall health. This can be a difficult realization for many of us considering that we’ve spent years being told that restriction is the answer.
Th problem with restriction is that it teaches you to see food as the bad guy and advocates self-control over self-care. We’ve always been told that people can’t lose weight because they don’t have enough self-discipline, but the truth is that the diets we are putting them on only compounds the problem.
The paradox is that when we force ourselves to restrict food in the pursuit of getting healthy, we are hurting our physical and mental health, rather than helping.
What the F*uck is a Designated Dieter?
Not only should we all be on a diet ourselves, but this particular women’s magazine advised hanging out with other women who are on a diet so that they can help sway you to “stay the course.” So if your friend wants a cheeseburger instead of a salad- better say SAYONARA to that friend!
As if having friends as an adult isn’t hard enough, now we can’t even be friends with people who enjoy good food. What a life.
All joking aside:
You do not have to be on a diet.
Your friends do not have to be on a diet.
It possible to be happy, healthy, and physically fit without being on a diet.
When did Lasagna Become a Sin?
Pasta gets a bad rep, and magazines calling lasagna and alfredo “sinful” aren’t helping the matter.
While many believe that carbs are a big no-no, they are actually essential to keeping our body and brain working at their best. Carbs are not the enemy- they improve our energy levels, athletic performance, and sleep quality, just to name a few.
Should we live off of sugar cookies and potato chips? Heck no- we gotta get those fruits and veggies and protein in. But can they be part of any healthy diet? YAAAAAS GIRL.
Moral of the story- carbs are good for the soul and good for your workouts.
Ain’t Nobody Got Time for a 300-Calorie Breakfast
There was a time when I ate a carefully measured 1/2 cup of dry Cheerios every day for breakfast. I’d eat them one by one and feel a great sense of accomplishment in not eating again until dinner. Magazines and the internet told me that food made you fat, so I ate as little as I could possibly stand.
Fast forward 10 years.
If I were to eat 1/2 cup of dry Cheerios for breakfast today I would be one hangry, whiny chick. How was I even functioning back in those days? LITERALLY HOW.
So when I see advice like this being spread to the masses, it drives me up the wall:
“During the week, breakfast is typically fast, healthy, and 300 calories, tops.”
– Popular women’s magazine
I don’t count calories (obvi), but I calculated the number of calories in my typical breakfast for comparison sake. I eat oatmeal made with whole milk, peanut butter, and a sliced banana pretty much every day. That’s 650 calories worth of breakfast.
My former 1/2-cup-of-dry-Cheerios breakfast had a whopping 50 calories.
If you asked any those magazines or diet-programs, they would probably tell you that it’s impossible to get in shape when meals look like that.
But I am leaner and more fit now than I ever was when I was eating that little for breakfast (or any meal).
I don’t count calories and I haven’t for over three years. That might not sound like much, but for a girl who obsessively tracked and restricted food intake for 7+ years, I can’t begin to tell you how big of an accomplishment that is for me.
I’ve more than doubled the amount of food I’m eating (I would estimate that my daily intake now is anywhere between 2,000-2,500 depending on the day) but the biggest change that has taken place has been on the inside. It sounds cheesy, but it’s the truth. I’ve developed the self-esteem that I lacked for so many years and food and exercise no longer rule my life- they are simply one aspect of it that I enjoy instead of stress over.
When you finally throw in the towel on diets and restriction- that’s when you find what you’ve been looking for.