I thought dieting would make me feel healthier. I thought over-exercising at the gym would finally make me feel good in my own body. I thought counting calories and timing meals was what everyone should be doing. I didn’t understand how people could be healthy without food rules or rigorous exercise habits.
When I started dieting and exercising 24/7, I thought I was taking care of myself. I thought watching everything I ate and “never missing a Monday” at the gym would help my body to thrive (both physically and mentally). I can honestly say that during those years of restrictive eating and over-exercising, my body never felt like it was thriving. Not only was I restricting my calorie intake, but I was also over-exerting my body through unnecessarily intense workouts. My body could not keep up.
Eventually, that intense calorie restriction led to a binge eating disorder. My body was going into starvation mode and therefore, when I would eat something, my body’s response was to continue to eat until it was uncomfortably full. Basically, my body thought it needed to pack away food because it was not sure exactly when it would get that much food again. At the start of this disorder, I thought I was eating all of this “junk” food because I was either addicted to sugar (aka chocolate) or because I had no willpower around food.
I was in denial that I had any real issues with food for years. When I finally started to see a therapist and educated myself on holistic health at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I realized that I needed to truly heal my relationship with food and my relationship with my body.
Going through that healing process has taught me a lot about my body, my mindset, my passions, and how i want to live my life. I believe that every experience has a purpose, but when I think about how I lived my life during those years of dieting and being caught up in body image issues, I see that I lived my life in fear.
I was afraid of any new opportunity because I was worried about how my diet or workout routine might be affected. I was afraid to meet new people for fear of being judged by my appearance or by my eating habits. I was not living up to my full potential because my mind was overtaken by all things related to food and body image.
Healing my relationship with food and my body took a lot of time and a lot of effort, but now I’m on the other side. I no longer want to change my body so it looks like someone else’s. I appreciate mine because it’s mine and I don’t feel the need to look a certain way in order to be considered beautiful (better yet, I don’t care what other people think of me). I no longer have anxiety around food because I no longer have any food rules to follow! I trust my body and I trust my food choices because they are perfect for me.
More importantly, I have so much more mental space to think about all the other things in life that I want to do.
I can now set aside time to practice self-care, be with family and friends, focus on my career and business, travel, and the list goes on.
My question to you is this - if you were not so obsessed with food rules and changing your body, what else would you focus on?