Having been on a sort of “dietary walkabout” the lat 6 months or so I can say that I’ve come to a few conclusions-
a very few conclusions.
Conventional wisdom, as I remember it, generally has held the that way to “lose” weight was essentially a math formula- calories in, calories out. You want to be thinner? Eat less! Workout more! Tame your appetite! This is the mantra I’ve heard circulating throughout my entire life.
There is no shortage of “diet fads.” In this country in particular we have become a nation obsessed with image and depressed with the results we see, which leads to more obsession, then depression and so on. We get into a dangerous cycle always following that carrot on a stick to be a thinner, fitter, more pleasing version of ourselves. Until we read that the glycemic index of that carrot on the stick may be making us fatter. So we replace the carrot with aspartame fueled soda until a study tells us that the chemicals are embalming us from the inside. The diet drink becomes a porterhouse steak and the authorities scream, “Keytones!” We back away from the red meat and move toward soy but that becomes the enemy before too long, that crafty soy acting as a hormone in our bodies, a wolf in sheep’s skin and pretty soon we discover that the cupboard is bare. Chemicals will kill us, carbs will make us fat, protein will poison our tissues, soy will do who knows what.
I admit there are moments when I sit down on my kitchen floor, head in hands with absolutely no idea what to eat.
The bottom line as I see it is that there is no panacea, no one size fits all, no miracle cure for everyone. The world has shifted, our bodies are bombarded now with chemicals and free radicals and heavy rotation advertising slogans, to continue to employ “conventional wisdom” or even fad diets ends up being a fail, which leads to depression and culminates in strengthening the obsession with being thinner, being fitter- even being healthier becomes an unreachable goal given the overwhelming and conflicting data!
The one common refrain I hear when I ask someone about a type of diet they’ve tried, “Well, it totally worked for me!” or “So and so lost all this weight eating that way!” The data is conflicting and confusing but the anecdotal evidence is compelling. What’s a person to do?
Here are a few things that occur to me in this drama free fitness realm:
1) Know thyself-
Your body is your own. No one knows you better than you know yourself. Do the work necessary to understand how foods affect you. Keep a food journal. Note how you feel or how your clothes fit with each passing day. Not everyone needs to cut out fats or sugars or gluten. Figure out what your body responds WELL to in the food area of your life and feed it that.
2) Forget the carrot-
In fact, throw down the stick too. What would it look like to just spend time celebrating things you love about your body for a little while? It does no good to be running after that carrot on the stick day after day, week after week, month after month only to realize you’ve been running in a circle for years. The goal of being healthy is a good one but it’s a daily, probably hourly, series of choices we make and they ALL go back to a goal of loving ourselves enough to care for ourselves and our families. The carrot on the stick is a lie at best.
3) Become a delish-itarian.
My friend Sarah coined this to me one day and I’ve never forgotten it. Let’s stop making food our enemy, shall we? Clearly, we want to make choices that sustain us and avoid the free radicals and the chemicals and the genetically modified foods AND how about we re-introduce ourselves to our taste buds too. Every meal, ask yourself what you taste! Look, I’m no saint, people, I wander over to the Sonic Drive In from time to time. There’s no shame in that. Instead of employing shame to help us change our ways, try really tasting your food throughout the day. What do you like? What do you dislike? What do you not even taste at all? I say we enjoy our food, not by overindulging but by paying attention to it.
Maybe if we do these things, that will begin to shape how we make our choices and that will shape how we live our lives… That’s a cycle I’d like to embrace.