I hear so many people saying they’re doing this diet, that cleanse. Whole 30, keto, paleo, high carb, iifym. Just recently, there has been a new vegan/plant based diet documentary that has popped up that I am sure has left many people even more confused about what they should do to take better care of themselves.
Dieting, fitness, and “health” has become such an industry that very few people take the time and effort now to find what works for them. In addition we are spoon-fed visuals of what every fit girl, CrossFitter, super model, mom bod, etc etc etc should look like. By striving to fit these supposed “ideal images” we do not account for our own personal lifestyles, goals, and aspirations. When coming up with a plan for what “health” is for you, the plan must include mental health, physical health, emotional health.
I wrote a whole series last fall on the ups and downs of my fitness journey. Well, sometime in May, I gradually realized I didn’t care about tracking macros anymore. For the first time in a long time, I wasn’t dying to lose weight. Would it be nice to lose 10 pounds? Sure. But I bet almost every woman would say that (probably a lot of men too). But “dieting down” and losing weight just didn’t set my heart on fire like it did last year.
I decided to sit down and reevaluate my goals. Was I happy in most areas of my life? My career? My marriage? Was my strength and speed progressing? The answer to all of these questions was yes. So I realized that maybe I should just let my weight worries go.
So I did. I stopped obsessing over weight. I stopped tracking. Instead, I focused on the basics: drinking water, avoiding processed drinks and foods, limiting alcohol. I prioritized proteins and produce when I ate, and made sure to get nutrient-dense carbs in as I felt they were needed. I learned how to listen to my body for the first time in years, rather than trying to tell it what to do or how much to eat.
I learned how to set my fork down and push away my plate when I was full.
This shouldn’t be a learned behavior, but when I was tracking macros I ate everything I had tracked, regardless of my body’s signals. I had overriden my body’s message for so long that I had to learn to say “shut it” to the diet part of my brain. If it was a wedding or birthday party, I asked myself “Do I really want that cake?” rather than just eating it because it was a special occasion. Or I would look at my plans for the day and say “Well I know we are having pizza for dinner, so I will eat a more balanced lunch so I get my nutrients and veggies in for today”.
I haven’t followed any specific plan, measurements, or rules for months. I do continue to track my weight on Mondays and Fridays (unless I forget). I want to stay accountable and keep myself from eating like absolute crap because I “can”, and I have had definite binge tendencies in the past.
So far, my weight has stayed steady. I have literally stayed in a one pound window, even when I have taken trips or had special events where I ate differently than normal. I have gotten stronger, and my workouts have felt good.
In the end, this is what I needed right now. “Healthy” for me, at this time, includes fueling my body with good food, and not stressing as much over the details.
Does this mean diets, plans, or structured eating is bad? Absolutely not. In fact, I highly recommend trying out different styles of eating and plans to see what your body responds to best. I have been interested in fitness and nutrition for about six years now, and am able to recognize better what portion sizes are best for me, what foods my body likes, and how it responds to different changes. But it’s also okay to take a step back, take a deep breath, and just let your body be for a little bit. If you feel good, and are happy, then that’s a different type of healthy, even if it doesn’t always result in visible abs or cut shoulders.
I’m sure at some point the desire to be lean(er) will kick in again, and I’ll be ready to tighten up my eating and be more strict about workouts. But for now, as long as I’m feeling good and getting stronger, I am happy to just be for a little while.
Back in January, I decided I was going to cut body fat again. I set my macros, started a new spreadsheet, and logged my weight and inches. And I failed. Over and over. I failed to stick to my macros. I was lazy, tired, stressed, busy enjoying life? I don’t really have a solid excuse.
So then I was reading some of my favorite bloggers and started seeing a theme running through their posts: stop stressing. Listen to your body.