Never has a blog post title more accurately expressed how I feel about health goals and also how I feel about food.
Like most people, this time of year brings on a very scary panic, fueled by holiday treats and winter weight. It’s not uncommon for people to put on extra pounds this time of year, then immediately regret it, leading to some serious New Year’s Resolutions. The resolutions turn into habits, which slowly fade over the course of the year. Then back to the panic in late December and January.
I’m definitely not excluded from this panic. Even as a (sometimes overly-) confident woman, I look in the mirror in December and wonder what happened. I look back at old photos from healthier days and give myself a really hard time about “letting myself go.” I know I’m not alone in this and that there are thousands of people experiencing the same body image and wellness issues. I also know that I have a community of other strong men and women around me who I can reach out to for support. Even with all that–with an entire community of friends and strangers who can make me feel less alone and more equipped to move through this self doubt–I stumble and stumble until I feel like I have lost my way entirely.
Like most years, I have a “this year will be different” mentality. It wasn’t until this time around that I noticed how cyclical my self-care really is. Each year, I get to the point where I’ve put on a lot of weight (re: buying new jeans, wearing a lot more loose-fitting clothing), and I realize I’ve let all of my beginning-of-the-year hard work go to waste. Then I go into a pattern of beating myself up and then asking myself for forgiveness for all the low points. It feels really messy and, honestly, really silly.
I wish I had the magic formula for healthy eating, a sustainable fitness routine, and body confidence. So, if you’re looking for that in this post I would suggest looking elsewhere. In fact, those who claim that they’ve created habits or made their health “a lifestyle” frustrate me to no end. It’s definitely a little bit of misdirected anger, but I also get frustrated when people say that something effective for them can work for anyone. I just don’t think it’s true and I think that’s an absolutely dreadful part of this whole social culture we live in. I sit on social media and see other women my age with better bodies, makeup, hair, clothing, vacations, etc. And instead of taking in those images and reacting by becoming more motivated, I react in the worst possible way: with jealousy. It’s a vicious cycle that very much matches my own cycle.
There’s just one more part of this whole situation that rattles me to my very untoned core. Not only do we have a culture of posting the most glamorous photos (taken at the best angle, with as much photo editing as we desire) but we also talk about food non-stop now! I bet you’ve seen the posts I’m thinking of. It’s normally an absolutely stunning person in some beautiful place (or against a brick wall) with a caption like, “just thinking about tacos.” I’ve even posted them before, because I know people find them funny, and I’ll admit I’m a part of this problem. Most of the time I’m being genuine, so I can only assume others are as well. But when I post them, I look at myself, then at the other posts along the same lines, and I wonder, “Well, why can’t I look like her if she also eats pizza and potato chips all the time?” Again, vicious cycle.
So what is a girl like me to do? I certainly don’t want to give up and stop nourishing my body with healthy food and exercise, even if I’m not always perfectly on track. And I also don’t want to stop eating all the delicious foods I find in my own city and when I’m traveling. I don’t even want to stop eating junk food for no good reason. It may sound entitled, but I work hard and try to do a little good every now and then… so if I want to eat some nachos for dinner or some cake for breakfast, you bet my fat bottom I will!
I know there’s a balance–a homeostasis that will allow me to live my damn life without any regard to what other people look like in a bikini or to exactly how many calories end up in my body each day. And what is a blog if not a very public, sometimes overly edited place to express my completely unformed and unedited thoughts about body image in 2018?
So, I’m sending out the Bat Signal, calling all my self-doubters, asking y’all to help a sister out. If you could give a person ONE piece of solicited, universal health and wellness advice, what would it be? Or if you have a question/comment/compliment/rant/complaint about the world of #eatingfortheinsta, let me know! Comment below and I’ll update this post with a summary of what I’ve learned during a very busy, hopefully healthy January.
Here’s my advice: you are worth it. Enjoy food you love, but make sure it’s good enough. Standing up in the pantry eating a bag of chocolate chips is not enjoyable. Sharing creme brûlée with a friend is! Wear clothes that fit regardless of the size. Sweat at least 3x a week. Eat veggies and fruit first then the other stuff. A little goes a long way. Food doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
My advice is to unfollow, unfollow, unfollow! If any influence on you (be it via social media, television, a friend) is going to make you jealous you have to cut them out for the sake of your own mental health!