See this picture?
This is so relevant it’s insane.
Thank you to Lauren of The Oatmeal Artist for this picture.
The very word “diet” has the echo of oppression. Believe me, I know.
Here’s my story:
I grew up in a household that preached eating your basic daily dose of vegetables, fruits, pasta often and meat occasionally, but NO junk food. You would never find cookies, chips, or candy in my house, and I was always amazed at my friend’s pantries compared to mine! Wait, you have Doritos?! WHOA. Also, I was never (and never will be) a meal-skipper, but it took me years to realize that the so-called “healthy” cereals I ate every morning were actually processed junk. Yes Honey Bunches of Oats and Frosted Mini Wheats, I’m talking to you! Now that I think of it, I was usually hungry an hour after I ate breakfast and my energy levels were so low after a certain point in the day. Now as kids we learn to ignore this, eat a cookie, and move on, because everything is so much easier when you’re a kid! As I grew up, I realized what my goals were and decided I needed to get serious about my health if I wanted to become a stronger dancer, both physically and mentally. Oh I forgot to mention that, I’ve been dancing for
15 16 years and plan on doing it professionally! Read my “Dance” page for more about this.
Anyway, my journey to better nutrition really started the year before I got to college. Knowing that I would be in for some rigorous days, it was so important to be fueling my dancing body properly. It’s not that I was out of shape or anything, I was just tired of not seeing results from all the hard work of dance. I wasn’t happy with my eating habits. While I still ate pretty healthy foods of course, I wasn’t really thinking about portion controls, snacking, or processed foods/sugars. I felt sluggish and I knew I had to whip myself into shape. I used to run sparingly, but then I started running almost every day along with dancing and I immediately saw a change in my mood and health. I started by making smarter food choices, eating about 5 smaller portioned meals a day, (rather than 3 huge ones), and I also stopped eating meat, except for seafood. (You know how I feel about salmon!) All in all, I ended up losing about 12 pounds freshman year at school.
But, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses…I started to develop a problem…a really big one.
During my weight loss period, I cut my calorie intake drastically and started counting them like crazy. High numbers really scared me! Thinking this was normal, I noticed that my clothes were really loose and I could see my bones more than I ever have. I was always tired and irritable, but I thought this was just from dancing all day long. I didn’t understand, I was eating just like everyone else! WRONG. The problem was that I wasn’t eating enough calorie-dense foods to match my activity level. My food obsession took over my life and I became its slave. BUT WAIT I still didn’t answer your question, I know.
Enter the “live it”.
After the help and guidance of a nutritionist, I now realize how important it is to “eat to live”, and not “live to eat”, although the recovery process is slow and gradual. We are obsessed with dieting and willing to try the latest diets appearing in trendy magazines, promoted on TV or displayed at the local bookstore. Many of these diets defy common sense, logic, basic biochemistry and even appetite appeal. They are fashionable because they promise speedy results; they are easy to use and claim amazing improvements in how their followers will look and feel. Unfortunately, the one thing most fad diets have in common is that they rarely promote sensible weight loss. Most important, though, they only work short-term. A healthy lifestyle is easier than you think. Like fad diets, changing your eating and physical activity habits can be difficult. But unlike fad diets, once you’ve got the ball rolling, it’s easy to sustain. It’s a lot of work at first, but once it becomes routine, you’ll feel much better, promise!
Focus on your goals and don’t punish yourself for the occasional slip, like I did. Most of all, be realistic with your expectations. Listen to your body, develop a healthy life-long relationship with it, and you will be on a constructive road to success.
Remember, LIVEit, not DIEt and BE WELL. ❤