Why Healthy Is the New Skinny...
This is me wearing my favourite t-shirt! I shared the photo on the left on Dec 2014 and the photo on the right was taken a couple of weeks ago.
You will notice that I've lost weight since the original photo and I wanted to share my story with you so you can understand why I do what I do....and why I am so passionate about it.
When I was a teenager (from the age of 11), I was very self-conscious about my body. I was athletic and bigger than the other girls - which I saw as a bad thing. It didn't take me long to become obsessed with trying to be skinny... As a 15-year-old, skinny meant being liked, popular and happy. I believed that if I was skinny I would be healthy. Your BMI determines if you're healthy or not, right?
In order to become skinny, I did anything and everything I could...
Including restrictive dieting, calorie counting, and over-exercising. I joined gyms, saw Personal trainers and nutritionists, read everything I could about metabolism and nutrition, I counted points, I ordered pre-prepared meals, I did meal replacements and killed myself with too much exercise.
Most of the time my strategies failed to get me results and when they did, I'd only be able to maintain my extreme behaviour for a short period before I'd end up 'falling off the bandwagon' (only to feel immense guilt, hatred and punish myself with more exercise or restriction). I became an emotional, over eater and became depressed and anxious. This went on for years and years... And instead of losing weight, my pursuits actually resulted in me gaining weight. Oh, the irony!
Eventually, after a decade of yo-yo dieting and constantly trying to be skinny, I gave up. Where has my weight loss pursuits achieved? Nothing!
Determined, I traded in my dream of being skinny for being healthy...
This meant I quit diets completely. I stopped counting calories and started counting nutrients.
I taught myself to cook and made more of my own food. I only exercised in a way I enjoyed - even if that meant a slow walk or stretch session. I let my hunger guide my food choices - not the voice inside my head telling me what was 'good' or 'bad'. I traded in resentment and punishment for self-acceptance and stopped saying no to social arrangements because of my weight.
And the miraculous thing is, the more I focused on being healthy instead of skinny, the more my body changed. Since quitting diets, I've gone on to lose more than 20kg over 3 years. (The photo on the left was only 10kg ago).
But I'm not telling you my story to encourage you to focus on health so that you can ultimately lose weight. No. That is NOT the point at all (and I wouldn't recommend it as I doubt it would work). The reason I am telling you my story is because too many people miss the purpose of healthy eating and exercise. They do it to lose weight and will even compromise their health for weight loss - just like I used to.
Interestingly, the scientific research (and my own experience) shows us that trying to eat healthy and exercise in order to lose weight rarely achieves the outcome you want. If you put your weight goals ahead of your health, your body will give you an ultimatum (i.e. you will lose control around food, become an emotional eater, lose motivation, injure yourself...).
If you are serious about feeling amazing and loving your body, you need to ditch your desire to be lean or skinny and instead, fully embrace the idea of eating well and exercising to be healthy and feel good.
It's a key mental shift that can be an absolute game changer. It's hard. It doesn't happen overnight. But the mental shift can, and must, be done. I know my decision to ignore BMI, forget my weight loss goals and embrace my natural shape and desire for health has changed my life. And I'm so much better for it...
Are you a stress or comfort eater?
Need help to stop binge and emotional eating?
Want to benefit from making health, not weight the priority. Check out Keep It Real, my 10-week online program to help you stop emotional and binge eating forever.