We are in an interesting time in the health and fitness world. According to National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases ,“more than two-thirds 68.8 % of Americans are overweight.” These numbers are astounding! With that amount of the population at an unhealthy weight, you’d think that one consistent message would be heard across all media, but in reality the internet is busy telling us two opposing ideas.
The first says: “You’re fat! You’re not worthy! You’re ugly!” That is an awful and degrading thought for a woman to hold onto for even a second.
The second idea says: “Who cares how much you weigh; you’re beautiful! Accept yourself despite type two diabetes, heart conditions, joint pain, and deep emotional hurt. Eat what you want, be the size that you are, and never let anyone tell you differently, especially that doctor of yours.” This is just as harmful as the first message.
These two opposing ideas are crushing the inner dialogue of women today. There has to be a balance. A balance that says, “I’m not where I want to be, I know I’m not making healthy choices, and I want to do better, so I’m going to love myself through making changes.”
These views all began with false advertising on social media and unrealistic expectations of viewers. Many people feel trapped by the perfect form of Instagram fitness models and health “professionals”, because that image appears to be unattainable and unrealistic, women are giving up and accepting their flaws without an attempt at change towards health. How do we change the dialogue of America to be one of balance, health, love, and healing? It starts with our own inner dialogue. Know that it is possible to make changes towards being healthy and fit while loving yourself in the moment. Allow yourself to grow and learn, which always means making mistakes and getting back up again.
Your journey can be one of balance, acceptance, and change.
First, you must go slow and work on one new learned piece at a time. If you want to lose weight, become a marathon runner, and eat like a caveman, you will find it very difficult to do all of those things within the same week. Pick one, the most important lesson to you at the time, and work on it consistently until you feel like you’ve got it mastered. If my goals were like the ones I mentioned previously, the first week I would set out to walk/run three times in a week. Once that was accomplished for a few weeks consistently, I would add in cutting sugar (in all forms) out of my diet. These tiny steps will allow you to see progress and to stick with your plan.
Second, take pictures of yourself weekly, but not the sad girl in her underwear pictures. Put on sexy lingerie, or a gorgeous swim suit, heels, make-up and strike one of those bent-knee-hands-on-the-hips- poses you see all over your Instagram and Facebook. Pictures are a great way to tract your progress, but there’s no reason to look unhappy with the current body you’re photographing. These are for you! So have fun, enjoy yourself and look forward to watching your body change.
Third, don’t deprive, punish, or reward yourself with food. Seeing your choices as “good” or “bad” and then creating a reward or punishment for them is not a way to change with balance. If you haven’t thought it or said it out loud, I’m sure you’ve heard it, “Well, I’ll eat the cake today, but it’s salads for the rest of the week!” This type of punishment for a “bad” choice doesn’t actually help you make better lifestyle changes. If you want cake, then plan on having cake, track it in your food diary, accept it as part of your day’s calories and carbs, and then move on. Zero guilt, zero shame. If you notice that you’re eating cake every week, and not making the changes that align with your goal. Consider making changes that will put you back in alignment, which will probably mean forgoing some cake.
Fourth, exercise for fun. You’ve probably heard this a thousand times, but that’s because it is so true. Move your body regularly in a way you enjoy. Fitness and exercise doesn’t have to be you on a machine, at the gym, running like a hamster on its wheel. If you love beach volleyball, then play beach volleyball! Maybe you take your kids to the park twice a week. Monkey Bars provide an excellent workout. If connecting with nature is what brings you joy, then plan two or three hikes a week. Exercise doesn’t have to be painful to be effective.
Fifth, rely on others for help and information. Community is so important and vital to your success. An APA Psychnet study indicated that people who rely on others during their weight loss journey were 66% more likely to achieve and maintain their goals. Tell people you are close with what exactly you plan on achieving. Open up and be vulnerable. This can be very scary. Maybe even terrifying! Trust those closest to you. Discuss your fears and concerns, joys and excitements! If you don’t have people near you that you can be completely vulnerable with, there are many online communities for all different avenues of weight loss. Find your place, and ask for help.
Putting these steps into action will give you slow, steady and moderate success, which is also the best kind! Love yourself through this, and you will be so glad you began today.