Hello hello my friends!
Today we're jumping into a topic that I feel very passionately about--diet culture and this idea of "hot girl summer".
It's currently May in Texas, and let's be real, summer is HERE. I'm getting inundated with Instagram and Facebook ads that are like "Do this juice cleanse!", "Try this belly fat blaster!", "2 weeks to toned arms!", "Get your beach body with these green tea pills!". Agh!!!
I'll be honest, these have gotten me before. I've tried the diet pills, the fad weight loss routines, the intense fitness routines.... And normally, at this time of year I'm in a frantic mood trying to lose weight and tone up for "bathing suit season". But this year? I'm over it. I am SO OVER diet culture. I'm so tired of trying to fit my body into the unhealthy ideal that society tells me is sexy. I can't do it anymore!
I won't pretend like it isn't hard decision to make because I have a lot of body dysmorphia issues to work through still, despite the work I've done. It's an ongoing process. Dieting and I go way back. I went on my first diet at 12 when a ballet instructor told me that my hips were too wide for me to ever get a solo with a lift because I couldn't fit between the guy’s chin and shoulders... pretty crushing for a young lady who JUST started dealing with new hormones! I was also told that I was getting too bulky and needed to work on lengthening my muscles.
This put me in a position where I felt the need to control my body because it was doing things that I didn't agree with or like. Things that others considered unacceptable.
And, my mom always struggled with eating disorders. And I'm not going to get into that because that's her story to tell, but her habits were quite unhealthy and extreme because she was made fun of for being overweight in high school and really took that to heart. So unfortunately, there were comments made about my body that extended from her own fears that really impacted how I viewed my body in high school in combination with the dance comments AND if you tuned into my episode about how I manifested my partner, you will probably remember that I was also dealing with bullying during this time, so there was a strong need for control, and the dieting, or extreme dieting, was a way for me to resume control so I took this to an extreme.
In college I auditioned for and joined a professional dance team. As a part of this team, we had to sign contracts that gave them the rights to own our appearance--our hair color, style, the whiteness of our teeth, my skin tan, and especially... my weight, were dictated by the team stylist. The first season I kept my weight at 15% body fat which is exactly where they wanted it. 16% and below was what they considered ideal. In my second season, however, I was dealing with a lot of stress and anxiety and struggled to get my weight below 19% body fat. As a result, they pulled me from the court and put me on probation until I got skinnier. At 19% body fat, this situation told me that I was worth less than I was when I was at 15%.
Fast forward to where I am now, I have bounced back and forth between 15-30% body fat at any given time. I experience EXTREME fluctuations and its a huge point of stress for me. I have really messed with my hormones by trying to control my weight and I've seen a negative impact this has on my mental health AND my body.
So, now at almost 30, I'm trying to re-learn how to love my body and allow it to normalize at the weight it WANTS to be. I'm not going to lie, it's SO HARD. This is probably the hardest thing I've ever done when it comes to mindset work. I have two decades of crap to shake off as I work to really accept my body, at any size, and ACTUALLY MEAN IT, and not just SAY it.
I had this epiphany a few months back that really sparked this need to change. Diets for the purpose of weight loss, not for health reasons, play a part in what we're manifesting when we subscribe to them. The very idea of dieting stems from a scarcity mindset. You can't appreciate and love yourself and dislike your body. You can't have an abundant mindset and dislike your body. You only diet if you don't like something about your body, if you want to change it.
Dieting, or it's sneaky cousin the obsessive healthy eater, lowers your vibe. The diet mindset causes stress, guilt, and shame. It causes you to "should" all over yourself. "I shouldn't eat that... I shouldn't skip cardio... I shouldn't have cheated, now I have to start over." The diet mindset is an "all or nothing" scarcity mindset. And, don't let your brain trick you into thinking that obsessing over clean eating isn't dieting.... it's just a more spiritual way to get around the diet culture, while still dieting.
Unfortunately, society rewards dieters. If you tell someone you're dieting, they will say something like, "Oh, you're so good", or "I start mine on Monday!", or "OH, which one?!". They compliment you, which feeds the ego, and they also make you feel like you're a part of the "in crowd" with these comments. Let's stop doing this to each other and to ourselves.
Did you know that a person who is 200 pounds can have healthier blood work than a person who is 120 pounds? Health has nothing to do with the tag on your pants. It has everything to do with how you feel. And, I want to feel good. I want to stay active, lift weights, AND eat pasta and drink wine. And my body is going to figure out what size that it will normalize at. But I won't allow myself to diet again trying to control this process.
Diets only cause cyclical weight gain and undue stress. It's been proven in countless studies that diets are NOT effective for keeping weight off long term. The only way to keep weight off long term is to develop a healthy mindset around food, exercise, and your body.
I am healthier now at a size 10 than I was when I was a size 4, but my mind loves to play tricks on me. It doesn't believe this yet, despite what my blood work says. I am stronger, less stressed, more balanced, eat a wider variety of foods.... but I no longer have a six pack. And that doesn't mean I'm worth any less, even though my ego tries SO HARD to get me to believe this narrative.
I decided to stop dieting in February when I started reading a book called Intuitive Eating, and I think it is my saving grace. I'll link it in the show notes if you're interested in checking it out (and I do not get any kickbacks from any products or books I recommend by the way, so this is a completely honest review). If you struggle with weight and dieting, please please please go read this book. My therapist recommended it to me years ago and I wish I'd started it then.
The whole concept of the book centers around the fact that your body knows how to maintain a healthy weight if you learn to listen to it, honor your hunger needs, and appreciate the natural shape that you're genetically predisposed to. This last part has me terrified because I don't know what my body is genetically supposed to look like. My mom has always struggled with dieting and continues to skip meals and my grandmother is obese... I'll be the first to find out what my body is going to do and I'm not sure that I'm going to like the answer, but I know that I do not want to become my mother or my grandmother who struggle with food. I don't want to be the conscious calorie counter like my mom OR the food rebel like my grandma. I want to be healthy, and I never want to restrict myself again.
So, right now I am eating what my body craves, however much it craves, and when it craves it without any "shoulds" attached. And, I'm eating a variety of foods. The book gives you some great advice about learning to handle emotions separately, and then normalizing ALL foods once again so that you no longer crave the comfort of junk foods. Instead, there is just food.
My go-to evening snack has always been popcorn or ice cream. And the other day I realized that without the emotional attachment and comfort it used to provide, I don't actually want ice cream every night when I keep it in the house and allow myself to indulge when I want. Without shame or guilt, or the idea of its a "guilty pleasure". I ate it every night for about a month and the other day, I checked in with my body and found that I didn't WANT it.... I wanted carrots and hummus!!! WTF?! If I told myself I'd choose carrots and hummus over ice cream back in January, I would have straight up laughed at you! But here I am, no longer craving ice cream in the evenings... knowing I can have it whenever I want, and my body is asking for something different. I never listened to it before, so I just assumed it wanted ice cream for comfort.
So, I feel empowered now. Food is significantly less of a stressor for me. I won't say I'm completely stress free because old thoughts still creep in sometimes, but I let the "shoulds" go quickly and more often than not. And, I'm gaining weight while my body re-learns how to process a normal amount of food. My metabolism slowed down because of the dieting, so now I have to let my body course correct.
My body is going to fluctuate for the next year as it makes sure that I'm not going to re-enter starvation mode, or calorie restriction. And, that means right now I'm a size 10. I am 3 dress sizes larger than I was at a size 4, and that's okay. Whether my body stays this size, or it stabilizes at a lower weight, I'm committed to loving the natural size it wants to be. AND, I will continue to remind myself that Marilyn Monroe was a GD SEX ICON and she was a size 8 by today's standards!
So, I've decided, "hot girl summer" will have nothing to do with my body this year. I'm over it. Instead, summer will have everything to do with me working on self-love, getting that "hot girl attitude". This summer, I continue to work on loving my body at the size it naturally wants to be and I HOPE you decide to do the same. The media won't change until we force them to, and the rise of teenage girls with eating disorders won't stop either until we stop shaming ourselves and each other.
Let's do it for all of us. Let's embrace our bodies at whatever shape they naturally want to be so that we can collectively raise the vibe.
Have a fantastic rest of your week and I will catch y'all next Monday!
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