NEWSFLASH!! (As seen on a website (or three) near you.) – If you want to be healthy, lose body fat, kick ass in the gym, gain muscle and dominate the world then you better make sure you’re drinking Bulletproof coffee, bone broth and kombucha; eating liver (and other organ meats), coconut oil, MCT oil, sauerkraut (and other fermented foods), seaweed, cold potatoes (for the resistant starch – duh…) and copious amounts of _____________ (insert vegetable that you cannot stand here); and you’ll also need to take Fermented Cod Liver Oil, and roughly $300-$500 worth of miscellaneous supplements with varying functions. But that’s not all! Intermittent fasting, carb backloading, carb cycling, and very low carb/keto protocols should be incorporated liberally (because 2 out of 3 internet experts recommend them…) . **DISCLAIMER** Results received from following the above procedures may vary. Success is not guaranteed and results seen in internet testimonials are not typical. Additionally, if you can’t stomach the thought of any or all items listed or if you are completely miserable following the above protocols, suck it up or be unhealthy.**
Okay, that scenario might be a little over the top, but I think you get the idea. There are SO MANY ‘expert’ voices telling us what to do and what not to do – in terms of food, exercise, diet type, etc. Some of the advice might sound like something you can get behind – I mean eating eggs and bacon for breakfast doesn’t sound too shabby, and maybe you REALLY like coconut oil or liver; but there are some other things that maybe trigger your gag reflex a bit or that make your life kind of miserable. Case in point: You’ve started doing the intermittent fasting thing – you wake up a little hungry, but your ‘fasting window’ doesn’t end until noon; by 10:30 am you can’t concentrate, your stomach is growling and your left hand is starting to look like a nice snack. Yeah, you’re miserable –but you’re gonna do it again tomorrow because that’s what’s ‘healthy’. Does anyone, besides me, see the irony in that? Isn’t the goal of this to optimize your health and doesn’t that include physical, mental and emotional aspects? And who are these experts and gurus? Just because it ‘works for them’ it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s right for you and that, my friends, IS OKAY. There’s nothing wrong with you if eating low carb makes you feel like crap, you can’t stand Cross Fit style workouts or if the thought of eating liver brings to mind images of projectile vomit.
There isn’t one perfect definition of what eating well and living a healthy lifestyle is. But when it comes to food especially, there are a lot of people that think they have the correct answer. And if you’re one of ‘those people’, I’m sorry, but, you’re WRONG! I’m not going to try to tell you what you should or shouldn’t eat – and I’m the last person that is going to judge you for your choices. I’ve spent two-thirds of my life villianizing food; lost in rules of what was and wasn’t okay. It’s an obsession that only distanced me from optimal health, isolated me and made me miserable. While I’m not going to outline the perfect diet for you here, I am going to tell you what it’s not. Brace yourselves, here it comes…
The ‘perfect diet’ should not be something you obsess over.
If your mind is constantly focused on what you’re going to eat or not eat; what you can or can’t have; how many grams of carbs, fat or protein you need; or if you start bringing your own food to gatherings and restaurants; become anti-social and/or spend every free minute you have on the internet visiting food/diet related websites and forums then you have stopped living. This is not healthy – even if you do have 6-pack abs because of it. You may look, feel and perform like a champ BUT (yeah, a BIG but) are you ENJOYING life? When is the last time you ate something you WANTED – I mean, really wanted? And what would happen if you let yourself have, say, a donut? Is one donut going to be the end of you? Let me answer that for you – NO. Your odds of getting killed in a car accident, getting struck by lightning or attacked by a mountain lion are better. So just come to terms with that – it’s not the donut’s fault.
I’m not telling you to eat donuts everyday – but damn it, if you want a donut go and find the best donut ever. Take that donut, sit down with it and ENJOY every bite of it. I’d venture to guess that if you do that, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll be satisfied and probably won’t want another donut (or six). There’s something to be said for: 1. Giving yourself permission to have a treat, guilt free with no shame. 2. Actually being AWARE of what you’re eating and ENJOYING it. One donut becomes six donuts when we tell ourselves we CAN’T have any donuts and if we do take a bite, we’ve failed. In that scenario, you probably didn’t let yourself enjoy the first donut, shoot, you might not have even tasted it – it was more of a “Hoover’type” action – just sort of inhaled. There’s no satisfaction in that – absolutely none, zero, and all that you’re thinking about is how awful you are, how guilty you feel and that you’ve failed. You’ve entered the ‘it doesn’t matter at this point mentality’ and that leads to donut number two, three, four, five… You’re left feeling sick, unsatisfied, angry and maybe a little scared.
Moral of the story: Food is a gift. It’s meant to be enjoyed; and if you’re afraid of it – your ‘perfect diet’ is not ‘perfect’ for you.
The ‘perfect diet’ should NOT be directly linked to your self-esteem, self-worth or value.
Does even thinking about eating something ‘off plan’ lead to a self-led mind lecture? Does eating that “donut” we were talking about leave you angry and frustrated with yourself – does it make you feel weak, ugly, unworthy of happiness? If you answered yes to any of that, you are giving food way too much power. I don’t know about you, but I know some pretty awesome people that eat “donuts”. They aren’t awful, weak, ugly or unworthy of respect and love, so why the heck are you? What you eat has nothing to do with who you are as a person nor should it dictate your feelings about yourself. If someone judges you because of what you eat (or don’t eat), they probably aren’t worth your time or energy. And, if you’re one of the ‘food judges’– you need to step back and get over yourself. Food does not determine the worth, value, or awesomeness of anyone and when you’re perfect in every aspect of your life, then we’ll talk.
Bottom line: YOU are more important than what you eat. It’s true that some foods make you feel better and make your body healthier – but, if you eat something that’s not on your ‘good food’ list, it doesn’t make you a bad person. The End.
The ‘perfect diet’ should not feel like or be a total life suck.
(Last one for today, I promise, just stick with me.) If you don’t look forward to eating, you’re doing it wrong. Food is a GIFT. Say that with me; FOOD IS A GIFT. TASTEBUDS ARE A GIFT. When what you eat starts being a gift that you wish you could return or that you wished you’d never opened; things have gone a little too far. If you’re preoccupied with how many grams of carbs you can have, what kind of oil something was cooked in or how many calories you have left for the day; you’ve pretty much entered a sub-division of Hell. If you’re living here, it’s time to step back and reevaluate what ‘healthy’ really is.
So, let’s wrap this up (yes, FINALLY). I’m telling you right here, right now, it is OKAY (in fact it’s downright healthy) to give yourself some grace! It’s not the end of the world if you are a little ‘softer’ (or don’t have a 6-pack) but you’re happy, not obsessed with every bite you take, and are actually enjoying your life (that’s the way it’s supposed to be). Drop the ‘diet’ mentality. Give yourself permission to eat, and most importantly, ENJOY the food that you eat. Listen to your body, eat mindfully – to the point of contentment not explosion, and know (and believe) that health is about more than a number on the scale, perfect abs, a magazine cover body and/or eating 100% ‘on plan’ all the time.
What’s it going to take for you to be HEALTHY – physically, mentally and emotionally? What does your life look like when you’re there? I can tell you right now that a having a perfect abs and/or losing those last 5-10 pounds, are not the keys to happiness.
You need to sit down and think about this stuff -I mean really think about it – not a quick 5-10 minutes – this is your LIFE and if you’re not enjoying it – you aren’t truly living and then what’s the point?