Every day there’s a new blog post, podcast, book or expert telling you exactly what to eat (and/or not eat), when to eat, how to exercise (or not exercise), which supplements to take, how much you need to sleep… All you have to do is follow the protocol and you’ll lose weight, perform like a beast, start feeling better, see your abs, cure your disease, have the best sex of your life, meet the man or woman of your dreams and generally just reach a state of pure euphoria. And there’s the success stories – hundreds of people writing and telling how it ‘worked for them’ – all of them with before and after pictures and amazing stories. This shit works – there’s no denying it.
But wait… WHAT is it exactly that works? One website says you can have rice and the next tells you that it’s gonna kill you faster than a gunshot wound to the head. One podcast tells you never to run and the next says that running isn’t so bad. The food lists are conflicting the supplement recommendations are all different; and should you intermittent fast or is it going to mess you up? This is CONFUSING!!!
You do your best to take everything you read, hear, and see and you put together the “perfect” program – yep, you’re gonna be the next success story on that website… You’re going strict AIP (autoimmune protocol), very low carb, with a side of intermittent fasting. I mean, how can this not work…
Fast forward 3-6 months – WHAT FREAKING GIVES??? Why the hell are you not a success story yet? Seriously, you are in the EXACT same spot you were when you started this life-changing plan; in fact, some days you feel even worse than you did when you started and you haven’t even lost ½ a pound?!?!?! It doesn’t make sense – you did EVERYTHING the blog post, podcast, expert, etc. said; like, followed it to the letter. You start reading more blog posts and now you’re convinced that it’s your thyroid, or maybe candida or it could be SIBO or leaky gut… There is DEFINITELY something wrong with you and you’re not going to stop searching (this may involve reading copious blog posts and/or message boards, investing $1,000’s in doctors, medical tests and/or supplements or just switching to the latest AWESOME program that’s circulating) until you figure it out. You’re uber frustrated, stressed as all get out and a little pissed off too. How come this works for EVERYONE else, but not for you?
Okay, if any of this hits home – the first step is to CALM DOWN, BREATH and just be. This isn’t cause for completely abandoning all the positive changes you’ve made and hitting every Dunkin’ Donuts, Burger King and Taco Bell within a 25 mile radius. It doesn’t mean that you should stop exercising or that you’re broken. What it does mean is that the things that you’ve been doing either need a little tweaking OR that just because the ‘protocol of the month’ seems to be right for EVERYONE else, that it’s right for you too. Here’s the deal folks – there aren’t groves of people rushing out to share their stories of un-success. What you see in blog posts and on message boards and hear about in podcasts, yeah, it’s real – BUT it’s not always the whole story. Success stories are the ones that get shared and broadcasted – you’re not going to hear about the less than happy endings and the exceptions to what seems to be the rule. Know that you aren’t alone in your struggles and it’s all going to be okay. Really, it’s going to be OKAY!
Sometimes we get so caught up in what everyone else is doing and telling us that we need to do that we stop listening to the signals that our bodies are sending us. If something feels wrong, it probably is. Being in ketosis, intermittent fasting, carb-backloading, chugging Bullet Proof coffee, etc. – is not right for every ‘body’. Some of us need some starch and GASP – that may even mean some grains or legumes… (HOLY BUCKETS!! YES, I DID SAY THAT!) And guess what? Fruit is NOT the devil either – not even BANANAS!!!! (I know – this is getting downright CRAZY…)
Sometimes the STRESS that we place on what we put in our mouths is, in and of itself, enough to make us sick and unsuccessful in our endeavors. We get so obsessed with trying to ‘feel’ an effect from something that we can actually create that effect or symptom. I’m not joking. I’ve done it to myself and I see it over and over again in my clients.
**Example** “I added nuts back to my diet yesterday and I’m not sure, but I think I might be a little more tired and I have this twitch in my knee that wasn’t there the day before.” Bear in mind this person did a pretty intense workout the same day the nuts were consumed and has only been averaging about 5 hours of sleep per night for the past 3 nights… Um, yeah, let’s go ahead and blame the tiredness and the knee pain on the almonds. It’s a classic case of overthinking and LOOKING for something bad to happen.
Now, don’t misunderstand me, there is definite validity to food intolerances and reactions in a lot of folks – but this isn’t an across the board phenomenon. Not EVERYONE is sensitive to dairy, legumes, nuts, nightshades or even gluten (yeah, I went there.). Food does not cause everything and cannot fix everything. This doesn’t mean that you should go buy a box of Pop-Tarts, some bean and cheese dip and a bag of Fritos – but what it does mean, is that you may just need to relax around food and your attitude toward it. It’s just FOOD!!!
The same can be said about weight and body composition– there’s a point when the stress around achieving a certain body fat percentage or number on the scale can deter any and all progress. When you place your life and happiness on hold UNTIL you lose 10 pounds or get your body fat under a certain percentage – your only focus becomes those 10 pounds or that percentage – and when they aren’t magically reached the end result is depression, unhappiness, frustration and anger.
NEWS FLASH!! Your entire life should NOT revolve around what you put in your mouth, how much you weigh and/or how you look. Life isn’t going to magically “start” and be awesome when you dial you’re eating perfectly every single day, when you lose weight or when you’re abs are clearly visible. And not everything you read on the internet or hear on a podcast is your magic answer too. It’s time to STOP – STOP placing so damn much focus on food, weight, exercise, and body comp – it’s NOT WORTH IT (unless your health is in serious danger because of it). I’m not kidding when I say that no one else cares if you weigh 10 pounds more or less, if you drop your body fat 2 more percent or if you think you feel tired when you eat nuts – this is SMALL stuff and obsessing about it is sucking the life out of you. It’s NOT okay to spend your life caught up in the idea that life sucks because you don’t weigh a certain amount or because you look a certain way. Until you start loving yourself – where you are and for who you are – you aren’t going to find happiness.
Surround yourself with people that love you for who you are and where you are – not for what you eat or don’t eat or how you look. Go out there and be YOU! Listen to your body – and do the things that make you feel good long term. That doesn’t mean bingeing, stuffing your feelings with food, over exercising or completely throwing away everything you’ve been doing to be healthy. It does mean living, being and knowing that who you are, where you are is enough. Stop trying so hard to do everything right by the world’s standard and start doing what feels right for YOU! There is no blog post, book, podcast or ‘expert’ out there that can know better than you what makes YOU feel good. Go out there – live and be the best you that you can be – because that’s enough.