In a society where beauty is measured by a number on the scale and the label on our clothes, and as part of the so called health and fitness community where body size and muscle definition is the measure of success, intuitive eaters are sometimes seen as the ‘quitters’.
This is a re-worked post from my old blog that needed some updating. At the time of writing it (5 October) I still believed that in some ways I had taken the easy road and quit. Now I know that trusting my body and listening to its wisdom takes just as much dedication, discipline and strength as any externally formulated diet plan.
The Diet Mentality Says …
- I have given up because diet and exercise are too hard and I’m not tough enough
- I have stopped being accountable
- I am a failure because I don’t weigh 55kg
I have not given up my healthy eating behaviours and exercise habits by vowing to stop withholding love and acceptance until I reach a certain number on the scales. I am tough enough to face the fact that I only used to feel happy when I was ‘good’, and when I was trying to look like someone else. I am awakening to the realisation that my value lies inside me rather than in my conformity to the cultural myth of physical beauty.
Intuitive eating makes me more accountable than I ever was. Instead of following a plan written by another person, I am listening to the wisdom of my body. I can’t make excuses like ‘carb loading’ and ‘cheat meals’ when I overeat processed food that makes me feel like shit. Each meal is an opportunity to take great care of myself and discover what works for me. I can’t just eat the same thing day in and day out. I have to decide what and how much to eat and then notice how it makes me feel over time. It is constant attention, not stuffing McDonalds in my face while I sit on the couch.
Have I failed to meet my goal of weighing 55kg? Well, I have actually got there twice now, but it only made me continuously hungry and completely exhausted. I didn’t feel healthy — I was constipated, without a period, and in physical pain from my bones sticking out. I learned that looking like someone else didn’t make me beautiful, peaceful or contented.
Am I envious of those who eat and train in the manner that allows them to compete? If envy means would I swap places with them, then no. Do I feel admiration and respect? Of course I do because I know how much commitment that particular journey requires. I also know that for me the fleeting feeling of accomplishment didn’t outweigh the pain and was quickly replaced by anxiety about how I was going to stay that lean.
It takes ‘figure athlete’ commitment and discipline to give up chasing the perfect body and focus instead on being healthy, happy and balanced. There is no ‘off season’ when it comes to facing the way I think, my beliefs and my identity. There is pain involved, but the feeling of progress, of continuous improvement and the sense that my hard work is transforming my reality is the most satisfying thing I have ever experienced. It makes going on a diet and chasing a scale number as significant as the colour I choose to paint my toenails.
How will I be remembered?
(a) Katie was always working hard at being in great shape. She worked her arse off in the gym, watched what she ate and looked amazing. She certainly knew how to get what she wanted.
(b) Katie always seemed to be happy. She had this beauty that glowed from the inside. Whenever you were with her, read what she wrote or looked at her photos you were given a glimpse of pure joy. She seemed different to other people because she saw life as wonderful, exciting and magical.
I now know for certain that my purpose lies beyond being working the hardest and looking the best. My purpose is to be different, not because I’m fitter, stronger and leaner than everyone else, but because my unique view of the world gives others a glimpse of the joy of simply being.
Why chase a dream, a goal, an outcome when this moment is as good as it could ever get? We already have all that it takes to have all that we want.
Did you know …
- Super-strict dieting and training such as bodybuilding contest prep, is a stress to the body. When you remove entire food groups from your diet and reduce your calories drastically, you are more likely to develop nutrient deficiencies that can lead to colds, flus, etc. The over-training that is often necessary to reach extremely low body fats can also lower your immune function. ~ Tom Venuto
- A large or sudden drop in body fat levels will decrease a woman’s levels of the hormone oestrogen. At menopause, the production of oestrogen slows to a stop and leads to a substantial loss of calcium from the bones. If the bones are not dense enough to start with, post-menopausal women with low oestrogen levels develop porous bones, or osteoporosis – one of the greatest health problems in western societies. However, the body does not distinguish between different causes of low oestrogen levels, and a young woman whose oestrogen levels fall because of low levels of body fat also loses some of the bone from her skeleton. Women who believe ‘thin is beautiful’ to the extent that they stop producing adequate levels of oestrogen can do permanent damage to the spongy bone in their spines. There is not much beauty in having a spine which becomes bent and painful. ~ Body Fat and Osteoporosis
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