Hey there! I’m so excited about today’s post because my friend Rebecca from the Nourish Nutrition Co. blog is here to talk about how we can all be our happiest and healthiest selves and improve body image this year. Her message involves less diet and more love – I couldn’t agree more.
Take it away, Rebecca! 🙂
Instead of jumping on the dieting bandwagon to achieve these goals, take a step back and think about how you view your body. This may seem silly and unproductive, but it’s actually one of the best things you can do to improve your health and happiness. Working to attain a positive body image is often overlooked, which is one big reason why dieters fail.
Stop the Comparison Game
Pretty much every time you turn on the TV, view lifestyle gurus’ social media posts, and read fashion magazines you’re staring down an already thin woman, who then is photoshopped to be 100% unattainably thin. Actress Emma Watson describes this phenomenon so well:
Even though it’s common knowledge that images in magazines, ads, and even on videos, shows, and movies are photoshopped; for some reason we still compare our imperfect bodies to these digitally perfected images, and feel down on ourselves and our ability to look like what is promoted through the media. This is a problem because the beauty industry and popular culture has lead women in particular to believe that our worth is based solely on our appearance, not who we are and how we contribute to society. Because of this appearance based focus, we’re inundated with ploys to improve ourselves by exercising more and eating perfectly to be healthy, happy, and worth the space. This is complete BS and totally demeaning to women who are more than what their bodies look like.
Dieting to Punish your Body
When you diet to lose weight, you’re essentially punishing yourself. A diet is a short term fix to get you to love your body and to get healthy, or so we’re told. Diets are restrictive and miserable. They’re punishing because in order to stick to a diet, you have to cut out all the ‘unhealthy’ foods, and only eat ‘healthy foods’. You’re either following your diet, or you’re not. No middle ground, no room for exceptions, and any failure is because you’re not determined or strict enough.
This is a lie. Because diets and extreme exercise regimens are restrictive, when you’re restricting food or restricted by intense exercise programs you’re only going to want to do the opposite. Keeping yourself from enjoyable foods and enjoyable forms of movement is a form of punishment. It really comes down to sustainability here. Ideally, you’ll be enacting healthy habits to carry you through long term, not for a week or a month. How long can you go punishing yourself through diet and exercise to meet unrealistic beauty and weight expectations? According to dieting statistics, not very long as >90 % of dieters ‘fail’ their diets.
To further support these claims, the weights and health habits of 5000 adolescents were tracked over five years in the 90’s. Researchers came to a couple interesting conclusions:
-Adolescents who dieted at a younger age were more likely to be overweight later in life
-Adolescents who didn’t like their bodies dieted the most, and did so in unhealthy ways
-Adolescents who didn’t like their bodies not only dieted more, but binged more than those who liked their bodies.
-Liking their bodies also corresponded to better health habits.
The adolescents who liked or loved their bodies actually reported exercising more and eating more fruits and vegetables than those who didn’t. Contrary to popular belief, the less you like your body, the less you’re likely to take care of it. I mean, how gentle are you with your brand spanking, expensive, exciting car vs the junker you drove around in your teens and twenties?
Diets don’t work. Diets don’t work because research says eventually you’re going to fail, and you’re probably going to feel bad about yourself because you’ve failed. You, we all have been lead to believe the lie- it’s our fault, it’s not the fault of a fad diet that’s literally not giving your body what it needs to thrive, it’s not the restriction of foods that you enjoy and necessity of only eating foods you don’t like, it’s not the fact that you set yourself up to think that your diet is going to suck even before you actually live it. None of these beliefs give you confidence in your ability to take care of yourself, they don’t allow you to feel accomplished or competent. You get the picture, none of that really adds up. Instead of focusing on the negative or the restriction, focus on the positive in life.
What to do Instead:
-Don’t restrict foods you enjoy that may be high in fat and/or calories. Instead, eat them mindfully and less frequently
-Focus on adding more fruits and particularly non-starchy vegetables to your diet
-Listen to your body. If you’re hungry, eat.
-Plan ahead. Take some time to plan out your meals for the week. If you’re short on time, purchase ready to cook vegetables or prep foods all together. (here’s a link to a free ebook on Meal Planning)
-Find ways to move (or exercise) that you enjoy. Steer clear of exercise regimes that you dread, and don’t feel like you can stick to.
-Start small. Instead of overhauling your diet and your exercise regimes, make a few changes at a time. Become competent in those, and make them habits. You’re far more likely to stick to those than if you were to make huge changes in your life.Instead of dieting, listen to your body + more #SelfLove tips from @NourishNutriCoClick To Tweet
Are you ready to improve your body image? I’ve got a simple and convenient 7 day Body Image Bootcamp to get you kickstarted!
Rebecca is a registered dietitian nutritionist, health coach, and body positive champion who runs Nourish Nutrition Co, a nutrition consulting business and blog out of Salt Lake City, UT. She is fed up with all of those insane expectations set upon women to look like models and celebrities, when so few people can actually look that way healthfully. She helps women improve their relationship with food and movement by providing practical tips, easy recipes, and support to women who want to be healthy in ways that work for them. No crazy diet or restrictions, just health and happiness.
Looking for another way to improve your body image? Click here to learn more about how Stephanie can help.
GET INSPIRED TO COOK MORE PLANT-BASED MEALS AT HOME!
Sign up to get my free PDF download, 101 Plant-Based Meal + Snack Ideas, sent straight to your inbox!