2021 was a year of emotional upheaval for me, and I know I’m not alone. Aside from the division and tension caused by a certain virus and all the politics (unfortunately) intertwined with it, our family went through a major transition. My husband made a career change and we moved cities to follow our dreams. We left family and close friends. I grieved the loss of what we left behind, along with broken relationships that didn’t get mended.
This took a toll on my hormones and digestion. While food consumption and movement didn’t change, my emotional environment did. And my body decided to protect me by storing weight. While I can wear my clothes still, I’m a little fluffier in them. They don’t fit the same. I don’t have the ease of movement in certain yoga poses that I used to.
Because I know I’m not the only one feeling this way, I also know this is where many of us are tempted to go on an extreme diet to lose the weight.
Here’s the thing I want to remind you – your body cannot let go of excess weight until it is in a place of safety and healing.
Trying to drastically cut calories and restrict food consumption in order to lose weight quickly may work at the beginning… at the expense of putting your body into a greater state of survival and fight or flight. This is why 95% of diets fail.
There has to be another way to restore the body to a place of healing.
For me, the key has been creating a healthy relationship with food and exercise. Here’s what that means:
- Food isn’t something to earn.
- Exercise isn’t punishment for poor eating.
- Overconsuming food that has been chemically altered and designed to be overconsumed isn’t a moral failure. It doesn’t mean you lack willpower or discipline.
- While calories are units of energy, calories in carbohydrates alone provide different types of energy than calories in protein and calories in fat, not to mention calories from a piece of cake and calories from a sweet potato. This looks different for every individual.
- My response to certain foods changes throughout the month as my hormones shift. What is filling and fueling one day, may not be filling and fueling on another.
- The state of stress I’m in while I’m eating may matter more than the content of what I’m eating.
Instead of placing an emphasis on food restriction and punishment, I must emphasize nourishment. What can I do for my body that is healing? What can I do that gives it a break from the stress? I think for many of us, it looks like changing the mindset first.
Until our perspective on food and health changes, we can’t make progress. We will always be battling a negative attitude toward our body and food, which perpetuates a state of survival in our already stressed out bodies.