Over the past few years I’ve watched several friends jump from diet to diet: Paleo, South Beach, and Skinny Bitch to name a few. The common ground between all of them was deprivation. Cutting out carbs, foregoing alcohol, and even skipping meals were often part of their “get healthy” plans.
I’m not talking about specific dietary necessities. Avoiding gluten because of an allergy is different from believing avoiding it will lead you to a smaller dress size.
We live in a society where we’re (especially as women) pulled in 80 different directions…daily. And, we try to balance work, family, kids, and our own needs.
There’s an ebb and flow to life’s balance, but it seems like the scale is the only place we beat ourselves up over it.
If only I weighed…
If I just dropped…
I shouldn’t have eaten…
Why do we associate our behaviors with food as “bad?” I’ve never heard another woman say, “I was so bad this weekend, I didn’t vacuum the whole house.”
We can enjoy time with our girlfriends, we can delight in 15 minutes of quiet to read a magazine, but we have to rationalize for savoring a slice of cake.
I don’t get it.
Across the spectrum of life we can always do more.
I could be stronger if I went to the gym everyday (right now walking my dog and playing catch with my kids works for me).
One day I swore I was going to clean the shower (my most dreaded chore) everyday. It lasted 4 days.
Maybe one day these choices will work for my lifestyle, but now isn’t that time. I’m doing what I can, today.
Most people don’t decide that they want to “get healthy” for only two weeks. But lifestyle changes take time.
So, how about the “Cut yourself some slack non-diet lifestyle change.”
You currently eat dinner out 7 nights a week? Try cooking at home once or twice a week to start.
Craving chocolate cake? Pick up a slice of your decadent favorite (not a processed, chemical-laden imitation) and share…or not…with a friend.
Want to start exercising after a few weeks- ahem, years- hiatus? Take the dog for an extra lap or two around the block. Don’t have a dog? Walk with a friend who does!
Life happens. Sometimes the floors don’t get swept, the laundry has to run an extra cycle (or two), or extra work hours means more take-out for a few days. That’s ok.
Cut yourself some slack.
Physiologically, guilt = stress = the body’s fight/flight response = decrease in digestion.
So, what’s the best diet plan? The one that works for you…today. The plan where we can teach our kids that it’s ok to share laughter with ice cream and wishes with cake.
The lifestyle plan where riding a bike to the park is just as valuable as “spinning” for an hour.
Moderation. Balance. Laughter.