I debated on whether or not to discuss this topic on my fitness blog. But you’re on here to see a glimpse into my real life, not something I create for social media. This is me, these are my experiences, and I don’t know how to be anyone else, so here goes.
Let me preface this post by saying I do not have, nor have ever, suffered from an eating disorder. I believe that I struggle with over-justifying how and what I eat, but have never had a serious problem. If you DO think you have a serious problem with food, please talk to someone & get yourself healthy with professional assistance. I mean it, cuz I like you.
My broken relationship is broken because of how we communicate– it’s my mind versus my stomach. Constantly. Every day. I eat because I feel like it’s time, and usually do not get nutrients needed to keep me full for any amount of time, so in an hour I’m back to mindlessly eating again.
Why is it so hard? I believe it’s hard because we make it that way. Hear me out– I know you’re thinking you’re predisposed to have an unhealthy relationship with food because you great-uncle was a competitve eater (one too many Coney dogs?) or your parents are overweight. Yes, there have been studies that show obesity runs in the family. But I believe that all too often, we look at genetics, throw our hands in the air, and reach for the culprit: unhealthy, unfulfilling nutrition.
I’ll play a game with myself from time to time… I’ll see a piece of candy I want, then talk myself out of it. Then I justify why I COULD have a bite of candy (c’mon, I worked out!), but then I look away. Five minutes later, I’ve eaten the entire piece, not feeling satisfied but wanting more.
And so it goes– the cycle of unhealthy eating. For most of us it was instilled at a young age; getting rewarded with McDonald’s or ice cream, or looking forward to Halloween to binge eat on candy. But somewhere along the way, we forgot to realize that “reward” really does us more harm than good. Now, at 26 years old, I still have to fight, every day, to tell myself I don’t NEED ice cream after a long, hard day of work & exercise. But oftentimes I still do. I haven’t got all the answers, guys, because I’m still asking questions myself. I can, however, be sure of a few things.
1.) Unhealthy patterns lead to unhealthy behaviors, which lead to *very hard to change* unhealthy habits.
We are what we repeatedly do, and lately I’ve become a “work hard, reward hard” type of person. GASP! And you’re a FITNESS COACH, ASHLEY?! Heck yes. Because I want you on the journey WITH me.. I don’t want to be that coach you hated in high school who would make you do sprints while he/she sat on the sidelines because they’ve “paid their dues.” I’m in search of the most fulfilling life I can lead, & that means taking my participants along for the ride.
2.) To make any lifestyle change, it should happen gradually.
Cut out all sugar, and all you want by day 2 is a donut. Cut out carbs and that loaf of bread looks the Holy Grail. Don’t do that to yourself. What I teach in my groups is LIFESTYLE change, not crash diets. We cut back on sodas, then you had a soda on Friday. Whoops! Who cares? Try to cut back on Saturday. See how this way is so much more forgiving? We still work hard, but I will never turn my back on somoene who slips up. Because I’m the person having a glass of wine or beer or candy because I want it. But what I want more is the freedom from feeling like I NEED it.
3.) There’s strength in numbers.
Do you know somoene who, completely by themselves, decided one day to start working out, eating 100% clean meals, and never went back to their old habits? Maybe, but I doubt it. There is SO much strength in numbers, y’all (I say y’all like maybe more than one of you reads this– fingers crossed!). That’s why I run 30-day fitness & healthy eating groups with about 6 other people who want to change their habits. I know I can trust them to keep me accountable, even if it’s online. Maybe I’m weird, but it’s not easy for me to fib in person OR on social media. I do what I say — and I guess that’s a tiny win for me. I’m here for you– I want to help because I want to see you succeed, but the selfish part of me wants YOU to keep ME on my toes. I can’t do that without people to join me.
Do I have a broken relationship between my head and stomach? You bet. But I can slowly undo this connection between food as a reward instead of trying to do everything at once, or nothing ever again. Because I can. And I’m no different from you.
Stay with me folks. This newlywed cat mama is going to get healthier the safe way, the way that makes me feel good & not want to binge on Ghiradelli or Cinnabon. And if you’re in, I’m taking you along for the ride.