Help! I Hate Dieting, but I also Want to Eat Healthy

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If you're on the go, you can listen to the audio reading of this post by clicking below! 

 

Raise your hand if you hate diets! (I just raised my hand) If you’ve never tried one, don’t start now.

 

A diet is essentially the idea of cutting out any food group for an extended period of time (some people try to do it for life, but it doesn’t always turn out well), or trying to control what, when, or how much you eat.

 

When I say control, I don’t mean choose. I’m talking about ignoring what your body wants  or needs for the sake of what some outside source or “expert” says.

 

Now if you’re someone who has to follow a specific diet for health reasons, and you’re being directed by a nutritionist or dietitian, that’s a different story. At that point it is still your choice to decide what you’ll eat based on how you want to feel, and how you choose to care for your body.

 

But for the sake of this article, I’m referring to the type of diets we follow in order to lose weight. Which we’ve often been told looks like less calories, less fat, less carbs, less...less...less.

 

It also often means sacrificing the foods you love for the sake of being skinny. You know, like that one saying of “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”. Uhhh...I’m calling BS on that one. I’ve been skinny, and it doesn’t feel any different. How is skinny a feeling anyway? You can feel good at any size. Also, I love food. I also love eating healthy.

 

So I’ve chosen to combine my love for food with my desire to eat healthy.

 

Wanna know how? Here’s a hint...it doesn’t include days and weeks of chicken with brown rice and steamed broccoli. I’m about to get even more edgy on you and tell you that I don’t eat foods if I don’t like them. If I don’t like the taste of a food, I will not eat it. Even if it’s considered “healthy”.

 

Now there are some exceptions to this...there are certain foods that I don’t like prepared certain ways, so I like to experiment and see if there’s a way I can make them taste yummy. For example...steamed broccoli? Heck no. Broccoli tossed in olive oil, seasoned with a garlic based seasoning and roasted in the oven until it’s crispy? That’s a yes for me! Also, broccoli in mac & cheese is pretty dang delicious. I love those Amy’s TV dinners, especially the mac & cheese and broccoli one. All that creamy goodness with a bit of crunch and I’m getting my veggies in??? I’ll take it!

 

There’s a difference between eating to be skinny and eating for your health. Eating to be skinny looks like counting calories and macros, and eating flavorless meals because God forbid you add too much fat in, like olive oil and avocados (theeee best!).

 

Eating for health looks like what I like to call “nutrient-based eating”. This means I just search for foods with the highest amount of nutrients. Not only do these foods tend to taste amaaazing (after you get used to eating more natural foods, of course), but they also satisfy me in a way that doesn’t leave me hunting through the cabinets for more, more, more!

 

I love superfoods for this reason. Sneaking in chia seeds and flax seeds, and loading up my smoothies with maca powder and various superfood powders from Organic Burst

 

I’ll bet that healthy eating is difficult for you because you haven’t found a sustainable and satisfying way. And satisfaction is the key here. If you don’t feel satisfied with what you’re eating, then you’re gonna go for something that does satisfy you.

 

So here’s a place where you can start...ditch the idea that you should count calories, or macros, or leave out any food group (keto much??), and start focusing on getting more nutrients into your daily life.

 

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Here’s a recipe you can start with:

 

  1. Go into the grocery store or your local farmers market, and pick out 3-5 veggies that sound appealing to you. I love potatoes, zucchini, bell peppers, onions, and garlic.
  2. Preheat your oven to 425º
  3. Chop the veggies, toss them in olive oil or any oil of your choice (coconut oil is also great!), season them with salt and pepper, or turmeric, or cumin, or any seasoning combo that tickles your fancy--get creative on this!
  4. Roast them until they reach the texture of your liking...any range between soft and crispy!

 

Now take this mixture and sneak it into any meals you’re having this week, have it as a side or a snack, or a meal on its own (I love to add in a boiled egg or some hummus for protein).

 

Voila! You’ve just taken your first step toward ditching the diet mentality and eating food that will nourish your body.

 

Now before I let you go, I want to remind you that this doesn’t have to be 100% of the time. You don’t need to designate weekends or “cheat days”, just pay attention to how you’re feeling and what your body is asking for. Let your body lead the way!

 

If you want to learn more about letting your body lead the way into your health, make sure you’re signed up for my weekly newsletter! You can sign up by snatching any of the freebies available to you throughout my site, and then you’ll be added to my list.

The Paradigm of "I'm Not Quite There Yet" (Plus a FREE guide!)

 

I used to post a zillion pictures of my body with the caption beginning as “I’m not quite there yet, but…” Always acknowledging the fact that I knew there was still work to be done. Almost as if I felt I wasn’t allowed to accept my body unless it had reached a state of “perfection”. I’m not sure what that would have looked like, because I never quite got “there”.

 

 

This is such a common pattern for many of us. We hold tight to the idea that we should never settle. That our bodies are never enough. That if we did accept our bodies, we would just “let ourselves go…”...and that this body hatred is what keeps us motivated.

 

Here's how the story goes...

 

Susie goes to the doctor, and is told that according to the BMI chart, she is considered  “obese” and should really lose X number of pounds ASAP. She puts herself on a diet, gets a gym membership and loses the weight. She celebrates the weight loss for about a day, and then decides that she’s still fat, and wants to lose X number of pounds. Again, she puts in the work and loses that amount.

 

But that’s still not good enough. Next, she decides that she’s “chubby” and wants to lose X amount of pounds...I bet you can guess what happens next. She reaches her goal. But then, she’s “flabby” and wants to tone up. So she hires a personal trainer, learns all about supplements and weight training, and what it takes to “tone-up”, and she makes it happen.

 

All the while, her obsession with dieting and exercising to mold and shape her body is increasing-all due to the amazing results she’s seen thus far. She tells everyone who will listen “if you just put in the work, you’ll get results. No excuses!”

 

But it’s still not good enough. Sure, she’s put on some muscle mass and leaned out. But now she wants a 6-pack. So she kicks everything into an even higher gear. At this point she’s telling everyone “I still have long way to go, but I’m putting in the work every day to get there!” They’re thinking she’s crazy, because she already looks like she’s “there” to them (wherever “there” is).

 

She starts counting her macros religiously, making a big deal about every morsel of food that goes into her mouth, skipping out on all social activities because she couldn’t possibly miss a workout, or risk being tempted by her ever growing list of “off-limits” foods.

 

She sees more results, her body fat is the lowest it’s ever been. She decides she wants to compete in bikini competitions to take things even further. She loses her period, chunks of hair start falling out, she’s more stressed than  ever before. But she keeps up the charade of being “happier and more confident than ever!” Because she hasn’t yet realized the cost of committing to fight against her body for the rest of her life.

 

She obsesses over her body and its daily fluctuations. Pinching, poking, prodding. Always thinking about food.

 

“When is my next meal? My macros were off yesterday so I have to make up for it today. Why did I eat that extra spoonful of peanut butter? Damn, I have no self-control. Why can’t I just get it together? This is why I can’t keep my 6-pack.”

 

Then she wonders when this will all be over. When she’ll ever get to be “normal”. She decides that’s just not an option for her. She’ll gladly fight this battle with her body for the rest of her life. She’ll keep searching for that “magic bullet” so she'll never have to worry about slipping up again, or craving a “bad” food.

 

But then unexpectedly her boyfriend breaks up with her. She loses her best friend. She’s fired from her job. All at once. And the only way she knows how to handle stress is through by controlling her food. She copes with difficult feelings through exercise.

 

But she feels overwhelmed and drained. She can’t fathom getting herself into the gym. She doesn’t know what to do with the emotions, so she releases the grip she’s held so tight.

 

And she completely loses control. She can’t seem to get herself to stop eating. And she can’t get herself into the gym. Her body begins changing rapidly because of the tight restrictions, and the damage she'd done to her metabolism through all the years of food restriction and overexercising.

 

Her body rebels. And since she has learned to tie her worth into her body, knowing her identity as the “fit, toned girl”, her self-esteem plummets. She falls into a deep hole of depression. After a few months of completely disregarding her health, or listening to her body...she feels that she's “let herself go”.

 

Then, the cycle begins all over again...

 

It’s so interesting how we look at people with “perfect” bodies and think they have it all together.

 

Where did that idea come from? We never know what someone is going through. So we can never just look from the outside and make assumptions.

 

The comparison we do only leads to dangerous thoughts & beliefs that we aren't worthy. And that won't get us anywhere except feeling stuck and hopeless. Do you really want to live a life (or not live) waiting for a body? Or do you just want to start living said life now, since you really never know when it's over (as cliche as that sounds).

 

Thankfully for Susie, she eventually recognized the cycle and was able to break out of it. She learned that her unhappiness wasn’t actually coming from her weight, or what her body looked like. She was unhappy with her life and with herself, and the only way she felt she could change that was by changing her body.

 

But when she realized that didn’t work, she knew she had to find another way. So she learned that her value wasn’t tied into her body.

 

She quit trying to change her body, and just learned to accept it. She began eating nutritious, delicious foods because she loved the way it made her feel. She moved her body in ways that she enjoyed because it helped her handle the daily stresses of life.

 

She relaxed often, spent lots of time with friends and family, and discovered a new zest for life she never had before. The same zest she was searching for through her attempts to change her body.

 

She decided that she would never punish her body again, and that she could never bring herself to obsess over food and exercise in the name of body perfection ever again.

 

If you’re wrapped up in body perfection, and maybe you haven’t gotten as extreme as Susie yet, or maybe you have...remember that you can always choose again.

 

 

 

 

Here are 2 simple steps for letting of body perfection and learning to live a more present life:

 

Step 1: Uncover what it is you really want:

We all have our reasons for wanting to lose weight. We don’t just decide one day that we want to lose weight just for the heck of it. Often times we disguise it with “I just want to be healthy”. But what we don’t realize is that we’re actually wanting to be more acceptable, more confident, more worthy, and happier. Ask yourself what it is you really want? Take 5-10 minutes to really dig deep. Journal or talk to a friend about it.

Step 2: Go after what it is you really want:

We often hold ourselves back because we’re afraid. Afraid of how powerful and irresistible we really are. Not a certain amount of pounds from now...but right now. But we tell ourselves “when I’m thinner, then I’ll go after that job. Or that guy I really like. Or that goal I really want to reach”. But when thinner never comes, we’re just stuck spinning our wheels and making excuses. Then before we know it, life is over and we’ve wasted it just waiting for our “there”. Start now! If you want to be more confident, practice that. Learn to be comfortable in your body now. If you want to be happier, work on that. Don’t know how to cope with emotions? Learn how. Work on becoming a better you...that will get you a lot closer to who you want to be than weight loss will ever.

 

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the “shoulds” of our society...that you should eat a certain way, live a certain way, eat a certain way...but it’s time to take back your power. Explore what works for you. Decide how you want to feel. Take these first 2 steps to becoming a better version of yourself.

Click the picture above to get my FREE guide on getting what you want in the body you have right now! 

 

Now tell me...what’s holding you back from truly going after what you want? How can you take the first step in getting closer to what it is you want? Reply in the comments below, and let’s talk about it!

Blog Series: My Journey to Body Acceptance-Part 1

 

Has someone ever said something to you that burned in your mind for years?

 

We forget that the things we say, although often innocently, can have such an impact on the trajectory of a person’s life.  

 

I still remember one of the first times I learned to feel that my body was a source of shame and rejection for me.

 

I was in elementary school, and it was around the time where members of the opposite sex were starting to take notice of each other.

 

I don’t vividly remember comments being made about my weight up until this point, although I know there were plenty. But there was a moment on the playground that really shaped the way I felt about my body for a really long time…

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I had a huuuuge crush on this boy. We’ll call him Joshua to protect his privacy. He wasn’t my first crush, but he was one of my biggest crushes.

 

We were also friends, and he was so nice to me that I began to felt like I had a chance to impress him, and maybe even date him!

 

I was crushing on him for a while, and the day finally came where I was ready to confess my feelings for him! Reluctantly, but excitedly, I sent a group of my friends over to spill the beans.

 

As I waited for them to return, my heart was fluttering with excitement. Would I finally get my first boyfriend?!

 

What was just a few minutes-but felt like hours-went by, and my friends returned. They came at me running and jumping with excitement.

 

This was good news! I couldn’t handle the anticipation of what they were going to tell me...so I anxiously asked what he said.

 

At the same time, they all blurted out “Joshua said he would go out with you if you lose some weight!”

 

My face immediately dropped. My cheeks turned red. I felt humiliated, and my friends looked confused. They thought it was good news.

 

But I was devastated.

 

From that day on, I held tight to the belief that I wasn’t worthy of being liked by a boy because of my weight. This belief led into many years of painful behaviors and thoughts about myself and my worth as a person.

 

To be continued...

 

Tell me...what was the turning point that changed how you felt about your body? Were you younger? Or did it happen as you got older? Feel free to share in the comments below, or email me at lauren.m.kepler@gmail.com

All-or-Something Living

 

The old me was either super active, or spent all of her time on the couch. There was no in between. She was either on a strict diet or cleanse, or eating everything in sight with no abandon. She didn't know there was another way to live.

She always thought that she was either one of those super driven, successful people that she envied...or just not worthy.

What was it that made her feel that way?

From a young age, she was taught that her worth came from her looks. And she always struggled with her weight. So she was always on a new diet, cleanse, meal plan, exercise plan...anything that promised the "dream body" that would deliver the "dream life".

As she got thinner and thinner, and became known for being super "fit" by friends and family members...the pressure to be perfect only increased. Everyone was watching and scrutinizing what she ate, how much weight she gained or lost, and looked up to her as an example of how to be "healthy".

After over 10 years of searching, she realized there was no "there". As her body improved, nothing much else happened. It didn't improve her relationships, her happiness, her confidence...if anything, it only had a negative impact on those things.

One day she decided that she was fed up. She was tired of chasing this body that she would likely never have. She realized that she was ready to learn to accept the body she was in, so that she could begin living life now, instead of waiting until she felt worthy by society's standards.

She came across a few key concepts such as Intuitive Eating, Health at Every Size, and Body Kindness...and her world was changed.

All of a sudden, everything made sense. She began to realize that she didn't need to seek all these outside answers about what she should eat...how much...how often...when to exercise...her body would tell her all of these things!

She naturally began craving movement, healthy foods, and began understanding how to navigate her different moods, feelings, and emotions. Her relationships vastly improved, especially and most importantly, her relationship with herself.

For the first time in her life, she learned to accept and even love her body. She began to see her body as a faithful friend, rather than an enemy who couldn't be trusted. Her weight normalized, and her binge eating behaviors ceased.

She realized that by trying so hard to be perfectly healthy all that time, she was becoming more unhealthy. By letting go, she finally experienced the true feeling of health, physically and mentally.

I am now an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, and I empower others to find their own version of health through learning to tap into their own inner wisdom. I no longer feel trapped by the chains of body perfection and weight loss, and am on the path to becoming the person I always knew I was.

I am far from perfect; I make mistakes all the time. But I'm okay with that. I actually now embrace the imperfection, and I love learning from those mistakes. I live what I call an "all-or-something life", meaning I live somewhere in between the standards of extreme healthiness and extreme unhealthiness.

I don't follow society's ideals of health...I experiment with what works for me. I am mentally and physically healthier than I've ever been, and I'm so thrilled to be able to empower others to find their own path to health and happiness!

Want to learn more and receive weekly updates from me? Click below to sign up for my weekly newsletter and get access to my FREE Mindfulness & Food Challenge

5 Ways Dieting Backfires

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Dieting in our culture is the norm. It's so normal, in fact, that it's become the focus of summer talk, holiday talk, party talk, and of course many New Year's resolutions. Why do we do it? Because we think we should lose weight! (But that's another conversation). But here's the truth: dieting backfires!

What if we shifted our conversation into the reasons why dieting doesn't work? There are tons of reasons, but I'm going to highlight just a few in this post...

So what are some of the negative effects of dieting? Well, dieting...

1) Slows the rate at which your body burns calories

That's right...your body cannot recognize the difference between dieting and starvation. For that reason, once you begin to minimize your food intake...your body's biological instincts kick in. It then holds on to every possible calorie, and slows down the rate at which it burns those calories.

2) Causes you to crave high-fat foods

Again with those biological instincts...your body is starving, it needs fuel--and fast!! What does it crave? Foods high in fat, high in sugar, anything that will give it an immediate boost in energy. After all, it's only trying to keep you alive and thriving! Deny those cravings? They will only get stronger until you give in, and by then you'll likely be feeling verrry out of control.  

3) Increases your appetite

I bet you've been told time and time again (and also tell yourself) that it's YOUR fault and that you have no control around food. The truth? It is not your fault, and you cannot outsmart your body. Your body was built to literally fight to save your life every day. It will fight much harder than your "willpower" ever could. As I said in points one and two, your appetite is kicked into high gear from the perception of starvation. Think you're doing yourself a favor by denying your hunger? Think again.

4) Reduces your energy levels

Okay, so what immediately accompanies our dieting goals? Exercise goals! But what happens when you're super hungry and not getting adequate calories? You're exhausted! Which means what? You likely won't have the energy to workout. But you force yourself to anyway, and it's painful. No wonder you hate working out!

5) Reduces your ability to feel "hungry" and "full"

This is a big one, and one you'll hear me talk about often. Part of the solution to healing your relationship with food is learning to eat intuitively. A large part of learning to eat intuitively requires you to recognize hunger and fullness cues. On a scale of 1-10, how well do you think you currently recognize hunger and fullness? How often do you ignore those signals? Probably pretty often, right? Since we've been taught that our bodies are untrustworthy, and some outside source or "health guru" knows better than we do.

For every reason that dieting is encouraged, there is a counterargument. Dieting only backfires, which is great news because you'll never have to suffer through another diet again!  

My goal is to help you see the alternative, and help you understand that you don't have to torture yourself in order to live a healthy, fulfilled life.

So what is the alternative to dieting? Intuitive Eating, getting in touch with your body, Body Kindness, and learning to decipher what it is you're actually craving. When you learn to work with your body...your life, relationships and health will tremendously improve!

Now tell me...has there been a time that dieting has been beneficial or has worked long-term for you? How do your eating behaviors or overall behaviors change while you're restricting food? Comment below, or email me privately at lauren.m.kepler@gmail.com. I'd love to hear from you!