One of the best descriptions I’ve seen about healthy eating is that it’s not an all or nothing plan – some things will work for some people that may not work for you. Some things may even work for you at one point, but not at another. I’ve experienced that one first hand.
At the end of my junior year, I was fed up with the way I looked. I was 5’2″ and maybe 130 lb, so not overweight, but no rail either. I had been a gymnast for years, and my body had retained the same shape with a bit more thickness. I didn’t like it. So I started dieting — but I didn’t consult anyone, didn’t do any research, and took the advice of the first Wikipedia article I found. It said that the best way to lose weight was to cut calories, and I figured that couldn’t be too difficult. I cut my intake down to 1200 calories. [I know, probs the worst plan I’ve had in a while.] In hindsight, I wonder how I justified eating so little (and so poorly!) to myself, and it worries me. So in May of 2010, I was probably 130 lb, give or take a couple pounds. Kinda like this…
See that girl? That was me before I got all whacked out on dieting. I could go out to eat with my friends, go to parties, and enjoy my life. This picture was from Prom in 2010 (end of April/beginning of May), my junior year. Three and a half months later in mid-August, I looked like this:
Yep, I had dropped to 103 lb (probably less for a few days). My mom was concerned (really losing her mind would be a more accurate description), my friends were on my case about eating, and I wasn’t having any of it. Now that I had dropped all this weight, I thought I would be so much happier. But I wasn’t. I had the same friends, same relationships, same personality. So I decided to gain weight. Unfortunately, I didn’t know how to do that the right way either! I binged, and looking back it was disgusting and embarrassing but I know how and why it happened. It continued until about the end of March, when I made one huge change.
I went vegan. Although I now enjoy eggs, fish, and yogurt on occasion, I still love my plant-based diet! It’s truly remarkable how much energy real, whole foods can give you! What made it so manageable was the fact that there are so many blogs, websites, and books out there that are dedicated to showing people how fun and delicious it can be to transition to such a diet. I honestly never thought I would be able to do it – how can you count calories if everything isn’t pre-packaged and perfectly measured?! Well, I finally realized that eating that crap wasn’t doing anything good for my body, and that it’s much easier to be healthy if you’re eating what your body needs. Oh, and I quit drinking Diet Coke. That was effing haaard. But I’m totally not missing those caffeine headaches at. all.
So here are my biggest thoughts on food…
1) Organic is important! We have no idea what the impact of chemicals and pesticides will be on our bodies in the long term, but do you really want your body to be the testing ground for that?! I don’t!
2) Whole foods outshine processed every time. Get ready to say PTFO to white bread, refined sugar, artificially made ingredients, & harmful chemicals. They do nothing for your body and often leave you hungrier than you were beforehand, anyways.
3) Listen to what your body wants — this is just another way to say eat intuitively. This one is tough! I’m so far away from mastering it, but the more effort you put into it, the sooner you will learn what your body needs and what fits you. Your body is a brilliantly functioning machine, and it will tell you what it wants! PS, it’s your cracked out taste buds that want the whole sleeve of Oreos, not your body! Soon the difference becomes apparent, I promise!
4) Eat the rainbow! Skittles got that one right, even if their product isn’t the most ideal snack. Instead of a handful of strawberry skittles, how about some ACTUAL strawberries?! Crazy talk right? Let me put it this way. Whole foods (fruits, veggies, grains, legumes, etc.) are like that designer dress/bag/pair of shoes/whatever that you’ve been lusting after. Junk food is the knock off. If you have a choice between the two, which one are you gonna pick? The cheap, easy route that falls apart after one wash? Or, the whole food, the designer item that not only makes you look great, but also feel great! You get this one single body, use it and cherish it!
5) There is no reason to fear food. Yes, avocados and peanut butter have fats in them – but they are the fats your body needs and they give you gorgeous hair/skin/nails/life. Yes, potatoes and bread have carbs. But have you spoken to people on Atkins? Probably not, because they very well might have bitten your head off in the first few words of conversation, because carbs give you energy. Therefore, cutting out carbs cuts out energy. And protein? Sure, body builders use it to get big ash muscles and be super ripped. But unless you like feeling achy every day of your life I would down some protein – preferably plant based, but I won’t hold it against you if it’s not! Do what’s best for you. Please, don’t hold yourself back by significantly cutting out any one of these!
6) The biggest challenge of all — live your life, and live it well enough to tell stories about it when you’re old. My favorite Operation Beautiful quote reads something like, “In 10 years, people won’t remember your dress size or your thighs. They’ll remember your smile and the effect you had on others.”
So please, do yourselves a favor, and love your body!
PS, one of my favorite philosophy pages comes from this girl, Katelyn. She basically explains why I feel the way I do better than I can myself!