Time and time again I am reminded of how hard I am on myself. Part of working with a behavioral nutritionist and normalizing food is not only recognizing the feelings I associate with various foods and meals but also realizing how hard I am on myself.
As a lifelong dieter, there are just some foods or food groups that send me into a downward spiral emotionally. Instead of just enjoying the food in the moment and treating it as just that, food, I agonize over my decision to eat the food and fret about the negative effects the food will have on me and my weight.
Let’s take cheesecake for example. I probably have cheesecake twice a year, usually for a special occasion at the Cheesecake Factory. I go into my meal excited for the cheesecake I’ll order at the end of our meal. I mull over the 10+ cheesecake flavors and eventually settle on one piece. In my head, I battle with whether or not I should just share a piece with Neal, but I almost always order my own and create a plan in my head for how I’ll eat my cheesecake. (Already, do you see how much time and energy something like cheesecake wastes?) Whether I eat the entire piece then or over a couple of days, I almost always beat myself up for having eaten a piece of cheesecake. Cheesecake! I’m left feeling like that one piece of cheesecake has derailed me. I make myself feel bad about what I’ve eaten and end up creating unrealistic rules around the particular food. Cheesecake is just an example, but there are far too many foods that lead to me beating myself up.
It’s not just food, though. I’m too hard on myself when it comes to my workouts, my weight, my sleep, you name it. Little moments remind of this, like when a friend told me that she’s glad she doesn’t own a scale as she knows how much her weight fluctuates after certain meals or vacations. She talked about simply getting back to her normal routine and being thankful for the treats and experiences she had at various events or while traveling. I’ve talked about this a number of times here on CCC, but I can’t imagine a freedom where the number on the scale doesn’t dictate how I feel about myself. Sure, I’m better than I was, but the number still means something to me. It has for 25+ years and it’s a tough relationship to mend.
This isn’t meant to be a “woe is me” post. As I work to normalize my relationship with food, I’m beginning to recognize my other habits that not all people have. I just assume that everyone weighs themselves and agonizes over their weight. I just assume that everyone battles over whether or not to order that piece of cheesecake or to eat various foods. What I’m learning is that it doesn’t have to be this way. We can all live a life where we’re healthy, active, and treat food as just that, food. We can reach a place where the number on the scale doesn’t define us…or at least we don’t allow it to dictate how we feel about ourselves.
In the end, it takes a lot of work to change our habits. It’s going to take time for me to normalize food, but I’m grateful to be working with doctors who understand both the mental and the physical battle. I also pray that food can just be food for my children. I can look back on my childhood and recognize all the moments that led to me beating myself up over food and my weight. I don’t want my children to feel that their worth is defined by food or their weight. I can see, through various people in my life, that a normal relationship with food, fitness, and the scale can exist/does exist.
A few things that are helping me/things I’m working on…
- I still weigh myself with my doctor. As I’ve shared, I’m still working to lose weight, and the scale is a healthy assessment on occasion.
- I do have a scale at home, but I am thinking of giving it up altogether.
- I allow myself to eat any and all food. I am working to stop labeling foods as good or bad.
- I am working, with my doctor, to eat a balanced diet. This allows me to eat whatever I want over time.
- I recognize that having something like cheesecake is totally fine. It is not going to derail me.
- I am tracking what I eat in the Rise Up app.
- I am buying/wearing clothes that I feel good in. Sure, I have small clothes in storage that I want to wear again, but I need to own clothes that fit my body and make me feel good day to day.
It’s easy for people to say, “Stop being so hard on yourself,” but it’s all I’ve ever known. I’ve felt bad about myself, others have made me feel bad about myself, and society has made me feel bad about myself. It’s a hard cycle to break, but for those who feel the same way, just know you’re not alone.
It takes time to change habits. It takes time to normalize food. It all just takes time. What I’m learning is that you have to take everything one day at a time, make yourself a priority, and honestly, you have to just stop being so hard on yourself. It’s hard, but the change can happen.