My “before” picture doesn’t look terrible. I was just a normal twenty-something gal livin’ it up. However, my lifestyle was extremely toxic and my depression and anxiety were out of control. I experienced high highs and low lows and felt extremely insecure. I hated my body and I had no self worth.
So now for the spoiler alert, before I go on and on about healthy eating and exercise. The only reason I finally dropped those extra pounds for good is this:
I changed my relationship to food.
That is a simple explanation for something that took a long time for me to do. Eating habits are just that, habits. Habits can be changed to make room for newer, better ones with some time and practice.
I have struggled with my weight my entire life, from having disordered eating habits in high school to gaining the freshman 15+ in university. My weight has been all over the map. My negative relationship with food started when I was 15, in good old high school. My body starting changing and I wanted to be able to control it. I ate an extremely calorie restricted diet, over-exercised and become obsessed with every.single.morsel I put into my mouth. I weighed a little over 100 lbs and thought I was obese, I stared at my body in the mirror analyzing everything I saw. I perused pro-ED websites and fawned over photos of emaciated girls wishing I had their discipline.
As the years went on, my relationship with food and body image only got worse. My weight went up and down like a roller coaster. I tried all the go-to (guaranteed-to-fail) fad diets to no avail. I thought I knew what healthy eating was: skim milk (ew), bran cereal (barf), whole wheat bread (don’t get me started) and caesar salad (close, but not quite). I truly thought I was doing everything right, so I didn’t understand why my weight always seemed to stay the same. Here’s a hint, the 2-4 of beer I drank every weekend probably wasn’t helping!
When I came back from travelling post-university I had gained a lot of weight and was embarrassed to face friends and family. I decided it was time to make my health a priority. Rather than obsessing over every morsel I ate and hating myself most of the time, I chose to educate myself about what I was putting into my mouth and to focus on nourishing my body. I hate the gym, so rather than torturing myself and subsequently punishing myself for not going, I wanted to get exercise in ways that I enjoyed and felt natural to me. I always loved doing yoga, not for weight loss but for the way it made me feel mentally, so that was a start. I had just moved to the city and walked everywhere, rather than taking transit so that I could explore, and that’s what I did. I followed a bunch of nutritionists on social media for inspiration and actually took an interest in cooking for the first time in my life.
Somewhere along the way I stopped wanting to eat junk food all the time, and craving a midnight snack every night (and an afternoon snack and a morning snack). After making small modifications day by day, here and there, my eating habits slowly started changing.
It sounds so simple because it really is, nourish your body, move your body and love your body and it will love you back.
Here are a few of the vey small changes I made to my diet to start:
- nut milk instead of cows milk
- natural sweetener (honey, maple syrup) instead of sugar
- a warm glass of lemon water first thing in the morning
- 2 litres of water a day
- herbal tea instead of coffee
- homemade oatmeal instead of cereal
- green smoothies!
- adding as much veggies to lunch/dinner as possible
- cutting back on gluten and dairy (I still eat a little, but try to avoid overall)
Like I said, I didn’t do this all at once in fact it took years. It takes time to make little changes and if done all at once it can be overwhelming and lead to failure. The key is to be patient, gentle and loving with yourself. If you make a mistake (which you will, because you’re human!) don’t beat yourself up. Healthy eating is a life long journey and I’m still learning new things everyday and that’s part of the reason I love it so much!
My final thoughts on the matter: just start. You’ve got to start somewhere. Make one small change at a time and I promise you this will lead to BIG changes in your life you never thought possible. Once you start caring about what you put in your body it makes a ripple effect in your life and the lives of those around you. If you Just Eat Real Food, dieting will be a thing of the past. COOK! If you don’t know how to cook, you can learn, trust me. Try a recipe, if you fail, try another and keep on trying.
All of these things I know for sure, and I am living proof that you can start from a place of knowing nothing and end up in a place of balance, in body, mind and soul. I am still not perfect. I have my bad days just like everyone else. The difference is now I am empowered with the knowledge of what to put in my body that will make me feel like the best version of myself. Sometimes a chocolate chip cookie can be just as nourishing as a green smoothie, no guilt required! If you’ve struggled with your weight and body image and feel like you’ve tried everything and feel overwhelmed and exhausted, please don’t give up.
Today is the perfect day to start, by making one small change that could change your life.
What are you waiting for?