As January has come to a close, I have been reflecting on the month. Living in the great northeast, about the only thing growing around us is snow :). Of course that is much to my delight as I love snow, skiing, snowshoeing, snuggling under heavy blankets and the pure peace, beauty and coziness that comes with a good old fashioned snowstorm.
Untouched trail about to be demolished by my snowshoes and Pup’s paws..I sank to my knees on snowshoes and I was still not hitting ground!
There is one thing that grows here in January however, and grows most everywhere this time of year… and that is diet culture. Talk of various diets, weight loss, exercise plans and Fit Bit trackers is ubiquitous at this time. In the past I really thought it was ‘my issue’ that I felt stressed around that kind of conversation, and to be fair, it is. My stress is mine and if something triggers me, it is because I hold something in me that touches that particular topic. It is a journey as I continue to work on listening to my body and respecting my needs – whether that be for kale and cucumbers or for brownies and ice cream.
I have come to a new place with this topic though and I just realized this yesterday. We were in the lunchroom at work and talk began about a contest some are having involving weight loss and tracking steps. I felt slightly stressed as I tend to around any diet talk, but I also felt very clear – this talk is toxic – not just to me but for our culture at large. It impacts people in ways we do not even realize because we are so accustomed to hearing it. To the outsider it just sounded like friendly banter of coworkers in the midst of an effort to improve their health. But what we know about that is that it negatively more than positively impacts health.
What kinds of conversations
could we be having if we were not talking
about food and weight so much of the time?
How can that be? Don’t all Drs prescribe weight loss to their patients who are suffering from pretty much any ailment they present for? What we know now is that prescribed weight loss is not sustainable. Sure, anyone can go on ‘X’ plan and lose weight, but why do 95% of those people gain that weight (and often more) back? Would we take a birth control pill that was 95 % ineffective? So people lose weight, gain it back, and feel like they failed, creating yet another reason to say ‘what the H-ll’ and binge in response to their self -defeated feelings and their weeks/months of restriction. What they are unable to see is that they did not fail – the diets fail. They feel more disempowered and disconnected from their bodies with each attempt.
January brings this renewed sense of ‘this year will be different’ and because of our culture’s messages, a large part of that is focused on weight. Office lunchrooms, school cafeterias, dinner parties will all find multiple conversations leaning in this direction. This year I am choosing to just remove myself from the area when I hear this kind of talk though certainly at times, when appropriate, I will share my viewpoint. I recognize that everyone is not ready to let go of the thin ideal, that these messages are deep and fixed in so many of us and it is a process (one that I am still in the midst of) to shift to a new paradigm. This shift often results in a grieving process as people have dreamed that ‘once I am “x” weight….’ life will be perfect, I will have love, money, respect, health’….I have patients who are young 20 somethings to those who are retired, grandparents, widows…who struggle with these issues on a daily basis. I feel so inspired when they are able to take in even a tiny bit of this new information….people are remarkable.
‘Good’ foods are any foods
that feel nourishing to my body and soul’
How amazing would it be if we could all be more respectful of our bodies? If we could give ourselves what we want and need and not apply moral judgement to food choices? I have been slowly, shifting to this mindset with the awareness that our bodies are smarter than we give them credit for. If we take care of them, they find where they want to be regarding weight. We can go to various lengths to try to change that, but it is ultimately temporary because our bodies are designed to survive and fight efforts that work against them.
My intention is to keep feeding the love by feeding my body <3