For as long as I can remember, there are few things in my life I’ve loved more than food. I was never a picky eater + was always the first kid to ask for seconds of cake at birthday parties. Food was my friend, not the enemy — until I got to junior high + high school.
My love of food soon made me the “fat friend” — even with playing volleyball for few years, working out for hours on the elliptical [high school CHAARG chapter?] + asking a friend who was 18 to buy me weight loss pills. I hated to love food — so much that I would continue eating more + more, even when I was past the point of being full.
After my freshman year of college, I actually committed to consistent exercise + a healthy diet + lost 35 pounds. I thought this would be the solution to all my problems + I’d finally feel happier + confident, but that was far from reality. My weight loss seemed to only send me deeper into a mindset of low self-esteem + discomfort with my body. Food scared me. It became all I ever thought about, no matter how hard I tried to direct my thoughts elsewhere.
This continued on for years. When I found VirtCHAARG during my junior year of college, things started to slowly get better for me. The community was welcoming + encouraged girls to be open. It was a safe place for me. After about 9 months of being a member + during the first week of the CHAARG FitPlan in the fall, I decided to really open up about my concerns for the first time + share my FitGoal during the first week of the FitPlan: to see an eating psychologist + to right my relationship with food. This was a scary thing to open up about, but my fellow CHAARG girls supported + encouraged me to pursue my FitGoal. I did my research + found a professional in my area that I felt good about + finally made my first appointment in December.
I learned a lot over the last 6 months I’ve consulted with an eating psychologist, + I’d love to share my major takeaways with you in hopes that maybe a fellow CHAARG girl can benefit as well.
1] MOST WEIGHT LOSS//HEALTHY HABIT “TACTICS” ARE BASED OFF NOT TRUSTING OURSELVES
One of the first topics my eating psych spoke with me about was trust + food. Without ever considering this in the past, she opened up the perspective that many weight loss tips//strategies are designed around the principle that we cannot trust ourselves with food. For example:
- Eat your meals on smaller plates for portion control.
- Avoid junk food aisles in the grocery store.
- Don’t go out to eat.
- Put the foods you crave out of reach.
- Completely cut something out of your diet because it’s *bad for you*
While some of these tips may work for some [for a certain time], they are not sustainable because they are based on mistrust, + by doing something out of mistrust, our self-esteem + appreciation for ourselves suffers.
2] IF YOU AREN’T SATISFIED WITH WHAT YOU’RE EATING, STOP EATING IT
This one is seriously revolutionary. Just because you started eating one meal, doesn’t mean you have to finish it. If the salad you’re eating for lunch is not tasting as yummy as you hoped + you wish you had a hearty sandwich instead, then why continue eating the salad? Your body is craving a sandwich + is unsatisfied with the salad for a reason. Maybe it’s low on carbs + your blood sugar is running low,+ that’s why you’ve got a sandwich on your mind. There’s no problem with saving what you made + eating something else instead!
3] DON’T RUN FROM IT; EMBRACE IT [WHATEVER *IT* IS FOR YOU]
One problem I opened up about during a session was that I always want to eat *unhealthy* salty snacks at my friends’ houses, like Cheez Its or pretzels. I would always feel so guilty if I ate the unhealthy snacks that I would deprive myself, but I’d end up eating nearly an entire box shortly after.
Rather than continuing to deprive myself, my eating psych encouraged me to allow myself to have a handful or two every time I went to one of my friend’s houses, even if I wasn’t necessarily craving it each time. What that taught me was once it became more of a *routine*, it no longer became a thought in my mind + I didn’t feel powerless to the food! It’s crazy how that works.
4] THE SIMPLEST CHANGES MAKE THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE
Just a warning: I’m about to disclose some info that’s a little *TMI*. But if it’s about health + wellness, it’s absolutely necessary to share! So — here it goes: for as long as I can remember, I haven’t been able to *go to the bathroom* every day. Everyone’s system works differently, so I never thought much about this; however, when my eating psych asked me about my bathroom habits + I told her what was up, she gave me something to try + asked me to note if it made me feel differently.
The only change she suggested I make? Stop eating after 10 pm. If I was absolutely starving, I ate a fruit or veggie, which are easy to digest. Just with that simple change, I found myself able to go to the bathroom every day within 15-30 minutes after eating breakfast, just like clockwork. ++after just a few days, I felt so much better. *Going* every day instead of just a couple times a week made a world of difference in how I felt physically! That’s when I truly realized that the simplest changes make a dramatic impact.
5] YOU ARE NOT A “GOOD GIRL” FOR EATING “GOOD FOODS” + VICE VERSA
We often times label ourselves based on our eating behavior. Saying things like, *I was good today because I didn’t eat junk food* or *I was bad today because I had ice cream* is engraining in our brains to think that we are *good* or *bad* based on what we ate that day. This is not how we should think. By doing so, we are judging our days [+essentially our entire lives] based on the foods do or do not eat. There is so much more to life + who we are than the foods we eat. Let’s be real, your day didn’t suck because of the donut you had at work, it sucked because you declared the day a bad one as soon as you took that bite.
6] YOUR BODY WILL ALWAYS TELL YOU EXACTLY WHAT IT NEEDS
++ By making yourself aware to its needs, you will never have to doubt your capabilities to make the best + healthiest choices for you. Simple as that.
Sure, this process takes great effort + is far from a perfect journey, but it is also a beautiful journey of becoming more in sync + connected with yourself. You will be doing much more for yourself than having a better relationship with food; you will have a better relationship with the most important person in your life: YOU.
Wishing you all appreciation + love for yourself. You deserve it.
+xo Natalie, VirtCHAARG girl from Grand Rapids