Sometimes it’s important to stop worrying about the psyche and to do something for the body.
Navel gazing is all well and good (and clearly I’m prone to do a fair bit of it) but I want to feel fresh in my body again. The Christmas/holiday time has been a wonderful excuse to indulge in all sorts of junk food and bad habits. Well, if I’m honest, I’ve haven’t been looking after my body very well for at least a year or two. Being overweight and unhealthy generally means I have less energy, but recently I’ve been so bad with my eating that it’s making me feel icky.
So, this weekend I’m doing away with the icky! I’m going to drop junk food completely and drop sugar as much as possible. I made a big pot of soup last night, which will help! Last time I tried to drop sugar, I crashed a bit energy-wise. At the moment, I’m already lacking energy and I have a quiet weekend planned, so I doubt I could get any worse! I’m actually looking forward to feeling clensed and fresh in my body, even if I only have a lazy weekend curled up in front of the cricket and tennis.
I’m also going try logging my food intake for the weekend. There are many reasons to keep a record of my food, but I’m not doing it to count calories. In fact, that is something that often puts me off recording my food, because I hate food to be something that I can’t enjoy because of some numbers. (Maths ruins everything, doesn’t it?) The main reasons are to get some perspective on my eating habits and to make me a feel a little more mindful of what I consume. I have been learning, since I started Drop One, Add One, that sometimes the best thing I can do for myself in a number of situations is to pause. If I know I’m going to write down what I choose to eat, then I’m more likely to pause before I make a choice, and therefore make a better choice.
The other benefits of a food log are ensuring that I’m getting enough fruit and vegetables (and enough variety), noticing general habits (such as when I choose to snack and why), and noting other physical things that might be linked to diet (such as headaches and migraines). I will also try an app I use to log my exercise that also logs meals, and I will therefore get a bit of an idea of my calorie intake, but this is not my focus.
Incidentally, have you noticed how we’re all weight and food obsessed, but we’re supposed to pretend we’re not? We’re constantly trying to cut out bad food and to exercise more and the number one reason we want to do this, really, is so that we’ll look thinner (or more toned). It’s a horrible truth, but I think it is the truth. We’re told dieting is ineffective and bad for our body and our self-image, and so we don’t go on diets, we “change our eating habits” or make “lifestyle changes”. Of course we all want the other benefits that usually come with weight loss – more energy, healthier arteries, more stamina etc. – but it’s usually being aware of our flabby tummies and double chins that make us feel wretched. However, we’re not supposed to change our habits just so that we can fit into a smaller clothing size, we have to do it for inner reasons, or else (we’re told) we’ll still have issues with self-confidence and self-image. I do think that it would be ideal if none of us cared about our appearance and only wanted to be healthier, but I think these days we feel pressure to look thinner and yet are ashamed to admit that we care about our looks too much.
I will admit here that I do want to look thinner. I wish I lived in a world where there was no pressure to look thin and I wish I was someone who didn’t care about looks, but that is not reality. I don’t feel that I am obsessed with weight or feel that I need to be ridiculously skinny. I’m realistic enough to know that my body isn’t built like that and that my natural healthy weight won’t be as light as many people my height. However, I am aware that I feel unattractive being the weight I currently am and this gets me down. This fact frustrates me, really, because I abhor this obsession with being skinny and beautiful (or a particular weight and a particular type of beautiful) that permeates our culture.
Yet, interestingly, it is never my appearance that motivates me to make lasting changes. It might make me feel guilty and wretched when I stay at home and eat chocolate that I know will contribute to my weight, but somehow it doesn’t make me put down the chocolate and do something active. What does make me change my eating is wanting to feel better inside, or wanting to avoid health problems. What does make me exercise more is needing to look after my back or wanting to have more stamina (for playing with my nephew or walking around the city, for instance). So I suppose there is wisdom in focusing on the “right” reasons to make changes.