My social media rule: If someone makes me feel yucky about myself, I unfollow them.
(Understanding full well that there’s nothing wrong with this person, there’s just something wrong with the way I feel in response to that person. It’s on me. But it’s also on me to clean up my social media feed and make it feel like a safe, welcoming and kind place for myself. Since I spend WAY too much time there, ha.)
On the other hand, if someone makes me feel empowered, strong and capable, I watch them like a hawk. Follow their every move. Hang on every word.
Summer Innanen is one of those people, and I love the message she puts out. Last week I shared this on Instagram:
If your "lifestyle change" makes you feel like a failure when you can't stick to it, it's not a lifestyle...it's a diet.
I referred to them as a wolf in sheep’s clothing: programs that use “lifestyle change” language to promote diet-culture agenda.
People are looking to get healthy, and deep down we know that this requires us to alter our lives. The savvy diet industry is on to this, and so they market their unhealthy quick fixes as “lifestyle changes” to sell to more people.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get healthy. That’s not the issue. The issue is how we approach it. Diet culture instills unrealistic ideals of beauty and provides us with unhealthy ways of achieving them. And then they make a hefty profit.
Dieting is a $60 billion dollar industry.
Meanwhile, obesity rates are at an all time high and 1 out of 2 Americans has a chronic disease. Something isn’t working. But instead of thinking: diet culture failed me, we think: I failed this diet, I am a failure. We we run back to another diet and quick fix that inevitably won’t work. And the diet industry continues to profit. So how do we start to identify that wolf?
If a food plan asks you to replace any meals with powders and shakes, it’s a diet.
If a program involves more supplements than food, it’s a diet.
If a food plan requires you to weigh, measure and portion your food, it’s a diet.
If a program doesn’t educate you about food sourcing and quality, it’s a diet.
If a food plan requires you to eat less than 1800 calories a day, it’s a diet
If a program makes you feel like a failure when you can’t stick to it, it’s a diet.
If a food plan encourages you to ignore your hunger cues, it’s a diet.
If a program doesn’t take into account your individuality, your back story and your starting point…IT’S A DIET.
The cultural programming we’ve received isn’t based on sound science, it’s based on diet culture rhetoric: Exercise more and eat less, everything in moderation, count calories, willpower is the key to weight loss, no excuses. These concepts simply don’t work.
This week on the Funk'tional Nutrition Podcast, I interviewed Dr. Cristin Zaimes who talked a bit about how the brain impacts SO much of what we see, how we behave and decisions we make. Understanding this neuroscience is fundamental to making shifts in our bodies and lives: advances in brain science prove that a one-size-fits-all approach DOESN'T work. We must create INDIVIDUAL habits to best support our health. These habits might look different for everyone, and the way we approach them might also be different.
One thing is for sure: diets won’t get us the results we’re after. At least not sustainably.
3 simple things you can start doing for true, sustainable health.
Eat at home more.
Overheard on Instagram: “learning to cook is liberating!”
Restaurant foods and prepared packaged foods are filled with inflammatory oils and weird additives that don’t support health. Preparing food at home allows you to be your own nutritional gatekeeper - you get to choose what goes into your body.
If you’re afraid to cook, or not sure where to start, just try ONE new recipe or ONE new food. It doesn’t need to be complex or challenging - simple food is some of the tastiest.
Check out my Pinterest page for some real food recipes. But don’t just pin the recipe; transfer the ingredient list to the “reminders” or “notes” app on your phone. That way, the next time you’re at the grocery store, you’ll know exactly what you need.
Get more sleep.
Americans aren’t sleeping enough. One-third of us get fewer than six hours of sleep a night. This is a big deal. Robb Wolf devotes almost an entire chapter to sleep in his book Wired To Eat. What does sleep have to do with food, nutrition and health? A LOT.
Just a few nights of lackluster sleep can impair insulin sensitivity, increase inflammation, mess up the gut, impair immune function, alter hormones, cause cravings and impair brain function.
When working with clients, sometimes sleep is the first thing we address, even above food.
Let’s be honest: true self care isn’t always about green smoothies, lemon water and detox baths. True self care is about re-evaluating your relationship to your stress, your life and yourself. And doing the thing that you least want to do. Like dropping some items on your to-do list so you can carve out more time for sleep. Because if you’re not getting enough sleep, no amount of lemon water will help you.
Go to a restorative yoga class.
Restorative yoga is like the gateway drug to mindfulness, presence, and being in your body.
Slowing down and getting still allows you to retrain your brain, which is the driver of everything.
Anyone can do restorative yoga - you don’t need any special clothes, equipment or skill set - and it’s one of the best ways to step into your optimal health, and even your optimal weight.
Any food plan or program that doesn't encourage you to do the above three things...it's a diet, NOT a lifestyle change.
If you do these 3 things consistently over time, you will see some positive change. You gotta be in this for the long haul. I know this goes against everything diet culture tells you: you’ve got 21 days to fix yourself! You must get bikini ready! Abs by summer! Six weeks to a leaner you!
What are your health goals? Are you okay with not achieving them tomorrow? I find that when we approach change with a frantic attitude, it creates a lot of stress. This is taking the diet mentality into our health, and this backfires. True growth and change takes time. Give yourself that time.