(Trigger Warning: this post could be triggering to those who have had experience with eating disorders.)
Last week when I checked in I mentioned that I was going to do Jamie Eason’s LiveFit Trainer again. This week I’ve been focusing on LiveFit and have shuffled my “rest” days since I had work commitments. I’ve been hitting my goals of BBB most days, and am pretty proud of myself that not only have I upped my activity levels (still nowhere near where they used to be because my feet just can’t take it), I’ve been getting 7-9 hours of sleep nightly, and have been eating at least one (most, actually) homemade meal each day.
However, it’s been mentioned that if I’m going to do LiveFit and see results, I probably should follow the nutrition plan that goes with it.
This is true! If you want to see results from any workout plan, you need to pay attention to nutrition. However, there’s a difference between paying attention to your overall nutrition and following a nutrition plan. And there is a difference between the results I want to see from LiveFit this time around and the results that I had previously been aiming for: I want a strong body — one that can perform the activities I would like to perform (running!) — not a sexy, muscular, ripped body. Yes, sexy and muscular are great side effects of this program, but they are not my end goal.
However, that doesn’t mean I can eat whatever the hell I want. But following a nutrition plan = dieting. As I discovered this year, dieting doesn’t work for me. Period. I’ve gone over this before, but I’ll say it again for those who are new to Intuitive Eating or getting frustrated with their own dieting efforts.
Why doesn’t dieting work for me?
When I diet, I eat far worse than when I just fuel my body with no calorie or nutrient goals. When I diet, typically I restrict all day, and binge all night. Even if I get that under control, there is still a huge list of “forbidden foods” or forbidden nutrients/non-nutrients (sugar! sodium!) and then I end up eating all my forbidden foods on a day where I have a hard workout, or when I’m emotionally upset. That’s when I do things like eat an entire pot roast (yup. that happened.) and wonder why my diet isn’t working since I’m hitting my goals every. other. day. No forbidden foods = no binging! No calorie / nutrient goals = no eating extra calories I “deserve” because I worked out.
Plus, I already have a huge list of default forbidden foods because of my food allergies and GI problems, so why add to that? The beauty (or sucky part) of that list is that I get physically ill when I eat those items, so I don’t binge on them. Other forbidden foods? That is a binge waiting to happen.
“Have some self-control, man!” you say? If you’re saying that, clearly, you have never dealt with an eating disorder or body image issue. It’s like telling a person with depression to “get over it” (if you’ve said either of these things, you’re in the wrong place, and I kindly ask you to leave because you don’t belong here. Mental illnesses are serious).
Eat when I’m hungry. Stop when I’m full. Pick foods that fuel my body — foods that aren’t allergies. This has worked well for me so far this year* — so why stop? *I’m down somewhere between 5-10 lbs, but I don’t know since I quit paying attention — clothes fit the same as when I was 10 lbs down. Also, I look like this (sorry, I don’t mean to trigger anybody, but I want to point out that when I started eating whatever I wanted and quit dieting, I lost weight, and became more toned):
What does my diet (daily intake of food, not “diet” in the typical sense of the word) look like? It’s pretty “clean” (for those of you who like that word — I don’t. I think it’s stupid, and a better term would be “nutrient-rich”). I eat at least one veggie per day, and typically end up going meatless most days. I have a glass of wine or a beer maybe once a week. I bake cookies every once in a while. I eat a piece of fried something or other once in a blue moon. But typically, I choose mostly local, organic, but — most importantly — fresh and nutrient-dense foods. I make 90% of my meals at home and the rest of those meals are typically filled with a run to the salad bar at the co-op, a protein bar or shake (though most of those have allergens), and on occasion, a scone from our café at work.
What I’m not doing: measuring, weighing, meticulously counting, or generally going crazy about food. In fact, other than when I’m grocery shopping or actually hungry, I don’t think about food. Food has become enjoyable again. I spent three hours poring over my Pinterest food boards trying to figure out what I wanted to make for the week. I even started a “make this week” board. Food prep is fun again! I love opening my fridge and having a ton of delicious options that are allergy-friendly and nutrient-rich. I also love the fact that if I want a cookie, I can have a cookie. And I’ll likely have just that: a cookie — not 10 because they’re forbidden.
What does diet mode look like for me? Typically I order out a lot because the low cal diet-approved versions of foods don’t cut it, and I’m left starving at 9 PM trying to find anything to fill the void. The void is likely a combination of hunger and emotions, but more emotions than hunger since dieting is all about control. I don’t need to try to control things I don’t have much control over (my weight. the way my body looks.) when I have bigger things I can control that need attention (work. school. life!).
I also know that if I try to pay attention to my diet even the slightest bit, I go into rebel mode and not only eat a lot of crap, I eat a lot of crap I’m allergic to, and that is not good at all. So I’m going to stick to the things I know I can eat, which include a lot of things that would never go on a nutrition plan (beef!). I’m allergic to oatmeal, and basically every vegetable, so I’m pretty limited in the traditional “clean eating” sense. I’m also allergic to basically every kind of protein shake, so I won’t be drinking any of those. I can’t eat bananas because they make me sick (not allergic. bananas are a mystery), so I won’t be shoveling a bunch of those down my throat either. Eggs have been making me sick (probably allergic), so I’m not going to be making egg muffins (gross gross gross). I’ve been told not to eat raw food if I can avoid it because I don’t digest it very well. There is no point in eating food if you can’t digest it since that’s how you obtain nutrients.
Anyway, rambling and ranting aside, you can see, I’m far better off without perpetually dieting. I guarantee you are too. A diet is temporary — you could follow a nutrition plan for a specific occasion, but when it becomes perpetual and starts taking over your life, that’s when it’s no longer healthy and is instead detrimental to you. I know that some people are dedicated to looking a specific way, fitting into a pair of pants, or looking hot in a bikini. These are great reasons to want to be fit, but these are not my reasons — and they probably shouldn’t be your sole reason for wanting to be fit either. Being fit is about health.
I might not look like a fitness model when I’m done with LiveFit, but that’s not why I’m doing it. I’m doing it to obtain a base level of fitness again, so I can do the things I enjoy once again — mostly to pick up running again. If I happen to get “shredded” in the meantime, then that’s just a fun side effect. Ironically, guarantee I’ll see more visible results this time around with strength as my goal and vanity off the plate.
Bottom line: You have to do what works for you. Dieting? That doesn’t work for me. Thank the good lord I finally figured that out.
Thus concludes my rant.
What are your thoughts on dieting?
I can come off pretty militant, but I am a huge believer in intuitive eating (or the No Shit Diet). I’ve gone through some pretty terrible periods in my life where dieting (or binging and purging, or exercise bulimia) took over, and I never, ever, want to go back there. I don’t want to see anybody else go through that either.
PS: to the person who mentioned that I should check out the nutrition plan — I know you meant well! I took a peek at it and have been working on picking foods that match the nutrients that they’re wanting you to hit, but I haven’t put a ton of thought into it because, as I outlined above, I will go crazy and the opposite effect will happen.