Healthy eating can be define differently by many people but for me, it goes beyond what you put in your mouth or the labels on the packaging. It’s about “why” you are eating what you are eating and it begins with a healthy mindset. For as long as I could remember, my relationship with food was horrendous. As I got older, it became more destructive and I never thought I would be able to get out of it.
Through therapy and my first prep, I began to learn the reasons behind my disordered eating and learned to identified emotions that were attached to my impulsive, self-abusive episodes. I rebounded terribly after my first show and even though I added 30 pounds really quickly, I noticed something shifted inside of me. I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror but I didn’t hate me. It took some time to level out my post-show binges but when I did, I made the decision to spend the next 3 years eating what I wanted with no fear.
I accepted my body but this was easier said than done. I always had aesthetic goals of losing fat, but my failed attempts to limiting my food intake was a clear sign that I wasn’t ready to categorize my food again. Slowly but surely, my weight became just a number, I enjoyed my workouts and embraced my athletic physique.
I stopped categorizing food. We live in world where if you don’t follow the categories of food then you are doing something wrong. Well, I said “F*ck that!”. Obviously, I knew that certain foods were more nutritious than others. I knew sugar wasn’t great, too much caffeine can negatively impact you, processed foods can be damaging…etc. but I didn’t care. My fitness friends would often make comments like, “We have to earn that meal!” or “We shouldn’t be eating this.” I would respond with, “Who’s we? I eat whatever I want. I have no fears…” I’m sure they didn’t get it, but I didn’t care. Saying out loud that I eat whatever I want wasn’t for them, it was reinforcement for me.
I stopped “earning” meals”. This was probably one of my biggest pet peeves with society. The idea of earning meals. What the hell is that?! I don’t need to earn my meal! I’m human; I need food to survive, I enjoy food for pleasure and the only thing I should be earning is the money to afford to put that food in my mouth. I cringe anytime I hear or see people saying that they earned a meal as I feel that it puts this negative meaning behind delicious food. “I must torture myself in the gym so I can feel less guilty about eating something I enjoy and don’t want to live without!” No, that won’t be me.
Don’t get me wrong; if you have aesthetic goals then you need to eat accordingly. If you want to gain muscle and keep your fat increase at a minimum then you need to strategically eat above your maintenance. If you want to lose fat, then you need to restrict your intake. There will be foods that you should or shouldn’t eat based on your goal and foods that are more healthier than others, but these decisions should be based on the purpose of your goal not the purpose of your happiness. I needed to spend the 3 years not being afraid of carbs, not regretting indulging, appreciating what my body looks like and is capable of doing, but most importantly, enjoying life and not letting food dictate me. It hasn’t been an easy road and I still have my struggles, but I also have a lot of self-awareness to recognize when I need to take step back and focus on my mental health.
We all have our food issues, but my hope is that my stories can help someone else work through theirs and stop fearing food because it’s pretty freaking amazing. Oh and get this, when you start taking care of your mind/body, your mind/body will start taking care of you!