The Dieting Advice That Changed My Life :: Part 2

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Read Part 1 of Ashey’s story here.

My fitness coach, Jude, told me to eat more. I was worried about gaining even more weight now. But I had a new perspective. I was focusing on health now, not on weight. Additionally, I chose to trust Jude, who has been at this training thing for a significant amount of time.

As it turns out, he was right.

Starving your body teaches it to hold onto every little bit you’re willing to give it . . . especially if you’re working out a lot as well. As I write this, the image that comes to mind is of Biff Tannen from Back to the Future knocking Marty (me) over the head with his fist: “heLLOO!  McFLYYYY!” It all makes perfect sense.

The Change

I started eating two palm-sized portions of protein, a handful of carbs, and an open-hand sized portion of veggies at every meal. I found myself far less ravenous for snacks throughout the day. If I was hungry, I’d grab a protein shake. Boom. Satisfied.

I also noticed that my brain worked better. FAR better. No more late morning brain fog. No more 2:00 p.m. crash. I felt awesome, so awesome that I didn’t even care if I lost weight or not. Additionally, Jude was working with me on things I had sworn off for myself due to old injuries– things like push-ups, pull-ups, and presses. I was beginning to focus more on what my body could do than what it looked like.

The Challenge

A few weeks later, I got on Elevate’s fancy scale, called an “In Body.” This thing gives you unbelievable amounts of information on your body composition. During one of our first sessions, the In-Body had given me a print-out that recommended that I gain some lean muscle and lose some fat. I told Jude that I didn’t want to see my print-out this time, as I believed it would sabotage my mental state. After reading it over, however, he encouraged me to check it out.

I had traded a significant amount of fat for muscle in a pretty short amount of time. I couldn’t believe it. And here’s the kicker . . . the In Body’s “advice” for me? Just maintain this.

“What?!” I thought. “But what about my fat legs? What about the fact that I’m still 20 lbs over my ‘ideal’ weight?”

Oh. Right. Wow. My “ideal” weight was not ideal. This machine, which was created to print facts and not compliments, was saying that I was just right– healthy just as I was.  

The challenge before me was this: would I be willing to believe it? I was sold on eating more. The greater difficulty would be changing my mindset.

Progress, Not Perfection

Jude told me of a day in which he took one of his female clients around the facility and asked several other (very fit) female clients how they felt about their bodies. “I hate it” was the overwhelming response. And the reason he did such an exercise with her? You guessed it, she hates her body, too.

We women, especially American women, are in a no-win situation. We can get extraordinarily fit and still, still, not look the way we want to look. Why? What we really want is perfection. No fat. Just the right amount of muscle. No wrinkles, flab, or flaws. What strikes me about this– this perfect image we have in our minds– is that it isn’t human.

A human being was made purposefully to grow and change. We were made to display diversity and uniqueness. I believe that our flaws, our physical, emotional, and spiritual shortcomings, are purposeful as well. According to what I believe, there is only One who is perfect. And that isn’t me! I believe that we were also made to worship. I will tell you from firsthand experience, my friend, that body-image worship will leave a person empty, exhausted, and depressed every time.

A Healthy Comparison

"Eat More and Change Your Mind!" - The Best Dieting Advice I Ever Received

Strong is how I feel when I see this picture which was taken just a month ago.

Today, my thoughts on my body are those of progress, not comparison to an unattainable ideal. I can lift, push, and pull more than I could in February. I can live everyday life without fear of migraines and neck spasms. And I can work outside today without worrying that I’ll pay for it in pain tomorrow. Every time I’m tempted to size myself up by the cellulite on my legs, I think about how much they deadlifted yesterday . . . and how much they might lift next month. Comparison can be a healthy thing when its focus is how far you’ve come and where you’re going. Even small progress in the right direction is something to be celebrated.

Now What?

If you’re struggling with body image the way that I was, I highly encourage you to do the following:

  1. Challenge your “ideal.”

    Are your goals for yourself motivated from a healthy place of growth or from a place of self-hate? Is your goal realistic and measurable, or vague and unattainable? Is it health-focused or image-focused?

  2. Talk with a health-focused professional.

    This is not your friend who lifts sometimes. This is a person who has studied the human body and who will encourage you in the right ways. Find someone who will keep your long-term health in mind. You can lose a lot of weight by cutting out certain foods and do a lot of metabolic damage to yourself while you’re at it. Don’t do this. As with anything, slow and steady progress is the best way to go. And make sure you’re eating enough. Your health-focused professional can discuss the hand method I touched on or help you calculate your macro-nutrient needs. If you’re not eating enough, you will sabotage ALL of your efforts.

  3. Check out some good books.

    Jude recommended a few books that have really helped me gain a healthier perspective. They are: The Genius Life and Genius Foods by Max Lugavere and The Comfort Crisis by Michael Easter. And don’t forget to check out Compared To Who as well!

  4. Change your mind.

    Instead of thinking “I hate my body,” ask, “What’s something I want to work towards?” Whether it’s a mile-long walk around a park, a 5K, a Spartan Race, a big hike, or simply doing 10 push-ups, a goal that you can watch yourself progress towards (and eventually accomplish!) will change your relationship with your body. I didn’t always believe this, but it’s happening to me. I’m a believer, and I hope you will be too!

    Additionally, give yourself permission to throw some thoughts in the trash can of your mind. “I’m fat,” “I’m ugly,” “I’m worthless,” “I’ll never look good,” and anything along those lines are trash. They are not worth your precious brain energy.

How have you overcome body image issues? Please share! This is a common struggle for women of all ages. You’re not alone, sister. And we are here to celebrate your journey with you.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.

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