Let’s Hash This Out…
So, I had a lovely and beautiful friend bring up one of those “myth of the meme” quotes yesterday and likened it to my journey, with the explanation to another person that this was how I’ve achieved my weight loss thus far. The quote…
You can’t outrun a bad diet.
My friend (whom I love), tried to use me as the converse example of this quote, in that my habits show you can outrun your fork.
Nope. Let’s break this down.
- Food: I don’t diet. I don’t restrict foods (restriction leads to a pendulum swing of binge and overeating behaviors, negating the original intent in the first place). Everything under the sun is fair game. The only thing that limits me is taste buds because I can be a picky eater in some instances with particular foods I simply don’t like or enjoy, and food allergies (I am allergic to tomatoes). There exists a full permission to eat anything and everything under the sun. Do I then eat anything and everything under the sun? No. I use things like hunger cues, satiety, fullness to help guide me. Am I perfect in this? Heck no. Intuitive eating is an evolving practice, especially for someone like myself who has struggled with a disordered perspective on eating for a very, very long time. It takes practice, introspection, accountability in the process, and a lot of trying and failing. Labeling foods as good, bad, healthy, junk, etc is something that I have worked hard to eliminate from my vocabulary. Food is not “good,” it’s not a reward, neither is it “bad,” or something to punish ourselves with. Food is an inanimate object–why do we assign it that kind of power? Part (yes, ONE of TEN principles) of Intuitive Eating is gentle nutrition. This is not vigilant calorie counting, weighing and measuring every bite, and being a food consumption nazi–it’s an awareness of what you’re putting in your body and how it makes your body feel. Do I feel better when I eat a variety of foods rather than just the same one or two things over and over? Yes. Am I more comfortable when I eat a portion of something and stop when I’m satisfied as opposed to eating the entire bucket of something just because I plausibly could? Yes. This also doesn’t cut out of the realm of possibility that some days I’m going to come home and grab a box of Cheez-Its (which I’m not a fan of usually, but they happen to be there because I don’t live in a vacuum) because they’re sitting there and they look really good, sit on the couch with the box, and eat the quantity I please regardless of the serving size of the side of the container says. And it’s completely okay. The world doesn’t end. And I do it without guilt, shame, or remorse. And that day, they happen to taste really good to me.
- Exercise: Another principle of Intuitive Eating is exercise, often referred to as joyful movement. I don’t run because I HAVE to, I run because I get to–there’s a difference. I can’t put into sufficient words the immense joy it brings to me to run (and bike, and swim). Racing? Holy monkeys, that’s never something I’ve ever dreamed for myself–that’s like the next level beyond that immense joy that endurance sports brings to my life. If and/or when there comes a point when it doesn’t bring me joy or I’m not able to physically complete these tasks without injury or harming myself, then it’s probably time to look at another form of movement that would bring me the same joy, but for now, this is where I’m at. That said, there are some aspects of training that are less savory than others, but they are a means to an end–to become a stronger swimmer, cyclist, and runner and avoid injury, some level of strength training is necessary. I’m not a super huge fan of the gym. But, there are also creative ways to make it more enjoyable–as I get stronger, I am able to move away from assisted machines to more free weight apparatus for lifting weights that I like better. I can incorporate body weight resistance and yoga workouts into my training to supplement lifting too to get similar effects that are pleasant, but I don’t exercise out of a sheer means to simply lose weight. My training is out of my found love for endurance sports.
- Marrying Food and Exercise: this is where this whole bit can come off the rails. When you are stuck at viewing things from a diet culture or weight loss perspective, so much of things are viewed in a very black and white calories in/calories out viewpoint–that you have to burn more calories than you eat in order to lose weight. That only works on paper with a mathematical equation…and that’s it. Once you add in an actual person, varying foods, metabolism, age, gender, size, activity, health history, the day of the week, the tide, is it a full moon, whether or not one eye is blue and the other green, and if their third cousin twice removed on their brother’s uncle’s mother’s side was kosher (you get my drift…), you end up with WILDLY different results. I’m not going to elaborate on some of the reasons I log foods here, and honestly, calories aren’t my concern (because they lie), but here’s an example on why this whole calories in/calories out thing just doesn’t work: On an average 10 mile run at my current weight, I burn about 1760 calories. On that same average day, I consume 1500 calories. Would it not reason to argue that the scale would stay the same? Wrong. I actually will gain about 2 pounds the following day from that run (And no, I’m not explaining the reason why the scale goes up and what happens on day three–that’s a wholllleeeee other science lesson!). Take a different workout: I complete an hour swim session and burn 500ish calories. Swimming makes me ravenously hungry. I eat 2200 calories that day. The next day, I’m down three pounds. The math doesn’t work. But, I also don’t eat or workout as a slave to the scale either. The scale is a measuring stick in a few different ways, one of the biggest when you know how to use it properly in looking at things like sufficient hydration/levels of dehydration post-run, etc (but you have to learn how to do that and use that tool properly!). Those numbers go up and down daily–my head would explode if I were to allow it much worth in my life. When it comes to food and exercise, the principles still apply–you eat when you’re hungry, you stop when you’re satisfied. There’s some finessing in there when we get to endurance fueling in that you actually need to have a consistent stream of calories over time, etc to endure the situation–but for the average everyday person, that’s generally not a concern. You’re not fueling a 30-45 minute workout or a stroll around the park.
I’d be remiss in not saying that please remember, these are my experiences, I am not a professional and do not constitute my opinion for medical advice. You have to remember, I didn’t come to all this fount of knowledge on my own grey matter alone–I’ve taken classes, done homework, I have a triathlon coach, I utilize a registered sports dietitian, I consult my physician, and I have lots, and lots of others that I engage in conversation and work this stuff out with. I’m not smart enough on my own to come up with this stuff, and I try and fail–a lot!
At the end of the day, can I explain in a quippy meme how I’ve lost weight? Absolutely not. It comes right back around to the holistic journey. It’s the shoring up all areas of my spiritual, mental/emotional, and physical health for the glory of God’s creation….well, actually, maybe I can sum it up in a quote, this one comes from Lysa TerKeurst, “So, I’m not on a diet. I’m on a journey with Jesus to learn the fine art of self-discipline for the purpose of holiness.” Food and exercise only fall into that one leg of physical holistic wellness…there’s still a larger portion of the rest of me to keep in check too than just those two tiny components!
As I mentioned before in my previous post on intuitive eating, check out the book, Intuitive Eating (Tribole & Resch). There’s also some other great resources out there too:
Body Kindness (Book and Podcast by Rebecca Scritchfield)
*Nutrition Matters (Podcast by Paige Smathers)
Food Psych (Podcast by Christy Harrison)
*Love, Food (Podcast by Julie Duffy Dillon)
Hope that clears a few things up!