Climbing Off the Diet and Exercise Hamster Wheel

About three years ago, I was working as a personal trainer and wellness coach and something occurred to me.

I realized that I was promoting only one version of a healthy lifestyle.  For a while, I was convinced that this was The Way.  Anyone who disagreed, well, they were just wrong. Too bad for them

This “healthy lifestyle” looked something like this: find healthier versions of your favorite foods and workout several times a week.

But as I smiled, encouraged people, taught them exercise and suggested healthy food choices, I felt this nagging disquiet in my gut.

 

Like I wasn’t totally being honest.

See, I didn’t always make the healthiest food choices.

I frequently missed workouts that I had scheduled for myself.

I was not satisfied with how my body looked.

 

This led to guilt and shame and a constant flood of “shoulds”.

I should do more frequent or more challenging workouts.

I should log my food and count my calories.

My body should look a certain way, I am a trainer after all!

 

Rather than a sudden AHA moment, it slowly occurred to me over the years that I was not even close to the only woman who felt this way.

In fact, this low-grade body shame is rampant and yet subtle.

My eyes opened up and I looked around me and started to question everything that I had become used to seeing working in gyms and studios training people and teaching classes.

Many of the women I came in contact with were operating under the belief that their body was a problem that they needed to fix.

And I was guilty of perpetuating this belief.

 

I was guilty of living my own life this way. I was guilty of helping other women to continue thinking this way.

Be honest, are you living your life this way today? Do you feel the persistent (even if it’s subtle in the back of your head) stress of defining the perfect workout routine or the perfect diet that’s finally going to transform your body the way you want?

It is not your fault. We are so inundated with messages from our culture that THIS is what women SHOULD do.

 

It’s hard to unlearn these lessons. It’s hard to hear the truth through all that noise.

 

Here’s the truth:

You are worthy of love just as you are.

You are a whole lot more than your appearance.

Your body is amazing and beautiful just as it is.

You do not have to change your body shape and size to be okay.

You are already okay.

We are not all supposed to look the same.

Healthy habits like moving your body in ways you enjoy and eating nutritious food are ways of honoring your body and taking care of yourself.

When you develop these healthy habits with love and joy, they will become an authentic part of your life.

When you force yourself into habits that you don’t enjoy out of guilt, perfectionism or shame you are unlikely to keep them.

I get it. I spent many years on the diet and exercise hamster wheel before realizing that there had to be a better way.

 

Will you join me in figuring out what that better way looks like for you?

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