Okay, so now that my head is a little clearer with the migraine gone, we can get down to business.
Let me first begin by saying that this latest migraine was caused by my husband and I recently going on a 7-day cleanse diet (you can see full cleanse instructions HERE) I found on Pinterest. (Yes, I am a Pinterest addict. You can judge me for that later). See, after the holidays and my daughter’s recent 2nd birthday party where we ate waaaaaaaaay too much homemade Oreo fudge brownie ice cream cake, we both felt like we needed a little kickstart to get back into a good fitness routine. Now in our 30’s, we have both managed to store a little extra weight over the years the way squirrels store nuts for winter. We took our first step toward taming our flabby bodies by joining a local YMCA last May, but so far we haven’t been able to get into a really good routine. We’re getting there though, slowly but surely.
So, when I found the cleanse and told Steven I’d like to give it a try, he immediately jumped on board. We figured a week out of our lives wasn’t so long, and that it might give us just what we needed to finally shed those last pesky pounds.
Boy were we in for some disappointment.
By 10:30 am on Day One, we were sick of fruit. By Day Three, were both beginning to feel miserable and starting to take our frustrations out on each other. By Day Six, we were hanging on by a thread, and had agreed that, under no circumstances, would we ever do this cleanse (or any other cleanse for that matter) again. My headaches began somewhere around Day Three, and gradually worsened into the full-blown migraine by Day Seven.
That was when I decided, enough was enough.
See, on average, the diet industry rakes in over 40 billion dollars a year in the US alone.
40 billion a year.
Hell, with that sort of price tag, we should be expecting a whole lot better results, shouldn’t we? For 40 billion a year, we should be the healthiest, fittest, most attractive group of people that ever walked the earth.
Yet, the sad reality is that for all the money we spend every year on fad diets and gym memberships and special foods and fitness magazines, we still haven’t figured out how to do it right or make the results really last.
Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” and most people would agree that Mr. Einstein is a pretty intelligent guy. I wonder what he would think about our 40 billion dollar a year addiction to yo-yo dieting and get fit resolutions that often don’t last even six weeks into the new year.
Now, I’m not claiming to be any sort of expert here. I don’t have any fancy degrees in nutrition or health sciences or anything like that. What I do have is a whole lot of years of experience hating my body and trying to “fix” it according to what has become the generally accepted ideal of what is beautiful.
Sometimes, you learn a lot more when you take the hard road
And here is what I’ve learned…
1. Diets don’t work. They don’t. End of story. Period. At least not in the traditional “let’s eat just a specific type of food and achieve amazing results” sense. See, most diets are designed around deprivation. Whether it’s cutting carbs or meat or eggs or all refined sugar, trying to completely deprive yourself of something only sets you up for failure, especially if you’re depriving yourself of something you enjoy. Instead of trying to cut it out completely, it makes far more sense to me to simply set limits. I mean, I’m a self-proclaimed chocoholic, but even I can limit myself to, say, one Cadbury Egg, instead of inhaling the entire 5-pack on the way home from the grocery store.
2. There is no such thing as a “standard” for beauty. Everyone is different, and everyone should be appreciated for his or her uniqueness. Just because Jennifer Aniston might look great at 105 pounds doesn’t mean that I do (in fact, I was hospitalized in college in the midst of my eating disorder at that weight and, believe me, it wasn’t pretty). Instead of striving to fit some unrealistic ideal, isn’t it about time that we started celebrating the beauty of our differences?
3. Life is too short to be skinny and miserable. Instead, it’s time to start listening to our bodies and striving to maintain our own personal best. Each of us is different–different shape, different size, different metabolism, different tastes. So, instead of trying to conform to someone else’s idea of what is ideal and what is acceptable, we need to learn to recognize our own potential and live up to it. Listen to your body. Eat when you’re hungry and not when you’re bored. Choose a good balance of foods that are both healthy and delicious. And, don’t forget to treat yourself every so often. Feeling tired and run down? Get up off the couch and move. A body in motion stays in motion, so it only makes sense that your energy level would rise as you begin to expend more energy on a regular basis.
4. And, perhaps most importantly, learn to love yourself for the unique individual you are instead of constantly comparing yourself to someone you’ll never be. And really, why would you want to be? Be you. And be the best at it. Anything else is just a colossal waste of time.