Why You Should NEVER "Diet!"
If you're like me, you've gotten fed up with your current way of living and decided to jump on the healthy band-wagon and change your life for the better!
You find a diet that you dive into head first, along with a workout regimen that will surely help you smash your goals! You wake up earlier, meal prep, workout, drink shakes, invest in supplements, and you're doing fantastic... for a while.
You start to slowly miss one here or there. You notice you're getting tired and it's harder to keep going. You fail more and more to the point where you finally just give up. Then you deal with the guilt trip you give yourself when you couldn't accomplish this goal for the 100th time.
Or is it? This JUST happened to me!
I'm going to walk you through my "NEW DIET" and the 5 things I learned that totally went wrong!
If you know my story, you know that I have had a beautifully painful journey of healing that led me to a sense of peace last year that was magnetic and contagious! I was really on fire, finding joy in little moments, handling struggle like a boss, and spreading my positive vibes into the world like rose petals down a church isle! It was amazing!
Then came Lent! I love Lent. I'm Catholic and I have always loved the challenge of Lent to make me a little bit better every year. I can't always stay disciplined for myself, but I can always stay disciplined for someone else, and when I'm making God a promise, it usually motivates to me to stick to that promise no matter what! So I was excited this year to make it the best Lent Ever!!!
Here's the problem... I went against my own advice, and I paid the price.
You know how I always talk about making small changes that lead to the big ones? Yeah... I decided I would make about 5 big changes all at once and I have a feeling that's what the majority of Americans do on January 1st when we finally decide to make this year different!
I started a diet to improve my gut health, which is supposed to make a difference in your energy levels, hormone functioning, and even emotion and mood stability (all of the things that women, and especially trauma survivors, struggle with on a day to day basis). I also decided I would do "75 Hard" since I was already doing most of the things on the list other than the workouts and water intake, which were two things I really did want to start incorporating more of in my day to day life! Like I said... Best Lent Ever!
Well there were way too many things at once and they all compounded.
1. I was getting too much water for my body weight and became dehydrated (yes that is a thing). The water went right through me, putting stress on my kidneys and my body wasn't able to absorb it.
2. I jumped right into a high fiber diet which is terrible for your gut. That coupled with the dehydration from too much water (right? it sounds so weird) made my stomach bloat after everything I ate. Yes, everything. Not only that, but I started having crazy amounts of gas, that smelled terrible because the dehydration was making me constipated as well.
3. I was waking up almost 2 hours earlier each day to get in my morning workout before the rest of my day, so that I could do my second workout when it was warmer (it had to be outside). So I was losing sleep, which I found out is one of the most important things for mood, hormone and immune regulation! Talk about a contradiction!
4. My two workouts a day were adding calories to my expenditure each day, while the new diet I was on was naturally lower in calories due to many of the carb and meat replacements. So my calories-in went down and my calories-out went up. Not a good combo for energy!
5. Because I was doing this for God, I completely ignored all of the signals my body was giving me that this was not ok. I basically ran my body into starvation mode and my stomach blew up like those precious kids in those commercials for 3rd world countries that really do die of starvation. Not kidding you, I looked 5 months pregnant and I have pictures to prove it!
Finally, I had had enough when I went on a vacation for Spring Break and couldn't enjoy any of it. I got pissed off. And if I've learned anything in the last 10 years, it's that my anger is an indicator that it's time to listen to my body!
So that's exactly what I did!
I decreased my water intake to a healthy amount based on my body weight, gender, climate and activity level and saw an immediate difference in bloating and healthy digestion.
I ditched the high fiber diet after doing research and reading that it should be a slow incremental change (1-2g of fiber increases over 2-3 days). Now I just try to eat a variety of healthy foods and take a digestive enzyme before meals.
I slept through that first workout and went back to keeping morning time sacred to coffee and prayer! Wow, what a difference that made in my energy and mood in the morning!
I scaled back my workouts to meet my goals, instead of trying to meet a generic challenge that didn't even take into account what my goals were. I was still able to get my sunshine by walking my dog and reading outside, while saving my weight training for a time of day when I had more energy and felt less rushed.
I had a nice long talk with myself. I apologized for neglecting the signals that something wasn't right. I closed my eyes and let my body tell me where it was hurting, and then I put my hand on those areas for comfort. It was like a beautiful reunion and I got back my peace that I worked so hard to obtain for the years before this. I promised myself that I would never let anything steal our peace again! Not even an overachiever goal for Lent! (If you're interested in the last part about letting my body tell me where it hurts, I have a free Somatic Experiencing Guide in the Shop! It's called Let Your Body Speak! reclaimjournal.com/shop)
What did I learn from all of this that I want you to know?
It's the worst thing you can do to yourself mentally! Instead of dieting, just resolve to make "better choices". Let yourself know what things you would like to see change and why. Instead of saying "You can't have that", say "if you give in, we have to mark a tally on the oopsie page."
Do this trick I learned from Darrin Hardy: Keep a notebook with you, or set up a note on your phone. Put your goal at the top. If you do something that hinders you from reaching your goal, you put a mark on that sheet. This means that you didn't make a good decision in that moment to get you closer to the goal. You'll actually find yourself not making a bad choice just because you don't feel like making the tally mark!
Each day, you can try to have less and less marks.
Now, this technique only works if you DON'T want to pull it out and make marks.
If you are like me, and you LOVE making marks, do the opposite. I did a Win/Loss sheet. If I made a great choice in a time of temptation, I'd mark a tally on the WIN side.
If I didn't make a good decision, I'd mark a tally on the LOSS side.
I loved seeing the days that I won! Even if I had some bad tallies and messed up every now and then, I still got to see that my wins outweighed that! And on the days that I had a "shut out!" and got NO Losses, those gave me an amazing sense of accomplishment! Do what works for you!
So... don't diet! Just make better choices! Some great ideas are listed on the Shattered to Unbreakable Podcast Episode with nutrition and health guru Brea Sharron-Estep called Go With Your Gut! Give it a listen anywhere you enjoy podcasts! reclaimjournal.com/podcast
Oh, and don't try to change too much at once. Slow, consistent, baby steps are the key to success!
I love you!
Stay Sparkly Sweet Sisters!