I still hear girls saying they want to weigh XX pounds less and should only eat 1400 calories per day way too often. I’ll hear that lifting and yoga aren’t good enough workouts because they don’t burn enough calories. And I think to myself, “Aren’t we over this already!?”
But then I remember that I am over it, but not everyone else is there yet. Years of my life were spent focusing on eating less and running more. The scale dictated my happiness each day. I turned down events with friends because the food wasn’t “healthy” enough, and spent way too much mental energy thinking about what my body looked like.
I am so grateful that I am past that. It wasn’t an easy process, but I gradually learned to trust my body and focus on keeping it strong and functional instead of just…small. I’m by no means perfect and still fall prey to the same insecurities as everyone else, but I can usually snap myself out of it. This platform is my way to share important lessons I’ve learned, and to hopefully help other girls get out of the eat less/weigh less cycle that can totally suck the happy energy out of you. Here we go!
More about my eating disorder recovery here.
8 reminders about your body image, burning calories, and true health:
1. You are so much more than how your body looks. You are your brilliant mind, your kind heart, your ridiculously awesome goals and your endless passion. You were made perfectly imperfect. Don’t let any magazine or Instagram account make you feel less than enough.
2. All bodies are meant to look different. Your natural body type is a beautiful because it’s yours and most likely is similar to parents or grandparents you love dearly. Some people are naturally stick thin and some people have more curves. Being thinner doesn’t make you healthier, and you can’t change your bone structure by burning more calories.
3. Don’t confuse skinny with healthy. True health has nothing to do with the number on a scale. The scale can’t show you if your hormones are functioning properly or your mental health is thriving. It doesn’t show if you’re eating foods full of nutrients, are happy in your relationships, or are getting enough sleep. It’s just a number.
4. Calories are not the enemy. We need them to live! The goal should not be to eat less, it should be to eat the amount that your body needs to function well and have good energy. And that amount isn’t constant. It depends on a ton of things, only one of which is the amount of activity you get in on any given day. And some days you’ll eat a little more than you need, some times maybe less. Sometimes you have birthday parties and other time you’re so busy that you barely have time to eat. You’ll even out if you’re eating intuitively. It takes time to get in tune with your body, but it’s worth it.
5. You don’t have to burn off everything you eat. That would actually be really bad, because we need those calories for all of the (insanely intricate and amazing) functions our body performs every single second. Cardio is great for heart health, but it isn’t the only exercise worth doing. It can be fun and energizing, but shouldn’t feel forced or like punishment. There are lots of ways to exercise that don’t involve slaving away on a machine at the gym. Find something you enjoy.
6. Resistance exercises are important for long-term health! Muscle helps keep your bones strong, prevent injuries and falls, and boost metabolism. This is especially important as we get older. You reach your peak bone density by age 30! If you have more muscle you might weigh more, and that’s OKAY. Additionally, lifting weights won’t make you look manly. (Side note – you can’t “lengthen” muscles. Muscles attach to your bones, and your bones aren’t getting any longer if you’ve already finished puberty. I don’t know where that bizarre female fitness phrase came from but it drives me nuts.)
7. Too much stress isn’t good for you. If your eating habits or workouts are causing you stress or anxiety, reevaluate. Mental health is just as important as physical health.
8. There is no one right way to be healthy. Everyone has different lifestyles, demands not their time, cultural habits, taste buds, and access to gyms. There isn’t one magic way to eat or workout. Figure out what works for you and makes you happy, and roll with it.