Drink a large glass of water BEFORE Every meal-No Excuses!
Don’t Drink Your Calories
Eat Protien at EVERY Meal —or stay hungry & grouchy!
Slash Your Intake of Refined Flours & Grains
NO Carbs after Lunch ( eat ‘lean & green’ at night)
Go to bed hungry!
These are just a few of celebrity trainer Bob Harper’s “Skinny Rules.“
Rules he promises are “simple, nonnegotiable principles…for health.”
Rules I broke over the weekend, and blissfully break regularly.
Exhibit A: Friday night’s dinner.
I met a few friends at Flatbread Neapolitan Pizzeria for a knock-your-socks-off-uhhhhmazing meal, which included mushrooms stuffed with ricotta, goat cheese, garlic, and Parmesan….
wood-fired prosciutto-wrapped prawns….
and Margherita Pizza (made on a GF crust—exclamation points!!)
Hello, delicious crispy-crust carbs! Oh my heavens it was all SO good…
and messy. 😉
Exhibit B: Saturday champagne. Pedicures and bubbly with Mom!
I could have sipped and sat in that massage chair all day long. 😉
Exhbit C: My newest chocolate crush. Enjoyed while watching my celebrity crush on the big screen. (p.s. It was so much better in 3D!)
There was a day when rules such as Bob’s prevented me from doing exhibits A, B, and C. I let a montage of eating guidelines dictate what passed my lips rather than my own intuition; I denied myself certain foods—bread, pasta, egg yolks—even fruit—because I’d read they’d make me fat.
It seems that over the past few decades, food rules have become so commonplace, that most of us—at some point or another—haven’t been sure what, when, or how to eat. We’re constantly bombarded with new eating guidelines like Bob Harper’s that promise svelte bodies, speedier metabolisms, and more energy.
Don’t drink chocolate milk unless it’s organic and drunk post-workout. No wait, adults don’t even need to drink milk at all.
Egg yolks contain too much cholesterol. No wait, the yolk is where all the nutrients are found!
Carbs only pre and post-workout. No wait, carb-backloading (eating carbs before sleeping) is the best way to fuel.
In my opinion, food policing is completely out of control, and it’s implications are harming, not helping, a society in which both obesity and eating disorders have become not the exception, but the norm.
The problem with eating according to a list of food rules is that, when broken, we’re flooded with feelings of guilt. Or, if the rules are followed, we’re flooded with feelings of deprivation.
I used to avoid eating bread, pasta, ice cream (the list goes on and on) in social situation because I worried about the aftermath—the unbearable guilt. These foods supposedly would make me gain fat, and even though I knew that eating them on occasion wouldn’t really make me puff out, the thought of dealing with the guilt after eating them was unbearable.
However feeling deprived from denying myself was also unbearable.I’d usually end up arriving home a few hours later—starving—and digging into a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, a jar of nuts, a bug of chips (or all three). The next day, I’d be ridden with so much guilt about what had happened the night before, I’d do everything in my power to “make up” for it. I’d run for hours; I’d eat little; I’d promise myself it wouldn’t happen again. But then it would.
It took me a long time to realize, and ACCEPT, that living by a never-ending and always-changing “list” of food rules was doing exactly the opposite of what I hoped it would: it was preventing me from being physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy.
Feeling stressed about going out for happy hour with friends, or attending my cousin’s birthday party (where there would be cake made with real butter and sugar—gasp); or traveling where I wouldn’t have access to all of my safe foods, was making it impossible to live and enjoy things that I’d convinced myself I didn’t care about, but that I truly DID care about. Things that I truly DID want to experience.
I was physically, emotionally, and spiritually starved.
I’m so grateful that those days are in my past. Arriving at a place where I feel at peace balancing Friday night pizza with sweet potatoes and salads took a long time, and certainly wasn’t easy, but it was oh-so-worth it.
If I’m craving ice cream, then I’m going to eat the ice cream and enjoy every cold, creamy, spoonful of that yummy goodness.
I’m not going to eat it because “I’ve earned it” with a tough workout, following “all the rules” or some other nonsense. Such a thought process adds fuel to the “food is the enemy” fire. I know, because I was there.
So What’s Wrong with Rules?
Some people may read rules like Bob’s and think they’re perfectly fine—even great. But that’s not what I see when I read those rules. I see rules that contribute to OCD eating habits. I see rules that continue to tell women they’ll never be good enough and that they must fix every perceived flaw they possess. I see rules that try to press every woman into some ideal mold — a certain pant size, body image, weight, or figure.
I see women stressing out. Depriving themselves of nourishment. Going to bed with a rumbling stomach unable to fall asleep. Causing themselves ridiculous amounts of stress over tiny, insignificant details that won’t have a big impact on their results. I see women trying to eat less and less. I see womens’ actions being fueled by negative thoughts (I’m too fat, I’m not good enough, I eat too much, etc). I see women thinking food is evil and that they must avoid it as much as possible.
I see women doing everything they can to follow the rules exactly as written because they’re determined to get results. But, inevitably, slipping up at some point because those rules just aren’t realistic.
The rules make it seem that if you’re not suffering, struggling, or depriving yourself, then you won’t get results.
And it’s simply not true.
The question I receive most often from readers is some variation of this: How do you balance a healthy fit lifestyle with indulgent treats? How did you become comfortable with enjoying forbidden foods?
The most important step is to reject all the stuff you read or hear from people about “guilt-free” food or “bad” food. Take it back to the science, and your own common sense. Does one food really make a person unhealthy, or is it all the choices we make every day that determine our holistic health?
In other words...Trust your OWN body. Discover what works for YOU. Develop a simple, sustainable lifestyle approach instead of turning to a fad diet or set of rules written by somebody else.
Love your body, eat well, and workout because you value yourself and want to become a better version of you. Eating and exercising should not be punishment; rather they should be enjoyable, life-enhancing activities!
Whether you want to be lean and athletic, slender, or just strong and healthy, you can do so. But have positive motivation. Stop looking to diets that encourage deprivation. Stop trying to be “less” and choose to be STRONG. Choose to be confident. Choose to be the best, most marvelous version of yourself.
Choose to be proud of your body and what it can do.
Life it far too short not to ENJOY it and LIVE it.
Happy Monday, friends! I am so grateful for you!
p.s. If you live in the US or UK, enjoy the last day of your long weekend! We’re celebrating by grilling out tonight (first time this year—squee!), and watching the season premiere of The Bacehlorette! It’s embarrassing how excited I am about this. 😉
p.p.s. This post is part of the fabulous #MIMM link-up at Healthy Diva Life! Don’t forget to stop by and say hi to Katie—she’s about to have a baby!
I want to know…
Have you or do you struggle with food guilt?
It’s gotten a lot better for me, but I definitely still struggle from time to time!
What food rules have you lived by or do you live by?
My list of past food rule flings is long! No carbs before bed; no fruit; no white carbs; X # of calories; no saturated fat etc etc etc…
What are your favorite pizza toppings? Thin crust or thick crust? What’s the best thing you ate last weekend?
I love a thin, crispy crust!