Your book Healthy Is The New Skinny has been a true phenomenon and such a positive movement. What do you believe are the three keys to living a healthy lifestyle and staying committed to it?
There is an endless amount of misinformation on health out there. We are told what to eat, how to eat, how much to eat, when to eat, how to workout, how often, how we should look doing it, etc. It is extremely confusing, and it is also why the diet industry makes $20 billion annually. As people, when we are at a loss for what to do next, we are willing to let others tell us what to do without first stopping to think of their agenda. I believe the three steps to living a healthy lifestyle are the following:
1.) Break up with the diet industry. We have all done diets, meal plans, cleanses, and supplements before, and we have all had the same results that led us back to a place where we felt the need to try a new diet! There are 108 million dieters in the US every year, and 85% of them are women. Ninety-five percent of dieters gain their weight back in 1-5 years. That should be enough evidence to tell us that diets don’t work and logically this is bad investment of our time, energy, self esteem, and money!
But that isn’t the only reason we should break up with the diet industry in order to become our healthiest selves. We need to break up with diets because they also tell us we are not enough and that we can be “good or bad” based on what we weigh and how many calories we eat and are able to burn. The overall messaging behind diets that propels you to buy them is that you are not good enough as you are and in order to live the happy life you want, you have to get “hot” first!
In our culture, being hot is synonymous with being skinny. That type of thinking is what I call a negative life cycle because it leads us to making choices based solely on weight loss with the constant theme of failure as we try to maintain unrealistic roadmaps to happiness. This is an unhealthy relationship that will continue to reduce female value to a body, and a small one at that. It is hard for women to be powerful forces in the world when our goals are set on being small vs. strong and healthy.
By choosing health, you are choosing yourself as you are now, not 15 or 20 pounds from now.
2.) Make healthy the new skinny. Having the belief that your value comes with being small or skinny results in choices that are harmful to your mental, emotional, and physical health. By replacing your goal of being skinny with the goal of being healthy, you will no longer be on a negative cycle that ends in failure to measure up. Instead, you will be empowering yourself to feel good from the inside out, and that can never result in failure. By choosing health, you are choosing yourself as you are now, not 15 or 20 pounds from now. You are saying, “I love myself and because I love myself, I am going to take action to assist my mind, body, and soul in operating optimally.” When you do that, you are able to realize that you have DNA that is different from any other human on earth and your body has specific needs that you will need to take time to discover and understand.
There is no one meal or workout plan that fits all, and there never will be. So when you find yourself falling into the self-loathing mentality that drives the diet industry, stop to ask yourself, “Am I making choices to be skinny or to be healthy?” and “Am I making choices that are based in self-love or self-loathing?” From there, you will be able to identify the difference and give yourself the opportunity to make a different choice than you have in the past. Remember: Health is a quality of life, and this is a marathon, not a sprint!
3.) Identify the root of your body image issues. We all struggle with body image, and that is why we are all struggling to find a healthy, happy place for our bodies. We see images in the media of what healthy looks like that, in reality, are extreme and could be completely unhealthy for you to attain. It is important to understand why those images are unattainable. If you were able to attain your image goals, then you would no longer have the need to purchase the products that are selling them to you.
These images do play a huge role in our personal body image issues, but they are not the root of the problem. Almost all the girls and women I speak with can name a time as a young girl when someone made them aware of their body in a negative context. My aunt was told she had Russian shot-putter legs by a boy when she was in the third grade. As a result, she never wore shorts because she had accepted those beliefs about herself as truth. As an adult, she was able to look back and realize how ridiculous it was for her to believe that. While she does wear shorts now, had she never stopped to process that experience, she would still have those negative beliefs about herself, which are 100% false.
For so many of us, we can identify countless times when our bodies were commented on, ridiculed, made fun of, and even victimized by others. Blaming our bodies for our unhappiness only seems natural because of how society treats and views women’s bodies. But it is not natural to our spirits, and when we take time to do some self work there, valuing it as much as our physical workouts, we will be able to heal the relationship we have with our bodies from the inside out.