How did I improve my relationship with food and exercise? I spent a fair amount of time, 6 years in fact, pursuing an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise. I used food to dictate my emotions. For example, I thought if I could control my food intake then I could control other things going on in my life. Instead, I had let food and exercise control me. That wasn’t healthy. Nobody should punish themselves by over exercising if they ate “badly.” Putting yourself down like that can affect your relationship towards food and exercise.
Looking back, I didn’t realize how important it is to fuel my body with wholesome foods and workout to improve my overall health and wellbeing, rather than banishing my guilt for having an extra slice of cake. How did I improve my relationship with food and exercise? I’m still working on it every single day and that’s okay. Here are a few ways that helped to shift my mindset more positively towards food and exercise.
Learn about nutrition
It’s easy to get caught up in the world of calories vs wholesome meals, trust me I know. I used to tell myself that a biscuit was healthier than having a banana because it had less calories. Calories are important to understand, however learning more about nutrition is a great way to educate yourself on what you are putting in your body. Once I started to know more about nutrition, I began eating foods that my body thrived off instead of worrying about how many calories it had. When you start noticing your energy levels rise and clearer thinking, you adapt a positive view upon yourself. If you eat good you’ll start to feel good about yourself. Unleash your inner geek and read up on your nutrition, there’s plenty of courses and articles that will take your fancy.
Rephrase your vocabulary
Words like ‘bad’ ‘unhealthy’ and ‘guilt’ used to roll off my tongue. Negative connotations are a bad habit, we all do it. Like when someone compliments us we tend to shut it down within seconds, avoiding to accept it. It’s the same with food and exercise. Instead of feeling guilt for overindulging, beating myself up about it, I now accept it and move on. You wouldn’t talk to your friend negatively so why treat yourself any different.
Break the cycle
Feeling guilty for eating something ‘bad’ then punishing yourself using exercise is a vicious cycle that can manifest a dangerous relationship between food and exercise. Rather than forcing yourself to exercise because of guilt, perhaps take this opportunity to talk to someone about how you feel. I like to go for walks with a friend or listen to a podcast if I start to feel bad for overeating. That way I am conditioning my body to relax and move on rather than feel guilty or impatient with myself to over exercise. Don’t forget there are so many other ways to exercise, it doesn’t have to always be about burning a ton of calories.
Find a distraction
If after eating something ‘bad’ you feel a sense of urgency to burn the calories almost immediately, my advice is to take a few deep breaths, think about something you can do instead. I get it. I’ve been there, snacking away till midnight then feeling terrible about myself, heading out the door in darkness to go for a run as a way to feel better. Nah uh, that’s not okay. I decided to find distractions from over excerciing, a few things that helped me was reading, listening to music, dancing (like nobody’s watching), watching YouTube and talking to somebody.
Something that has helped my relationship with food and exercise is to stand up to myself. Whenever I feel guilty for overeating, I tell myself that I am so foruntate to even be able to feed myself every single day and to move my body. I know it might sound dramatic to some but it’s the truth. Most of the time we all need to get over ourselves, the world isn’t going to end if we overindulge. Nor is it if we miss a workout. Every day is another chance to work towards your goals. We all can create fresh starts on a daily basis, how motivating is that!
Just in case you didn’t know…
Like I mentioned, I spent 6 years having a bad relationship with food and exercise. Therefore I know things won’t suddenly change overnight. I am using my platform to inspire, motivate, inform others to become healthier versions of themselves – both inside and out. I am choosing to do this by relating to my experience. If you have an eating disorder and need help please seek advice from a professional. You WILL seek the treatment that you deserve. B-eat is the UK’s eating disorder charity, I highly recommend speaking to them on their helpline 0800 801 0677.