Now that Scale Back Alabama has ended, you may be feeling a little lost without a program or “rules” to follow. Many of us are drawn to meal plans and diet programs because we feel like we need someone (or something) to tell us what to do and how to “be healthy.”
While it’s tempting to want to take the “guess work” out of it, the truth is, health is a personal journey that looks different for everyone.
Having the flexibility to set your own goals by identifying what matters most to you has been the foundation of this year’s program. I want to encourage you to continue that mindset and empower you to make choices that best serve you in your health journey. Here are a few tips that may help:
- Adjust your expectations
We may not spend a lot of time thinking about it, but diet culture is all around us. It tells us we have to be a certain shape or size to be worthy of love and belonging. Diet culture teaches us that there is a “right” body – which means all other bodies are “wrong.” We try diets, powders, and magic potions that are supposed to be the answer. But, who do we blame when they fail? Ourselves.
The truth is, you may never get back to the size you were in high school or the size you were before you had the baby (or babies). That’s hard. It’s not the answer I want to hear, either. But, we’re not in high school anymore, and some of our bodies have grown entire humans. I’m not saying we shouldn’t take care of our bodies. But, I believe we can take better care of them when we meet ourselves where we are.
- Practice kindness towards yourself
How we talk to (and about) ourselves matters. We tend to be our own worst critics. We scroll social media and feel like we don’t measure up. We’re not thin enough or polished enough. Our house isn’t big enough, clean enough, nice enough.
Why are we comparing our “real” with someone else’s highlight “reel?” I encourage you to start to notice when you’re beating yourself up and STOP. It takes practice but we can reframe how we treat ourselves. We can learn to give ourselves the grace and kindness we extend to those we love.
(Julie and I talked about this in an episode of her podcast, Shame Free Eating, called The Naked Truth with Lita)
- Focus on the things that really matter
Have you ever found yourself skipping special events or dinner invitations with friends because you’re afraid of falling off your diet? Many of us have gone on diet plans that isolate us from others. (You can’t see me but I’m raising both of my hands). When you get down to it, does it really matter what size your jeans are if it means depriving yourself of time with friends and family, dessert, and peace of mind around food? What could you enjoy if you stopped giving so much time, attention, and mental energy to food?
Again, I’m not saying we shouldn’t take care of our bodies or make healthy choices, but when we start viewing foods as strictly good vs bad, we’re setting ourselves up for trouble. We can relax and enjoy life while making healthy choices around food and physical activity. The key is flexibility not perfection. Drink water because it’s hydrating. Eat fruits and vegetables that you like because they fuel your body and add color, texture, and variety to your meals. Be physically active in ways that feel good to you – go for a walk, a bike ride, sign up for a 5K, play tennis with a friend. Nutrition and physical activity should serve our lives, not become our lives.
My favorite part about Scale Back Alabama is the focus on learning to make choices that serve you and your personal health each day.
Thank you for taking this virtual journey with us in 2021. We can’t wait to see you next year!
Lita Chatham, MS, RDN, LD
Lita believes that changing our mindset to one that eliminates blame, shame, and guilt in relation to body size/weight is the first step in ensuring future generations develop healthy relationships with food and their bodies. She believes that kids are like sponges and should soak up messages of self-love and acceptance from the adults in their lives, not be bombarded with weight-centric messages.
Lita is a graduate of the University of Montevallo and the University of Southern Mississippi, and was selected as the 2019 Emerging Dietetic Leader of the Year by the Alabama Dietetics Association. She is an active member in several professional organizations including the Alabama Obesity Task Force, Alabama Dietetics Association, Montgomery District Dietetics Association, and the End Child Hunger in Alabama Task Force.