SELFCARE SUNDAY - BODY IMAGE

04:58:00

Body Image has been a topic on this blog before. Actually my most successful post ever deals with my own struggles with body image. It is really interesting how the fitness and diet industry has changed not only over the past 20 years, but actually in the time since I was a teenager and even since I published that last post in 2015. It is kind of fucked up to think that there are actually trends in how bodies are supposed to look. I remember how everyone loved the tiny bodies of Keira Kneightley and the Olsen twins and everyone was trying to look like fairies with tiny arms and legs. Funny how women, who look like this are now shamed and we all were very quick to jump on the next bandwaggon: strong is the new skinny! We now all want to make *booty gainz*, have super defined arms and ripped abs. Curves are in again, however only if they fit exactly into the ideal of huge tits, tiny waist and poppin booty. We all saw this change in the bodies that are trendy, we all saw how muscular women, who were shamed only 5 years ago are praised now and how the opposite is true for very thin girls. If this sudden change does not show you how fucked up the way we talk about bodies is, then I do not know what can.

Just like fashion trends, body trends come and go. And just like fashion trends you should not follow every craze, but find what works for you. This goes for workouts as well as diets. I can´t even count the amount of "perfect" diets, that I have read about for the past years, going from High Carb Low Fat veganism, where eating literal spoonfuls of sugar was promoted as healthy to Keto, where eating bacon is better than eating bread?? I also remember how fat was the devil and carbs were and possibly one day it will be protein. I remember how we all did a million burpees, because we all thought Kayla Itsines would make Bikini Bodies happen for all of us (and even though I really like her workouts, I HATE how she uses this name using our insecurities) and how now we all start lifting to get Grace Fit UK´s ass. Especially with influencers without any background in nutrition or training throwing around half truths and could be facts there is so much confusing and often dangerous information and advice out there. We are all running around like crazy, trying every new trend, fad and magic solution in the hope that they will finally, finally fix us. And we are so busy running after these ideals that we do not realise there is nothing to fix.


YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE FIXED! YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE BETTER! I want to plaster this on every locker room and on all of your mirrors and write into your diaries a hundred times, because I am so tired of girls tearing themselves down, killing themselves in the gym and wastig so many days hating themselves. No gym programme or diet will ever really help you like yourself, because you are only chasing an ideal, hoping when you finally get to that point you will deserve to be liked. Realistically if you cannot see your self worth now, you won´t see it 10 kilos down the road. You will not like yourself more or less just because you loose some weight or have more abs. You need to start loving yourself just as you are as hard as that sounds and then maybe from this point of self love you can find a way to find balance with food and excercise.

This is still something I struggle with, but following no bullshit fitness pages such as the @fashionfitnessfoodie has helped somewhat. At the end of the day there is no magic formula for weight loss. If you want to drop some pounds you need to be in a caloric deficit. For years I tried to "eat clean" whatever that means, but truth is a small chocolate bar has about the same calorie as an apple so I might as well have the chocolate sometimes if I feel like it. Yes sure your diet should not be made up completely of food lacking basically all nutrients, because that will make it hard for you to function, but you are not a horrible person for having some chocolate either. Food is neither good nor bad. Some food is more nutrient dense and others may be less nutrient dense but more fun. What is crucial is to not completely banish certain types of foods or label others as saving your life. Acai is v tasty, but it is not giving you sixpack abs just like goji berries will probably not fix your entire life.  What we all need to wrap our heads around is that when we go over a certain amount of calories (no matter which type of calorie) we will gain weight, if we are in a caloric deficit we will loose weight. Your body does not store calories you consume at a nigh time differently than the ones we eat in the morning and it also does not care whether you burn some calories by walking of lifting weights. 



What is thus crucial is to find something that works for you and your body, find an excercise style you like and eat food that both nourishes you and makes you happy. And most importantly stop supporting an industry that promotes hating yourself and disciplining yourself into a version of you that is worth loving. Your body is literally just the meat shell for your mind, your personality, your amazing energy. I have never chosen a friend because of how they look, I would never stop loving my boyfriend or friends because their bodies change, because quite frankly that is the least important part about them. We are all so in our heads thinking about ourselves and how terrible we are, which is so heartbreaking to me. I have NEVER really judged anyone as harsh as myself and the way we speak to ourselves in our heads is often so beyond cruel. Realistically every fucking person is so busy thinking about themselves, that they rarely notice you anyways. So why not slowly unlearn these patterns of thinking and see how ridiculous an industry is that sells you being skinny one year and being strong another one or that makes you spend a million dollars on fucking dried berries that taste like dirt or eat puddings made from stuff that resembles baby frogs? (I really fucking hat chia pudding and gojiberries, sorry).

Why not try to eat food you like and that is good for you most of the time and eat food, which may be a little less beneficial for your body but really beneficial for your mental wellbeing at other times? Or just let go of all of that shit and eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. Why not use excercise so you can climb that mountain, run to catch your next flight, dance all night, so you can get some endorphins instead of as a punishment for too much food? Because at the end of the day this is your fucking life. How sad to focus that around a god damn gym and salads to please other people who don´t give two fucks anyway? Why not just live your own beautiful life and be happy today instead of when you finally finally reach that perfect weight, just to see how our standard of beauty changes and you have to start all over again?

I am by no means perfect, it is sometimes still very difficult for me to find balance with food and exercise, I still judge myself harshly. But I am trying to unlearn these patterns everyday. Loving yourself is a continuous journey, which you are never really done with much like the readings when you study humanities. But here are some of the things that help me personally to feel good:



1) Make no foods off limits. 

I used to heavily restrict certain foods and tell myself I can never have them, only to find myself five foot deep in a bag of chips and ice cream three days later. I personally really love chocolate and have a bar of it every day with my afternoon coffee. It is tasty, I feel satisfied and I do not feel the need to eat the entire block because I know I´ll have some more chocolate tomorrow.

2) Bulk up your meals with veggies. 

This is obviously not the newest trick in the book, but only recently did I realise how much more satisfied I am after a meal and how much more I can eat, when I add loads of veggies. I am a hungry person, I really really like large portions and being able to eat loads and still feel good is such a win for me.

3) Figure out which foods are essential to you and which ones are not.

Please do not think I am a terrible person, but I personally do not love pasta. Pasta is alright for me, but it does not make me the happiest person on the planet. I also really dislike whole wheat pasta, so what I like to do is mix normal pasta with zoodles. This makes meals a little less calorie dense without me feeling like I am missing out. I also used to think lower fat yogurts were the devil, because I had to eat the cleanest possible diet, but realistically with a lot of yogurts I really can´t taste the difference so I am happy to have the lower fat version and use the calories I saved here for things I really like such as chips. With cheese it is a completely different story and I will die for full fat Gouda if I have to. I also don´t really mind not using heaps of oil when cooking at home, however I think it is fucked up to make homemade baked chips without it (looking at you High Carb Hannah). So do not follow some artificial rules for what is "good" food and find what works for you.

4) Do not fall into the traps of "health foods"

I could continue to bash gojiberries and chia puddings here and it is really true that you do not need to spend millions on superfoods to feel good, but I also mean things we really perceive as healthy such as granolas and food labelled high protein, which ultimately are often full of sugar and very calorie dense. Most granolas have around 400 calories per 100 grams. If you really love granola that is great, but if you only buy it because of the promised health benefits you might want to reconsider and make your own or get some muesli. Inform yourself, really read food labels and make informed decisions. This video and this video by the lovely Mind over Munch like much of her content has really helped me to get an idea on how to choose the right foods for me. 


5) Make healthy eating work for you and your life not the other way around

You do not need to get all of your food at a farmer´s market or wake up at 5 am to workout to be a healthy person. It is great and beautiful that many Youtubers and fitness bloggers do that and have morning routines, which take two hours but really that is not sustainable or attainable for most of us. If you want to be a bikini competitor you might need to meal prep fifteen meals every Sunday, otherwise you may just prep some basic ingredients to have on hand. You can use frozen veggies, which are just as healthy and you do not need to go crazy trying to find Maca powder or activated nuts. Buy some staples, that work for you and that you actually like, prepare some meals but do not center your entire life around fitness.

6) Get rid of the black and white mentality and allow yourself to live!

I used to think I needed to eat perfectly and work out every single day to be a good human being. That is simply bullshit. Eating out with friends, having drinks, spending a day in bed with your loved one does NOT mean you fucked up. It means you lived life! You will not die if you do not stick to a "perfect" diet, actually no such thing exists and it is also certainly very normal to miss a couple of workouts. Your body does not know you are following a plan in which you have to work out five times or walk 30 minutes every day. Getting any excercise at all is great and you did not mess up if you did not stick to a workout plan perfectly.
Once you move from training and eating to look a certain way and see it more as a part of looking after yourself you will realise that a couple of days where you "overeat" or choose less nutrient dense foods or fucking rest are essential. Once you get out of the mentality of "messing up" and get to a point of living your life, you can fully enjoy days where you go out for dinner and have cake or get that kebab after a night out and then get back the next day without starving yourself, but with some more fruit and veggies. There is no right or wrong way to live and eat and you deserve to fully live life. To have good times and to not miss out for some artificial goal.

I really hope this post can help some of you. At the end of the day I so desperately want us all to understand, that food and excercise and how you look in a bikini is such a marginal absolutely irrelevant part of life. It is your kindness, your intellect, your personality people will remember not the measurements of your thighs. Find something that works for you and is maintainable or honestly: fuck being fit at all. You do you babygirl. I love you and I am proud of you and I really hope one day you too will realise what an amazing person you are.

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Thanks so much for your lovely comments, constructive criticism and suggestions. I will try to answer all of you!

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