I entered a 14 day challenge where I work out, to adopt 10 healthy habits for 14 days. This includes drinking water (LOTS of water), no alcohol, no soda, enough sleep, eating 6 servings of veggies a day, exercising, stretching, keeping a gratitude journal, and NO sugar.
Somewhat surprisingly, the toughest item for me has been ‘no sugar’ . I already exercise and journal regularly; I’ve gotten used to the water (and peeing all the dang time); and so far, have eliminated soda and alcohol from my diet, while adding more veggies. I am regularly scoring 8 or 9 out of the 10 point scale.
However, my sweet tooth is a well-deserved legend in our household. There have been a couple days I’ve especially gone overboard with the twisted logic of “You’ve already blown it for today, so go ahead and splurge!” A more healthy response would be: That was a yummy muffin; instead of: “Dang, I blew it already today, so I might as well go ahead and have the jumbo bag of M&Ms too”.
I have concluded that for me the threshold of zero added sugar is counter-productive and unrealistic, and I am done beating myself up over it.
Looking through another lens: as an eating disorder advocate, I am skeptical of dietary restrictions; even when given with the best of intentions. The very act of restricting can be triggering for anyone with a history or tendancy towards excessive restricting or binge eating. My own response is on the ‘binge’ side of the spectrum.
Studies show that dieting for weight loss is unsustainable and unhealthy; leading to yo-yo results and counter-productive metabolic changes. The truth is, what is a healthy weight for one person, is not necessarily healthy (or sustainable) for the next person.
There have been a several occasions where I’ve encountered so-called experts giving advice on how to reduce calories; with the assumption that ‘everyone’ is interested in losing weight. I try to diplomatically challenge their views — with mixed results. Many people are completely entrenched in the believe system that ‘everyone’ should be skinny and that skinny = good health.
I recall a conversation with a young woman who was hospitalized several times for being severely underweight. Even when she was close to dying, she continued to received a barrage of compliments on her figure and attention from men.
It is a very disturbing reflection on our society that a woman who is severely underweight and near death is considered the epitomy of attractiveness.
As an eating disorder advocate, I have heard versions of this story many times. The pervasive attitude that skinny = healthy is also a barrier to recovery, as sufferers are reluctant to lose that identity.
The notion that we should all be skinny is not realistic or desirable. We should not all aspire to be size twos. I will never look like Gwyneth Paltrow, no matter how many 14 Day challenges I do. My short, curvy body is strong and healthy and is just right for ME. We should focus on our own health and wellness, without comparison to or judgement of others.
It can be good to challenge ourselves to improve our habits; with a goal of being a better version of ourselves. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to walk the dog and then have a yummy spinach salad: right after I take a pee.