Hiiiii! HAPPY NEW YEAR! Can you believe it’s 2016?!
It’s a new year and maybe a new year’s resolution… has your diet or plan to exercise started?
I mean what’s a food blog… written by a registered dietitian nonetheless… that doesn’t address this topic in the new year?? It’s an important topic to me, because as you know, I dabbled in diets before, which you can read about in this post: Closing the Chapter on Paleo Paisan & Top 10. There’s no better time than now for some real talk. As in, let’s get real. Let’s be honest. Let’s be vulnerable.
If you’re new to L&L, welcome!! I’m so glad to meet you! What’s this site all about?? Meet me (read: watch my first blog video), read about where the blog’s name came from, and learn about the food philosophy of L&L by checking out this post: Welcome to L&L! Plus a Recipe: Not My Daddy’s Apple Crisp. Also enjoy some of my favorite healthy and indulgent recipes pictured throughout this post. PLUS, enjoy a new recipe for my Go-To Avocado Toast at the end.
Not My Daddy’s Apple Crisp | A whole foods version of my dad’s apple crisp recipe.
So seriously. Are you making a new year’s resolution this year? Does it revolve around your diet? You’re not alone. Changing your diet and or exercise habits are some of, if not the most popular new year’s resolutions.
For example, in my workplace the past two months to celebrate the holidays there were pies, on cookies, on pot lucks to celebrate. I overheard many-a-comments like this one exactly: (around 1 pm) “Oh, I’m not hungry at all and I do NOT need these two pieces of pie but they’re here so I literally CANNOT say ‘no’. Plus, I gotta load up before the New Year because, you know… THEN I won’t be eating any of this stuff!!”
Does this sound familiar?
Healthy Breakfast Fruit Cereal | Four versions of this fruit cereal plus four other whole food cereal recipes!
Say it with me now, “I will NOT start a diet in 2016. Instead, my New Year’s Resolution will be: I am taking care of myself with love and compassion.”
Let’s talk more about that.
Sure, changing habits is totally possible but it doesn’t come easy. It takes persistence. And TIME. And realistic goal setting. And failing and faltering and maybe crying a little (or a lot), and getting back up. Again, and again and again. Oh, and again. And for most? It doesn’t take a year. It takes a couple. Or five. A short term diet with results as soon as in 1 week’s sounding prit-tey good right about now, isn’t it? Don’t do it. Resist. Relax.
What’s the difference between the “I’m going to eat healthy” resolution and “I am taking care of myself with love and compassion”?
Do you think someone who who truly feels at peace with their body would diet? Would someone who truly feels at peace with their relationship with food diet? Would someone who truly feels at peace with their life and how much control they have over it diet? Would someone who sits with emotions, good and bad, and lets them wash over them like the waves of an ocean, coming and going diet? Would someone who trusts their body will take care of itself diet? Would someone who feels good in their skin diet?
Peanut Butter Chip & Chocolate Chunk Cookies | A soft, chewy, cookie with Resse’s PB chips and semisweet chocolate chunks. My most requested recipe from friends, coworkers and family!
And isn’t what you really want those other things anyway? The peace, the trust, the confidence, the happiness?
Between my reading, research, and time working in a weight loss center, I’ve learned most people diet for one of two reasons. The first is for control. Diets provide rules around food. Rules feel like control. And control means protection. It feels like if you have control, you can protect yourself from pain and suffering. Essentially, it’s a protection mechanism because we don’t know how to cope with the real problem.
Clean Green Juice | You don’t even need a juicer to make it!
The second reason people diet is for pleasure. No, I don’t mean people just diet for the hell of it cause it’s fun and it brings them pleasure. What it means is this. We all experience negative emotions be it feelings of insecurity, not feeling good enough, depression, anxiety, anger, disappointment, etc. And what is food? Especially tasty sweets or treats that actually act on the pleasure center in our brain? It’s instant gratification. Instant pleasure. So in a world of pain or hurt, food is pleasure and comfort, and it brings on those emotions quickly, even though temporary. Food can even numb out pain in cases of extreme hunger (from restricting) or extreme fullness (from bingeing). Because when you feel so hungry or so full it numbs out whatever other negative emotions you don’t want to feel. Like the “control” dieters, it’s also a way of “protecting yourself” from yucky feelings and emotions. Basically, what happens with these pleasure dieters is a cycle of restriction (restricting calories, food groups, portion sizes, etc.) followed by an inevitable binge which brings on the pleasure. And it’s the feeling of pleasure that reinforces that behavior cycle to continue.
Diets are doomed to fail. They’re set up for failure. Sure, there’s plenty of research to support diets providing weight loss in the short term. Key word? Short term. Meaning you may loose temporarily on a diet, but it rarely lasts. Our bodies are not meant to be deprived. No amount of will power can override your natural urges for the long term. You’re not broken, you’re human. Diets prey on human nature and your destiny to fail, which is why the diet industry is RICH. LOADED. I’m talking Trump money loaded.
Intern Quinoa Salad with Pan Seared Salmon and Balsamic Greens | Pictured without the salmon, but personal favorite with special meaning to me.
So what’s the alternative? The alternative is YOUR new year’s resolution: “I am taking care of myself with love and compassion.”
I wrote it in that tense on purpose, because that’s what I want you to say to yourself in your head, “I AM.” “I am taking care of myself.”
“I am taking care of myself with love and compassion.”
Let’s take a closer look at what this means.
PART 1: “…taking care myself with love…”
It’s always easier to look at the act of loving by thinking of showing love to someone else. It’s the old saying about “would you say the harsh things your say to yourself in your head to your sister or best friend?” but it’s also so much more.
I’m talking about the million small decisions you make all day. What would it look like if you made those out of self-love instead of self-discipline, self-hate, self-disgust, or self-punishment? It’s that difference between gritting your teeth through making the choice because you have to instead of effortless responses where you truly want to or I choose to.
Taking care of yourself with love is choosing to take a water bottle to work cause you know having it at your desk will make drinking more water easier. It’s choosing to sleep in instead of work out before work because you’re exhausted and your body would really benefit more from some Z’s. It’s paying attention to you and only you in a group fitness class like yoga or crossfit where it’s SO easy to push harder or do more than YOU want. It’s choosing to go workout for the sake of enjoying the feeling of moving your body, NOT to lose weight. It’s packing your breakfast the night before because you know you’ll be driving through Starbucks otherwise. It’s waking up feeling crappy and grumpy and choosing to do something you know will help so you don’t stay in a funk all day. It’s pampering yourself now and then with a massage, a hot bath, a glass of wine, a girls night, or whatever feels indulgent and self caring to you. It’s saying “no” when you really need to.
The SUM of all of these small choices day in and day out? Loving yourself. Treating yourself like someone who deserves to be taken care of.
Daily happiness truly is the sum of a million small decisions you make all day long. And the sum of a bunch of daily happiness? A happy life. You loving your life, living the life you want, the life you chose. Not the life that happened to you.
After all, the way to make a lasting change is by acting out of love. When you make a choice and you have a positive reward as the consequence? That choice or behavior is reinforced. It’s the basic science of human behavior. No amount of willpower can override programmed, behavioral patterns… good or bad. So if you are consistently rewarded for the choices you make, you’re more likely to see the habit stick.
PART 2: “…taking care of myself… with compassion.”
In short, this means always trying to make choices that reflect self-love and care and not freaking out when you don’t.
Sure it sounds great to just suddenly go all lovey dovey. To just throw away your bad habits and change overnight, but that’s not reality! I can guarantee you’re going to have crappy days. Someone’s going to yell at you at work. Your plane is going to get delayed. Your order isn’t going to get shipped to you on time. Your family member is going to disappoint you. Your friend is going to let you down. You’re going to eat clean for a week then go to that dinner with friends and “totally blow it”. You’re going to work out 18 days in a row then miss a day and say EFF IT and give up. If you resolve in 2016 to work out once day and eat clean to lose 5 or 10 or 30 or 100 pounds, by Valentine’s day you’re going to be binging on chocolate covered candies out of a heart shaped box while online trying to cancel that gym membership. Because solely resolving to work out and eat healthy neglects compassion. It neglects reality. The reality that you’re living your daily life NOT eating and exercising the way you want for a million little reasons. And changing those overnight is impossible.
Fudgy Brownie Bites | Flourless and paleo.
These moments in life that are destined rain on our parade? This is where compassion comes in. We suck at this. And by we I mean me and anyone else with perfectionist tendencies out there.
Treating yourself with compassion means not beating yourself up when you “screw up” or when you don’t make the choice you wanted. Compassion means accepting that you’re not either on a diet or eating everything in sight; you’re in between those two all the time. You’re not a lazy slob or a clean freak, you’re both at the same time. When you “mess up”, whether at work, with a diet, with an exercise plan, with a friend… do you get angry or disappointed with yourself?
Instead, acting out of compassion means getting curious. Sure, feel disappointed or feel angry, but don’t just be those emotions and stay there, winding down a spiral of disappointment and pity. Instead of dwelling on the mistake, feel the emotions, process them, then get curious about why you made that choice. What happened? What led to that decision? What was really going on? What judgments are you making about yourself or someone else? Where did you get the idea that leaving a few clothes on the floor makes you a slob? And is that really what it means? Getting curious is about learning and observing versus judging and blaming. Curiosity and learning leads to taking better care next time. Getting better at taking care of yourself. Judging and blaming leads to more self-loathing, comparing, and unhappiness which does not lead to future choices made out of love. It makes you vulnerable to things like “quick fix diet solutions” because you’re looking OUTSIDE of yourself for answers. You’re thinking you’re broken and you can’t fix it.
Hot and Cold Power Salad | Sautéed Kale, with raw beets, tomatoes, and carrots, plus goat cheese, and a warm candied walnut dressing.
But the answers are not out there. They’re inside you. You just have to try to start acting out of love and compassion. Listening to your body. Paying attention to your feelings, your wants, your needs. Tuning into the hunger and fullness cues that are just as natural as your body sweating and making goosebumps in response to temperature. Stopping, acting out of intention instead of go-go-go from one thing to the next to the next mindlessly. It’s connecting with yourself and those around you. It’s days or weeks of making healthy choices followed by some unhealthy choices and being okay with that. Trusting your body will take care of itself. It’s reflecting and asking for support from loved ones when you need it. And it’s continuing to push ahead for months and years to change habits that keep you from being your happiest self… emphasis on YOUR happiest self. Not the self society, friends, family, or the media tells you you should be, but YOUR happiest self. Who YOU want to be.
If you’ve ever resolved to diet or exercise for a previous new year (or 20) and failed, I challenge you to make 2016 different. Set a different resolution this year: “I am taking care of myself with love and compassion.”
With that, today is just another normal day of eating at L&L. No fancy detox diets, juice cleanses, or Whole30 commitments. No special recipe to claim to help you lose love handles or cure cellulite. Just a healthy balance of all foods for all diets, whether vegan, plant-based, paleo, gluten free, dairy free, low carb, high carb, high protein, low fat, high fat, low sugar, standard American or any other diet. No restrictions, no rules. Just “good” foods and “bad” foods all at the same time, whether that means on the same plate, in the same meal, in the same day, in the same week or in the same month. Total freedom to choose whatever food your body wants in a way that takes care of yourself… you guessed it… with love and compassion.
- 1 slice toast (These days I like Ezekiel 4:9 Sesame Sprouted Whole Grain Bread)
- ½ an avocado, mashed
- 1 tablespoon hemp seeds
- sprinkle of red pepper flakes
- sprinkle of sea salt
- Toast your bread.
- Mash avocado in a bowl then spread onto your toast.
- Sprinkle with hemp seeds, red pepper flakes, and salt.