Nectarines and Punishment
I used to eat 4 nectarines every morning. EVERY morning.
Does that sound crazy?
I totally love nectarines, but the thought of eating 4 at once makes my stomach turn, now.
You know why I did it?
Because I wanted to check off those little fruit symbols on the diet website that dictated how much produce I should eat each day.
It had nothing to do with feeling good, or getting the proper nutrition, or listening to what my body really needed -- the only thing that mattered was checking off those little pictures.
And I became obsessive about getting it done as early in the day as possible.
I would exercise first thing in the morning, guzzle water, and choke down those 4 nectarines so I could win at dieting.
And this is the insidious thing: when you’re dieting, it’s about following the rules rather than taking care of your body. I forced myself to run at least 4 miles, even when my body was hurting or injured or I would have given my left leg just to be able to stay in bed a few minutes longer. I forced myself to drink water in enormous quantities, even when I wasn’t thirsty, so I could check off those little water glasses on the website. I forced myself to eat huge bowls of salad for lunch every single day, even when the thought of it made me wanna gag.
Yeah, all that stuff could be considered good for your health. But not when it’s done in a punishing way that makes your body and mind feel awful.
Back then I was exhausted ALL the time. I was also always freezing, even in the middle of summer. I wasn’t getting enough calories, and everything was way out of balance. I was also completely obsessed with tracking every bite of food that entered my mouth, and quite happy to beat myself up thoroughly when I went off track.
See, nutrition is important. Exercise is important. Drinking water is important, for sure. But so is balance. So is mental health. And so is something we often overlook: feeling good.
Eating all those damn nectarines did not make me feel good. It made my stomach churn and gave me a huge blood sugar spike that left me struggling to keep my eyes open by 10:00am.
But back then, it didn’t matter how I felt. All that mattered was following the diet rules.
Don’t be fooled...dieting is not about health. It’s about making your body smaller, at any cost. It’s not about feeling your best or supporting your body or being happy. It’s about being smaller. That’s it.
The way to actually feel good and find balance in all areas of your life is to listen to your body. Find ways to eat and move and drink and rest that support you, and make you happy, and help you feel relaxed.
Because if I’ve learned one simple thing from this whole journey out of diet culture, it’s that I will take happiness, peace, confidence, and actual health over being smaller. Every day.
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