Confession: I’m judgemental.
More than I’d like to be. I don’t care how spiritual I get, the judgy part of me stays put. I’ve learned over the years that I can watch my judgements without reacting. They’re just a natural loop of the mind. But the fact remains, I can be judgey. Not really about other people, though. I have no judgement for how people choose to live their lives or the actions they choose to take. But I do judge my boyfriend for not doing laundry as often as he should. I judge my dog for wanting to eat poop from the ground (and I really judged her hard when she ate it behind my back & hid a piece of poop IN HER MOUTH). I judge myself when I don’t brush my teeth before going to bed or for not wanting to shower, ever.
I judge myself pretty hard, in general. I think it’s part of my personality. It pushes me to continue to do better. But like I said above, I don’t judge my judgement. I remember that it’s natural. Trying to resist or erase my judgement would exacerbate it, so I work hard to simply observe it and not let it pull me down into its well of negativity. I judge my productivity mostly. My success. My ability to be resilient. Basically, everything.
The way I eat.
The way I exercise.
Those were once the biggest contenders of my judgement. The way I ate. How much I ate. What I ate. How much I exercised. Whether I exercised or not. How many calories I burned. What I happened to weigh on a certain morning. How I fit in my clothes. How thin I felt. How thin I looked. How many abs I saw. Everything.
These were once the determiners of my worth.
I labeled all foods and exercise as “good” and “bad”, and consequently, I turned “good” or “bad” based on what “good” or “bad” actions or behaviors I chose to engage in or not. When I restricted carbs all day long, I was freaking ANGELIC. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I’d binge on carbs I needed (but deprived myself of), and with the first bite of breakfast cereal I’d deem myself a demonic devil. If I ate “clean” for three days in a row, I deserved the world. But the second I succumbed to chocolate (or freaking maple syrup!), I was repugnant again. If my jeans didn’t fit, I didn’t deserve anything. Especially eating. If I ate sugar or my beloved ice cream, I sucked at willpower and at being a person. If I exercised the next morning and “burned it off”, then I deserved to feel glorious again.
I spent so much time lamenting in my head and to others how “good” or “bad” I had been on any given day. Which just made me beat myself up even further. Being “bad” deserved repenting, so I could get back to being “good”.
These feelings of shame and worthlessness surrounding eating and my body were rooted in those labels. In morality. This meant that my worth lied outside of myself, that it was dependent on factors that society and I constructed and if I didn’t follow them, I didn’t deserve shit.
I have worked really hard to rid myself of this mentality over the years. And it saddens me when I hear so many women (and men!) saying how good or bad they are and what immediate action they need to take to make up for it. As if it’s a sin that necessitates repenting.
These days, I know that I am worthy because it is my inherent right to be. Because I am human. Because I am alive. Because I am a good friend and a loving person. Because I am connected to a higher power. Because I am an advocate for positive body image and eating whole foods. Because I am a good listener. Because I am connected.
None of these things have to do with food or my body. They’re intangible. And that which we cannot see is what really matters in this life. But it wasn’t until I dropped the notion that food was moral that things began to change for me.
Because in reality, there isn’t a good or bad food. And I encourage you to limit this type of vocabulary when you talk about yourself within the context of food, food itself, your body, or exercise. There isn’t a “bad” food, there’s just a food that doesn’t offer much nutritional value and that makes us less healthy when we eat it. There isn’t a “good” food, there’s just a food that offers lots of nutritional value and makes us more healthy when we eat it. That’s it, there’s foods that make us less healthy, and foods that make us more healthy. Foods are neutral. WE assign them meaning. They aren’t good or bad, it’s just fact and reality about the nutrition that each food contains.
On the same note, WE are not good or bad when we eat food that we’ve labeled good or bad. You are still a good and worthy person no matter your diet, body, or exercise regime. Food is not moral. It’s just food. Removing this type of vocabulary and labeling will allow you to be kinder to yourself, as it a massive impact on the way you think of food going forward. Which is more important than actual food itself. Changing the way we think about food is KEY in establishing a healthy, sustainable relationship with food for the rest of our lives.
This also goes for our bodies and the way we exercise. We can choose to eat healthy foods and to exercise because they make us feel good. Because they fuel our lives. Because they make us feel vibrant, prepared, and ready for the day. Because they help with our mental health. We can do this every day of our lives, feel amazing, have a six pack, but it would never make us a “good” person.
Conversely, we can eat like shit, never exercise, mindlessly eat and overeat forever, sedentary and overweight, never able to fit into our clothes again, but it would not ever make us a terrible person.
These two types of people have equal worth. Pure goodness because they are alive.
By all means, stick to your healthy lifestyle. Eat your good food and push yourself to exercise. But remember it has nothing to do with whether you are good or bad, because you are already good, worthy, and beautiful just for being here.
Removing labels and viewing foods & behaviors as neutral gives all of this a much lighter vibe, and I promise it will change your motivation. It will give you the space to act from a genuine place of a desire to feel better and take care of your body. You won’t beat yourself up as much, if at all. You won’t engage in extreme behaviors. Since everything is neutral, all behaviors, your body, everything, you will finally be free to do what pleases you most. They will come naturally.
Which, I suspect, by default, are the things that make you feel amazing. But you won’t ever get there by judging yourself. I promise.
We cannot make sustainable change with food, our bodies, or our surrounding habits until we honestly explore and get curious about our relationship with each of them. Mindset change is not easy, but so, so worth it.
Being healthy starts with learning to cook simple foods in easy, delicious ways with approachable and practical recipes and techniques.
Our health begins with properly nourishing our bodies with nutrient-dense foods. I believe in bio-individuality: each person requires different types and amounts of food to feel their best. Learn how to eat intuitively for the rest of your life!