Stop working out to earn [or burn] your food.

February happens to be National Eating Disorders Awareness (NEDA) month and as somebody in recovery myself I have taken part in it several times before. This time touching on a topic not only those diagnosed with an eating disorder deal with.

 

Eating a bagel for breakfast  = run for 45minutes.*

An ice cream sundae =  a 75-minute spinning class.*

A few handfuls of chips = lifting weights for more than an hour. *

No, I didn’t make up the numbers above. Chances are you’ve seen these kind of equations on a magazine or somewhere online*. And if you’ve spent just a few weeks or months around the blog world or on Instagram – and most of us have been around for much longer, right? – you’ll have seen it there, too. “I know this day seems carb-heavy but: leg day!” or “deserved this treat after a hard session at the gym”. I’m not shaming any of the people making these statements because I’ve been there and occasionally still find my mind drifting off. In the past months, though, I’ve made progress here and being forced to lay off any exercise aside from walking helped change my thoughts.

You don’t need to work out like a mad [wo]man to “deserve food – or rest.

You don’t need to justify your food choices through the exercise you’ve done.

Would you deny a toddler, a doctor [somebody working mostly sedentary] or your frail grandma food? Restrict their intakes because they hardly move throughout the day? Actually,  you wouldn’t deny your rabbit/cat/dog food or hush it around the block for another lap making sure it truly deserved its food, either, no? Deny your child a snack on a long car ride because it didn’t [get a chance to] move?  Granted, there might be mums who do but I’d like to think they’re the exceptions.

Are you nodding now and saying yes, sure, point made but these examples are different from you? They’re not.

You, a toddler, your grandma: all human beings. All deserving of nourishment – in large enough quantities – to exist. Breathe. Get sh*t done [if that’s the way you want to express it]. Actually, yes, you do need to work for your food: by earning the money to pay grocery bills but that’s about the only connection between earning and food. Speaking off earning and assuming most of us either work in desk jobs or study: never forget mental work counts, too. Our brains run on glucose = your carb cravings explained. Or just don’t seek for any explanations.

I’m not suggesting for everybody to stop exercising completely and sit around all day long stuffing their face with all. the. food. Extremes again, huh? Rather, tuning into our intuition will lead us to make the right choices food-wise. And by right I mean right to keep us fuelled and happy throughout daily life – carbs and protein, pasta  and cookies just like nut butter and Greek yogurt.

Almond butter jar_Mandelmus

If we were to take this concept further the same is true for resting. There’s no need to explain why you “deserve” binge-watching your favourite show on Netflix at night. Unless that’s all you do all day every day while bossing others around to work for you. In that case please move your butt off the sofa and get work done.

The problem with shifting the mindset of earning food is its ever-presence in our society that makes it impossible to ignore*. Blogs, magazines, TV shows constantly praise the mentality of “burning off your food” and in also glorify the idea of under-eating [hello, 1200-calorie meal plans].

Exercising just for the sake of it: A gift we – myself included – often take for granted. A luxury exclusive to us living in a society where we don’t need to worry about the availability of food to refuel. An activity that some of us even turn around to be punishment for eating “too much”.

* unless you lived under rock which you shouldn’t feel bad to admit as it’d honestly be an admirable state of blissful ignorance here!

You deserve food. You deserve rest. As much of both as you need to feel energized and ready to tackle your days. Eat. Exercise. Don’t make the former depend on the latter but only the other way around in eating enough to fuel your workouts.

 

No questions. Just your thoughts on the topic.

Happiness inducing today: Many many small things all throughout my day. The sun shining. A short chat with my colleagues in between wokring.

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Compelled to compare?

Instagram. Facebook. The blog world. It’s everywhere: Comparison. Not a new phenomenon but one that I feel has been heightened to unknown expansion through social media these past years. And to be honest? It’s making me sad. Because you know introductions aren’t my favourites I decided to give you a glimpse into my brain in today’s or better yet: explain how this post came about. It was when being out and about with my mum and once more noticed how little she cares about what others do. Eat. Wear. And that’s when I decided to put my rambling thinking cap on. Or thinking beanie if you’re living in the same climate as our sweet host Amanda where spring hasn’t sprung yet.

Thinking-Out-Loud

To make the Just the other day, I saw a girl on Instagram asking her followers about sugar. Or more specifically: if the recommended daily intake of it included fruit because she was worrying about her daily huge smoothies. What makes me sad isn’t the mere fact we tend to get fussed about sugar. Or the whole carb scare in general. It’s the fact that these days, there doesn’t seem to be any aspect of life left where we don’t feel constantly compelled to compare ourselves to others. Food. Appearance. Workouts. Jobs. I could go on.

Because I’m definitely not trying to pretend I was above all of this and able to completely blind out any and all advice and discussion on social media I’ll give a personal example: What I ate Wednesday. At the beginning of my recovery I’d read through other people’s WIAWs for hours. Always comparing what they ate to myself.  Guess what that meant? If nobody else* was eating [insert amount of] chocolate, too, I felt guilty. Not normal. If I had carbs at every meal but others didn’t … you guessed it: guilt. Not normal? No. What wasn’t normal was a) my need to compare and b) the guilt I felt about following my cravings.

* 1. I obviously didn’t read every single WIAW post so maybe somebody did after all? 2. If I had simply looked around myself I’d have seen plenty of family members and friends eating whole chocolate bars on the regular. Reminder: the blog world only shows a tiny part of the world’s population.

Lindt chocolate

We seek approval for ‘doing things right’. Is it okay to eat xx pieces of chocolate a day? Doesthat dress look okay on me or should I rather wear something more loosely fitting to conceal my ‘trouble areas’? Is it okay to take more than one rest day? Whew, okay, thanks …. wait … are you sure? Really?

Have we truly become this insecure in our own decisions? Where has intuition [not just related to food] gone? Can we not make any of these decision all by ourselves anymore? I agree it’s helpful to get some guidance and advice here and there – we all get by with a little help from our friends after all. But it has become increasinly popular to trust others more than our own gut. Having the whole world with all its knowledge, advice and others to compare ourselves to in every aspect of life is a questionable blessing.

Source

We probably can’t/don’t want to pull ourselves out of all kinds of social media involvent. But the next time you’re considering a rest day don’t look for advice in others. Check in with yourself: what would feel good for you at this very moment? The next time you want that cupcake? Eat it if you crave it. Nobody else eats or exercises for you – why should they have the power to make these decisions for you?

Source

… and with that I’m stepping aside and opening up the stage for you to speak your mind!

Happiness-inducing today: Another sunny day.

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The one question to ask when reading “healthy” advice

Inspiration for posts strikes me in the most random moments. Mostly when I’m doing something that’s already part of my daily life and never got my mind churning with new ideas before. Especially appreciated at times when I’ve sensed writer’s block coming up and got frustrated feeling like I will never ever find a topic again. Yes, it happens. Like I said: frustrating. Anyway, enough of that all because we’re all busy bees and you’ve stopped by to hear me thinking out loud not ramble on about blogger woes.

Thinking-Out-Loud

Back to where I found my topic, though: it was when perusing my Bloglovin feed, sighing and marking about a dozen posts as read. All offering me the best ever and only advice I needed to follow to stay on track this season.  It’s not a sole Christmas holiday season phenomenon: the number of posts offering “healthy” advice is [or it feels like that] is becoming almost unmanageable.  Feeling uneasy about the abundance of Christmas treats all around? At least two dozen posts will be around to ‘help ‘ you.  Not sure if eating another spoonful of mum’s cranberry sauce necessitates an extra 5 minutes on the treadmill? Don’t worry. Detailed Instructions are just a click away.   Or maybe you’re feeling all relaxed about the festive season and have been looking forward to grandma’s special cookies for months? You better believe there are enough articles out there to lecture and scare you away from the cookie tray in an instant.

Grandma's cookies

It might sound a smidgen dramatic but trust me: some of the articles that found their way into my Bloglovin’ feed lately were pretty shocking. Whether you’ve ever dealt with an ED or not I have a feeling a few of these would be enough to “verunsichern” you, too. What I’ve been doing to keep the feelings of guilt and tendency to overthink my every move is asking one question before reading on :

Is this targeted towards me?

Yes, it’s a simple question – but I’d make a guess and say it’s an easily forgotten one. The background here: if you’re reading this post you’re very likely to either be part of the healthy living blog community or at least interested in a healthy balanced life already.  Or you might be in recovery from an eating disorder.  Either way I’m convinced that even if these posts have an eerie attraction to you  with buzzwords like “healthy”, “do’s and don’ts” or “must follow” – deep inside you know if you’re part of their target group or not.  You’re eating whole foods, exercising regularly and your doctor gives you a green light at every check-up? Then you likely don’t need any article telling you to swap the mashed potatoes for cauliflower, limit yourself to one cookie or bring your own sugar- and fat-free ones [that leave you feeling unsatisfied ] or spend an hour at the gym while your family is watching Christmas movies in the living room.

All of these articles I mentioned have – in some form or the other – made an appearance on my screen before. Even if I didn’t search for them but just saw the titles in the side bar of a website or blog I was visiting. Yet as I said: Even if Christmas season is stressing you out deep down you know if  you’re in need of that – helpful or not – advice. Like I know I shouldn’t read [or at least not follow] any advice for “100 Easy Ways to Slash Calories Every Day” or  “How To Drop Five Pounds Until Christmas“. The tricky part is that you might not even mindfully seek for these articles.  Any kind of advice like that can pop up on a blog you probably started reading for that one great article about staying fit while working a desk job or for a great recipe. And then suddenly that trustworthy source tells you about the need to ditch the cookies.

Please notice I’m not judging any blogger or website for publishing these posts neither am I saying anybody who’s generally health-conscious should ditch any thoughts on nutrition or exercise and gorge themselves on all the treats and holiday roast. But chances are even giving yourself full permission you won’t because working out and eating nutritious food makes you happy and you’ll balance it all out.   There are people who are  for and find these articles helpful. But on the other hand there are many – like recoverers, people just starting out to try and live a little healthier, unsure about whether or not treats are included in a balanced diet [they are!] – that can be unsettled in their ways by this.

Christmas 2012 1

Don’t we all want to enjoy the holidays?  I remember many past Christmas days that I spent thinking about food the whole time while trying to eat the least amounts possible [a single potato? I’m sorry but … yes] and beating myself up about a lack of exercise. This is the season for tinsel,  kitschy decorations, cookie scent wafting through kitchens, listening to Michael Bublé on repeat  – but not for feeling guilty and second-guessing our every move or bite.

Now excuse me as I go spend some cozy time with Mr. Bublé.

Happiness inducing today: Did I mention Mr. Bublé yet 😉 ?? Even though he doesn’t fully get me into the Christmas spirit he’s pretty good at trying and making me sing along.

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Share whichever thoughts you have on the topic.  Possible ideas but by no means limited to:

Do you weigh up whether a post is geared towards you?

How do you feel about “healthy” holiday advice?

Has an article ever made you feel insecure about your intuitive choices?

You are not what you eat.

It’s time to think out loud again! But before I get into the post I mentioned before already I want to wish a happy birthday to this amazing blend all the way over in South Africa! Enjoy your day, girl! And now I hope Amanda won’t mind me foregoing the usual light-hearted cereal and puzzle talk for a topic that’s been on my mind for a while already.

Thinking-Out-Loud

 

Sometimes you intend to write a completely different post and then life suggests another. Life in this case being a friend asking if I wrote a vegan blog to connect with other vegans. Which I denied. Neither do I consider myself writing a vegan/ any kind of special diet blog. Nor do I want to connect with vegans only. My intentions with blogging are to share my thoughts, opinions, recipes every now and then but mainly: to get in touch with alike minds. And that’s not limited to a certain diet or type of exercise. In fact, I might disagree with the way you eat but won’t bother making a fuss about it if think you’re a sweet person in general, a witty writer or deep thinker bringing up interesting topics.

Nobody in my close family or circle of friends is vegan or even vegetarian. And that is okay. I’m not choosing my ‘real life’ friends according to their diet or running pace. In fact, none of them are runners and would probably shake their head at the mention of chia seeds or HIIT. And that’s okay, too. We still have such a lot to discuss, talk or laugh about.

Why would I choose my blogging friends with different criteria than those in real life? By now I have blends that eat vegan, vegetarian, paleo or just don’t follow any label at all. Blends that run, lift weights, do yoga, crossfit or walk. Do I like any of them better than others? Heck no. All of us are such a lot more than the food we put into our mouths or our workout achievements. In fact, I love the diversity presented in the blog world. Just like in ‘real’ life there are all kinds of different people. In different jobs. From different countries. People I might not as easily get in contact with in daily life but now get a chance to connect with every day – it’s amazing.

Tolerance_II

Tolerance is the biggest human virtue.

 

My life doesn’t revolve solely around reading, thinking or talking about food or exercise – and I assume [or hope] yours doesn’t, either. As somebody interested in healthy living and cooking I do enjoy gushing about a million ways to eat almond butter. I get excited when I find new products in unexpected places. Getting running advice from seasoned half-marathoners is great, too. But that’s not all I want to read or chat about.

Maybe you consider sugar the devil while I won’t part ways with chocolate anytime soon.

Maybe you think vegan food was boring while I would never consider paleo.

Maybe you run 60 miles a week while I currently run all of 0 and consider walks my exercise.

And yet we can still be friends. As long as you don’t talk about how your diet is so much healthier than somebody else’s or how all of us should work out hours every day. If that’s your blog’s sole focus I might not be the most loyal reader. If you share random tidbits about yourself, the great book you just finished, share your experiences with and advice on the struggles faced as a twenty-something or voice your opinion on current happenings in the world? I’ll be back regularly.

 

How What I ate Wednesday posts and mentions of food or recovery fit in there? Easy. Like I said it’s not solely about the food we eat. However, I think we can all agree food is an important and delicious part of our lives. Personally, I find WIAW to be a great way to discover new blogs and connect with other people – far beyond food-related topics. And when it comes to my recovery I could probably talk about it a lot more but that’d seem redundant. If I throw in a thought on my journey it’s when I either struggle and know others will have some advice or when I have overcome a fear [food] and want others battling an ED to see it’s possible, too. Because that’s what has been helping me personally on other blogs, too.

Amy [link to Long Drive Journey] wrote a great post about when healthy borders on obsession and I agree wholeheartedly with it. I don’t want to read about your food only but about your hobbies, job, family,  what’s on your mind, … In short: about YOU.

No questions today but your opinion on the topic.

 

Happiness inducing today: Lots of sunshine after heavy rainfalls.

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Good good links #29

Sunshine! Balmy 55 degrees. Need I say more about the effect the weather had on my mood? Spring is so close! Can you smell and hear [birds!] yet where you are?

Good good links

Enough of the weather talk, though, because that’s not what you came here for, so we’ll end the talking and let some of my favourite reads from this week speak for themselves. I’m off to meet a friend I haven’t seen in months and hope you’ll have an awesome Sunday – at best with great weather. As always I’m curious to hear you opinion on my picks if you read them or any others you enjoyed.

Good good [food for thought]

1,200 Calories by Sophia Herbst via HuffPost Food

The shocking truth behind the “magical” number. A longer read but well worth your time.

In the Media: Health Trends via Healthy Helper

A round-up of the latest health fads and scientific takes on them.

Can you eat too much fat? via the Real Life RD

In short: no, you can’t. Not a dietitian myself I’ll leave the full explanation to amazing Robyn.

Good good [advice and inspiration]

When I grow up … via Olives ‘n’ Wine

What do you want to achieve in life?

Quiz Time! How Much Does Music Affect You? [Study Says Pharrell Does Not Make Everyone Happy After All] via The Great Fitness Experiment

What does the way you utilize music say about you as a person? An interesting science-backed find.

A happiness trick via A Cup of Jo

Simple but great idea.

Health and food

Life Lessons: On Packing a Lunch via Hummusapien

Great ideas for quick and easy  meals, lunchbox essentials [cute boxes are a necessity!] and snacks.

Guide to Produce: 12 Storage Rules To Make Fruits + Veggies Last Longer via Henry Happened

What to store where to make the most of your Farmers’ Market – or grocery store – haul.

10 Meat-Free Protein Sources That Are Totally Underrated via Greatist

Beans, peas, nut butters or seitan – good answers to the “but where do you get your protein?” question.

25 Ways to Sneak in More Exercise Every Day via One Green Planet

Sitting all day neither makes us happy nor fit. Here’s how to get moving a little more in all kinds of situations.

Good good [things to make you smile]

Dad Illustrates The Hilarious Things He’s Said to His Kids via My Modern Met

Just how cute is this?!

55 Must-Follow Twitter Accounts Guaranteed to Make Your Day via Greatist

Because we can all use a laugh or two – or 55 times a few – more a day.

Good good [food]

Banana Honey Roasted Peanut Butter via The Smart Kitchen

Bananas, honey, peanut butter – a simple but amazing combination.

Double Chocolate Chip Granola Bars via Katalyst Health

We’re talking double chocolate plus peanut butter action here – sold.

The Breakfast Brownie via Yeah, Imma Eat That

Anything chocolatey for breakfast gets me – and don’t you agree with Kylie that these are attractive?!

White Chocolate Cranberry Protein Bars via Apple of my Eye

Never mind that I don’t even like cranberries – these look like perfection in bar form.

The Best Delicious Desserts Made Healthier from Around the Web via Greatist

Who says desserts can’t be nutritious?

Mango Salsa via Glow Kitchen

I’m a huge salsa fiend but have never made my own – this one looks well worthy trying.

 

Happiness inducing today: Sunshine!

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What were some of your favourite posts from the week?

Can you feel spring coming closer wherever you are in the world already, too?