“You are what you eat.” The saying has been around forever and it’s not the saying itself that I have a problem with, it’s how we use it.
Like when you’re standing in line at Dunkin Donuts and you hear this convo between two friends:
Girl #1: “I really wants a chocolate donut”
Girl #2: Scoffs and says “Well…you are what you eat”
Girl #1: To the Dunks employee: “I’ll just have a green tea please.”
Or how about when you eat something that you think is “bad” and feel massive guilt and regret and start thinking that YOU are bad and a failure and can’t do anything right because “you are what you eat.”
Or even if you have a garden salad topped with grilled chicken and lite dressing and think “I’m being so good today!” because “you are what you eat.”
According to diet culture, chocolate, candy, donuts, muffins, pizza, bread, pasta, white rice, full-fat cheese, cereal that isn’t whole grain, pancakes, waffles, cake, ice cream and soda (even diet) are bad for us. We have been taught to believe that if we eat these bad foods then we are bad, too. If we eat these foods we have no willpower and we no self-control.
On the flip side foods like leafy greens, veggies, lower sugar fruit, lean proteins, whole grains like oatmeal and quinoa and a few tablespoons of healthy fats here and there, are good. So, if we eat these things- and only these things- then WE are good, we have willpower, we’ve got what it takes.
I call bullshit on all that noise ↑
What if you’re you are a kind, compassionate, empathetic person who respects other people and loves cake? Are you really going to reduce what you are to the foods you choose to eat?
Some of you I’m sure are reading this and thinking “Jeez, Lauren…lighten up, it’s just a stupid saying.” But believe me when I tell you that I’ve worked with hundreds of women over the past ten years who do just that- they reduce themselves to what they choose to eat. If they eat cake, they’re bad, out of control and guilty. If they eat kale, they’re healthy and good. Debunking that and changing their mindset around that is hard. So while yes, it’s just saying to some, it packs a big punch for a lot of women.
We can’t put our self-worth in the same category as what we eat. Nothing good comes of it and we end up feeling like garbage because I’ve never known one person who can completely stay away from all those “bad” foods and eat only the totally healthy stuff. If who we are as a person was weighed on what we ate, I’d be lower than whale dung on the totem pole (my dad used to say “whale dung” all the time and I’m so excited I found a way to use it in a blog!).
So while I don’t subscribe to the “you are what you eat” crap, I do subscribe to the “you are what you think” mentality.
Our thoughts have the most profound impact on our moods, emotions, behaviors, confidence and therefore, our health.
“I’ll never lose the weight.”
“I’ll never fit into that dress again.”
“This is as good as it’s going to get. I have bad genetics.”
“How did I let myself get this fat? I guess the damage is done.”
While there’s nothing wrong with having these thoughts (we all have them), we run into trouble when we let them rule our behaviors. If we have these thoughts and believe them, our behaviors will match. We’ll binge eat, let our gym membership drain our bank account and think we’re not worth it.
So what do we do?
The first thing to do is acknowledge the thoughts. You’re having them. They’re in your head. Cool. Now you have the opportunity to either take them as fact or . challenge them.
“I’ll never lose the weight” can become “Actually I can, I just need help. So what do I have to do to be able to lose this weight if it’s something I really want?” Hire a coach? Go for a walk? Drink extra water? Cut down on takeout and cook more at home?
“How did I let myself get this fat? I guess the damage is done” can become “Ok I let myself go and it sucks but what can I do differently tomorrow to get me where I want to be?” Make breakfast at home? Cut back to one glass of wine a few nights a week instead of a few glasses a few nights a week? Go to a class at the gym?
We have to get really good at having these conversations with ourselves first and then we have to get really good at taking action.
One of my clients said it best just the other day when she said “My mindset is an ever-changing river of emotions hahahaha (not to be dramatic) I have to keep reminding myself that the way we talk to ourselves, being aware of hunger cues, knowing what our body needs… these things are all practices. You can’t just do them for a few months and then you’re good to go. We need to make repetitive choices and, while it gets easier, it never gets easy. I am working so hard… the food, the movement, the mindset. I should step back and be proud of myself. It’s the long game I’m after. More talking to myself than anyone else, but I hope this resonates with some of you. I believe we’re all working hard in this group… struggling and succeeding. I’m proud of us.”
And that’s it. That’s what it’s all about. Knowing that you have the power to change the way you think and also knowing that it’s a practice. If you’ve been thinking the “I’ll never lose the weight” thought for 20+ years, you’re going to have to work hard to shift that story and that’s totally normal.
So if you want to finally lose the weight, get consistent in the gym, eat healthier, whatever your goal is then you’ve got to work at believing that you will and not let those negative thoughts take hold of your and your actions. There’s no room for self-doubt when it comes to you reaching your goals. If you do the work, believe you’re worth it and become your own biggest fan, nothing can get in your way.
You are what you think NOT what you eat.
I talk about this stuff in depth with the women in my monthly membership group, Living Lean Lifestyle Club and I’m currently accepting new members into this amazing group of women. Get more details HERE and join us for our 30 Day Fat Loss Jumpstart beginning September 5th.