We celebrated Fat Tuesday this week and I got Paczki for my office. I had more than one person remark about me eating one, which immediately got my thoughts turning…. UGH! Diet culture. Why do people comment on ME having a paczki? Is it because I do CrossFit? Is it that all women in general expect that we shouldn’t eat “forbidden foods”? Years ago, you would have found me skipping the donuts in a quest for a smaller body. But two things changed, I found CrossFit (shocker, CrossFit helped me leave diet culture), and I became a (girl) mom.
About six years ago I started the process of motherhood. I got pregnant and told myself I was done with unhealthy dieting. Then I had my daughter, and I knew I needed to be extra serious. I didn’t want her to grow up hating her body or feeling like she needed to diet. For reference, I remember starting my first diet in third grade. I packed my lunch; a turkey sandwich, an orange, and a few pretzels, I ate this for years!! I hated my body. I spent a long part of my teens and twenties over exercising and obsessing about what I would eat. It stole so much time from me that I could have been enjoying life. I didn’t want that for my daughter, and so I knew when I was having a girl, I needed to find a balance. I threw away my scale and over the years I have somehow found a balance that 6 years ago I wouldn’t have known was possible. If I want a donut on a Tuesday, I eat it and I will not punish myself for the week. I know what people are saying, well you eat really healthy Chrissy, broccoli and eggs and chicken.. etc…. True, I do have a pretty nutrient dense diet 80% of the time because I know that is what helps me feel my best. But that other 20% is where the balance fits in that allows me to eat pancakes on Sunday morning with my kids. To model that it’s okay to eat pancakes, and we need broccoli to help our brain, and chicken to grow muscles. In general we don’t talk about food as good or bad.
Another thing that really helped me let go of diet culture was Crossfit. I know, Crossfitters seem pretty intense, it is assumed we all eat paleo or count our macros. That’s really not true. CrossFit actually gave me permission to start to love my body and my size, I could use my strength to achieve. And what do you need to grow strength and have energy, food! Food turned into fuel rather than a reward or punishment system. I don’t work out so I can eat more, I also don’t eat a donut and think I need to work out! I eat a mostly nutrient dense diet to keep me fueled so I can continue to excel in CrossFit, but I enjoy all food.
I am not saying there is a magic solution to diet culture. But what we can do is change the future for our daughters (and sons!). We can teach kids to love their bodies regardless of their size. Their worth is not connected to their size or their beauty! We also need to change things for adults too. Because when we stop spending so much time agonizing over our body and what we cannot eat, we can take that time and use it for good! We can enjoy that cookie with our kid on a Friday night, we can kick butt at the CrossFit workout on Saturday morning, and we can run around with our kids in the park on a sunny day.
Also, would you believe I ate closer to two paczki? And you know what I didn’t do, I didn’t skip dinner and I didn’t go workout that day. I didn’t punish myself the next day either.
It’s time to end diet culture. We are more than our size; we are more than our looks. When we stop focusing so much on those things and put it towards other parts of our lives we can excel. And you might just find when you stop obsessing, things just fall right into place. I am teaching my daughters to love themselves just the way they are, to not stress over how they look. With the goal that instead they can use all of that energy to study hard, excel in sports, or just enjoy life! Of course, I have a long road ahead of me, but I think we are heading in the right direction!