By Erin Ehrlich
Shed two sizes!*
28 Flat Belly Tricks!*
Tighten Your Abs, Butt, and Thighs! Supereasy Fitness Plans!*
*Actual magazine articles in women’s health-related magazines trying to promote positive body image.
I can’t even begin to count the number of magazines and online articles I used to read in hopes of finding the quickest, easiest way to that summer-ready bod. I scoured the Cosmopolitan’s, Seventeen Magazine’s, and Women’s Health issues at the grocery store checkout aisles while I stood by as the cashier scanned celery stalks, hummus, and tomatoes. I was lazy. So, unimaginably lazy.
Funny enough, I never got that body. Six-pack abs didn’t pop up with the 2-minute core workout that was supposed to burn hundreds of calories. Somehow, going to the gym once a month and eating rabbit food never got me a modeling contract. I never looked like this.
After I graduated college, I tried several other diets. I tried the Fat Smash Diet. I tried being a vegetarian (for like 5 seconds – I’m too much of a carnivore to even pretend like that was an option.) I tried no carbs, I tried no sugar, yada yada yada.
Then I tried the Paleo Diet, eating lots of proteins, fruits and veggies, and healthy fats. My dad has had immense success with this program, which is really more of a lifestyle. At 57, my dad is in the best shape of his life having followed a strict paleo regimen for the last 7 years, along with his intense CrossFit training schedule for the same number of years. (Sidenote: he’s a huge inspiration and is really the reason I started with CrossFit at all.)
Anyway, the paleo diet was the closest I’d come at that point to finding something that worked for me, but there was just something that was off. It works for so many people, my dad included. It just didn’t work for me. I wasn’t losing the weight I wanted to, and I felt tired all the time. And I mean ALL. THE. TIME.
I gave it a solid month, lost some inches around my waist, and then stuffed my face with potatoes and rice.
I just wasn’t sure what would “do the trick.” I was so sick and tired of dieting. Of limiting myself. You see, I love food. Probably more than the average human. And worse than that, I have zero will power.
Enter my “revelation.” I mean, not really, but I got some solid advice from solid folks at my super solid box. Over the last 2 months, I’ve participated in a nutrition event hosted by Full Circle called “Flexible Dieting & Freedom Workshop.”
It’s a nutrition workshop about the basics of flexible dieting, implementing diet changes, how to successfully reach your goals, and how to navigate through all of the bullshit. Yes, please.
This workshop hasn’t been at all about diet tricks, or speeding your way toward the perfect body. It’s been about cutting through the idea of societal expectations. It’s been about goal setting, and achieving those damn goals (welcome to the struggle of my life).
In the past several years, it seems that the idea of “the perfect women’s body” has taken a slight turn for the better. On the lighter side, comedian Luisa Omielan has tackled the thigh gap. Amy Schumer has talked about body image and how nobody in Hollywood is happy thin – they’re all secretly starving.
What I didn’t understand before signing up for this workshop was the entire spectrum of psychology that lies behind it. Nutrition isn’t just about food. Nutrition is a multi-faceted concept.
I track my calories and macronutrients, yes. I have a caloric goal and certain percentages I strive to reach for each macronutrient. But you know what? I can eat whatever I want to eat. This “diet” is not about me limiting myself in what I consume. This “diet” is about learning moderation and what works for you. If I want to lose 5% body fat in the next 3 months, then I know exactly what I need to do to get there. If I want to lose 5% body fat in the next year, I also know how to do that. If I want to gain weight (how awesome is this “diet” that this is even an option?!), then you know what? I can do that.
I track my workouts. I track my sleep levels. I also track my moods. But you know what else I track? My happiness. Sure, it’s not an objective quality to track. But I’ve gotten to the point that as long as I’m setting achievable goals – ones that I’m attaining to because I want to – and hitting my marks (whatever they may be for the moment), then I’m happy. This workshop has helped me realize that I don’t have to be bikini ready to be happy. If I’m being honest, I’ll never be bikini ready. But do I really care?
There are people I’m aiming to please, sure. But it’s not people who are hoping that I may one day grace the cover of People. It’s people who love me, who are hoping that I can be healthy and happy.
There are still some demons I’m battling – learning how to say no to cheese and alcohol, mostly. But I’m not going to stop myself if it sounds delicious, as long as I’m aware of the fact that it’s contributing to my macronutrient count. I know the goals I’ve set for myself, and I know how to get there.
I won’t rely on the get-rich-quick-scheme anymore. It’s all about realistically getting there on my own terms.
Cliche, sure, but hell, if you had some strong-ass women (and your head coach) telling you that when your thighs touch, you’re one step closer to being a mermaid, how could you not believe them?