Diet Culture & Why I Will Never go on Another Diet

Diets are a lie fed to us by diet culture telling us that we are no more than what we look like under the guise of being “healthy”. Unless you are on a diet for a health concern that a licensed professional has determined is the best option for you, diets are not healthy.  

What is Healthy?

We all have our own interpretations of what healthy looks. By definition, health is a combination of physical, mental, social, and emotional wellbeing. Yet, we often refer to people as looking healthy or unhealthy based on size. Size is not an indicator of health it’s just a factor of genetics, priviledge, and other variables, This is fatphobia and it is a product of diet culture. As a fatphobic society we take our fatphobia a step further and inaccurately associate health with diets. 

Since society skips the holistic approach and tries to determine health based off physical appearance, the wellness industry has fed us diet culture to keep us wanting more. We all want to look “healthy” (skinny, abs, thin). The diet industry convinces us that we just need to try their products to become the epitome of health. 

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Have you ever Googled “Healthy Diet”? The first thing that comes up is a WebMD article titled “11 Simple Steps to a Healthy Diet”. All this article does is encourage you to swap “bad” food like mayo for “healthier” options like mustard. A food swap won’t make you any healthier, but it will create a mental boundary around a food you may actually enjoy potentially harming your mental health. This is diet culture in action. It tells us we have to only eat “good” foods and exercise everyday. Having a little mayo on your sandwich may not be the best for your physical health but it might be perfect for your mental health. Diet culture feeds off our desire for health but it assumes that we only care about our physical well being. 

Fit Tea and Diet Culture

To make things even worse, stars buy in to diet culture. They feed their fans the lie of diet culture in the form of detox teas or flat-tummy tea. The diet industry loves our insecurities around our tummys and make $64 billion dollars a year off of us.

So let’s all take a minute and say “screw you diet culture.” I will no longer contribute to the BILLIONS diet culture makes off of a lie about the definition of health. If you want to eat whole wheat bread, eat it! If you want to go on a run, run! If you want to stretch on the floor while watching tv, do it! If you want to watch Veronica Mars and eat popsicles, have at it! Just make sure you are doing it because it contributes to your health holistically and not just on attribute. I love movement, fitness and nutritious foods but we are all more than our bodies. Are you ready to quit caving in to diet culture and start living a truly healthy life? I am. 

I’m Ditching Diet Culture

I’ve made a major fitness mistake; I’ve been actively participating in diet culture.

Dietician Christy Harrison defines diet culture as a system of beliefs that worships thinness, promotes weight loss, demonizes certain foods and oppresses people that don’t match others picture of health. Diet culture is an oppressive fatphobic, food-phobic system. It teaches us that juice cleanses, 1200 calorie diets and excessive macro tracking are the only ways to be happy in your body. Diet culture is a joy thief. 

As someone who loves exercise and the fitness industry, I have fallen hard into the clutches of diet culture. I tried to become a booty builder and eat 1gram of protein per body weight. Then, I followed all the fitspo’s and copied their diets. Debated going vegan just to be part of the vegan body-builder movement. I #mealprepped and yet, none of it ever made me happier. Movement improved my mood but obsessing over what or when I ate never made my life feel full; instead it made eating in to a chore. 

Anti Diet Influencers

I’ve been sitting with this uncomfortable feeling towards diets trying to determine my next move.  It wasn’t until I saw one of my favorite booty builders Madalin Giorgetta go anti-diet culture that I realized I needed to dig deeper into this. Sad to say but it wasn’t until I saw an influencer, who had made most of her fame off of the fitness industry and being conventionally pretty (that I love and follow), throw it all away for this message. Her willingness to shake up her life for this message encouraged me to dismantle diet culture. Through her influence I realized that I have thin privilege. I will never be rejected from a job for being too fat. As someone with this privilege I need to use voice to speak out against diet culture and fatphobia. 

This sounds like a mission so to frame learning experience I’ve tasked myself with answering these questions: 

  • What does health/wellness mean? And why do we associate diets with health?
  • Why are we afraid of “fat”? What does fatphobia look like in our everyday lives?
  • Is body neutrality better than body positivity? 

Want to come on this journey with me? Let me know in the comments. 

Movement as Medicine – Move Your Body a Little

Movement as medicine and trying the Feldenkrais method. 

At 10:30am on a Saturday morning Brenton willingly accompanied me to a dance studio. Why? So we could try a Feldenkrais class. Feldekrais method is a movement class focused on moving your body in the most natural way. I highly recommend starting your day with a class like this if you can; it was so relaxing. 

This class, which revolves around small movements and lying on the floor, triggered a breakthrough for my relationship with movement. Little movements are just as important so we can use movement as medicine for our bodies and minds. Want to reap the benefits of movement? Carry on reading! 

Movement as medicine for the body. 

I have chronic upper back pain. What started as a tweaked shoulder at 18 has turned into years of massage therapy, doctors visits and tiger balm. I’m not a doctor, but I did notice my pain increased anytime I stopped working out completely. After doing a little research I’ve discovered that 80% of adults will experience back pain. According to the ACA one of the best ways to combat and prevent back pain is to move (“Motion is Lotion” is my new favorite catch phrase from this research). While lying on the floor in our Feldenkrais class the instructor reminded us that our movements did not need to be big, they needed to feel smooth and natural. I love the imagery this provides. When you move your body in a way that feels smooth, and only to the point where it is easy to return to your starting point, you are providing lotion to your tight muscles and joints. 

Not only is there some valid commotion about motion and our joints but there’s also validity in the importance of movement and our immune systems. According to this study as little as a 20 minute walk can boost your immune system. What I love about this is that it proves that small and slower motions are beneficial for the body. You don’t have to run a half-marathon to reap the benefits of movement in your body. 

The Feldenkrais Method

During a Feldenkrais class you dive in to the fundamentals of movement by laying on the floor and being lead through small movements, starting with the neck and moving down to the soles of the feet. The instructor had us go from moving one segment of the body to moving multiples at the same time. An example of this would be laying on the floor with your feet planted and your knees towards the ceiling, then moving your head one way and your legs another. With each movement we were told to focus on how our bodies felt; was it easier to move our legs and head to the left or right? How far over could we take our knees before we had to start using extra force? We built from there but the premise was the same, small, natural movements. 

Movement as medicine for the mind. 

Focusing on movement has changed my physical body significantly but it has changed my mental health even more. I find slow movement, like this Feldenkrais class or Yin yoga, excruciating at times because I JUST WANT TO WIGGLE AND MOVE. The small movements force me to live presently, and notice the smallest changes in my balance and focus. Classes like this are meditation for those of us who struggle to sit still. It’s amazing for my nervous system and creativity. 

My one true movement love will always be high intensity exercise. Whether its weight lifting, HIIT, or plyometrics creates dopamine, serotonin and all the happy hormones. This is amazing for my mental health because as Elle Woods said “happy people don’t kill their husbands”. 

Let’s move! 

So, have I convinced you? Assuming you have the privilege of being able to move, try moving! Go for a run, a walk, or just stand for 5 minutes in your house. Do it if you can and let me know how you feel! 

Fitness Program Review: I Tried Natacha Oceane’s CUT

I’ve flirted with many fitness programs. I’ve tried PIIT28, BBG, instagram booty builder workout splits (no judgement on these, they gave me some of my best results prior to this program), yoga and everything in between. Over the last couple years I have fallen in love with the weight room because of the results it gave me.

My newfound love of weight lifting led to started following fitness influencers. One of my absolute favorites is Natacha Oceane. As a former gymnast, I am a huge fan of plyometric movements to get my heart rate up and Natacha emphasizes plyo. After following Natacha on instagram I began throwing in a few of her functional or plyo moves in to my workouts with B. He tolerated them, so after a few months of adding box jumps and HIIT to our split we decided to take the jump and purchase Natacha’s 10 week CUT fitness program.

CUT is marketed as a program that will help you burn fat, gain muscle and not jeopardize your metabolism. I personally was interested in this program because I want visible abs and this seemed like my best option (Natacha is absolutely ripped!). After completing this program for the first time I do not have visible abs but I have gained strength and did not have to change my eating habits at all.

CUT is a unique fitness program. The workout split is broken down in five workouts, with an optional and a mandatory rest day. The workouts are broken into plyometrics, upper body & HIIT, lower body, total body and HIIT. Each week the moves in the workouts change but the pattern stays the same. These workouts are KILLER and the upper body & HIIT day is by far the hardest thing I have ever done. My favorite thing about these workouts is the variety. A total body day can go from pull ups, to jumping lunges, to push ups without skipping a beat. I get bored by doing the same moves every week so I loved that the variety kept me going through the 10 week program.

To complete CUT I had to purchase the following items because my gym did not have them.

**The following links are Amazon affiliate links.

Long Loop Resistance Bands

Needed for pull up assistance, glute kick backs, etc.

Barebell Pad

My gym does not have these available and without them I refuse to do hip thrusts

Cons

There are only two cons to CUT as a fitness program.

The first is that you have to have an hour or more to dedicate to the gym for each workout. This is great for endurance but can be difficult when you work a regular job.

The other complaint I have is that I was constantly running across the gym for the next move. I was running from squat rack, to a plyo corner, to leg press, then back to the squat rack for most of the workouts. This is fine if you go to the gym at 6am (like we usually do) or in the middle of the day BUT if you have to work out during peak hours this does not work. The few times B and I had to go to the gym after work we had to switch up the order we did the moves in so we could utilize equipment while it was open.

Contrary to my complaints I absolutely LOVED CUT and am already jumping back into it for a second round! Have you tried CUT or another workout program that you love?

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Gift Guide for the Fitness Inclined

Oh the weather outside is frightful and your Christmas shopping list is not delightful so to make your shopping less stressful, read below read below read below!

Happy Holidays! I know the most wonderful time of the year is usually synonymous with the most stressful time of the year so to ease some of your shopping discomfort I’ve come up with a list of gifts that are budget friendly, easy to buy & will still have time to be delivered gift guide for any fitness lover in your life. I love giving people items that are cute & useful in their day to day life especially if they are setting intentions of practicing healthy habits in the new year. 

**All links in this blog post are affiliate links

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Resistance Bands!

Resistance bands & hip circles are the new cool kids at the gym. The instagram fitness community swears by these, especially if you need a way to up your leg day without upping the weight you are lifting. I’m a huge fan of these and for under $25 they are a thoughtful gift for your gym friend who’s trying to build a booty!

Leggings!

Queenie Ke makes amazing gym & budget friendly leggings. I have a black pair of these that I hold to the same caliber as my Gymshark leggings.

Gym Bag!

Any gym goer knows how much of a pain it can be to carry your water bottle, keys, IDs, warm-up clothes & whatever else you deem necessary for your workout. A nice gym bag is an amazing gift that can be both cute and functional. You can get creative and buy one in a fun color or stick to the classics like I did.

Water Bottle!

Single use plastic is out and cute reusable bottles are in. A reusable water bottle is a great gift because regardless of how many someone owns you can always use an extra. I chose this one because it was cute, well priced and BPA free.

Yoga Mat

Yoga mats are the BEST gifts. You can never have too many! Depending on what flooring I’m on I’ll use two at a time to cushion my achy old gymnast body. Bonus: they’re super cute!

Hope this helps anyone with a last minute shopping list that is a mile long! Let me know in the comments what your favorite fitness item is! Happy shopping!

But Really Thought Tries – Barry’s Bootcamp

I love to dabble in fitness classes. When I lived in SB I took Barre classes all the time but since the move I haven’t been frequenting the studios. I’m currently opting for a weight lifting gym sessions during the week. I’ve started to get a bit bored so I decided to expand my fitness horizons and take up classes again. Recently, this has taken the form of a tumbling class, which has the added bonus of rekindling my love for gymnastics

The cardio queen in me was feeling a bit underwhelmed by all this lifting and flipping so on Saturday morning, so I dragged B to the hardest cardio I could think of – a Barry’s Bootcamp class.

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Cardio Queens Unite 

Barry’s Bootcamp is self-described as a high-intensity interval workout (think HIIT) with “killer music” and “signature red lights”.  Upon arrival, we were eagerly greeted at the front desk, were given a locker and met the instructor. The instructor talked us through the workout split as the class requires specific moves to be performed at specific intervals/timing. We started on the floor with resistance bands and weights, then we moved to the treadmill, then back to the floor for arm, then off to the treadmills we went to finish the class.

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In my head this is what the red lights looked like…in reality they were just red light bulbs instead of white. 

Highlights included:

  • The treadmill and and the single touch option to switch incline/speed
  • The red lights
  • Full length mirrors to check form

I truly enjoyed the class but it was insanely challenging. I know that fitnesses classes work for me because someone else provides the rules. It’s easier to slack when I pick the pace for my HIIT so having someone tell me what to put the treadmill on and for how long prevents me from cheating myself.

I will definitely be taking another class at Barry’s but I will not be doing their recommended 3-5 classes a week. I love that the class gave me workout inspiration and I can now create a similar workout for myself at the gym (saving me a cool $40 per class).

Have you tried Barry’s? Did you love it or is it not for you?