The New year is constantly flooded with the next new diet, or the chance to adopt a new exercise routine perhaps? There is also a highly anticipated expectation of the familiar phrase “new year, new you”.
The expectation with this phrase may be accompanied by feelings of stress and anxiety, how will you achieve this new you, or this unrealistic exercise routine or this new diet? By Jenny Tomei, Wellness Ambassador to Charitable Travel.
You can blame all these expectations on diet culture. Diet can be defined as a culture that places a person’s worth and value on their size and outward appearance. It encourages the belief that smaller bodies are better, healthier, and can be achieved through diet and exercise, if one tries hard enough. Also, there is a growing pressure to conform to unrealistic beauty standards, no thanks to social media! The point of diet culture is for you to feel bad about yourself and spend your hard-earned money to “fix” what you feel bad about, and in turn, lose your power. If you are constantly focused on your next meal, working out, or losing weight, it is harder to focus on your work, social life, and who you are truly meant to be.
The purpose of exercise has now been driven towards burning off those extra calories, to punish yourself for what you ate, or to lose weight. Even the idea of ‘clean eating’ and ‘detoxes’, ‘slimming foods’ are rooted in diet culture. Unfortunately dieting can lead to binge eating, a slowed metabolism as your body has to compensate for the shortage of calories in order to conserve energy, and you become more efficient at doing more with less. Your digestion may then start to become sluggish, and you may take longer to recover from injury, and your hormones will become disrupted!
Dieting also advocates all kinds of disordered eating behaviours, which can have a lasting effect on your relationship with food, as those diet rules become embedded in your brain, and can be hard to shift! When we are constantly surrounded by restrictive diets and rigid exercise trends this can be more harmful than helpful in supporting your health.
2020 has been a challenging year for everyone, it is time to start focusing more on self care and exercising in ways that serve you in a positive way. You deserve to take part in fun movement that helps you feel your best physically AND mentally. You deserve to enjoy the food you want without thinking of calories or forcing yourself to go to the gym the next morning.
What can you do to focus on the things that matter? How can you drown out the messages of diet culture in the new year? How can you stick to an exercise routine that’s right for you!?
Here are some tips that can help!
1 Remind yourself who diet culture really benefits (and yes, it’s not you).
Companies that promote diet culture typically make it seem like they really care about you your wellbeing, your happiness, your health, and longevity. It’s important to remember that these companies are in business for one thing only which is to turn a profit.
When you see ads promoting the “perfect” diet and exercise programs, keep in mind that they are developed to be profitable, not to improve your health and wellbeing.
2 Grill those Goals.
Despite what fitness influencers might want us to believe, we can’t all squat and abdominal crunch our way to six-pack abs, a tiny waist, and a massive bum. With bone structure and genetics playing a big part in the shape of our bodies, these New Year ‘fitness goals’ are unrealistic and unattainable for many. You can still have a strong core and not a six-pack – abs are simply an aesthetic and often unrealistic beauty standard.
3 Finesse that feed!
Does scrolling down your Instagram feed make you feel good? If the answer is no, then perhaps it’s time to build a better online tribe. Sure, seeing how the other half live isn’t a crime – but make sure those tiles still bear a resemblance to reality.
You can’t draw comparisons when you don’t have all the facts. Remember – you don’t know how much she/he has posed or tensed for that shot, or how long he/she spent editing out any blemishes and adding more muscle tone to his/her thighs. Curate a feed this year that’s inspiring, not intimidating!
4 Positive affirmations
If a thought comes up from a diet ad, ask yourself if it is a helpful or unhelpful thought: does it make you feel neutral or positive about your body? Or does it make you feel rubbish and responsible for changing it? If it makes you feel bad, try having a list of affirmations ready to use! This can be an effective way to help challenge and cope through the negative thoughts that may arise.
Breathing exercises: Seeing diet ads may trigger some feelings of stress and anxiety. By breathing exercises can be a helpful way to calm down those responses.
5 Find a form of exercise that you enjoy and look forward to
Exercise is about a celebration of what your body can do! Exercise is not about burning calories, let’s start thanking our bodies for all the wonderful things it allows us to do! You should never feel pressured into a rigid exercise routine that you dread!
If you want to break up with diets and unrealistic exercise routines for good, then why not join us for live for FREE zoom Weekday Wellness workout, suited for all abilities! Together with nutrition, mental health, and a Q&A session at the end. The workout will last 30 minutes and the Q&A’s 10-15 mins at end of each workout.
Every Thursday there will be expert guests invited to share and participate on their specialised subject, including Olympic athletes, mental health counsellors, and Non- Diet focused Nutritionists etc.