If you know me then you know that I’m super into health and fitness. I love eating super nutritious, healthy plant based foods and I love working out daily. But there’s something about the fitness and health culture that I absolutely hate.
Whether it’s been you having these thoughts, or hearing someone else say them, we’ve all heard:
You have to eat 1,200 calories or less a day in order to lose weight.
Carbs make you fat.
Eating five small meals a day boosts your metabolism so you HAVE to do it.
Being a little underweight is fine.
The list goes on and on.
It pains me to see that these are the kinds of messages being spread on platforms like social media and magazines. There are so many young girls and boys that soak up this information and think that the only way they are going to be healthy is if they eat less and workout more.
I remember when I first got into health and fitness around my sophomore year in high school, I was fed those exact messages. I never counted calories, but I definitely wasn’t eating enough for the amount of working out I was doing. Well… I actually wasn’t eating enough even if I lived a sedentary lifestyle. I thought that I had to eat five small meals a day in order to lose weight. I would wait till the exact minute to eat during a specific time each day to keep a schedule. (Btw, eating five meals a day doesn’t actually speed up your metabolism, if you’re like me and prefer three large meals that’s totally cool, it won’t affect your fitness goals or anything). I’d do workouts even if I didn’t feel like doing them. I would allow myself one cheat day which would typically lead to eating a whole pint of ice cream or binging on some other junk food because my body was so excited to get in more calories it just wanted more and more. Eventually I became underweight, and without even trying to do so. I was cold all the time, I lost my period, and I thought I was in shape but looking back, I totally wasn’t.
When you’re eating such a small amount of calories your body basically goes into starvation mode and will cling on to anything you eat because it doesn’t know when it’s going to be fed next. This can actually slow down your weight loss instead of speeding it up. Muscle is also first to go before fat, so instead of starving your muscles fuel those babies with nutritious foods!
A lot of people think that if you’re underweight, then you must have an eating disorder; but I didn’t. I ate every single day. I never starved myself and I never threw up anything I ate. I genuinely thought I was being healthy and doing what I had to do to stay in shape. I didn’t think that being underweight was that big of a deal.
Finally after educating myself more I realized I really have to get my shit together. I started eating more but I still didn’t feel great and I probably still wasn’t eating enough. Then I found veganism and everything changed. I formed a super healthy relationship with food and eat delicious whole foods; not because that’s the right thing to do, but because that’s what my body craves and that’s what I enjoy. Instead of eating around 1,000 calories a day like I used to I eat around 2,000; sometimes more! And guess what? I’m a healthy normal weight. I actually have muscle now. I actually have energy to workout. I got my period back. I’m meeting fitness and health goals without having to compromise the amount of food I’m eating.
Although I can credit a lot of this to the vegan diet, this post isn’t about veganism; we all know how I feel about this lovely lifestyle. This post is just a reminder that you shouldn’t be starving yourself to meet some kind of goal in your physical appearance. It’s not about how much you’re eating, it’s about what you’re eating. As long as you have a healthy diet, there is absolutely no reason why you should be eating less than 2,000 calories a day. Also please don’t fall into the trap that carbs make you fat. This is false and you should be eating all the fruits, veggies, and starches that you please. I hate seeing so many social media influencers emphasize calorie counting and shrugging off being under weight. That is not the right mindset to have. Instead we should be focusing on eating an abundance of (plant) foods, staying active however you please to do so, and just living happy lives!
If you’re hungry eat. If you want to treat yourself to some ice cream (dairy free duh) do it. If you feel like doing a relaxing yoga session instead of an intense HIIT workout, go ahead! Stay balanced and stay mindful. Don’t let calories become your enemy and think of your food as fuel!
And always remember to love yourself no matter what part of your health and fitness journey you are on!