To nourish your body
Does your diet and exercise nourish your body or punish it?
Does your diet and exercise regime nourish your body or punish it? If you look at most gym advertising campaigns today you will notice there are a lot of sweaty, muscled up bodies pushing themselves to their edges. Along side these are a plethora of fad diets advocating fat burning, low calories, and protein powders. It’s easy to then fall into the trap of thinking that we must punish our bodies in order to be fit but at what cost? Yes diet and exercise are important in maintaining health but the food we eat and how we use our bodies is just as important. We must nourish our bodies and our minds.
My Story of punishment
Several years ago I had an eating disorder. Having low confidence I didn’t believe I was good enough for anyone or anything so my measure for success at this point in time was how skinny I could become. Perhaps if I was super skinny I would be enough. The thing with this though is the skinnier you become, the more weight you want to lose.
Within a year I had become so skinny that I could tell if I had put on less than a kilogram. I became infatuated with my bony arms, my tiny wrists, the gap between my thighs, the washboard of a stomach. Every day I woke up so sore from the physical regime of the previous day and if I didn’t wake up aching, then I hadn’t worked hard enough.
Another measure for success at this time was how little I could consume. I knew that the average energy consumption for an adult was 8700Kj so I would try to keep my calorie consumption to under half of this. Soon a cucumber with some soy sauce became a meal. Seriously.
THE INNER VOICE
My inner monologue was atrocious. “You’re fat”, “you’re disgusting”, “you’re huge”, “no one will love you” and no matter how much my family and friends tried to support me, I just pushed them away. They didn’t understand, I thought. I’m petite. I’m meant to be skinny. I’m a dancer. All the years that I weighed more, I was obviously overweight. This was the weight I was meant to be.
Let me tell you though, eating less than half of the recommended kilojoules whilst doing eight dance shows a week, HIIT classes every morning, several runs, sprints, swims and ballet classes leaves you feeling pretty scatty and depleted. Being so light, it was hard to ground myself. I was erratic, anxious, scared, unable to sit still, unable to sleep.
UNABLE TO PERFORM WELL
I distinctly remember an audition where I had to do a dance sequence with many jumps. Prior to the morning audition, I had eaten a very small breakfast several hours before it. About half an hour before the audition I saw a good friend of mine eat a banana and muesli bar and I was shocked, wondering how she could eat so much before a dance audition. By the time it came to learning the sequence, I had no fuel in the tank, my legs felt like lead, and I was unable to perform the routine. My lack of nourishment had me cut first round. I would like to say that this experience shocked me out of it but unfortunately it did not. I had received a few compliments at the audition that I had lost so much weight and so it egged me onwards in my quest to punish my body.
THE JOURNEY BACK TO HEALTH
Luckily over time, after several very serious chats with friends, family, and health professionals I started to realise I needed help. I was depressed, lonely, anxious, and exhausted. Through regular visits to a health professional, travelling overseas, and a lot of inspired reading I found a way back to health. It took several years and wasn’t easy but it was worth it. I shudder to think what my life would have looked like (if I even had one) if I continued down the path of self destruction. And still I occasionally hear the lingering inner voice who says ‘you are not enough’ however most of the time it has lost its power over me.
Yoga and meditation have become regular tools for me to not only keep my body healthy but also my mind. Every time I step on my mat I am nourishing my body and mind. I am developing flexibility and strength and an awareness of the scatty nature of the mind. If you are interested in starting a practice, try out some classes of mine at omunay.com
I encourage anyone going through any type of mental health issue to reach out. Speak to friends, family, and health professionals. Don’t feel ashamed, it is a normal human experience. Find the support you need and start creating the life you truly want. I wasn’t aware of this support when I was in the midst of my eating disorder but The Butterfly Foundation is a support network specifically for eating disorders.
TO NOURISH YOUR BODY OR PUNISH?
When you think about it, our bodies are such blessings, miracles even! They support us in everything we do. They should be our temple, something that we honour and show our respect and gratitude for every day. Not something we trash, abuse, and punish. So I ask you, are you nourishing or punishing your body?
Do you fuel your body with food that will help it sustain or limit yourself?
Do you show kindness to your body when it needs to rest and be still?
Do you give your body love and gratitude daily?
Do you exercise for aesthetic reasons or for how exercise makes you feel?
Is your current diet and exercise regime supporting or sabotaging you?
Do you feel elated after working out, or sick, deleted and irritable?
Do you eat enough to sustain you but stop before you over eat?
Do you get caught on social media and mass media fixating on how perfect other people’s bodies are?
NOURISHING THE MIND
Nourish your body but also your mind. Send loving, kind thoughts to yourself every day. It is a difficult thing to hold a part of your body you dislike and send it love and gratitude but I challenge you to do it. To do it everyday. To do it every time that inner voice enters your mind and tells you it’s disgusting. Hold your donut, your love handles, your cellulite, all your perfect imperfections. Don’t wait until you have hit your weight goal or muscle lifting or aesthetic goal. I promise you that once you hit that number, it won’t be enough. You’ll want to keep going, putting off that goal of ever feeling good enough. But if you do it now, really love yourself, life can be a lot more joyous, right now!
If you’re in crisis and need urgent help, call emergency services (triple zero – 000), Lifeline (13 11 14), or go to your local hospital emergency department.
You can also visit beyondblue.org.au for a variety of resources and support. You are not alone.