Reframing Your Mindset Around Food and Exercise

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Working on loving yourself is important and difficult work. Often, changing your mindset to accept yourself as you are, specifically how you look, includes getting rid of the restrictive and negative thoughts surrounding food. It can take a lot of energy to undo the habits we get into, like labeling food as “good” or “bad” or punishing ourselves with exercise.

In attempts to love myself more, I decided to give myself a break. I stopped staring in the mirror and picking apart my body. I stopped beating myself up for hours after I ate something “bad.” I allowed myself to just eat whatever I wanted. If I didn’t want to exercise, I didn’t (I never actually wanted to exercise). This was great for my mental health until it wasn’t.

Loving my body in whatever state it is in and avoiding the “punishment and reward” mindset is definitely a positive change. However, in the process of giving myself a break mentally, I gave up on taking care of myself physically. I started feeling extremely sluggish and uncomfortable in my skin.

The negative thoughts came roaring back with twice the intensity.

I fought so hard against them. I knew how to battle against the thoughts that I needed to look a certain way, but my appearance wasn’t the main reason I was struggling. I felt sick, uncomfortable, and like my body wasn’t mine. I kept wondering, how can I love my body when I’m not even happy with how I feel?

After a lot of internal battles, I started to realize that loving your body doesn’t mean giving up on eating nutritious foods and joyful exercise. Nourishing yourself well is loving your body. Moving your body joyfully is self-love.

I started my self-love journey by just saying, “I’m going to give myself whatever I want.” But sometimes what I wanted was not what my body needed. Sometimes I want coffee, but I can tell I need water. I’ve found for me personally, getting some movement into my day greatly benefits my mental health.

Instead of changing your lifestyle in the pursuit of self-love, you need to change your mindset.

When I started exercising joyfully and eating nourishing foods, I didn’t do it to lose weight. I didn’t do it to look different. I didn’t do it to fit in. However my appearance might change, I knew I could accept myself, I knew I would be okay.

I started eating more nutritious food to fuel my body so that I would spend fewer days curled up on the couch with a stomach ache. I started exercising more because it made me feel more energetic.

Instead of needlessly restricting foods that I enjoyed and focusing on numbers, I decided instead to focus on adding more nourishing foods and joyful movement. I still eat whatever foods make me happy or that my body craves. If an exercise feels like pure torture, I just don’t do it. Because I’m here to enjoy my life to the fullest, and neither forcing myself to run for miles or spending every day on the couch is fully living for me.

Written by Hannah Maine