Moderation (The Shit Actually Works!)

Like most people, I love food.

However, for the longest time in my life, I couldn’t really control myself around certain foods. I labeled them according to society, commonly known as junk food. Until recently, I struggled with the idea of allowing myself to eat specific food items. I would eat clean, plant based foods for a while, then eventually deprive myself for so long that I would binge on everything I could get my hands on in my fridge. In my mind, the foods that I deemed unhealthy became foods I craved. Then, when I actually allowed myself to eat them without judgement, I realized that I don’t even care for them that much.

How did this mental shift occur? A focus on moderation: a concept so commonly emphasized, yet somewhat challenging in its execution.

Now, I thought it would never be possible, considering that I would eat an entire container of ice cream, 3 sleeves of Chips Ahoy cookies, and a bag of potato chips in one sitting. The next day, I would eat a couple pieces of lettuce, a few bites of chicken, and then recount the amount of carbs I had in a slice of bread about thirteen times every hour. Eventually, I would get frustrated that I didn’t eat perfectly clean that day, causing me to binge and develop a deadly cycle of gorging and restricting. It even got to the point where I would skip events, like birthday parties, where I knew pizza and cake would be served because I didn’t want to eat those items. In fact, I felt embarrassed eating such foods in public. They were self-destroying habits that needed to be fixed.

So when I actually allowed myself to eat those forbidden foods whenever I desired at whatever time I desired, all of the rules that I thought I had to follow dissipated. Moderation ended up being a result because I focused on simply eating foods that I love, including broccoli, fish, chocolate, white chocolate, round carbs, green things, you name it. Whatever my soul and body desired is what I ate. With this technique, I was able to choose from an array of foods. I also began to realize that I turned to sugar in times of stress, and I would just eat my feelings to numb myself. I began to actually allow myself to feel certain emotions that were deemed taboo in society: sadness, anger, envy, all of the so called negative ones.

This idea of moderation actually worked; I translated it to other aspects of my life, as shown with my example on feelings and emotions. As this week circulates on the idea of self love, removing myself from the idea of being on a diet frees me from such destructive behaviors that I have worked hard to reverse.

It’s actually a dilemma that many women struggle with because of internal and external pressures. However, I feel like moderation is the best course of action to take for long term success. Although my only proof is with myself, I feel like enjoying the foods that I love, along with foods that I know will energize me all end up making me feel content, leading to self satisfaction with my eating habits and body.

Binging was a challenge that I overcame, and I know that I could easily fall back in such a pattern, but putting faith in moderation of food and exercise was a key factor in my success.

On the topic of exercise, I was also taught a lot of specific rules: a lot of shoulds as well as should nots. I had an unhealthy relationship with it, sometimes working out three times a day with intense cardio and whatever exercises that I thought burned the most calories.

Another dreaded, misinterpreted word.

Again, I feel like we like to get caught up in the rules, the nitty-gritty of it all, and a one size fits all approach. It feels more simple that way, yet it becomes controlling and consuming. Counting calories essentially becomes a lifestyle if one does it for a long time. I fondly remember checking the MyFitnessPal app at least ten times a day to makes sure I was on a calorie deficit, but if I was even just a couple calories above my goal, then I would feel like a complete failure. I once again felt like a slave to numbers that I felt were tied to my personal worth. In essence, this is a common issue, and calories were just another hurdle I had to conquer on my journey of constructing a healthy body image.

Next, as my natural diet improved, so did my relationship with exercise. This was reassuring, influencing me to eat foods that I love and focus on exercises that made me feel strong and empowered. I started dancing and doing bodyweight cardio workouts because I enjoyed those the most. Then, I added in more of a variety, including weightlifting, yoga, biking, Zumba, and running. Now, I just focus on being active, realizing the multitude of benefits that exercise provides, rather than just lowering the number on the scale.

This concept of moderation also includes rest and knowing when to rest. It allows me to balance fun, hard work, and laziness. There is a place for everything in the idea of moderation. Although it varies from individual to individual, I feel like moderation is a natural result when there is an emphasis on enjoying life for all of its aspects because when there are limitations, deprivation occurs, influencing a deadly cycle of extreme behaviors. It is a mental shift that allows me to love my body, my soul, and my desire to be the best physical and mental version of myself that I can be. So, here’s to the well deserved reputation of moderation and all of the other women that struggle with binging or an obsessive relationship with food.

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