“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces. Just good food from fresh ingredients.”

-Julia Child

I am surrounded by people who spend a lot of energy focusing on eating healthy food. When I was young, my Mother would put wheat germ in almost everything she made! I even remember her putting Brewer’s Yeast in the freshly squeezed orange juice my Dad gave us for breakfast.

As you look at magazines, billboards and movies, it seems it’s in vogue to be as skinny as possible. We want to look our best. Have you tried to lose weight so many times that you think you may have tried every diet ever invented? Are you sick of avoiding forbidden foods, so you’ve just thrown in the towel? Maybe you’ve said “To heck with worrying about counting calories and carbs I’m just going to eat anything and everything I feel like eating!”

Here’s a little more about my come from. During my senior year of high school I was the dance company president. We had a spunky little teacher that was only 4’8” tall. She was an amazing dancer with a firecracker personality. She demanded a lot of her dancers and because of her high standard of excellence we had a top notch team. We weighed in every morning at 5:30 am sharp. If you didn’t weigh 105 lbs. or less, you weren’t permitted to dance in the concert. There were several fairly tall girls. She didn’t take height into account – if you were over 105, you didn’t dance. Some girls had bigger bones or fuller figures. They could dance in class, but not on stage at the concert. Many of us became bulimic or anorexic to be able to make the weight requirement. I chose anorexia. This just lasted my senior year, but it really scared me.

I’ve had two more bouts of battling unhealthy thought patterns and behaviors, once before I got married and then again after I became single. I was at an all-time high when I divorced. I’d put on a little extra weight with each baby. I was introduced to an amazing book entitled Intuitive Eating. It teaches that we should eat when we’re hungry, have no forbidden foods, stop eating when we’re full and exercise regularly. Applying these simple guidelines has released me from my struggle with body image and my constant obsession with controlling my weight. The concept that rocked my world and changed my perspective forever was that just as each of us has a shoe size – 6, 8 or 11, our family is a certain size – super thin, about in the middle, large or extra-large. If I come from a large family, and I’m constantly trying to lose weight and force myself to maintain a lower body weight that is natural and comfortable with my genetics, I will constantly be at war with food, and most likely be dissatisfied with my body my entire life. The healthy alternative is to realize that if I just consistently eat nutritious foods and exercise regularly, my body will stabilize at the best weight for my genetic makeup. I don’t have to be constantly vigilant to force my body to look like the culture’s super thin ideal. I now have come to the place in my life where I try to make healthy food choices and usually exercise about three to four times a week. I’m in a much better mental and physical space than I’ve been in before. This has definitely been a journey, but a very rewarding one.

We only get one body. It’s wise to be gentle with ourselves and gradually learn how to take better care of ourselves. We can start by incorporating one new habit at a time. If we make progress towards a healthier lifestyle, we will live longer and experience a better quality of life.