50 Shades of Grey Areas
Humans love certainty.
Did you know we have little blind spots in our vision? We would never recognize it though because our brains pretty much say, hm I don't like that, I'm going to fill them in with what I think should be there for you.
We know that our eyewitness' accounts are highly unreliable. Not because we're lying, but because our brains fill in any missing details with things that make sense to us instead of leaving us unsure.
We even get little hits of dopamine as we close the missing spaces on sudoku and crossword puzzles (how nerdy of us).
We like closure, certainty, and to be able to label things as good and bad. It puts us at ease when our thoughts and beliefs fit into the little boxes that fill our minds.
Many of our health practices thrive on control, numbers, certainty, and being 'good.' Think of resolutions this time of year. They tend to be based on calories, restriction, guilt, unrealistic goals, and perfection. Foods that appeal to dieters are laden with the words 'thin,' 'good,' and sometimes you can even have the double whammy (I'm lookin' at you Good Thins crackers)
This is one of the most difficult things to change when you transition out of diet culture and the diet mentality. Diet culture is basically a world living in the black and white. For example:
I was so good today, I had kale at like every meal
Cookies, cakes, and cupcakes are bad and I am bad for having them
I can de-stress because I'm using palo santo, sitting on my yoga mat, with succulents surrounding me
Today was a good day because I was within/under my calorie goal on MyFitness Pal
I feel okay because I'm on a diet or follow a meal plan that tells me what to eat
I am healthy because I have abs/thigh gap/no cellulite/etc.
I'm lazy because I didn't run X amount of miles today
Just like life, our health was meant to be experienced in the grey areas, not in all-or-nothing approaches.
We're taught (or subtly taught through culture) that we're either on a diet, or we can't control ourselves while eating. We're either dragging ourselves to the gym to hate every treadmill minute, or we're lazy and not fit. We're either eating 100 calorie Skinny packs, or we're feeling guilty for eating the real deal.
The list goes on.
Being gentle with ourselves and living within grey areas is already not natural for our brains ancestrally. The diet culture we live in today further promotes this black and white thinking, instilling fear in those that stray from dieting, small bodies, and restriction.
Even though I just ate an hour ago, I'm hungry now, and am going to eat because my body needs the energy
My body is lethargic, so I'm going to take a day off from exercise. This doesn't make me unhealthy, it's actually exactly what my body needs
I don't know how many calories I eat in a day, how many pounds I weigh, or how many calories I burn working out, but I choose to do things based on my body's signals and signs
Today I had a kale salad for lunch, and a chocolate chip cookie afterwards. This is neither good nor bad. It just is.
It's not the most trendy, but I'm using my train ride commute on the 'quiet ride' as my meditation.
Some days I love my body, some days I'm not feelin' it. In both cases, I accept it.
The Power of Acceptance:
When it comes down to it, acceptance is key. I know. For someone who has to remind myself perfection doesn't exist, this sounds like a grade A cop out, right?
Strict rules, big goals, micromanaging numbers, and black and white thinking can make us feel good, worthy, right, and okay in the world. Having self-compassion and being gentle with ourselves can seem weak and lazy.
In reality, accepting your body, and accepting that perfection does not exist, isn't weak. It's living. Are we going to spend our last birthdays feeling guilty eating the cake that's not refined sugar free? Are we going to hate what we see in the mirror til we can't walk to stand up in front of it? Spend hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars on things to change the way we look? Take up precious, creative brain space with numbers, thoughts on food, and feelings of guilt for straying from a diet?
Trust me, if we're not happy in the bodies we're in today, we ain't gonna (wow so Philly, not changing it though hehe) be happy in that sought after smaller body tomorrow. What I've learned is happiness begins when you accept the way you are right now.
Well rant over, I'm writing this in class and should probably get back to listening lol. I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic though, and how it can relate to all aspects of life.