The biggest draw to fad diets and wanting to lose weight is negative self-image. We don’t like something about ourselves and we are searching for that “quick fix” solution to fix what we don’t like. However, a lot of times these fad diets end up making us feel worse about ourselves because we end up depriving ourselves of foods that we love or not eating enough calories to support our bodies’ needs. I don’t know about you, but when I can’t do the things that I love, whether it’s not being able to go outside because it is too cold or not being able to have pizza, I get a little down and I feel my energy sink.
Energy levels are the key to having a more positive self-perception. When my energy levels are up, my confidence is boosted, and I know that I can take on anything! But when my energy is down, my mood is down, and I am more likely to look down on myself. There are a few key factors that affect our energy levels.
1. Not allowing ourselves to have the foods that we love every now and then.
As I mentioned above, when we do not allow ourselves to eat the foods that we love, our mood goes down and this has a negative effect on how we perceive ourselves. Your body needs balance. It needs a little bit of the not so nutritious foods that we crave every now and then. This helps to regulate our emotional health more than our physical health, which is just as important at maintaining as our physical health is. I’m not saying to down a pint of ice cream every day, or most days of the week. I’m saying when your body is craving ice cream, scoop out a sensible serving and let yourself have it without feeling guilty. Doing this will help you begin to trust your body and, in time, it will help you learn to love your body.
2. Eating more nutrient dense foods throughout the week.
Yes, you need to allow yourself to give into your cravings, however, you also need to make eating more nutritious foods a priority. Finding balance with the more nutrient dense and less nutrient dense foods does take time, but you will find it. Meal planning every Sunday helps me to do this. I usually plan my dinner meals, and my lunches will often be leftovers. I don’t eat salads every day, because that gets boring, but I do incorporate vegetables or fruit at every meal. Five to six dinners get planned and I leave 1-2 dinners unplanned. This leaves room to allow myself to eat out 1-2 meals a week if/when I have that craving. If I don’t have a craving to eat out, then I usually have leftovers available from the week, so I will have that. Once I have a meal plan down, I am able to get my mind on these foods and my body will often begin to crave the foods that I have planned. On the other hand, when I don’t have a meal plan set, I often crave the less nutritious foods. This is because I am usually more pressed for time or don’t have any ingredients on hand, so take-out it is!
3. Exercising regularly.
I know that this one isn’t specifically nutrition related, but diet and exercise go hand in hand. It may be difficult to get into a regular habit of exercising, but it’s worth it! It is also important to find an exercise program/regimen that you enjoy, otherwise you will end up being miserable and more likely to quit exercising. I hate running. It is just not enjoyable for me, so I don’t do it. I prefer walking with my dogs or doing at home workout videos. I mix cardio, strength, and yoga into my routine. I have a very flexible workout schedule schedule, so I know what to do next and don’t have to waste time thinking about what workout I and going to do. I say flexible schedule because there are days that are more stressful and I’m not feeling cardio, so instead I will pick up my yoga mat. Listening to your body and is a big step to being consistent with your workouts. Getting in 20-30 minutes of exercise at least 5 days a week is huge in helping keep your energy levels up.
The foods we eat play a big role in our energy levels, which in turn affect our self-image. Love yourself and take care of your body by feeding it the foods that it craves!