Here’s my own nutrition tip of the day (I hear it’s a thing that bloggers should do): stop assuming that everybody has the same goals.
The whole nutrition sphere seems to have arrived at the apparently logical conclusion that everybody must want the same thing. Everybody wants to be healthy, which means that everybody wants to be lean/”look good”. Healthy = hot. Hot = healthy. If you’re not either one of these… well, you suck, and you’d better be trying your darnedest to get there. Everybody wants to look like a model, everybody wants abs of steel, everybody wants to lose fat… and looking lean and svelte means you must be healthy. Getting there as quickly as possible just makes you healthier faster. Got it?
We’ve been caught in the trap of believing that looking good = being good. Never mind that we’ve been force fed an unattainable standard of “good” – the fact is, we seem to accept the proposition that the only way to “be healthy” is to look healthy. And we’ve developed a very narrow definition of what “health” looks like (and kind of ignored whether it actually correlates with any other measure of health).
I’ve been asked a lot of questions lately. Things like: “is going gluten-free good for you?”. “Is quinoa good for you?”. “Should I have a Kit Kat or a salad?”. My answer is always, always, always going to be the same: “it depends”. Because I refuse to believe that we all want the same thing.
This might contradict what the health and wellbeing section of your magazine tells you. Celery is “good”, hamburgers are “bad”, and if you eat “bad” foods you’re automatically going to become fat-and-unhealthy (all one concept). I think that’s crap. Fit doesn’t always mean looking fit. Looking healthy doesn’t always mean being healthy. And there is no universal imperative to look good or be healthy. No one is obligated to do either of these things.
Let that sink in for a minute. We don’t have to care about how we look, or our health. This is not a thing where I’m going to say “Eat whatever you like, as long as you’re healthy!”, or some shit like that. No. There is no “as long as”. This is your life. You get to choose what you care about. And if you don’t honestly care about your health, that’s okay.
I feel like my message today is a bit scrambled, so my apologies for that. What I’m trying to get at here is (a) we need to stop assuming that everyone wants to be healthy and/or look fit, and (b) the “rules” only apply to you if they’re supporting the goal that you actually want to achieve (which might have nothing to do with looking or being healthy).
If your goal isn’t “look like a fitspo model”, you don’t have to eat or train like a fitspo model. (Remembering, too, that looking like a fitspo model won’t necessarily make you healthy or fit, ironically.)
If your goal is to live to 90, you should eat and train in a way that supports that.
If your goal is to get hella ripped, you should eat and train in a way that supports that.
If your goal is to relax and do whatever the hell you want, you should relax and do whatever the hell you want.
My own goals, at the moment? To have a healthy psychological relationship with food, to build strength, and to work my way back to running. So I have shed the restrictive food rules that governed my thinking for a very long time, I’m using the NROLFW training program in the gym, and I’m working with health professionals and completing a few short runs a week to get past my injury. None of what I do or eat is going to get me “abs of steel”, or let me “drop 10 pounds fast!”. But you know what? I don’t actually want those things. I’ve been the person that loses 30kg and gets al of the “oooh”s and “ahhh”s. I’ve been the person that was too thin to find clothes that fit in a lot of stores. And being that person didn’t make me happy or healthy. It makes me very happy when I PR at the gym, or I get through a run pain free – so that’s what I’m aiming for.
According to the health and wellbeing section of your magazine, I must be pretty unhealthy. I eat what I want when I want (I don’t “beat cravings” or “look for healthy alternatives”). I don’t look like a fit person. I do too much cardio (or whatever type of exercise is being demonised this week). But I feel healthier than I ever have, and my doc seems to think I’m doing alright. Even if I wasn’t, that would be up to me – I’ll say it again, there is no imperative to be or look healthy. Choose for yourself what you actually want – marathons or cheeseburgers or abs or lots of birthdays – and just work towards that. We all die anyway; we may as well live a life we like in the meantime.