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  • Writer's pictureRachel Bennett

Have no fear....

One of the things I really like to do is listen to podcasts while I exercise. I have a few that I gravitate to on a regular basis and the subject matter usually revolves around varied perspectives in politics, culture, health (physical and mental), the economy, and just the world around us. I know there are more entertaining things to be listening to and I go there sometimes, but getting to hear from people on their personal and professional perspectives on topics like equality, diversity, diet culture, mental health, and everything else in between is just so interesting to me. I'm such a curious person that way. Some would even call me a nerdy. Oh well. That’s just me. Unapologetically.

Yesterday I was on my walk and I was listening to an episode and the topic of food fear came up briefly. And it resonated with me so I wanted to dive in a little deeper. And not the phobic definition of food fear where if I saw an orange it would just stop me in my tracks like a spider would (y'all the spider fear is something otherworldly over here), but in the mindset of being fearful of putting foods in the body solely because I was afraid of gaining weight. So I stopped when I got back home and thought about what that meant to me. I began to question why it resonated with me so hard when it was only a brief comment in passing during this 45 minute episode. Something had to be grabbing me. What was it? I began to write down questions to ask myself and really break it down…. Because if I didn't it was literally going to consume my day.

Yo yo dieting is a tough thing. I struggled with my weight for years…. At least 30 of them. Every single diet was restrictive of some sort whether it was no carb, low carb, no fat, low calorie, no calorie, and the list goes on. None of them worked. Wait, that's a lie. The diet worked to get some weight off, but it never taught me anything about how to eat as a healthy person. They never addressed the reasons I was in an unhealthy state in the first place. And they certainly didn't teach me what health looked like. It just promised that I would lose a few pounds. Every attempt at losing weight removed something for a time and when I stopped and put some or all of those foods back into my diet I would gain the weight back; sometimes slowly and sometimes immediately. Then I found a healthier way to get to weight loss, but I actually think it was more about what I gained. And I would love to say that I'm perfectly healthy, but what I've realized recently is my relationship with food has drastically changed but I haven't overcome the fear of gaining weight. And every once in a while I find myself going down that emotional path of obsessing over what I put in my body. Now, don't get me wrong. It's important to be thoughtful in regard to what we put in our body. Because that's the difference between mindless eating and intentional eating. But as soon as I see something I don't like on the scale or mirror I begin to pick apart my food choices and have a little minor freak out moment. That freak out moment usually results in some sort of resolve to yet again restrict. I would see a few extra pounds and start cutting out major food groups like fruit and starches and restrict myself to only fat free foods and salads. It's not sustainable and I would get frustrated and then just go mindlessly eat what would comfort me in my failure to maintain my weight. And this is my journey.

I remember when I got to my first weight loss goal. I had lost 45 lbs (yay me) and began to obsess over what was next. I had followed a plan to get the weight off and was looking at my plan to transition into an optimal eating for the future. It was tough for me to shift. Everything I was told that I should eat to fuel my body seemed so wrong because I'd lived in a weight loss and diet mindset for so many years. What I didn't realize is that I was different now. I was in a place that was completely foreign to me. At a healthy weight. And I thought maintaining meant I needed to over evaluate every single bite that I took based on weighing myself EVERY…. DANG… DAY. It was maddening. I obsessed over it because of the fear of gaining it back. And that obsession actually worked… it helped me keep my weight off for two years, but it never addressed the fear.

I think this is something a lot of career dieters go through. We have had a very unhealthy relationship with food for so long. We look to it for comfort and then blame it for what we don't like in the mirror. Well some of us do… not everyone. How do we get over this? I don't know completely. I'm not an expert. I can only speak from my own experience and thought process. From my personal perspective I have to remove food from the equation and look at all of the other points of my life to really understand it. What am I ignoring when I obsess over what I put in my body? What have I not addressed? I think this is where transformation begins. When we look at all of the other external factors. When we look at our surroundings and relationships and stop thinking about what we need to lose but instead what there is to gain. So the journey continues for me.

After years of the struggle I'm in such a better place than I used to be. I look at the goals that I've set and I adjust how I live to meet those goals. I'm way more confident now of how to do that because I've done the work to address some of those issues with food. But that doesn't mean that old habits are gone. Those thought processes creep back in from time to time. It just happens. But now I recognize that they are there and then shift my thinking to what I know is right. All food is not bad. It doesn't have a morality. It all comes down to my choices and consistency in my own health.

So as I finish writing this, I'm lacing up my shoes and putting my headphones in to grab whatever nuggets of wisdom I can find in another podcast and go for a walk. Here are some of my favorites…

The Papaya Podcast

The Dissenters

Cycle Chats

Ted Talks Daily

Amy Schumer Presents: 3 Girls, 1 Keith

Pod Saved the World

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