This Love Yo’Self Week post is by Barbara Meyer, program director at Green Mountain at Fox Run, a women’s health retreat and pioneer in the non-diet approach. Green Mountain at Fox Run has been helping women end their struggles with eating and weight since 1973.
Either you’re in or you’re out. It’s all or nothing. Feast or famine, baby. This “diet mentality” thinking sabotages women who struggle with eating and weight. They think in terms of extremes, judging their bodies and themselves as good or bad. They’ll spend days (weeks if they can make it that long) following a diet 100 percent or “being good.” Then, after successfully ignoring their hunger cues and tuning out what their body actually wants, the inevitable occurs. They’ll break free from the restriction. Then this one “bad” meal or overeating event triggers the all-or-nothing thought prison they’ve imposed, and now the whole plan is ruined.
“Why bother?” they cry. “I had a cookie, so I may as well just give up.” Then starts the cycle of overeating, in some cases binge eating, followed by self-hate, then desperation, until finally, a new diet begins. Does this sound like your Groundhog Day?
Fortunately, there’s more awareness than there used to be around diets and how they often produce the opposite of the desired effects. After years of unsuccessful dieting and abiding by an all-or-nothing approach to food, more women are incorporating mindful eating into their lives. No longer taking the deprivation route, mindful eaters learn to listen for and trust their internal cues for hunger, appetite and satiety. They pay attention to physical hunger and satisfaction. They select foods they are in the mood for or what makes them feel good, and they enjoy the food as they eat it. This, they are finding, is finally a sustainable approach to food and to life.
While the mindfulness approach to eating is becoming more widely practiced, exercise still evokes the familiar all-or-nothing thinking among women. They feel they need to run a certain number of miles each day, burn a certain number of calories on the elliptical or lift a certain amount of weight. Otherwise, it’s just not worth it. When they can’t keep up their grueling exercise schedule and they take a few days off, they call themselves “bad” and they abandon it all together, again asking themselves “Why bother?”
At Green Mountain at Fox Run, we encourage women to take a mindfulness approach to diet and exercise. Listening to what your body wants and needs—and quieting the “shoulds”—is what drives real and meaningful change. Paying attention to how good it feels to move your body—not how your body should look when it moves or how many calories you are burning—builds a foundation for healthy living. In honor of Fit Bottomed Girls’ “Love Yo’Self Week,” I’d like to share some Green Mountain tips on how to apply the mindfulness approach to exercise.