Since when did feeding and moving our bodies become so complicated? The amount of conflicting health information out there is overwhelming. When one expert claims protein is the key to preventing overeating and leading to weight loss, another asserts that too much protein adds bulky muscle to your frame. Some say carbs are essential for energy, while others swear they spike your insulin levels. Fats used to be “bad,” but wait! Now, fats are “good,” but only in moderation. Some trainers tell their clients to churn out sweaty HIIT sessions for fat loss, but others argue that too much HIIT increases cortisol levels and leads to an accumulation of belly fat. Cardio enthusiasts won’t pick up a weight out of fear of getting too muscular, and bodybuilders won’t step foot on a treadmill to maintain their gains.
The variety of opinions about what to eat, what not to eat, when to eat, how to eat, when to work out, what the most effective workouts are is sure to make your head spin. The contradictory advice on how to fuel your body adds so much unnecessary stress and confusion, which doesn’t make your mind or body feel any healthier. The vast amount of information about food and fitness is paralyzing and makes it impossible to know how to start a healthy lifestyle, leading to a feeling of defeat before you even start. It almost seems easier to take no action at all and plop on the couch for the rest of the day.
The diet and health industries shoulder much of the blame for all of this confusion. These industries may seem like they have people’s best interest at heart, but it’s important to remember that they’re still a business that profits off of individuals’ insecurities about their bodies. Each brand, company or fitness trainer claim that they’re the one who finally found the answer to whipping your body into shape or that they’ve unlocked the fountain of youth, but there are no quick fixes or shortcuts when it comes to a lifestyle. We tend to trust these false promises and buy into the narrative that we need to fix or change our bodies to feel confident in our skin, look more attractive and win other people’s love and affection. Your BMI, your pant size, your weight on the scale and the amount of muscle tone you have are all external factors that do not determine your self-worth. Love and acceptance comes from within, so even if you lose those last five pesky pounds or can finally fit into your jeans from high school, changing your body won’t make you feel any happier. You are worthy of love regardless of what you look like.
It’s easy to get lost in all of the details, but when looking at the larger picture, health is an individualized process. There is no one-size-fits-all method. The best diet and exercise routine for you is one that you genuinely enjoy because you’ll be more likely to stick to it long-term. Finding a style of eating and exercising that suits your lifestyle and preferences is a process of experimenting to discern which methods make you feel your best. It requires patience, time and a lot of trial and error. Often times, it’s better to tune out all of the noise from experts who claim they know your body and instead turn inward, so you can listen to your body’s cues and assess whether your diet or fitness routines are rejuvenating and empowering or depleting and unsustainable. You don’t have to follow the latest fad diet or boutique fitness class to be fit. It’s all about finding your rhythm and discovering your own path in this overwhelming space.