by Aimee Wojtowecz

“If you take care of yourself – and what’s included in that is improving your health and your fitness through eating in a certain way, not abusing your body, exercising to improve your strength and mobility – that is enjoying your life, that is improving the quality of your life. Why are so many people looking at changing their health, changing their exercise, changing their nutrition as a negative, as a lower quality of life or as if they won’t enjoy life? If people only understood what this could be for them, if they looked at this as the ultimate form of self-care rather than self-punishment.” 

This is a quote from a recent podcast I listened to and it was mind blowing (The Behavior Chef Podcast episode 41 CHECK IT OUT!). The ultimate form of self-care is changing your outlook on what “quality of life” means to you. If you used food and exercise as a form of self-care to improve your health and fitness rather than as a punishment for eating or to lose weight to fit someone else’s expectations, what would that mean for your life? Would that free you to find a workout routine that involved activities you truly loved rather than activities you force yourself to do because “you’re supposed to”? Would that free you to make food choices that allow you to balance flavors and foods you enjoy with foods that are good for your health (can they be both)? What does that kind of life look like to you? Does it look joyous, does it look hopeful, adventurous? 

Unfortunately diet culture in America has become so ingrained in our lives that we have started to look at making changes to our health, fitness and nutrition routines as some sort of extreme and sometimes as punishment for the things we’ve eaten or consumed. There becomes this fear that we’re never going to be able to have ice cream again if we’re working on our fitness or nutrition, or that it’s going to consume hours of our lives and who really has time for that. We mock people who choose to spend time in the gym while also mocking people who don’t. Who wins in this situation? Nobody. 

To make permanent changes to your health, your fitness, your nutrition, it all starts with a mindset shift. Start thinking about it as the ultimate form of self-love; you love your life, your body so much that you are going to treat it with the utmost respect and really start listening to what it needs. Does it need to dance around the kitchen for 10 minutes (oh and if you didn’t know, kitchens are made for dancing while you cook) or does it need a balanced meal with colorful vegetables and flavorful seasonings? Start trusting that because you love yourself so much that you will make the right decisions for your body.