I went through a period in my life where my single goal was to be healthy.
Instead of consulting a doctor or professional nutritionist, I – naturally – turned to the Internet. I love reading blogs and following other people’s lives, as it is almost like reality reading (think: reality TV but in the form of a daily blog). In no time, I came upon “Healthy Living Blogs” or bloggers who called themselves “Healthy Living Bloggers”.
“Perfect!” I thought. “All I have to do is follow exactly what they’re doing and I can be healthy too.”
Well, I did. And it didn’t turn out so great (for me).
Now, I’m sure these women didn’t post and photograph everything they ate. People typically snack randomly throughout the day – pop and handful of m &m’s in here and there, or grab a smoothie that goes undocumented. But for some reason, my mind was convinced that their diets were as strictly to the “T” as they made them out to be – and maybe they were, who knows.
Here’s how my day went: In the evenings I’d look at their blogs and peruse over what they ate. I loved scanning through the popular “What I Ate Wednesday” tags. I’d click open a Microsoft Word doc and copy down their meals.
Now, a little background on me: I’ve always been a closet competitor. My parents put me in competitive swimming at the age of 6, and even though I’m extremely shy and quiet in person – in my mind I was always silently competing with myself and others (a very unhealthy habit) constantly.
So, let’s say Blogger A ate a cup of oatmeal with apples for breakfast, a handful of carrots and peanut butter for a snack, a shrimp salad for lunch, and a sweet potato with 3ox of chicken breast for dinner. Oh, and not to mention a 30minute boot camp workout.
At the beginning, my initial goal was to mirror that. I’d eat oatmeal for breakfast, raw veggies for a snack, a salad for lunch (not with shrimp though, I hate shrimp), and a small carb with a few ounces of protein for dinner. I’d be sure to incorporate at least 30minutes of high strenuous physical activity as well. This went on for a few months, and then I started getting greedy (or competitive — it’s the same thing to me).
Flash forward a few weeks and I was down to a cup of fruit for breakfast, diet soda for a snack, a salad w/o dressing for lunch, more diet soda, and a slightly bigger salad with some tofu for dinner. Then, on more often then not, I’d gorge myself on cereal at night before going to bed because I was too hungry to even sleep. Obviously, this is no way to live, and eventually it backfired on me resulting in a destructive restrictive eating disorder pattern.
So, what is healthy living?
If they wanted a “treat” they’d whip up pancakes. But, not any pancakes. Oh no, these pancakes were carbless, flourless, protein pancakes made simply with bananas, eggs, and protein powder. Can you say YUM?
Is this what health is? I’m definitely not one to hit up fast food on the daily, but in my opinion, the only message that these bloggers are sending out is that of rigidity and restriction. Rigidity because their meals were almost the same, and very limiting. Restrictive because, heaven forbid would they allow themselves a spontaneous ice cream sundae or a slice of pizza or handful of chips.
What does this promote? Guilt. There is much to be said about associating certain feelings with food (another story for another time) But, in my experience, if I ate anything that bloggers didn’t deem “healthy”– I felt guilty.
A slice of pizza? Guilt.
“But I’m craving a sundae!” Guilt.
“I really feel like another serving of spaghetti.” Guilt.
It meant fuelling my body in a way that made me feel good. And if that meant having an ice cream sundae, a few slices of pizza, or a salad for dinner – then so be it.
Everyone’s definition of health is going to be different, but my hope is that Health Living Bloggers deviate more from carb-less, exercise ridden lifestyles and more into listening to their hunger cues, desires, and maybe (just maybe) living a little.