Are you trapped by the guilt of healthy living?

Are you trapped by the guilt of healthy living?

One of my goals in life is to help my daughter fend her way through this image-obsessed, guilt-driven, thin-worshiping world. I want her to have a healthy relationship with food, her body, and the environment. I also want her to enjoy life, special occasions, and the interactions with others.

A lofty goal, right?

The real struggle is that it’s so easy to fall into the traps that keep us from truly loving our bodies and the elements that nourish them. We have messages all around us destroying those good intentions. Sometimes in the most unlikely places.

Let me illustrate this with a short, but true story. It was the day of my younger sister’s wedding. A joyful event full of good friends and good food. In fact, my personal favorite (ice cream) was being served at the reception. My husband and I were helping out at the ice cream bar.

Free ice cream (and guilt, too!)

Something funny happens when you hand people free ice cream. Tom and I were standing behind the table with all the toppings—our task was to be friendly, keep things stocked, and help anyone in need.

But our presence, especially for the guests, resulted in some interesting remarks from the people enjoying the free food:

“Are you here to make sure we don’t take more than our fair share?”

“I shouldn’t eat this. I am being bad.”

(From a guest who came back for thirds): “Uh… this is for my wife.”

“It’s okay; I’m going to kill myself at the gym tomorrow.”

“This is my dinner. Horrible, I know… but what can you do?”

“I feel so guilty, but it tastes so good!”

“I’m not here to be healthy!”

Are you feeling trapped by healthy living? Learn how to let go of guilt and make real positive changes.

Maybe I had an unconscious condemning look on my face, (THOU SHALL NOT EAT THE ICE CREAM!), but I was intrigued by how many people felt compelled to justify their actions—to the people supplying the food, nonetheless!

Fight or Perish

Most people know they should eat well and exercise… they are chiseled onto our forever-to-do list, right? But rather than seeing both these aspects of living as part of a natural approach to nourishing our bodies, we have created these battlefronts where we must either choose to fight or perish.

On the food front is the battle between two enemies: whole foods and all sorts of enticing processed food-like substances.  Too many view eating healthy as a chore, as something that “should” be done, and something that usually isn’t enjoyable.  On the other side are the seductive foods that are marketed as “sinful.” We crave, desire, and lust after that which “should not” be consumed. They are the foods that we must conquer with our weapons of fear and guilt.

On the fitness front we must choose between doing nothing or death.  Seriously, sometimes it seems that extreme.  I’m always amazed by how often people use words like kill, pain, or destroy when referring to their workout.  So many fads in fitness today focus on boot camp-like experiences where one must be broken before one can conquer.

Nourishment, not punishment.

When we see health as a nagging chore, we must choose to reluctantly oblige or rebel through a myriad of excuses.

Think how different our views of health would be:

  • If we saw food as a source of nourishment instead of calories?
  • If people viewed movement as a way of life rather than a militaristic event?

When we love our bodies, we respect the things that make them feel good. All of a sudden healthy living is a natural outcome of a desire to be vibrant and happy. Depending on our starting point it may take time to get to where we want to be, but it no longer becomes a hopeless cause.

We don’t see health as a battle. We choose good things because it makes us feel good. It is that simple.

And when we can do that, we can walk up to the ice cream bar without fear or guilt because healthy living allows us to celebrate, too.

This. This is my wish my daughter. Myself. And you.

Are you feeling trapped by healthy living? Learn how to let go of guilt and make real positive changes.

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About the author

Hi! I'm and I’m passionate about healthy living: feeling nourished, having energy, getting good sleep, and feeling strong. I believe healthy living does not have to be complicated or stressful. I’m a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist (RSMT) and a Certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst (CLMA). I’m also an avid researcher and love to read about nutrition, the body, and toxic-free living. Learn more.

View all articles by Robin Konie

20 comments

  1. Jill

    “All of a sudden healthy living is a natural outcome of a desire to be vibrant and happy.”

    I love it :) Such a great article!

  2. Blair @blairblogs.com

    What a great post! As a college student on a budget, it can be tough sometimes to shop in the veggie section instead of grabbing a fast food meal!

    But I’m learning that when I do respect my body, as you mentioned, I actually feel better!

    ((Plus, thanks to you, I’ve done away with margarine spreads and such and switched to butter–in moderation–and life has been so much tastier!))

  3. Courtney @ The Polivka Family

    “When we love our bodies, we respect the things that make them feel good. All of a sudden healthy living is a natural outcome of a desire to be vibrant and happy. Depending on our starting point it may take time to get to where we want to be, but it no longer becomes a hopeless cause.”

    I love the way you phrased this, Robin. This is what I tell people all the time when they ask, “Isn’t it hard to resist? Don’t you get tired of being healthy all the time?” My answer is usually something like, “Well, I want to feel awesome as much as possible, so that’s why I live the way I do. I was miserable before, but now I feel vibrant and happy.

    Lovely post. :)

  4. Michelle

    Yes, post is great as everyone has said for all the reasons they’ve said. But I wanted to comment that OMG your daughter is stinkin’ adorable and I want to pinch those cheeks! :)

  5. Katie

    Amazing post – it’s such an interesting trend to watch in people and I have been guilty of it myself. It’s definitely a mind set you need to get into!

  6. Amanda White

    I’m so glad to read this healthy, balanced, and encouraging post! This falls right in line with the philosophy of a health and wellness site I blog for, Creation Based Health. If we shift our paradigm to think more of playing, moving our bodies, and being healthy as opposed to being thin or sexy, we can gain a fuller, more enjoyable lifestyle! Check out more at: http://www.creationbasedhealth.com/p/exercise.html

    Thanks for the great article. :) To your health!

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  8. Steviej Callender

    Hi,
    I have just come across your site and i think its great ;)what i have read of yours so far i feel we share many views and opinions :)
    I just wish i could share this with someone like my mum without her feeling as if im nagging. My parents i feel aren’t exactly educated when it come to stuff like this and im finding it hard help when they have this constant defense barrier up when it comes to health :/. I guess they feel its hard to be healthy + like many others they feel its a chore.

    Thanks again for the post
    Look forward to reading more :)
    Steviejc


    1. Post author
      robin

      I hear you! It was really hard making some of my early transitions when your family isn’t on board. Over the past 8 or so years, though, I’ve been amazed at the small changes that my family HAS made because of my example. Hold your ground. Do what’s best for you. Lead with kindness and no-judgement and people are a lot more willing to listen when they see the positive changes in your life. Good luck!

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