I was half-listening to the news a few months ago while drinking my coffee, when someone started interviewing Tom Brady about his new book. Apparently, based on the interview, his book is about how much water he drinks and what types of foods he eats in order to achieve “longevity.” His book is a self-help book, so I assume that it is geared toward the general population.
And I sighed, again. I’m disappointed, irritated, and frustrated, again.
It seems like everywhere we turn, there is something or someone telling us what to eat, how much to eat, how to exercise, how much water to drink, what times to eat, what foods to avoid, what foods count as “superfoods,” blah blah blah, etc.
I mostly turn on the news for background noise because it’s something my parents used to do in the mornings and it’s comforting for me to have it on. But over the past 10 years, as I have become more aware of how much anxiety and shame we have about food and our bodies, I can’t help but notice how often the NEWS brings up yet another boring diet conversation or promotes even more body shame.
It’s not just the news or TV, of course. I scroll through Instagram and find ads promoting diets and exercise, even though I have carefully curated my feed to be really body positive and fat affirming. I go to my own gym to enjoy a short run or weight lifting session, and hear both men and women discussing their diets, how much weight they’ve gained or lost, and how they plan on changing their bodies next. Somehow people still try to sell me Advocare or Shakeology products telling me that I will “feel so much better” and that I can “lose a little weight.” I try as best as possible to not rip my hair out as I gently remind people that I don’t believe in diet products that continue to focus on weight loss.
My point is that it seems like we can’t go anywhere in this world without being bombarded with celebrities, products, government programs, or our own friends pitching diets, “lifestyle changes,” and rules promising not only a change in our bodies but also happiness, “longevity,” and ultimate health.
So there are two things that I must remind you of:
Your body does not need to change. You can accept it how it is, right here, right now. Period.
Your body ALREADY KNOWS what it needs. You don’t need Tom Brady or Whole30 or Fitness Expert Susie to tell you what to do.
Many of my clients tell me that every single one of these conversations about diet and weight loss is incredibly triggering. They want to do the “right” thing to be healthy and to live a long life. And yet as we talk, they notice that these conversations contain contradictory information. Underneath that, when we really get down to it, they admit that there is such an allure to these diet and fitness programs because the promise is that they will finally have a body they feel comfortable in.
Unfortunately, there is no plan that works for someone else that will help you feel good in your own skin. There may be a temporary “high” from following a diet or program, but eventually it always fades.
Tom Brady is a specific person who has specific needs. He can promise “longevity” all he wants, but the reality is that he is a 40 year old football player with super athletic genes. You too are an individual, with your own personality, background, relationship with food, relationship to exercise, and oppression/trauma history. No diet, “lifestyle change,” or person can tell you how to care for your own body.
The good news is, your body can! The beautiful and wonderful thing about our bodies is that they have the wisdom to tell us when we are hungry, and when we are full. They have the wisdom to tell us that a little bit of stretching may feel nice, or curling up on the couch would really feel better. They have the wisdom to give us sensations such as butterflies or tears when we feel strong emotions so that we can take steps to care for ourselves.
You may not feel like your body has this wisdom, or right now you may not feel connected to it. That’s okay! It may take some time, risk-taking, compassion, and messing up in order to come to a place where you really trust your body. It’s a wonderful and difficult journey, and I encourage all of you to hop on it.
In the meantime, however, I encourage you to be wary of yet another self-help book or celebrity endorsed plan promising health, longevity, or a great body. Look at it critically. Explore your own experiences and wisdom about diets and exercise plans, and be honest with yourself. You are not Tom Brady, and neither am I. And let’s be doubly honest, we don’t need any more Tom Brady’s in this world, ok?