How to Disarm Your Downfall

“Chocolate is my Downfall.”

“Netflix is my Downfall.”

How many of us have used statements like these? We talk about our “Downfalls” as if they’re something we all have, and HAVE to have. As if every human has a kryptonite.

Colloquially, the term “downfall” is used in the context of diet and exercise, and is meant as THAT THING that a person must avoid at all costs, because it leads to their undoing. Interestingly, the term “downfall” is an extremely widespread way to describe this situation. When someone says a certain food (tacos, potato chips, cookies, etc.) or behavior (choosing a nap over the gym, or Netflix over a walk) is their Downfall, they mean that this is the one thing keeping them from their ideal health. They view that food or behavior as a trap that completely derails them from a path they want to follow. The solution? Eliminate the Downfall.

That being said, let’s talk a little about this idea of reaching our ideal health. When we talk about health, do we actually mean health? Or do we really mean weight, or body size, or some other physical aspect of our being over which we have little to no control? Real, genuine health can be fostered through nourishing our body with mindful, intuitive eating, and though movement of our bodies that feels good. Attempts to control weight and body size are where we often find these restrictive food behaviors and rules around exercise that require us to perform certain workouts to try to force our bodies to take on socially favored characteristics. Downfalls don’t have a place in the true version of health, because this version of health focuses on the total being, nurturing the whole person rather than just controlling the calories-in, calories-out aspect of the body.

There is an emphasis in our society on discipline and willpower to follow strict guidelines when it comes to diet and exercise. We are expected to block out everything else, knowing that “this is best” for our bodies and will “make us look good.” Downfalls happen when other parts of our beings need nourishment and care. Sometimes, the part of you that yearns to be social and participate in events wants cake at a family member’s birthday party. Sometimes, your mind needs rest and will beg you to choose an evening of Netflix over going to the gym. Sometimes, bacon tastes good. That’s a lie. Bacon ALWAYS tastes good. And sometimes, commiserating over heartbreak with a friend and a tub of ice cream is what your emotions will need.

What if you were set free from having a downfall? What if nothing held that kryptonite power over you to render you helpless?

Engaging with your Downfall does not mean that you lack willpower and discipline. It means that you are in tune with other parts of your whole being and take care of those parts. It means that you are taking back supremacy over your Downfall rather than letting it control you. You decided when and how much of it you will include in your life, in a way that serves you so that it really isn’t a downfall anymore, at all. Considering all aspects of your health beyond controlling how your body looks is the gateway to including all things that make you feel good, in moderation.

A Downfall can ONLY exist where there is restriction. If all things are included in moderation, especially these foods and activities we find so alluring, that thing loses the power to completely undo you. No one food or exercise is going to make or break your health. Where there is moderation, restriction dies, and with it, your Downfall loses its authority. 


False Body Positivity and What to do Instead

People think that I’m immune to certain things because I’m a dietitian. Well let me tell you, I’m not! I think it’s important to be real and honest about those things.

body-imageI often notice a girl who goes to the gym about the same time I do. I have a great deal of respect and admiration for her continuous work to build strength and athleticism. Despite this, I realized I began comparing myself to her and feeling negative about myself. “You need to work harder to be leaner like her,” and “You need to lift more to be as strong as her,” were thoughts that crossed my mind. As if simply comparing myself to her weren’t enough, I caught myself at another, equally dangerous behavior: I started comparing her to myself. “She probably wishes she had my height,” I thought.

When I actually noticed those thoughts going through my mind and recognized what it was doing to me, my stomach turned.

“What’s so bad about that? She probably does wish she had your height,” my champions would cheer.

Well, maybe she does and maybe she doesn’t wish that. What that other girl may or may not envy about me is beside the point. I aim to be okay with myself as-is, no questions asked, unconditionally, in any situation. That means noticing when I’m making comparisons, and digging deeper to find out from where that comparison is coming. Taking a compassionate, non-judgmental perspective can help me explore what I’m feeling and why I’m assessing myself in that way.

Cutting myself down by comparing myself to another person is a slippery slope that will surely to lead to discontentment. Do I really want to feel good about myself by diminishing someone else? If finding fault with another is the only way I can be okay with myself, I need to do some serious work figuring out why I’m in a rut of negativity.

Many who struggle with self-acceptance have heard “body positivity” sayings such as, “Everyone has something they’re insecure about,” or “Even the most attractive person in the world would probably be jealous of something about you.” I am here to tell you these are nonsense. Yes, they might be true, but do they matter?

Essentially, relying on others’ insecurities means that you cannot be content unless others are dissatisfied. Why avoid your own insecurities by taking solace in the fact that others have them, too? Why would you need the most attractive person in the world to be jealous of something about you before you accept yourself? Each of those statements are false body positivity. They are backwards comparisons masquerading as foundations for improved body image and self-esteem.

By relying on false body positivity, you hinge your happiness on something external over which you have no control. What if that foundation is shaken? Where will you turn for your true, unwavering body positivity?

Even I, as a dietitian and someone who encourages self-acceptance and a confident body image, fall prey to these comparisons. I have found two methods to help myself internalize self-acceptance rather than seek it from outside of myself:

  1. Be thankful for what your body is capable of, thankful for the aspects of your health that are good, thankful for the opportunity to improve the negative aspects of your health. Focus on the things you love about your body, not because anyone else should love them, too, but simply because you love them.
  2. Speak for yourself, not against anyone else. Strive to focus on your own merits and improve in the areas where you are weakest. This goes for nutrition, fitness, and health in general, in all aspects of your life. Eating one brownie when your friend ate two does not make you a better person. Stick to one brownie because you feel satisfied and are honoring your hunger, or eat a second brownie if that’s what your body is telling you! Drop the comparison, and listen to your individual needs.

When it comes down to it, how you feel about your body or mind or soul or decisions has no bearing on anyone else. Build your own self-acceptance from the inside for a resilient confidence.

Please share your experiences with comparisons and self-acceptance in the comments section below! How do you practice internalizing a positive self-image?

Give a Little Body Love

Give a Little Body Love

Give a Little Body LoveThis is a shout out to everyone who may get down on themselves. We all have our quirks, whether we are shopping and the most adorable pair of pants is the wrong size or because we can’t run as far today as we did yesterday. It is easy to be critical of ourselves and to forget all the fabulous things we can do.

Today I ask you to be your own best advocate. Nobody knows what you need or how to take care of yourself better than you. You experience your body’s pains, and its pleasures. Here is to being self aware and recognizing and meeting the demands of our bodies and minds. Here is some body love from me to you. I use these to treat my own body with love in a way that fits my life experiences, but yours may be quite different. Most importantly, find what makes you feel good and do it for yourself.

  1. Appreciate what my body does. Those feet you hate because they look funny, spend every day supporting your weight and helping you get from one place to another.
  2. Note my positive physical attributes. When I am in a group of women I have noticed that it is easier to recognize what we don’t like about ourselves and talk about that than it is to talk about what we love. I combat this by stating what I like about myself as opposed to what I don’t like, even if that isn’t how the conversation is going.
  3. Health is an individual goal. It isn’t based on my bodies shape or how many times I deprive myself from certain foods. It is a balancing act of finding what I like and what I can do for myself while creating a lifestyle that fits my needs. This is why I disregard those popular motivational quotes “Strong is the new sexy” or “Thin feels better than food tastes.” We don’t have to put down someone else to feel healthy and beautiful and promoting body punishment is not acceptable. We can be healthy at any shape and any size.
  4. I realize that I am the only person that can take care of me. If I have a migraine or a hurt foot, I am the only person that can decide I need a break. I value myself enough to recognize my pain and do what it takes to heal. It can be really hard to not push myself, but I know that I won’t get better unless I take care of myself.
  5. I want to be the best I can be, and this means knowing I have room to improve without being negative about myself. It is okay to want to change how I look and to be better, but in the process I want to appreciate all the things I can do right now. Check out Jamie’s quote from Jen Widerstrom!

I want to end with a quote from Miss Jamie – this is my new favorite mantra: “I am big because I have muscles, I have muscles because I am strong, and I am strong because I work hard.”

Please share with us what you do to take care of yourself and appreciate the body you have right now!


About the Guest Author: Hi, I am Jackie! I am a University of Wyoming graduate with a BS in Family and Consumer Sciences. I am also a yogi, dog lover and extension agent in Montana. I am just starting 9 month yoga training adventure to become a certified teacher, I have been practicing yoga for 10 years. I am so excited to be a guest blogger for Miss Jamie!