Ok, maybe not "rules", but maybe tips, guidelines or advice that will grant you freedom, happiness and positive vibes. Or put another way, the three things I wish I could shout from a mountaintop for every woman to hear. Let's get right to it.
THERE IS NO GOOD OR BAD FOOD
I’m being good today so I’ll order the salad. I can’t believe that I ate an entire box of cookies last night, I am so bad! I shouldn’t order a side of fries because they are so bad for you. I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all thought like this at one time or another, and it’s no surprise. Our culture and media has an obsession with food, weight loss, aesthetics, and “health” and you are subtly told every single day in multiple ways that kale is a good food and fries are a bad food. It’s simple: if you want to be good (and look good), you should eat the good food.
I hope you’re sitting down, because I have some earth shattering news for you that I need you to hear. French fries are not bad. Kale is not good. You are not a bad person when you enjoy a second piece of cake, and you are not a good person when you eat salads every day for a week. No food is “good” and no food is “bad”. There is just food. Yea. There it is. Boom. Soak it in people! Take whatever time you need to absorb that knowledge bomb and let’s reconvene when you’re ready. Meanwhile, read more from this article on the terminology of food:
"I submit to you that our beloved kale salads are not 'healthy.' And we are confusing ourselves by believing that they are. They are not healthy; they are nutritious. They may be delicious when prepared well, and the kale itself, while in the ground, may have been a healthy crop. But the kale on your plate is not healthy, and to describe it as such obscures what is most important about that kale salad: that it’s packed with nutrients your body needs. But this is not strictly about nomenclature. If all you ate was kale, you would become sick. Nomenclature rather shows us where to begin."
Now! The distinction I need you to make is that if, for example, your current goal is to have more energy or drop a few lbs, choosing a salad instead of a Cholupa will, in that moment, get you closer to your goal, as leafy greens and veggies are nutritious, boost energy, and encourage proper functioning of all your systems and organs. The salad is not good. It simply gets you closer to your goal. The salad is not healthy. It simply is nutritious and promotes health. This salad will not make you a good person.
Conversely, eating a pack of Sour Patch Kids is not bad for you. It will not make you a bad person, you will not get voted off the island, you will not be made to wear an “I Should Know Better Than This” sandwich board as you atone with a walk of shame through town. Sour Patch Kids are not unhealthy. It simply will not get you closer to your goals. Period.
Can we all just breathe a collective sigh of relief real quick? It’s as simple as that, people. You will not keel over and die from that one milkshake or sprout angel wings and drop 10 pounds from that one salad. No food is good; just nutritious, and will perhaps move you closer to goals, especially when consumed consistently. And no food is bad; it just might move you further away from your goals, especially when consumed consistently.
More often than not, eat what makes you feel good and what gets you closer to your goals (whether that's performance based or helping an autoimmune condition or anything in between). Food is only food. Memorize this, learn it, know it, speak it, and believe it!
CONFIDENCE CAN BE LEARNED
One of the things I hear so often when talking to women is that they wish they had more confidence. Usually uttered in that same breath is the notion that if they lost that last 10 lbs or fit into a size 4, confidence would finally be theirs. Like confidence is this elusive shiny beacon that is constantly calling their name but always manages to somehow be just beyond the reach of their unworthy fingertips. Like confidence is some secret club that only a select few with “perfect” bodies (whatever that means) and flawless skin and shiny hair are allowed entrance to.
Think of the most confident woman you know; what makes her radiate that self assuredness? I bet it’s not her rock hard six pack or her perfectly symmetric features or her cellulite-free thighs. In fact, I bet she might not even have a six pack or look like Gigi Hadid and she probably even has cellulite, just like the rest of us. So where is that confidence coming from, exactly?
Guys. Here’s the deal. The Confidence Fairy will not magically appear and grant you with a feeling of self worth once you get abs or lose weight or fit into your old jeans, no matter what those magazines have you believing. Here’s the ultra top secret rule that every card carrying member of the Girls With Confidence Club knows: the only way to start feeling like a rock star is to decide that you are one.
In the beginning this can be a tough thing to do, I will grant you that. But there’s some serious value in the fake-it-til-you-make it angle here, and I urge you to try it. Try acting like a confident, gorgeous, badass chick. Start pretending like you don’t care what others think of you or your body (after all, what other people think of you is none of your business anyway). Start rehearsing to yourself that you love your arms or butt or smile or personality, and say it out loud. Work out in a sports bra, rock those shorts, buy that two-piece. Speak your mind, walk with your shoulders back and head held high, laugh loudly and trust your gut.
Fake the living shit out of all of it, if you have to, because I’ll tell you what: if you consistently speak, think and behave like someone who is confident and proud of who they are, you will become it. I promise.
So there you have it, friends. Confidence can be yours for the low, low price of stop giving a fuck and start behaving like the beautiful, badass woman you are. (Read this piece for more how-to's on this). Everything you need to be that girl is already within you, you just need to turn it on.
There is SO much conflicting information out there in the world about how to lead a happy and healthy life. Do cardio, don’t do cardio, lift weights, do CrossFit, don’t do CrossFit, eat meat, don’t eat meat, eat carbs, avoid carbs, count macros, don’t count macros, etc etc etc until the end of time. Man alive! How is anyone supposed to find their way in all of this madness?!
Here’s how: Try it! If you want to try veganism, or macro-counting or go gluten free, go for it. If you want to explore CrossFit or rock climbing or Barre or train for an IronMan, do it. Try going paleo, or low carb or high carb or high protein. And while you’re experimenting, pay extra mind to the fact that other people will (and should) do the same. Just because you’re gluten free does not mean that your pasta loving friend is doing it wrong. Just because you love yoga and running doesn’t mean that powerlifters or CrossFitters are doing it wrong, and vice versa. Your way is not the only way.
Experiment with your fitness and your fuel; play with all of it, because in the end what you will find is exactly what you love and what makes you feel amazing. And what you have there is the holy grail of a healthy, happy life. Find what makes you feel powerful, energetic, strong, and alive. Find what works for you and do it, encourage others to find what works for them, and be ok knowing that your strategies might not look alike.
Every human body is different; different shapes and sizes and metabolisms and genetics and preferences and injuries and histories and tastes and goals. Do what gets you to your own, personal goals. Walk your own path proudly and with enthusiasm but don't knock others who are also finding their own way. Focus on what lights you up, and let the rest go.
And while this applies best to the world of health and fitness due to the overwhelming amount of varied advice from every angle, it also applies to just about everything in life. Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate.
Do you, boo. Do you.
I hope you can use these three rules to help guide you through your daily decisions and I hope they bring you as much freedom, happiness and confidence as possible. Now go eat, laugh and live!