Food is nourishment, it’s essential, it’s fuel, and it’s wonderful! If we turn a basic need into a reward (or punishment) it can open the door to a number of issues that can potentially have major negative effects, not just related to your fitness, but on your whole life.
If you cannot make it to the gym one day, do you then deny yourself food? We certainly hope not. Our bodies need nutrients to survive and to thrive, and to be able to Hit those fitness goals – even if those goals involve weight loss. In fact, under-eating is a major contributor to difficulties related to losing unwanted fat. If you don’t eat enough, your metabolism will slow down, making it harder to burn those calories during activity. Under-eating can also result in reactive binge eating. If you deny yourself essential nutrients, you get hungry, your body then takes over and all ability to eat mindfully is lost.
How about the days you did make it to the gym? Good for you! Does it now make sense to reward yourself with some greasy fast food? Absolutely not! Firstly, trying to replenish your fuel post-workout with junk food is one step forward and two steps back. Instead, why not reward your body with a hike the following day? Or maybe with a nap? Your favourite show? Perhaps your reward for working out can simply be the good night’s sleep you’re now going to get. Or maybe the newfound patience you have for your children or colleagues? Your improved mood? Your glowing skin? Your confidence?…you get the point 😉
If you, (like me) enjoy that extra pat on the back, that reward-yourself kind of system, how about setting a workout goal with a massage as a reward?! Or some new workout clothes? There are endless ways to reward ourselves for our hard work that don’t involve food. If food is the reward, it is either held on a pedestal or viewed as the enemy. We should never feel guilty about eating. Enjoying extra holiday treats? Good for you! Forgot to eat your veggies yesterday? No sweat – double up today! Don’t deny yourself the joy of food, and, other than recognizing it as a source of fuel for your fitness routine, leave it out of your workouts!
Enjoy your 30 Minute Hit. Enjoy your protein shake. Enjoy your favourite wine. Enjoy your newfound energy for the ski hill. Enjoy your strong body. Earn health and happiness at the gym, not food.
Authored by Kristi Bieber
**According to the National Initiative for Eating Disorders (NIED), approximately 1 million Canadians have a diagnosis of an eating disorder. If you or someone you know is at risk, please reach out for help.