“I work out so I can keep eating burgers and pizza.”
Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard something like this. Raise both hands if you’ve ever said this.
Both hands up over here. This was my rallying cry back in the day. I said it proudly and unprompted whenever I ate something “naughty.”
I liked what it communicated about me: “I’m a cool chick who isn’t afraid of naughty foods — I’m not one of those SALAD girls. But I also want you to know that I punish myself appropriately for my indulgences, because I’m not one of those naturally thin women. I want you to know I work for what I have, and those people don’t.“
Hoooo boy. There’s so much happening there. Superiority, inferiority, boasting, apologizing, and that timeless classic: pitting women against women because of relative body type. I’m so sorry for putting that out there into the universe.
Diet culture has us all twisted up. The “calories in, calories out” mentality is a gross oversimplification that reinforces a transactional view of fitness: Exercise is a punishment for the crime of eating. Exercise is the job and food is the paycheck. Exercise is only worthwhile if it gets you something. Eating is only okay if you’ve earned it.
Eating is not a privilege. But movement is. A fitness-obsessed society places value on the able body, a privilege that not everyone has access to. Injuries, disabilities, and chronic pain are just a few reasons why the privilege of movement might not be accessible to all people at all times — does that make you unworthy of eating? Um……………no.
I eat when I am hungry because my body needs and deserves it. I move to the best of my ability because my body needs and deserves it. I need food to move, but I don’t need exercise to earn my food. The two are related, but not in the way that diet culture would have us believe.
I’m done exercising to punish, atone, and compensate. Movement is a celebration of this moment. Right here, right now. Whether you can do a lot, a little, or nothing at all, honor it. Accept it.