When I was growing up, the Atkins diet was all the rage and carbs were under siege. Subway was serving deli meat on a plate for fear of going under despite the fresh baked bread scents whafting through their stores. Grown adults could be seen cowering at the sight of plate of pasta, and meanwhile, something called a “bacon basket” was being advertised as a healthy breakfast option. Fun fact about the creator of the Atkins Diet: he died of congestive heart failure at the age of 72. I’m not here to comment on the nutritional effectiveness of his methods, but it seems to me a 72 year life with no cake leaves a little be desired.
After carbs started to come back into style, saturated fat took the next hit. I have to imagine Dr. Atkin’s untimely death really didn’t do that food group any favors. These days, much to the horror of Buddy the Elf, there’s a lot of talk about how sugar is slowly melting us all. And heaven help you if you open up a menu without asterisk that says *Gluten Free Option Available. You need a CNN up to the minute report to keep up with the latest un-health trend.
Before this starts to sound all “holier than thou”, I should tell you that, like most easily influenced individuals, I too have dabbled in testing or have at some point believed that consuming these things was the worst thing I could be doing for my body. I mean let’s be honest, people will buy into pretty much anything if they think it will ultimately help them achieve what someone else has. Hell, before Subway’s rolls were likened to downing a pound of lard I’m pretty sure at least 75% of the population wanted to be Jared the Subway guy. And all that guy ate was sandwiches. For 15 years. Fun fact about him: his net worth is over $15 Million, so actually probably not a bad guy to be.
But here’s what I think we’re all missing. The things we’re putting into our bodies aren’t nearly as toxic as the things we’re saying about them and the way we value them. I’m an athlete, a runner. I see the value in a good diet and I see the repercussions of eating a bag of fritos and a diet coke for lunch everyday because it’s a “low carb diet”. But I also see a trend that’s becoming even more detrimental and it’s hitting at an even younger age than Type II Diabetes – Self doubt.
As athletes and humans I think its in our nature to be competitive. We want to get stronger and faster and I think the majority of people, athlete or not, want to see their body reach it’s peak potential. The problem is that there has become this overwhelming desire to always want just a little bit more. “If only I were a few pounds lighter or just a little thinner, then I would be happy.” And the most dangerous of all – #goals. “If only I looked like X”. We’re creating our benchmarks for happiness based on the unattainable goals of another body rather than working to become the best version of ourselves.
Again, I go back to this is also me. I’m guilty of it 10 times a day. But I don’t think I’m the only one and that’s the problem. If I had a dollar for every time I watched the scene from Mean Girls play out I would probably be sharing a private jet with Jared Fogel. We are all so overly critical of ourselves and rather than looking inward at the things our body is capable of, we are constantly searching around us for the next quick fix. The next “fad diet” and this time I think it’s confidence that’s taking the hit.
I’d be willing to bet that the majority of people who read the first part of this post scoffed at at least one of those fad diet references. The idea that consuming one of those things could have such a harmful effect that they should be completely removed from our lives seems a little extreme. But while we may have graduated from the witch hunt for the next thing that will make us morbidly obese, I still don’t think we’re doing it quite right. We’re still missing a piece and maybe rather than taking more away, we should start by adding a little confidence and self love.
I started this No Zero Days project as a way to create a little good in the world not only for myself but for anyone else who cared to listen, so here’s my challenge to you. Take just one day – every time you look outside of yourself and feel that envy and self doubt, turn it around. Instead, replace it with one thing about yourself that you value or take pride in. It doesn’t have to be big, it can be something so small and seemingly insignificant (lately for me a shower a day is a big accomplishment). That’s the beauty of these Non Zero Days – it doesn’t have to be epic, it just has to be something. Just find anything that can replace the “I wish” with “I AM.”
At the end of the day, the best thing we can do for our bodies and ourselves is practice a little compassion. If we let confidence become the new thing we remove, we will never see our full potential. So as Marie Antoinette (according to wikipedia, may or may not have actually) said, “let them eat cake!” Bring back the carbs, and the sugar and by all means, bring back the confidence. The jury is still out on what a low confidence life style does but I’m not willing to chance it. I’d rather have a slice of cake on my 73rd birthday.