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It's Okay

When my now teenaged daughter was a toddler we had a favorite book called The Okay Book.

"It's okay to be skinny. It's okay to be big. It's okay to eat all the frosting off your birthday cake..."  These were some of the words.  The book wasn't all about eating or food. It was about love and acceptance of self and others.

Some of the reasons that people visit Ask Amy are because they want to look better, to lose (or gain) weight, or because they want to improve their athletic performance.  Some may be motivated by the noble cause of decreasing their risk of developing or to manage the progression of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and dementia, so that they can have more healthy years with their loved ones, and maybe even decrease their need for prescription drugs. Still others simply want to feel better, to have more energy, less inflammation, less depression, and to be more productive. They want to normalize their bowels, get sick less often, and recover more quickly from injury.

These are all good reasons to seek better health.  But, in the spirit of honest advertising, there are a few things that you should know about Nutrition & Wellness Coaching with Ask Amy.

1. I'm not that kind of dietitian.  

Sorry, but I am not going to tell you what foods you can never eat or even that you can only eat sometimes or how much you are allowed to eat of anything.  I will provide you with information when you need and want it, but there will be no shaming, no finger wagging, and zero judgement of any kind, so if that's what you are looking for, you've come to the wrong place.  I'm going to teach you to listen to your body as well as to sort out the conflicting messages that you are being bombarded with, from the media, from the diet and food industry, and from your own head.  I'm going to empower you to be healthy for the rest of your life without feeling like you are fighting against yourself...Really.

2. You have to be kind to yourself. 

If through our conversations, it becomes apparent that you are feeling guilt about "failed" diet attempts, supposed slip-ups, or falling off of so-called wagons, I'm afraid we will have to get to the bottom of those feelings so that you can finally be free from them.  The truth is that the diets that you have been on have failed you and left you believing that you are somehow lacking in character, that you have no self control or willpower, or are that you are in some other respect flawed.  I haven't even met you, and I'll bet that if you were to take a look at your accomplishments outside of dieting, you would agree that such thinking is pure folly.  I promise that you absolutely can and will achieve optimal health and a healthy weight without disrespecting yourself.  Ask yourself, has any "diet" ever actually "worked" in the long-run or truly served you?  If I'm wrong, well then you can fire me. 

3.  You have to be kind to me.  

I have to come clean with you:  I'm human!  I'm on my own journey. I'm juggling lots of pressures.  I'm learning to be more kind to myself. Oh, and I suppose I should tell you that I'm writing this while eating ice cream in bed (gasp!), and guess what, I don't even feel bad about it.  Do you know why?  Because it tastes good and because no food is evil or something to be feared and because I'm a grown up and can listen to what my body tells me it wants.  You can too.  I'll help you get there.

4.  You are not allowed to be hungry (at least not for long).

Thou shalt not feel deprived. Did you know that when you don't eat to fullness, your body actually doesn't know when or if it's ever going to get more food, so it starts to shut down?  Your metabolism slows down (your body's way of conserving calories in the form of fat, in case this actually is a famine). You feel tired, because your body is siphoning energy to only the most essential tasks of keeping you alive.  You actually even increase your risk of having a heart attack.  Some of us can no longer hear the inner voice that tells us when we are hungry or satisfied, but we can learn to listen for it.  And I know that you know what happens when you eat food that isn't satisfying instead of the food you know you want....yep, you eventually end up eating the "forbidden" food anyway, sometimes even more than you would have if you'd simply given yourself permission, and on top of that you don't even enjoy it because now you feel bad about it.  Sheesh.  But again, don't be too hard on yourself.  We've all been there.  And if you find yourself in that trap, we can talk about it, and you will learn from the experience.  It's a journey.

So let's dare to truly Nourish What's Inside, to honor ourselves and one another and where we are on our journeys.  It's okay to be you.  It's okay to be me.  It's okay to cry.  It's okay to be scared.  It's okay to eat what you like.  It's okay to try new things.  And as the book tells us on the final page, "It's okay to dream big!

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