You’re sitting on your couch, watching your favorite tv show, with a bowl of cheetos in one hand and a bottle of soda in the other hand.
You’re celebrating life because you’ve decided to heck with all the health programs that you’ve tried (and failed miserably) because life is too short, right?
And, who cares? No one said anything.
“I am okay” was the lie you kept telling yourself every time the programs got too tough.
But your body disagrees. Every single time.
Because you’re still taking your anxiety medication. You’re still getting migraines. You’re still frequenting your doctor’s office.
Evidently, you are not okay.
Listen to Your Body
Five years ago, my husband and I were overweight and we were living with chronic illnesses that drained us mentally and physically. Just three days before Thanksgiving, we decided to get our act together and to listen to what our bodies were telling us at that time: change your diet!
We decided to try the Paleo Diet which came highly recommended by our friends. We committed to this healthy lifestyle immediately.
The results were shocking and encouraging at the same time. Within three weeks, my husband shed off a lot of pounds without even going to the gym. I went off my anxiety meds and I felt better.
In fact, we felt incredible.
And then, we felt awful.
Not because Paleo wasn’t working, it was working great! We felt awful because people made us feel awful!
People Became Opinionated
Christmas is my favorite time of the year. It’s not just the food and the festive air but also because I’ve always noticed that people are much kinder and more understanding. People are just happy during the Holiday Season!
Well, not this time they weren’t!
I remember going home for Christmas and being excited for our family to see my husband’s results. We walked in the door and expected to be flooded with the “oohs” and “aahs” from our adoring family and friends but instead we were greeted with criticisms, we thought we were at the wrong party!
“This won’t last”
“He’ll gain it all back plus some because that diet isn’t maintainable.”
“Oh, this is just your ‘healthy’ year!”
“My friends asked me if you are in a cult, I’m really worried – do you even go to church anymore?”
It sent me running to my room! I locked myself inside and tried to compose myself and figure out what was going on.
OUCH! Words Hurt…
It was my first eye opener into how people’s unwanted opinions could break your spirit. I had to tell myself I felt great and that this was a diet that worked for us.
The judgment didn’t end with that first holiday. Even after five years of living a healthy lifestyle, I bear the brunt of the jokes from people who watch what I eat:
“Cavemen didn’t have Starbucks unsweetened tea.” (Just because we’re on a Paleo diet, it doesn’t mean that we’re actually living in the Paleolithic era! )
“Eat this (very processed food), I made this just for you.” (If you made it “just” for me, my dear, then you should have made it with paleo-approved foods.)
“All things in moderation, I don’t eat like you and I am fine.” (I know you are. I am, too! In fact, I am great!)
I had a family member go on all of my business and social media pages and rant about how “Paleo is not the only way to lose weight” or say things like “I think he looked great before that diet”.
Yes, I know Paleo is not the only way to lose weight. I’ve tried almost all the fad diets out there and it didn’t work for ME AND MY HUSBAND. And no, my husband looks great now that he’s on the Paleo lifestyle program. Exhibit A:
I know that Paleo isn’t for everyone and that there are plenty of other ways to get healthy BUT this is what worked for us and I just didn’t expect the constant criticism and negativity that has since surrounded us. If I hear one more eat this Dunkin Donut, it’s totally Paleo joke!
It used to really bother me and the truth is, I almost quit because I was sick of the judgment. No one ever commented or made remarks when I was eating snickers bars! As soon as I replaced the snickers with a carrot, everyone lost their mind!
How to Deal
I am not ashamed to admit that I spent most of those times crying…a lot! It was unfathomable how people can be so negative about a lifestyle change that helped us gain our health back and feel good about ourselves again.
It almost felt like they didn’t want me to be happy, at all.
Eventually, I did figure it out. People judge what they don’t know.
None of those people dealt with weight issues or the same health problems that my husband and I dealt with. None of them had to make a drastic choice about their lifestyle that affected how they ate. None of them had ever walked in my shoes!
Watching something from the outside and not understanding the time, effort and energy that goes into making something work is easy.
It’s like watching the Olympics, right? You’re watching the diving competition and one of the divers does a bellyflop, you automatically start judging him and talking to your friends about how you could have done a better job!
No, you wouldn’t have done a better job because you wouldn’t have even made it into the Olympics! That diver didn’t get this far performing belly flops. He had to train, eat right and he devoted the last four years (or even longer!) of his life to get where he is now!
Why do people judge?
Because it’s easy to criticize! It’s easy to be negative toward others.
Ah, the human nature. The constant hunger for superiority and to always be right. Nobody wants their ego bruised. It’s easier to judge than to empathize and walk in the shoes of others. The truth is, I don’t really know what’s going on in their minds and why they threw those criticisms at us. I mean, who are we to judge?
Amidst all the criticisms and the off-hand jokes, I still feel good about myself. So I knew that something is right with what we are doing. And besides, not everybody I know shared the same sentiments.
I reflected on how far I had come in my journey. I looked at photos of my husband and I and it was evident right at that moment how transformed we were. I saw how happy we looked now compared to just a few months before. I looked at my clean bill of health and how I quit refilling my prescriptions.
In my past struggles with my weight and my image in general, I was easily bullied into giving up. But this program was different. It wasn’t only the physical change that was noticeable, it was also the emotional transformation. It was like a veil of fog had been lifted and we were able to see how food is our friend and not our enemy. I now know WE are in control.
The decisions rest in our hands and are ours alone. If everything about our new lifestyle is going right, and our bodies agree, then there is not a single doubt in our minds that we have made the right decision to stick with the lifestyle changes we’ve made.
My husband and I were on this adventure together and we had support from each other. We had a small community of people who encouraged us and helped us along the way. I blogged my progress and I began helping others find success on their Paleo journey.
Helping someone achieve life changing results has been the most rewarding part of my journey. I’d take on all the negative comments again, just so that I could help people feel better.
We are never going to out run the negativity in our lives. No matter what life changes you are making, whether it be a diet, a career or a family decision, you’re always going to be surrounded by people who judge.
Remember who you are and why you wanted a life change.
Looking back at how far you’ve come is the best remedy to help block the negativity. @8020Paleo (Click to Tweet!)
Kimberly Brown is a wife, mom, Paleo enthusiast and Team Leader of Paleo 80/20! She has been blogging her Paleo journey and has authored a Paleo Recipe Book. She has a passion for coaching others in their Paleo journey and helping others reach their health and weight-loss goals on her Facebook page and Twitter.