So… having put a serious amount of thought into it for the last 2 weeks I have decided to bring my vegetarianism to an end after 10 months.
For quite some time I had always felt that nutrition had actually very little to do with health. I knew that it was incredibly important, of course, but for me, health was exclusively a state of mind and spirit. I am sure that there were many that may disagree or question my logic. I was merely coming from the point of personal experience.
That experience is something that I have never openly talked about. Ever since I can remember I have been battling ‘food demons’ whereby I would eat myself into oblivion because it gave me temporary satisfaction because I was never satisfied with anything else in my life. It also was self destructive behaviour brought about by self loathing.
I have always gotten away with my binge eating because it never showed on my body. I have always been slim and always keep myself fit.
The reason for my changing back to eating meat and fish again came about from going to watch football 2 weeks ago and not being able to eat anything from the food stalls around the ground. Coupled with the fact that I was doing dairy, gluten and sugar free eating at the same time, the only thing available was a veggie wrap. This obviously contained gluten. I was hungry and had to give in to it. I felt that I had let myself down in some way.
Later that evening I went out for a meal with friends and watched them eat something really nice while I could only pick a selection of things from the ‘sides’ menu as a result of my restrictions.
I thought to myself that surely this mindset of restriction is unhealthier than whatever food I could put into my system.
My reasons for turning vegetarian in the first place were two fold. Firstly I needed to combat low energy levels. Over consumption of meat left me feeling drained. When I gave it up I started to eat so much more raw foods and starchy carbs. Secondly, animal welfare. This is still an extremely important thing to me but I alone am not going to change anything just because I stop eating meat.
What I have learned is that everything serves in some way. If I do care deeply about animal welfare then there are plenty of other ways I can demonstrate that through things like loving my pets or raising money for animal charities.
This brings me on to morals. I made comments last week that politics doesn’t make a blind bit of difference. Granted that was my ego flaring up again and yes I had got on the Russell Brand ‘bandwagon’ a lot last year but I now admit that it was an extremely uninformed thing for me to say. The next day I heard Ed Miliband say that he wanted to improve the standard of vocational education, something I am extremely dedicated and inspired by as that is my current business. I thought to myself ‘holy shit, am I actually tempted to vote?!’ I do still feel very disillusioned with politics, I still don’t believe that my vote will make a difference but after an eye opening conversation recently I admit I am now in two minds.
Me having these ‘morals’ on animal welfare and politics made me realise something rather important too. That is, again, about restriction. I can’t sit here and preach about acceptance of others if I am somewhat judging people that kill animals and ‘lying’ politicians.
Going back to my eating. Vegetarianism has taught me about balance and moderation. Two words that get banded around the health and fitness industry left, right and centre but actually never get defined. What I have found is that my vegetarianism (along with another eye opening conversation) has made me feel that I am now in control over my ‘food demons’ and that I can enjoy food itself and not the brief feeling it gives me. And that I am now more equipped to eat ‘balanced’ and in ‘moderation’.
Around 18 months ago I kept posting these ‘motivational’ phrases whereby they mocked people that had ‘excuses’ to not be healthy and all that jazz. Truth be told I can’t judge people for being unhealthy, overweight etc because I was exactly the same but just in my own way. My metabolism meant that it never became obvious. Probably a worse thing because it meant that I could keep hiding and fall deeper in to self loathing.
My industry has still not caught onto the idea that there are much deeper rooted issues to people with poor health and visible signs of which. Much more than just a poor diet. This is what I want to change.
When I coach clients in a fitness setting I teach them how to develop an awareness of their body. How they feel, how they move. It is about listening in and paying attention, not just slinging a load of exercises together. I urge you all to read A Path To Wisdom by Tony J Selimi as his first chapter discusses ‘Knowing Thyself’. My vegetarianism taught me an awful lot about myself. That and my ‘eye opening’ conversations have helped me take on my ‘food demons’. I may not be out of the woods completely, and I may never be but I am stronger all the time and am so much more equipped to handle it. I feel like a whole weight has been shifted from my shoulders.
I would like to thank everyone that has been involved with me on this journey. The support, the comments and even the jokes. They have all played their part in some way.
The take home message is that to make changes in your life you need to start loving yourself. Who knows, you may even find someone else to love you too!