How To Stop Using Exercise As Punishment For What You Eat


For many people, exercise and weight loss are seen as intrinsically linked. Between fitness industry messaging and the pervasive diet culture, it’s no surprise that we’ve developed a harmful connection between what we eat and how much we need to work out.

According to a 2018 study reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of American adults attempted to lose weight between 2013 and 2016. Almost 63% of those people chose exercise as a means to achieve that goal — along with consuming less food.

The desire to lose weight begins at a startlingly young age: The National Eating Disorders Association reports that 40% to 60% of elementary school girls are concerned about their body and weight — a concern that might endure throughout life.

Meanwhile, the fitness industry has long connected working out and losing weight, spreading the harmful belief that exercise is intended to reshape one’s body. Together, these messages can lead to a myriad of unhealthy behaviors, including exercise addiction or compulsive exercise.

The eating disorders association notes there’s a strong link between compulsive exercise and various forms of eating disorders: Between 40% and 80% of anorexia nervosa patients are prone to excessive exercise, and an estimated 90% to 95% of college students with an eating disorder belong to a fitness facility.

Recovery from any eating disorder or even just unhealthy habits can be an ongoing process, and one that often isn’t linear. But if you’ve struggled with exercise in the past, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a healthy relationship with fitness in the future.

This particular journey is one that Dani Tsukerman knows all too well. The fitness trainer and owner of Very Personal Training, a body-positive fitness center in Brooklyn, New York, has struggled with eating disorders since childhood and now aims to help others reframe the way they view exercise and their bodies.

“It’s so important to remember that working out is not a punishment,” Tsukerman told HuffPost. “It is a celebration of what your body can do. It’s an opportunity to achieve, feel strong and grow.”

Carving out a new perspective can be challenging even if you’ve never dealt with an eating disorder. While there’s no universal approach, there are some concrete steps you can take to view fitness as a celebration of your body instead of a punishment.

HuffPost talked with a few experts about ways to reduce anxiety surrounding food and exercise, how to seek joy in movement, and why the fitness industry needs to become more body-positive.

Choose a workout you’ll truly enjoy.

Restructuring your mindset should begin before your actual workout. When developing a new exercise regimen, for instance, you might want to avoid types of movement you focused on in the past.

“It’s helpful to think about restructuring the environments that lend themselves to exercising compulsively,” said Jessi Haggerty, a Massachusetts-based registered dietitian, intuitive-eating counselor and certified personal trainer. “For example, if running was your primary form of compulsive exercise, try taking a dance class or yoga class and limit running as you reintroduce exercise.”

In addition to avoiding exercises that might be triggering or simply not engaging, think about what you genuinely find fun. Milwaukee-based personal trainer Chrissy King emphasizes the importance of joy within movement.

“We spend so much time absorbing information about how our bodies are ‘supposed’ to look or what we’re ‘supposed’ to eat, and we lose touch with what we actually want and what we desire.”

– Chrissy King, personal trainer

“When it comes to movement and exercise, I encourage my clients to ask themselves, ‘What do I really like to do?’” King said. “Maybe you really love nature, so perhaps your form of movement is hiking or swimming. It’s important to question this because we spend so much time absorbing information about how our bodies are ‘supposed’ to look or what we’re ‘supposed’ to eat, and we lose touch with what we actually want and what we desire.”

For folks who have struggled with an eating disorder in the past, reframing your mindset before exercise might also mean talking with a medical professional.

“For individuals with a history of an eating disorder that included unhealthy exercise behaviors, it’s important to work with a treatment team who can provide recommendations and guidelines for reincorporating exercise into your life,” said Elisha Contner Wilkins, executive director of Veritas Collaborative, a national eating disorder recovery center for children, adolescents and adults. “Know your limits and set boundaries.”

Maintain a healthy mindset before, during and after your workout.

To get into the right headspace prior to exercise, Tsukerman suggests beginning each workout with a mindfulness practice of deep breathing, which can help unite your body and mind.

“Sit in a comfortable position on the floor and relax your neck, shoulders, hips and anywhere else you hold tension,” she said. “Breathe in for a count of five, hold for seven, and then breathe out for five. Repeat as many times as you need. Once you feel more relaxed, set an intention for your workout.”

“Approach each workout by checking in with your body and see how you’re feeling that day.”

– Dani Tsukerman, fitness trainer

Tsukerman added that it’s helpful to know your triggers so you can be on the lookout for them during exercise.

“For some people, setting any kind of goals can be triggering, so if that makes you anxious, just focus on slowing down your breathing so you can be present for your workout,” she said.

“You can even keep a log to jot down what kind of workout you did and rate your feelings,” she said, adding that any such record should be about your emotions and not a workout log.

Wilkins noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the way people exercise, leading to a heightened state of anxiety for some folks.

Changes in movement and daily activities can cause an increase in anxiety around exercise in particular, and isolation, news and social media can fuel this anxiety as well,” she said. Wilkins recommends that you implement coping strategies such as journaling, creating art, using mindfulness apps and keeping the lines of communication open with loved ones.

It’s also crucial to listen to your body. Pick a workout based on your body’s needs that day, rather than what you “planned” to do or feel like you “should” do.

“Approach each workout by checking in with your body and see how you’re feeling that day,” Tsukerman said. “Feeling energized and like you can conquer anything? Do some kickboxing or total body workouts. Feeling achy? Work on your flexibility and mobility. Feeling tired? Try a rebalancing yoga flow. It’s all about listening to your body and doing the workout that will make you feel fulfilled inside.”

Know that it might take time to fully untangle food and exercise.

This connection has been burned into our minds for years; unlearning it will likely require some work.

We need to reframe how eating and exercise are linked in our brains,” Haggerty said, noting that fitness trackers and weight loss apps make it seem as if our bodies are “like bank accounts.” The reality is quite different.

“If we intend to gain strength, improve cardiovascular conditioning, and get those feel-good endorphins from exercise, we need to fuel our bodies adequately and consistently,” Haggerty said. “If we’re just exercising to ‘burn’ or ‘earn’ our food, we’re going to be left depleted, both physically and mentally. Think about it like this: We need to eat to move, not move to eat.

Think about food as a source of energy, rather than something to be “rid of” after working out.

“We need to eat to exercise,” Wilkins said. “We need to provide fuel … for the activity, just as we would provide fuel for a car.”

“If we’re just exercising to ‘burn’ or ‘earn’ our food, we’re going to be left depleted, both physically and mentally. Think about it like this: We need to eat to move, not move to eat.”

– Jessi Haggerty, registered dietitian

For folks with an eating disorder history, Wilkins emphasized the importance of using recovery-focused techniques, such as journaling or talking with a friend, to cope with anxiety surrounding food and meals.

Of course, food can be much more than fuel. As King put it, “Food is community. Food has cultural meaning. Food reminds us of our families.”

King said that thinking of food purely as energy might take the enjoyment out of it — and it’s OK to give ourselves permission to simply enjoy food. “Food helps us survive, but it can be enjoyable too because it means so much more than that. It’s how we have experiences, it’s how we share love,” she said.

The fitness industry has work to do, too.

Ultimately, this isn’t something individuals must change alone. The fitness industry has continuously perpetuated the idea that exercise should lead to weight loss, when in reality, exercise is meant for all bodies.

There is still a high percentage of exercise professionals with weight bias,” Wilkins said. “Many exercise-related activities are now beginning to include body-positive affirmations as a part of the routine, but there is still a long way to go.

King agreed that the fitness industry has an important role to play in how people approach working out.

“A lot of people get into fitness with the idea that the goal of moving your body is to manipulate or shrink your body,” she said. “As people in the industry, we have to start detaching those things. Because in actuality, that doesn’t have to be the goal at all.”

This story is part of Don’t Sweat It, a HuffPost Life series on improving your relationship with fitness. We’re giving you a guide to the latest thinking on exercise and why we’ve been conditioned to hate it in the past. Mental health and body-positive fitness experts will also offer guidance and show you how to find a routine that works for you. Find all of our coverage here.


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Who Is Devon Terrell, Who Plays Arthur In Netflix’s Cursed?


Netflix’s new fantasy series, Cursed, is slated to hit the streaming service this summer. It’s the latest iteration of the Arthurian legend, with the mythical feel of The Witcher and epic fight scenes reminiscent of Game of Thrones, all designed for a young-adult-and-above audience. Cursed is introducing a slate of up-and-comers, and it’s Devon Terrell who’s putting the Arthur in Arthurian.

If Devon looks familiar to you, there’s a good reason. He first hit our screens back in 2016, portraying a young President Barack Obama during his college years in Netflix’s brilliant biopic, Barry. At the time, Netflix wasn’t quite the entertainment behemoth it is now, so it kind of flew under the radar. The good news is, you can still catch his portrayal of Obama on the streaming service. Not only does it offer a glimpse into how the future 44th president of the United States navigated his junior year at Columbia University, but Devon absolutely nails his iconic voice and mannerisms.

BARRY, Devon Terrell, as Barack Obama, 2016.  Netflix /Courtesy Everett Collection
Image Source: Netflix / Courtesy of Everett Collection

Fast-forward to 2020, and the Australian-American actor has joined the cast of Cursed, stepping into the boots of another well-known figure: a teenager who will one day become King Arthur (or so the legend goes). Cursed centres Nimue (played by Katherine Langford), who’s an outcast from her village because of her dark, magical powers. But when her entire village is slaughtered, her dying mother tasks her with returning the Sword of Power to Merlin. Along the way, she meets a mercenary named Arthur.

Devon’s casting as Arthur is significant in more ways than one. This is the first time the character of Arthur takes a backseat to a different leader (and a woman, no less), but it’s also the first time a Black actor has been cast in this role — a role that’s historically been played by white actors. On the Cursed set in London back in 2019, Devon told POPSUGAR that he’s excited for the release. “There’s not many fantasy characters for young, Black people — both male and female,” he said. “So it’s really exciting that young people, of any ethnicity really, will be able to see themselves in this because I’m a young, mixed-race kid and I would have been so excited seeing myself up on the screen as well when I was younger.”

Cursed will be released on Netflix on 17 July.


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Meet Tamara Smart From Disney’s Artemis Fowl


LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 29:  Tamara Smart attends the

Tamara Smart’s career is off to an impressive start. The young British actor has already worked with the BBC, Netflix, and Disney, before even reaching her 16th birthday. Tamara most recently played the role of Juliet Butler in the Disney+ adaptation of Artemis Fowl, alongside Judi Dench and Colin Farrell. While excited for her Disney debut, Tamara took a moment to chat with POPSUGAR about her love for fantasy films, favourite beauty products, and what she thinks about the current cultural climate.

“Now more than ever, we have the opportunity to change, have hope, change the narrative, examine your responsibility, be willing to be uncomfortable, and educate ourselves.” — Tamara Smart

Before we got into our chat, it was important for Tamara to make clear that she’s “really horrified and devastated by the killing of George Floyd and the stories we’ve heard over the years of countless others.” She continued, “I stand in solidarity with all of those who are currently speaking out against this great injustice. Also, now more than ever, we have the opportunity to change, have hope, change the narrative, examine your responsibility, be willing to be uncomfortable, and educate ourselves.” When I was 15, I wasn’t nearly as aware or vocal when it came to social justice. Tamara is a natural leader in that she understands the platform that she has earned, and sees the importance of being a positive role model and encouraging these tough conversations among younger audiences.

A true Londoner, Tamara has lived in the capital her entire life, expressing how much she loves her city, and her people. It seems that London loves her just as much, as Tamara launched her career with Netflix and BBC at 10 years old, appearing on CBBC’s fantasy television series The Worst Witch, while professionally dancing on the side. Since Tamara’s debut, she’s gravitated towards fantasy features — starring in Nickelodeon’s Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Disney’s Artemis Fowl, and appearing next in Hulu’s Hard Sun with Agyness Deyn and Netflix’s A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting, with Tom Felton.

nullImage Source: Disney

“I love fantasy movies!” says Tamara. “My favourite movie of all time is Harry Potter. We watch it every Christmas, ever since I was born. I’ve also auditioned for some normal things, but I feel like fantasy’s just my thing. Maybe I am magical?”, she jokes. When Tamara found out she landed a role with Disney, she freaked. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. Disney. Disney!’ I got there on the first day and they were like, ‘Before we get started, we’re going to do two to three weeks of stunt training.’ I was like, “You know what? I’ve got this”, because I’ve danced for a while, and I was just moving on to gymnastics.”

“Tamara’s favourite product for curly hair is a staple in the Black community — Luster’s SCurl No Drip Curl Activator Moisturizer.”

When Tamara isn’t being magical in movies, she loves creating beauty looks which she shares on her Instagram account, and testing out skincare and hair products. Tamara’s favourite product for curly hair is a staple in the Black community — Luster’s SCurl No Drip Curl Activator Moisturizer (£7). “It’s got argan oil in it, super moisturising, gives curls a really nice look and shine”, Tamara explains. She’s also a huge fan of The Ordinary skincare, “they do some actives that are really good for targeting spots,” she says. Beauty-wise, Tamara loves experimenting with Morphe products, and trying out brands like MAC, Charlotte Tilbury, and Tarte.

“Makeup is just about having fun,” Tamara says. “With the way that I see it, my face is a piece of paper and my brushes are the paint brushes, and the colours are the palette. Today, what am I going to do? I’m going to stare at myself in the mirror and see, what should I make myself into today? What should I be? I can be a bird, I can be a butterfly, I’ll be this, that. I’ll be whatever I want.”

Catch Tamara Smart in Artemis Fowl on Disney+, Hulu’s Hard Sun, and an exciting future role in Netflix’s A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting, where she will play “Kelly” alongside Harry Potter‘s Tom Felton.


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How Eliza Batten Is Using Depop to Raise Money For Charity


Batten, her mum, and her sister pose in front of parcels full of clothes sold on her Depop account to raise money for charity.

Eliza Batten made a big impression on us when she first appeared on series sixteen of the reality TV show, Made in Chelsea; the model and Durham University graduate gaining a substantial following on Instagram for her no-nonsense attitude and versatile style. Now, she’s using that social media clout to help those in need amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

During the first week of lockdown in March, Batten moved back home to self-isolate with her family. After a trip to help at the local food bank with her mother, she was inspired to start raising money for different charities through Depop — the social fashion marketplace for buying and selling items. (Batten isn’t the only celebrity who has used the app for fundraising purposes; bloggers and fashion influencers like Chiara Ferragni and Lottie Moss sometimes resell their preloved pieces and donate the proceeds to charity.) Depop has been a great alternative to clothing donation bins, which were inundated when the pandemic begun — bridging the gap between those who have had a wardrobe clear out but haven’t had a place to offload them, as charity shops remain shut.

Image Source: Eliza BattenBatten and her sister with food donations.

“Talking to the volunteers who explained the precarious situations many families had found themselves in since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak was an extremely humbling experience,” Batten told POPSUGAR. “My biggest surprise was how many people were in desperate need of food. I went home, cleared out my wardrobe, and began uploading onto Depop to start fundraising.” The charity she picked to work with was The Trussell Trust. Founded in 1997 by Carol and Paddy Henderson, the organisation supports a network of 1,200 food bank centres by providing donated food parcels to some of Britain’s low-income families.

“It’s such a privilege to have an Instagram following, one that I do not take for granted, and I want to use it to make a positive difference.”

Coronavirus has been a substantial factor in the latest figures, with the charity recently reporting an increase of 89 percent need for emergency food parcels during April (compared to last year), with 50,000 food parcels being distributed in the space of a week when lockdown was announced on 23 March.

Processed with VSCO with m5 presetImage Source: Eliza Batten The boot of Batten’s car full of food donations.

Batten had made raising money on Depop for The Trussell Trust a community-wide effort. Wanting to keep up the momentum and collaborate with her followers, she hopped on Instagram and asked if people wanted to get involved in the donations, which she goes to pick up herself. “People’s generosity and keenness to get involved has been incredible,” she said. “Without this volume of clothes donations, I would not have been able to continue raising money in this way. It’s such a privilege to have an Instagram following, one that I do not take for granted, and I want to use it to make a positive difference.” And Batten’s entire family is also involved in the process; her mother and sister photograph the items, upload them on Depop at 5 p.m. every Thursday and Sunday, print off the labels of buyers, and package the items in their recycling to send off through Hermès.

According to Batten, at the time of publication she had raised £1,500 from selling clothes and shoes on Depop, which she then used to buy food to donate to The Trussell Trust. “We are so grateful to Eliza for raising vital funds in order to support our work,” Emma Revie, chief executive of The Trussell Trust told POPSUGAR. “We’re working closely with our network to understand each food bank’s situation and how we can best support them. Everyone should be able to afford their own food, and the support from this fundraiser will help people get the emergency support they need today, while working toward a future where people have enough money for the essentials in life.”

Processed with VSCO with m5 presetImage Source: Eliza Batten

In addition to The Trussell Trust, Batten has also been raising money for Time 4 Children, and, due to current events centred around the Black Lives Matter movement, she has shifted the fundraising focus to The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust and The Southall Black Sisters. “Fundraising has given me a huge sense of purpose, and I have found it extremely fulfilling,” Batten said. “The more I learn, the more determined I am to make a difference and put words into action.”

Eliza Batten appears on Made in Chelsea on E4 and is exclusively represented by KMPR Publicity.

Image Source: Eliza Batten


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Trooping the Colour 2020 For the Queen’s Birthday


AYLESFORD, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 06: Queen Elizabeth II talks with residents in the new Appleton Lodge care facility run by the RBLI during a visit to the Royal British Legion Industries village to celebrate the charity's centenary year on November 6, 2019 in Aylesford, England. (Photo by Richard Pohle - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Buckingham Palace has confirmed that a scaled-back version of Trooping the Colour will go ahead on 13 June to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s official birthday. The event usually sees members of the British and Commonwealth armies parade for inspection. Though, in more recent years, it has been an opportunity for the queen’s extended family to come together publicly for the celebration and grand parade that starts at Buckingham Palace before heading down The Mall.

The 2020 Trooping the Colour was cancelled in March, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, Buckingham Palace released a statement saying: “In line with Government advice, it has been agreed that the Queen’s Birthday Parade, also known as Trooping the Colour, will not go ahead in its traditional form. A number of other options are being considered, in line with relevant guidance.” This is the first time the event has been cancelled since 1955, which was due to a national rail strike.

Buckingham Palace has now confirmed that a military salute will take place on 13 June at Windsor Castle, where the Queen and Prince Philip have been self-isolating since March. “There will be a small, brief military ceremony at Windsor Castle to mark The Queen’s official birthday,” a Buckingham Palace spokesman told People. There are no firm details yet on what time the ceremony will take place — or whether family members like Prince Charles, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, or their children will be in attendance — but as soon as we know more, you will, too.


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Meghan Markle’s Virtual Commencement Speech 2020


LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 12: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex delivers a speech as she launches the Smart Works capsule collection on September 12, 2019 in London, England. Created in September 2013 Smart Works exists to help unemployed women regain the confidence they need to succeed at job interviews and return to employment. (Photo by Mark Large - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

On Wednesday evening, Meghan Markle delivered a virtual commencement speech addressing the class of 2020 at her former high school, Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles. She offered her encouragement and also her support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

“You’re going to have empathy for those who don’t see the world through the same lens that you do. You’re ready. We need you, and you’re prepared.”

In a video shared exclusively with Essence magazine, the duchess opened her speech by saying, “What is happening in our country and in our state and in our hometown of LA has been absolutely devastating. I wasn’t sure what I could say to you. I wanted to say the right thing, and I was really nervous that I wouldn’t, or it would get picked apart,” Meghan admits. “I realised the only wrong thing to say is to say nothing, because George Floyd’s life mattered, and Breonna Taylor’s life mattered, and Philando Castile’s life mattered, and Tamir Rice’s life mattered, and so did so many other people whose names we know and whose names we do not know.”

Meghan also shared her experiences of growing up in Los Angeles during the LA Riots, “I was 11 or 12 years old, and it was the LA Riots, which was also triggered by senseless act of racism [. . .] and those memories don’t go away.”

“I’m so sorry that you have to grow up in a world where this is still present,” Meghan’s powerful speech continued. “We’re seeing people stand in solidarity, we are seeing communities come together and to uplift. You are going to be part of this movement,” she said, closing her speech by offering encouragement and optimism for the graduating class.

“With as diverse, vibrant, and open-minded as I know the teachings are at Immaculate Heart, I know you know that Black lives matters. You’re going to use your voice in a stronger way than you have ever been able to because most of you are 18 – or you’re turning 18 — so you’re going to vote. You’re going to have empathy for those who don’t see the world through the same lens that you do. You’re ready. We need you, and you’re prepared,” Meghan said.

Head to Essence magazine to watch Meghan’s full commencement speech.


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Nurse Who Survived COVID-19 Shares Jaw-Dropping Photo Of What It Did To His Body


A nurse from San Francisco is shining a light on the severity of COVID-19 with a shocking photo of the effects it had on his body.

Last week, Mike Schultz shared side-by-side images of himself with his over 40,000 Instagram followers of the dramatic 50-pound weight loss he experienced during an eight-week hospital stay as he was treated for the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

The 43-year-old told Health that in the photo on the left, he’s about 190 pounds. He added that he exercised every day and had no underlying health conditions.

“I weighed myself the other day and I’m down to 140 pounds, and I probably weighed less than that when I first got into rehabilitation,” he told the magazine. “I’ve never been this skinny before in my life.”

Schultz explained to Buzzfeed News the reason he decided to post his now-viral photos. “I wanted to show it can happen to anyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, have pre-existing conditions or not. It can affect you,” he said.

Schultz told CNN that he contracted the coronavirus in early March, “before any of the restrictions were out” and likely got it while attending Miami’s Winter Music Festival. His DJ boyfriend, Josh Hebblethwaite,was working at the event.

“We knew it was out there,” Schultz told Buzzfeed, noting that no “lockdowns” had been ordered at this point. “We just thought, ‘Well, we gotta wash our hands more and be wary of touching our face.’”

The Miami Herald reported that 38 people who attended the LGBTQ-friendly music festival later got sick, and three men died, 

On March 14, about a week after the festival, Schultz flew to Boston, where Hebblethwaite lives.

He told CNN that when he first arrived in Boston, he had a cough but “it wasn’t really a big deal.” But on March 17, he found himself with a fever of 103 degrees and was having difficulty breathing.

When Schultz arrived at the hospital, he was given a swab test and chest X-rays. He tested positive for the coronavirus and was also diagnosed with pneumonia and severe repertory distress syndrome, per CNN.

Soon after, he was intubated and placed on a ventilator to aid his breathing.

“That was the last time I saw my boyfriend,” Schultz told Health. “I texted him, ‘I’m scared.’ Soon after, I was sedated, and I don’t remember much after that.”

He was on the ventilator for four-and-a-half weeks, according to CNN. He told Buzzfeed that during this time it was like he was “in a coma.”

Schultz said that when he woke up from his ordeal, he believed only a week had passed. “I still had a tracheostomy [tube], I couldn’t talk, and my hands were so weak that my phone felt like it was 100 pounds,” he told Health.

He also noticed he had lost weight, but nothing could prepare him for what happened when he finally saw himself in the mirror. “I didn’t even recognize myself,” he told CNN. “I pretty much cried when I looked in the mirror, I was like ‘Oh my God.’”

Schultz is now slowly recovering.

“I’m doing breathing exercises to get my lung capacity up, and plenty of exercises to stabilize my legs so I can finally walk without doing a penguin shuffle,” he joked to Health.

A HuffPost Guide To Coronavirus


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Lily Collins Mental Health Awareness Week Instagram Post


Lily Collins (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage) *** Local Caption ***

On Wednesday, Lily Collins opened up in a candid Instagram post about her mental health during her late teens and 20s. In honour of Mental Health Awareness Week, the actor looked back 14 years ago, at her teenage self, and reflected on her struggles in hopes that it’ll give her fans comfort and encouragement.

Lily posted a photo of herself at the Teen Vogue Young Hollywood party back in 2006 (when she was just 16), along with the caption, “On the surface, this was a happy, confident girl. On the inside, I was struggling with so much insecurity and doubt within myself.” She continued, “At this age throughout my late teens and into my twenties, it felt really difficult to speak out about my internal struggles — with family, with relationships, eating disorders and overall uncertainty.”

She added that the topic of mental health should never be taboo and wishes she could tell her younger self that “we’re never alone.” She also encouraged fans to lean on good friends and family, and focus on the positives, noting that this is especially important right now with lockdown still predominantly in place. Lily ended her candid post with a hopeful message, “But let’s give ourselves and each other a little boost of encouragement this week and everyday moving forward and try our hardest not to judge one another too harshly. Self care is not selfish. It’s self love.”

Fans were quick to comment and thank Lily for her honesty: “thank you for sharing this ❤️ this is exactly what i needed to read right now.” Director, Charlie McDowell (who Lily has been dating since last summer) also commented on the post: “What a beautiful human you are. Inside and out.”


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How To Ditch The Diet Mentality Forever And Still Feel Good In Your Body


In February, when I spoke with registered dietitian Christy Harrison about her recently released “Anti-Diet” book, I didn’t realize that the world was about to change so drastically.

We talked about the pervasiveness of diet culture ― the belief system that champions the thin (usually white, cisgender) ideal, that says certain ways of eating are good and others are bad, and that encourages weight loss at all costs. It’s in marketing, health care, our own views of ourselves. Although things look very different these days, all of that is still true.

Diet culture is even more prevalent in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Wellness brands are preying on our fears and uncertainty by offering supplements. More time to scroll through social media and all of the perfectly chosen images leaves us feeling more insecure about our own bodies.

Most glaringly, there’s so, so much fearmongering about quarantine weight gain that even someone who typically has a good relationship with food might feel pressure to start a diet. Those who struggle with an eating disorder or disordered eating might feel these pressures even more acutely.

In “Anti-Diet,” Harrison chronicles the history of diet culture, uses evidence to point out the flaws in our strongly held beliefs about weight, and gives some insight into how to finally stop judging ourselves and others for the shape of our bodies and the food we eat.

And there’s no better time to heed those lessons than right now, when the pressure to “watch what we eat” is through the roof (despite the fact that we’re battling a global health crisis totally unrelated to food).

Below, Harrison breaks down some ugly truths about dieting and advice on how you can ditch the horrible cycle for good. Because, yes, it’s possible to ditch diet culture and feel good in your own body.

If you couldn’t lose weight on a diet, it isn’t your fault ― there’s tons of evidence that long-term weight loss just doesn’t happen for most people.

The idea that diets don’t work is nothing new. In “Anti-Diet,” Harrison traces the belief that 95% of diets fail back to a 1959 literature review that looked at past weight loss studies. The review found that, basically, no diet or intervention proved consistently effective for weight loss.

And this still holds true: A 2013 review of several weight-loss studies found that diets do typically lead to short-term weight loss, but that most people regain the weight within five years. A similar 2011 review found that many dieters actually regain more weight than they initially lost.

“In any other case, we would be so quick to say, ‘This thing didn’t work for me, this product is the problem.’ But with diets, we think, ‘I’m the problem.’”

– Christy Harrison, author of “Anti-Diet”

Harrison described this initial weight loss that diets bring as the honeymoon phase.

“I think often when it’s a person’s first diet ever, there’s a honeymoon phase of dieting where you do see weight loss ― although not everyone does ― and you feel like you’ll be able to stick to it because there are no complications,” she told HuffPost. “There’s the feeling of, ‘It’s working! It’s happening!’”

But none of that lasts. “The body gets wise and starts to feel the effects of starvation,” Harrison said. “On average, people will lose weight for about six months to a year, and then at the year mark they start regaining the weight, and the rate of weight regain speeds up over time.”

A lot of people aren’t even able to make it to this six-month mark, she said, “because the starvation response really kicks in and pushes people to start eating more than they were before the diet, which oftentimes leads to binging.”

In other words: The obsession and out-of-control feeling around food that often happens several months into a diet isn’t a personal failing, it’s a biological response.

Because we live in diet culture, people think the solution to one failed diet is to find another, “better” diet.

Habitually jumping from one restrictive eating plan to another is so commonplace that we have a name for it: yo-yo dieting.

But, as any past or current yo-yo dieters know, even very different diets tend to lead to the same result: initial weight loss, eventual weight regain.

“It’s ridiculous,” Harrison said. “In any other case, we would be so quick to say, ‘This thing didn’t work for me, this product is the problem.’ But with diets, we think, ‘I’m the problem. Maybe this one isn’t for me, maybe I’m not meant to be an intermittent faster, maybe I’ll be a keto or Whole30 person instead.’ So we see people jumping from diet to diet to diet.”

“Oftentimes people who have lived in diet culture their whole lives have this accumulation of rules,” said Christy Harrison. Question why you still hold up these rules from diets that didn’t serve you, then work on ignoring them. 

“Oftentimes people who have lived in diet culture their whole lives have this accumulation of rules,” said Christy Harrison. Question why you still hold up these rules from diets that didn’t serve you, then work on ignoring them. 

Weight cycling and weight stigma are bad for our physical and mental health.

Although plenty of people diet for aesthetic reasons, health is also a motivator. Those who live in larger bodies are often told by their doctors (and, sometimes, their friends and family) to diet and lose weight to improve their health outcomes. But that advice often leads to more harm than good.

“No matter what weight a person is at, even controlling for BMI, weight cycling is an independent risk factor for all these things that get blamed on weight itself: heart disease, diabetes, some forms of cancer, and mortality,” Harrison said. “When we diet, we’re almost inevitably going to end up weight cycling. That’s going to put our bodies at greater risk than just saying the same weight, even if that’s a higher weight.”

The anti-diet movement isn’t just about not dieting, it’s about understanding that bodies can be healthy at any size.

The idea that more weight is an inherently bad thing is flawed. Many people at higher weights are metabolically healthy, Harrison said. (And, of course, it’s possible to be metabolically unhealthy at a lower weight.) A 2015 study of over 100,000 people in Denmark found that those in the “overweight” category lived the longest, on average ― a conclusion that’s consistent with past findings.

In response to this evidence, the Health at Every Size movement encourages people to “accept and respect the inherent diversity of body shapes and sizes and reject the idealizing or pathologizing of specific weights.” It also aims to end weight stigma and discrimination and to make the world more accessible to all people, no matter their weight.

It’s important to understand all of this if you want to truly reject diet culture, give up dieting and become a more intuitive eater, Harrison said. Intuitive or mindful eating encourages you to focus on your hunger and fullness cues, pushes you to slow down and enjoy meals, and doesn’t vilify any foods. It’s not a diet program; it’s a lifestyle habit.

It can be much harder for someone in a larger body to reject diets and diet culture because of the discrimination they face.

Throughout the book, Harrison acknowledges her privilege as a thin, white, cisgender woman. When you live in a body that society deems “acceptable,” quitting dieting is easier than it might be for someone who lives in a more marginalized body.

“People in much larger bodies do face discrimination every single day, and it’s natural to want to lose weight as a way to escape that,” said Kimmie Singh, an anti-diet dietitian and fat body liberation activist.

“If you’re someone in a smaller body who’s working toward body acceptance and becoming a more intuitive eater, make sure you also work on accepting all bodies and body sizes to help all people feel safe stepping away from dieting.”

Singh gives her clients background and evidence about why diets don’t work and encourages them not to pursue weight loss, but ultimately leaves the choice up to them. If you’re someone in a smaller body who’s working toward body acceptance and becoming a more intuitive eater, make sure you also work on accepting all bodies and body sizes to help all people feel safe stepping away from dieting.

A life without dieting might be hard to imagine, but it’s possible. Here’s how to do it.

The first obstacle in quitting diets for good is that these days, so many of them claim not to be diets at all.

“Diets have morphed and shape-shifted into this wellness thing that’s now so much harder to detect,” Harrison said. “The ‘wellness diet’ is about demonizing some foods while elevating others; eating the supposedly ‘right’ things and removing the supposedly ‘wrong’ things. It promises health and moral superiority, but it almost always promises thinness, as well.”

Harrison recommends rejecting any diet or “wellness” lifestyle that comes with rules ― eat this not that, eat X amount, only eat between the hours of Y and Z. Even once you do this, you might find that you have a lot of old food rules swimming around in your head.

As an early step in the journey to rejecting diet culture and becoming a more intuitive eater, Harrison encourages clients to write down any food rules or thoughts that pop into their heads during the day.

“It’s fascinating to see. Usually there are dozens of these thoughts throughout the day,” she said. “You realize, ‘Anytime I start to think about food, these rules or these judgments pop up.’ Just becoming aware is the first step.”

Then, you can start to question any rules you might have.

“Oftentimes people who have lived in diet culture their whole lives have this accumulation of rules,” Harrison said. “They can even be from completely contradictory diets ― like demonizing fat and demonizing carbs.”

Question why you still hold up these rules from diets that didn’t serve you, then work on ignoring them.

Don’t be surprised if eating without food rules or judgment feels a little out of control at first.

“Your brain and body have been so deprived that there’s going to be this pendulum swing back from the side of restriction to the side of eating all the food,” Harrison said. “I call it the restriction pendulum.”

But this doesn’t last forever. “Eventually you really will be able to settle in the middle, and get to a place of peace and balance with food,” she said.

The reward goes far beyond just a better relationship with food and body. “It’s amazing to see what happens for people when they’re eating intuitively,” Harrison added.

At first, learning to be an intuitive eater takes some effort. But once you click into it and aren’t constantly obsessing about what you can and can’t eat, you get so much brain space back.

“You’re not thinking about exercise, or your weight,” she said. “You’re thinking about all the other things you really care about. You’re free to do your work, engage in your relationships, and be really present in all the big and small moments of your life. There’s so much more available to people once they stop dieting.”

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Every Time A Celebrity Loses Weight I’m Reminded Of How Messed Up My Body Image Is


Adele got so skinny, she looks like a different person.”

That sentence came to me via a group text Wednesday morning as I’m sure it showed up in thousands of other group chats and Instagram DMs after the elusive singer shared a photo of herself for her birthday on Tuesday. It was her first Instagram post since December 2019. 

In the caption accompanying the photo, Adele used the occasion of her 32nd birthday to thank front-line workers fighting the spread of the coronavirus. The masses used the occasion to comment on her apparent weight loss.

“I mean are you kidding me,” Chrissy Teigen commented, which, without explicitly saying the same thing as the message in my group text, basically said everything.

Teigen’s comment has been “liked” by over 100,000 people. 

I’ve been trying to disassociate any feelings from the word “skinny” for many years. I tell myself it’s just a word, and words don’t have feelings, right? Kind of like I’ve told myself that foods don’t have feelings: They can’t be “bad” or “good.” Or that words like “skinny” and “fat” are just words and not identities. Or that fat is just something you have on your body. Or like I’ve told myself that I don’t want ― or need ― to hear that I “look skinny.”

Except for the fact that I really, really do.

When I look at that photo of Adele, I feel something like jealousy or maybe just straight-up jealousy. Well, first I feel hope that a sighting of the notoriously private singer means there is new music coming. But also jealousy. I feel bad about it, but it’s true. I’m also jealous of people who don’t feel the same way as I do ― who have somehow managed to truly feel at peace with their own bodies instead of just claiming that they do on the internet. 

Even more frustrating is that I still feel this despite years of therapy to chase away a toxic relationship with food and my body, and an extensive effort (with some success) to find acceptance and even happiness with what I look like. 

The reality is we know nothing about the circumstances of Adele’s weight loss, just like we knew nothing about the circumstances of Lena Dunham’s highly publicized weight loss in 2017 ― at least, not when it happened. It wasn’t until a year later that we began to learn exactly what had been going on in Dunham’s life, and none of it seemed very good. 

“On the left: 138 pounds, complimented all day and propositioned by men and on the cover of a tabloid about diets that work,” the “Girls” creator wrote on a split-screen image of herself in 2018. “Also, sick in the tissue and in the head and subsisting only on small amounts of sugar, tons of caffeine and a purse pharmacy. On the right: 162 pounds, happy joyous & free, complimented only by people that matter for reasons that matter, subsisting on a steady flow of fun/healthy snacks and apps and entrees, strong from lifting dogs and spirits. Even this OG body positivity warrior sometimes looks at the left picture longingly, until I remember the impossible pain that brought me there and onto my proverbial knees. As I type I can feel my back fat rolling up under my shoulder blades. I lean in.”

How lucky we are to have someone like Dunham in the public eye to speak honestly about her experience. I thought of her, too, when my co-worker pointed out the psychological impact that drastic weight loss can have on a person. “People who wouldn’t give you the time of day before can suddenly become obsessed with you,” the co-worker noted. “And make you think if you gain the weight back you won’t be loved, which leads to dangerous eating/exercise habits.” 

Logically, all of this makes sense. But when I look at the photo of Adele, it isn’t logic that’s driving my thoughts or emotions. Making the situation even more complicated is that because of her talent, I often place Adele on a pedestal and view her as light-years wiser and more evolved than I am. But then I remind myself that we’re nearly the same age and that she, too, is a human being. We don’t know what’s going on in her mind or her life and ― as we all are constantly reminded but have to work hard to believe ― social media never tells the full story. And yet here we are, communally congratulating her for being thinner than she was before.

Being in self-isolation for the past eight weeks has drummed up many thoughts and emotions, including the notion that life is short. Have you heard that? Yes, it’s a cliché, but it’s a cliché because it’s true! And I’ve been feeling it more than ever lately. Really, when will I just stop feeling bad about the foods that I eat or wondering what impact they’ll have on the able and healthy body that I am so lucky to have? Maybe not today, looking at this photo of a celebrity, but maybe, hopefully, someday soon. 


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