“Actually… I can’t eat that, I’m sorry it’s so stupid!”
“I know, I know, I’m so high maintenance…”
“May I please get the salad? I KNOW guys, I’m just super boring.”
“I can’t actually eat there cuz I suck, but I’d love to go with you guys!”
“Yeah, I can’t eat that. How lame am I?”
“I only eat this way because I have to, not because I choose to.”
“I’m going to the gym again because I have no life.”
Have any of you guys ever said one of these phrases, or anything like it? I know I have. I’ve said all of them, and many more! Because when you have food allergies, dietary restrictions, or just want to live a healthy life, there’s this stigma that comes with it. People often assume you are faking your allergies because you want attention or because it’s trendy, or that if you do follow a healthy diet for any reason, that makes you high maintenance. People are sure you feel superior to them because you look fit or mention going to the gym. People feel annoyed when they hear that you can’t eat something, or that you have to be accommodated differently when it comes to people making food for you. Because you feel guilty for this stigma that has been placed on people who live this lifestyle, you feel the need to make excuses for why you eat or live that way, to constantly apologize for things you cannot or will not change, always explain how your doctor ordered you to it (even if you chose the diet for yourself), or pretend like the only reason you are in the gym is because you have nothing better to do.
THIS HAS LITERALLY BEEN MY LIFE.
And you know what? I’m over it. And you should be too. Here’s why.
Just because our culture as a whole doesn’t eat healthy doesn’t mean that we should feel guilty for being different (In the BEST way!). Obesity related illnesses are literally killing Americans every day, yet we feel the need to apologize when we order salad when we go out with our friends. I don’t point this out to point fingers at people who haven’t been intentional with their health, but to help those of us who have chosen to be intentional with our health to NOT FEEL GUILTY ABOUT IT. We have an amazing platform to be an example and catalyst of change to our friends who might need some help being healthy. Maybe the best way to do that isn’t by constantly apologizing or making self depreciating jokes about our lifestyle, but by simply and kindly explaining why we live the way we do.
And you know what? Even when we stop being apologetic for our choices, there will always still be people who judge us for choosing to be healthy. But dealing with judgment and negativity is just a part of life that you have to roll with. Don’t be offended when someone calls you “high maintenance”, “faker”, “annoying”, “boring” or whatever else. Sometimes people feel guilty when they are around others who embody qualities they themselves wish they had and lash out instead of feeling motivated. Sometimes they are already discouraged with their health or appearance and have already thrown in the towel, which makes it annoying to be around someone who hasn’t. Maybe people do have the misconception that being proactive and responsible with your health is synonymous to being “high maintenance” because it requires extra work and intentionality. Whatever the reason, try not to be offended, and instead understand that they currently see life through a different lens, and therefore see people who are healthy through a different lens. Being honest, positive, humble, and encouraging just might help them make some important changes and begin to see life through a different perspective. If we give honest answers to questions about our lifestyle, it might help people stop assuming that we do it so we can sound like we are better then them.
I don’t know about you, but this a challenge for me! I’m constantly worried about inconveniencing anybody, so I tend to apologize about everything, not just diet! But I really want to change this about myself, because there is nothing I am sorry about in my choice to be healthy. Yes, I am making some stricter changes than I probably would if it wasn’t for my thyroid disease, but you know what? I happily chose to make those changes–no doctor forced me too! I choose to invest in my health because I think it’s one of the wisest investments you can make. If somebody chooses to bring something to a get-together so that I can eat, I will respond with gratitude rather than apology. Next time I order something healthy when I’m out with friends, I’m not going to think I am boring so I won’t say that I am. When I go to the gym on a Friday night instead of going out, I’m not going to pretend like the only reason I am there is because I don’t have a life. If I am called high-maintenance for planning out my meals, I will humbly explain that it’s important to me to be intentional with my health.
It’s time we stop apologizing for making positive and responsible choices with our lives! Whether you are eating healthy or working out because you have to or because you want to, I am proud of you for taking those steps and making those changes. Let’s come together and start changing our culture and start by changing the way we talk about ourselves. I believe even one person can have a big impact on the world, and I believe this country needs us to stand up and stop being ashamed of who we are. By changing the way we talk about ourselves, we can inspire, motivate, teach and even save lives. Lets get to it!