I’m sure by now you’ve heard the saying “don’t compare your behind the scenes with someone else’s highlight reel.” In today’s world of facebook, twitter and IG we all share our perfectly-lighted, filtered, best versions of ourselves and our lives. And it’s great to celebrate and show off the positive things we do: the super healthy salad you had for lunch, the insanely fast pace on your Garmin, the amazing pictures from your vacation. Seeing the likes, retweets and comments can boost our ego and provide reassurance and satisfaction. But it’s a double-edged sword, and when we start comparing our own lives to these snapshots, it might seem like we don’t measure up.
As a dietitian, I encounter this often with clients, but also with myself! If you follow me on any social media, I post pictures of healthy meals and fun fitness activities. I’m totally guilty of showing off my highlights, but I try to show my indulgences too…mostly in the form of mint chocolate chip ice cream and beer. In general, I do my best to practice what I preach. I eat healthy and make time for exercise (I’m even training for my first marathon!). But I was not always that way. I was overweight, inactive and miserable for many years and I am still working toward becoming my best self. It’s a process. As part of this process, I figured I’d share some of my “behind the scenes”, in the form of some confessions…
I’m not at my goal weight (yet). That’s right, I’m a dietitian and I’m overweight. There is an expectation for dietitians to be perfectly fit, thin, picture-perfect people. And just as you might not trust a dentist with bad teeth, my current appearance might work against me in gaining clients trust. But I prefer to see it as a benefit to my practice. You see, in addition to my clinical education and training, I can relate to a lot of my clients because I have personal experience with food and weight struggles! I know what it’s like to be overweight, be on diets and get frustrated. And I also know that what I preach works. There’s no quick-fix, but eating well and getting your sweat on will result in a healthy and happy life (and weight).
I don’t eat “perfectly”. Gasp! I also don’t believe there is one perfect way to eat. There is an assumption that dietitians abstain from anything that may be considered “unhealthy” or “bad”. I often don’t even get offered treats if someone shares at work…and hear comments like “Oh, she’s healthy-she won’t eat that!” Hey! I (probably) eat whatever THAT is! Yes, I do encourage people to eat their fruits and veggies daily, but sometimes I don’t do that myself! And sometimes with my crazy schedule I can’t fit in exercise! And believe it or not, I absolutely do indugle in treats. I mean, what kind of life would there be without ice cream?
I don’t know everything. Sure, I’m supposed to be the “expert” in all things food and nutrition! But with over 20,000 new food products being introduced each year, there is no way I can keep up with every protein bar, frozen meal or snack pack. I also can’t remember every medical condition (and appropriate nutrition therapy), lab value or supplement. I have to look things up or reach out to colleagues all the time. And that’s okay! I’d so much rather get accurate information to support my decisions and best serve my clients.
I love nutrition, but it’s not my whole life. I don’t want to talk about food or diets or nutrition all the time and sometimes it’s hard to escape! When someone finds out what I do (especially if it’s in a scenario involving food), the response is usually an embarassed expression or a plea of “please don’t judge me!” People often assume I’m going to analyze or criticize what they’re eating. But I’m not the food police. And I don’t go around giving unsolicited advice! Rest assured that if I’m out to eat with you, I’m not worrying about YOUR food…because I’m too focused on my own! 🙂
Phew! Now that that’s all off my chest…TELL ME, do you only show your highlight reel? Or try to balance it out with some behind the scenes? Feel free to share your confessions! 🙂