Thursday, February 17, 2011

Letting Go of Rules

By: Janet Zimmerman

We’ve all heard the different rules concerning dieting and exercise. Rules (or maybe we should call them lies) like don’t eat chocolate, sweets, carbs, or fat. Or, rules that tell us we need to train our bodies physically in a certain way for a certain amount of time to look like we are “supposed” to, a way that is superiorly acceptable.

But, what I want to know is who set these rules and who gave them authority over our choices?

You see, I once was a slave to all these different rules. I felt guilty if I ate chocolate or a food that I wasn’t “supposed” to eat. I felt guilty if I didn’t exercise for ______ amount of hours a week. I felt guilty if I walked or took a day off instead of my usual running routine. As you can see, these rules bound me to a life of guilt. The rules made things that I enjoyed in life a chore instead of a pleasure.

Fast-forward to a few years ago.

I realized (through a long process) I could not continue to live enslaved to these rules. It took the joy and pleasure out of the simple things in life that I loved. I read books like Intuitive Eating that promote self-care and self-compassion. And ultimately, I learned that other people cannot set the standards and rules for my life.

I am my body’s expert, and I am my body’s advocate.

This is the same for you too. Each one of us is our body’s expert. We get the privilege of learning to understand our needs and desires. Sometimes this entails a nap and sometimes a run, sometimes a salad and sometimes a rich piece of dark chocolate cake, sometimes a night with a friend and sometimes a little time to myself.

We were intricately made and are multifaceted… what would make us think that everyone should look the same, act the same, or even benefit from the exact same foods or exercise?

If you haven’t already, start today being YOUR body’s expert and advocate. The right exercise for you is an exercise you enjoy doing and that leaves you feeling energized. The right foods for you do the same- they should be pleasant to your pallet and leave you with energy to tackle your day.

Let go of the rules and learn to listen to YOUR body without shaming it or feeling guilty. And remember, you are a BEAUTIFUL person with unique needs. Now go and live guiltlessly.


  1. I love this post!! Thanks for your words of wisdom, Janet!!

  2. I love this post-thanks for sharing janet!

  3. Thanks Elizabeth and Donna! It is amazing getting to share lessons I've learned to help people find peace and joy in their eating and exercising again. I love what Guiltless is about!