By Jenna Perlman, Staff Writer
@jenna_perlwoman

CAPTION. PHOTO VIA FLICKR USER ALAN CLEAVER

CAPTION. PHOTO VIA FLICKR USER ALAN CLEAVER

Thanksgiving is a time when stuffing your face is not only accepted, but encouraged. Family comes together, eating is continuous and food babies are definitely real.

Along with the amount of food being eaten comes the annual “Post-Thanksgiving/Pre-Christmas diet.” We prepare for our second huge meal at Christmas, get swimsuit ready for our beach vacation and abandon the regret from that Thanksgiving dinner. But after Christmas, we’re done. We no longer have to eat salads for lunch, or go work our butts off at the gym, or deny those cravings for that delicious cookie.

The problem with this and with every single diet that has ever walked the planet is: it ends. All diets have an end point. By strictly using the term “diet,” you recognize the fact that you treating your body well is temporary. But why does it have to be like that? I think it’s hard for people to wrap their minds about “dieting” all the time, because it sounds like you’re trapping yourself in a world where food is unenjoyable—at least, that’s how I felt. But then my perspective changed.

From as long as I can remember, I was told my body is a “temple.” I remember hearing from my mom how little life is about diets and that the most important thing is to be healthy and happy. But for some reason, I didn’t believe her. I wanted to transform my short, curvy body into the bodies of my peers—skinny, lanky and non-curvy, a.k.a. pretty much the opposite of what I was. Like most 6th graders, I desired to fit in with the people around me.

I tortured myself—I lifted weights that were obviously too big for me and then attempted to sprint on the treadmill and cry because I couldn’t do it. It was all salad, and weird metabolism increasing pills. It was monotonous.

And guess what? Nothing changed. I was still as unhappy as I started. I felt trapped in this lifestyle and couldn’t wait until this hell of a diet ended. And when it did finally end, I went back to my unhealthy habits and terrible self-esteem. I struggled with food, and food struggled right back. I was miserable.

But I realized, this diet was stupid. This lifestyle was even more stupid.  And it didn’t need to be this way. I should live my life being able to enjoy the foods I loved most, but also treating my body with the respect it deserved.

My perspective then changed. I made a choice to start to live a healthier life, while still enjoying the foods I liked. I started eating more fruit, and went to the gym. I started ordering healthier options when I went out with my friends but also eating my favorite Ben and Jerry’s ice cream when I wanted to. And I did this not because I wanted to be thinner and not because I regretted what I ate before, but because I respected my “temple” body enough to do it.

And with that, my life changed. I had more energy and more confidence within myself. I learned the concept of moderation, and gained confidence and respect for myself that I wholeheartedly deserved. But most importantly, I enjoyed life, which is something you can and never will do on a diet. And as a side benefit, I lost 20 pounds along the way.

The problem with diets is that they are temporary. And while your time here on this earth is also temporary, the way you feel about yourself lasts your entire lifetime.

I challenge you to change your lifestyle like I did–because honestly, life is too short not to treat yourself like the beautiful temple that you know it is.