What do I have to offer?

I have this terrible feeling that I’m not good enough for you.

That I’m not enough of an expert. That I don’t provide enough detailed information, or that I provide information with so much detail that nobody will want to read what I write. That I don’t provide enough insight and tools to actually be helpful. That the message I spend my nights awake thinking about, pondering over, writing and re-writing and re-writing so as to uplift and inspire and change lives — that it actually doesn’t matter to anyone else but me.

Most of all I worry that I’m not thin enough. Or more to the point, I worry that the way I live my life isn’t inspirational enough to get anyone to take notice. Despite what I’ve said about being skinny, and despite really really meaning it, I worry that nobody will bother taking my advice on healthy eating if I’m not a perfectly toned size 2. Because isn’t the thin, sexy, smiling woman on the cookbook cover the reason we buy the book? Sure, we want to be healthy and eat well, but what we really want is to look like that. Because even though I’ve made great progress over the past 11 months, even to the point where I actually bought a bikini and wore it for the first time in public in years, I still am only a size 8-10 and can’t seem to get below 140 lbs.

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Left, July 2014. Right, July 2015.

I really worry about all this stuff because somewhere inside, I feel that if I look like this and not like Giada de Laurentiis — if the way I eat and live my life isn’t as enticing as that teeny little package — then that what I have to offer isn’t valuable. That I’m not good enough to do this thing that I’m so passionate about it makes me skip through the house with glee whenever my daily page views go above 100. Or even 50, if I’m being honest. Because if I can’t offer you that thing that every woman in America wants, what do I have to offer?

Well let me break through the fear and self-pity and tell you what I’m offering.

I’m offering my unconditional support, no matter who you are or where you are on your journey. And let me tell you why.

Right now I’m near the end of a three-week elimination diet and cleanse. The purpose is to temporarily remove all inflammatory foods to give my body a chance to recover and heal. It also allows me to test whether or not I am sensitive to certain foods and get control of a candida overgrowth I’ve been dealing with for years. Well right now, for the past few days I’ve been sicker than I have ever been in my whole life. We’re talking day-long migraines, hours in the bathroom, doubled over feeling like I’ve got the worst food poisoning that just keeps coming back.

At first I thought this all happened because on day 13 I completely caved and had a gigantic double-chocolate donut, and the sickness began not long after. But when I talked to my dietician who’s got me on the cleanse, she helped me realize it’s most likely not the food, it’s the side effects of the candida dying off too quickly. Which, now that I see it, makes perfect sense and I can’t believe I didn’t realize it before.

So until I can talk to her again more fully I turned to one of the many whole foods, plant-based Facebook groups that I’m in for advice on dealing with the die-off symptoms. Over the past few months I’ve found real camaraderie there and gotten great advice and support, and I’ve done my best to provide it myself where I can. But instead, today I got a response that shut me down and put me in my place.

I won’t go into details, because this person is typically very helpful and knowledgeable. But in essence, she basically told me that if I had been eating a perfect, whole foods, plant-based, no-oil diet like the rest of them I never would be in this situation in the first place. And that if I don’t believe what the group believes, I probably shouldn’t be there anyway.

Yikes.

I’m sure she wasn’t meaning to be so harsh, and perhaps I’m just a little too sensitive right now because, oh, you know, I feel like lying in a ditch and never moving again. But it struck a nerve with me because it’s something I see over and over and over and over again: the shaming and exclusion of people who aren’t living up to someone else’s standards.

Far from being supportive and encouraging, this kind of behavior and attitude is just plain not helpful. The only thing it does do, I suppose, is galvanize those who feel they are doing things “the right way” against those who are still figuring out what works for them. It does not support, uplift, or inspire change. It inspires guilt and sets an impossible standard for those who are struggling to begin with, making them feel like there’s no way for them to succeed when instead, there are countless ways for everyone to succeed in their own way.

That’s what’s wrong with subjective views of perfection. They make people feel that there is but one way to achieve our goals, and if we can’t make it that way then there’s no point in trying at all, no matter how far you may have come or no matter how logical or inspiring a different path may feel for you.

The truth is, success is subjective. And yes, so is perfection. But that means they are personal to us; they don’t apply to all. And that’s OK. In fact, it’s more than OK — it’s exactly the way it should be. Because I didn’t set out on this mortal journey to be just like everyone else. I came here to fulfill my own potential and become my own kind of perfect. And that’s what I encourage you to do.

At Healthy Little Changes you will find diet and nutrition advice, ideas for getting your family to eat healthy together, and ideas for organizing your kitchen and your life to make healthy living as easy as possible. But that doesn’t mean you have to do it exactly my way or anyone else’s way — and it certainly doesn’t mean that you’re not welcome if you don’t hang on every word that I say. On the contrary! It is my greatest hope that through my words, you will feel empowered to make changes and create a life that brings you joy, whatever that means to you.

You will find no perfection here. And were you to peel back the metaphorical curtain you would not find a teeny-tiny role model at the helm; you’ll just find me, doing the best I can to be healthy and happy and offering you the advice I wish someone had given me. With an unmade bed in the background and laundry waiting to be folded and three little kids who always seem to need more from me than I can possibly hope to give.

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So whoever you are and wherever you find yourself on your journey, it is my sincere desire that you feel welcome here. You are among friends. You will find no judgment or shame of any kind; just encouragement and inspiration. I offer you my unconditional support and I sincerely wish you all the best.

So please, stick around, and be sure to join the Healthy Little Changes Facebook group (CLICK HERE). It is my goal to make it a truly supportive community of like-minded people who are hoping to make their lives better one little change at a time. If you like what you’ve found on this page, please CLICK HERE to sign up and receive updates by email, if you haven’t already, and please leave a comment telling me what you want from life and how you hope this website can help. And hopefully I can learn from you along the way and we can all be better together.

Peace, plants, and positivity,

Lindsay

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5 thoughts on “What do I have to offer?

  1. ShaRee says:

    You’re great and I’m sorry for the harshness of others. Thanks for sharing all you’ve learned! I’ve posted your blog post before on Facebook and it was reposted a few times. Keep inspiring us. 😀

    Like

  2. veganrunnernerd says:

    Wow, this post really resonated with me. I actually left a couple of FB groups exactly because of what you are describing: judging and shaming those who aren’t “perfect”. Being someone who is the ONLY person in my family and group of friends who eats a plant-based diet is hard enough. It’s lonely. The bacon jokes get old really fast. But then to have other plant-based eaters make you feel like crap? Unacceptable. There are many other groups out there who aren’t like that. And I’ve met lots of other vegans just through my blog who have become friends, even though we’ve never met in person.
    As far as not being thin enough or good enough to influence others, I feel you. I get really discouraged when the only people who like my FB posts about vegan recipes or lifestyle are my other vegan friends. Or if the only people who read my blog are other vegans. I can’t influence others who are already doing what I’m doing, right? I have a lot of people reading my blog right now, but not because of the way I eat or take care of myself. People are currently reading my blog because my daughter has cancer. While I appreciate the support, it seems a bit messed up to me that people are more interested in reading about someone that has cancer than they are about reading about someone who is trying to live a healthy lifestyle……
    I don’t mean to be a downer; just wanted you to know that I know exactly how you feel! Keep up the good work. Do this for yourself and your family; that’s all that matters. You are probably influencing people without really knowing it. (I’m one of them. 🙂 )

    Like

    • Lindsay Maxfield says:

      Thank you so much for your comment. It means a lot to know that other people out there get it, and that I’m not the only person dealing with this sort of thing. I know what you mean about feeling left out — and I DEFINITELY feel like the odd one out because although I eat a whole foods, mostly plant-based lifestyle, I’m not fully vegan. So I don’t really fit in any of the plant-based groups OR with the rest of the folks eating the Standard American Diet. Which is why I truly hope to create a place where all people feel included and encouraged to try new things and make healthier choices. Because you’re right, it doesn’t do us much good preaching to the choir. That’s been done. Let’s get out there and open some minds! So sorry to hear about your daughter. I agree, it’s really backwards when people are less interested in reading about a healthy lifestyle. Ah, the world we live in. I just don’t get it. Well, keep fighting the good fight. I’m right there with you!

      Liked by 1 person

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