So glad you decided to come back. Not the least of which is because I need to clear a few things up....when I wrote last week about my food and weight story I think I may have made the part where I hit my 20s and started to work things out seem a little too pretty.
I hate that. I hate stories that are all "I was poor and depressed and living in my car....and now I'm a millionaire!" or "I was single and depressed and living in my car....and now I have the man of my dreams AND I'm a millionaire!".
Almost all success stories today seem to gloss over the actual STORY. Like, WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED THAT MADE THE CHANGE???? That is what I want to know.
THAT is why I keep reading your stupid blog posts.
My twenties were a series of two steps forward, one step back. Eat grains and greens for three days, and donuts for one. I was desiring healthy food and exercise because I truly loved it but also rebelling against the clean eating movement and the idea that chocolate, baguettes, and wine couldn't ALSO be part of my healthy lifestyle.
I was rebelling against the messages but I was still so stuck IN the messages that I didn't have the words or the understanding to explain it.....I just felt like I didn't "fit in". I liken it to living in a society where everyone believes the world is flat and you have this feeling that maybe it isn't, that there are a few things not quite lining up for you and like there might be more out there...but you never even THINK about stepping off the horizon. It doesn't even cross your mind because the image of the fall off the end of the world is so scary and so deeply embedded in your psyche. It's just unfathomable.
So, basically, I was staring at the answer but I couldn't see it.
I remember challenging a patient in my residency year about her desired weight loss. She'd been coming to our training clinic for YEARS trying to lose weight. She been on every plan and supplement and healthy living program....I finally asked her if maybe she thought that weight loss wasn't the answer? She thought I was crazy, my supervisor thought I was crazy...and I kinda thought I was crazy. Where'd I even come up with a ridiculous idea like that?
All that said, I did move forward. Very slowly, I normalized my relationship with food to the "80% better" mark I talked about in the first part of this story. I felt like I was where ALL women were:
- Kinda fine with myself, but not really liking my body.
- Eating too much of "fill in the blank bad food" occasionally and feeling super guilty about it..
- Liking my body when I ate well and exercised, loathing it when I didn't.
- Wishing I could stop worrying about what I ate, but always trying new ways to eat that might be better or more in control.
And then I had my second baby.
I gained quite a bit of weight during my pregnancy with her, for reasons I couldn't control, and after she was born the weight just wouldn't come off.
- I exercised and ate right but it didn't come off.
- I consulted health professionals I trusted who gave me tips and guessed at all the things that might be wrong with me and what to do but it didn't come off.
- I had hormone and thyroid tests, I supplemented, fixed my sleep, managed my stress, but it didn't come off.
- I did Crossfit and ran and got up at 5am to do insanity workouts but it didn't come off.
- I went Paleo and then stricter Paleo, and then even a bit stricter Paleo....to the point where I didn't enjoy cooking and found it hard to socialize BUT IT DIDN'T COME OFF.
And then one night, after a day of double workouts and not even one slice of bread for weeks, I thought:
This might look more socially acceptable than full blown orthorexia, it might even be encouraged by the people & culture around me, but this is NOT health.
I reached out to a food/body image mentor that I'd been following for awhile and I invested all the time, money, and "oomph" I had left into her program. After the first of many conversations she said the ONE THING I'd needed to hear for 8 years.
She said, "I don't think there is anything wrong with you".
She reminded me of all the things I was doing right, pointed out that there were no objective indications that I was at risk of ANY health issues (despite my borderline obsessive desire for a thyroid problem that would explain my weight), and she suggested that my very mild negative behaviours around food were either a normal part of human eating OR a normal backlash to restrictive thinking.
She said that my weight was probably exactly where it was supposed to be.
Oof. That was tough.
It took awhile (and a lot of work!) to wrap my head around that.
We talked a lot about diet culture and health propaganda and all the ways that I'd been living in a box without even knowing it. She taught me to step off the edge of the horizon (remember the flat earth metaphor I used UP near the top?! No? It was good. Go back and read it). She showed me that the world was round and vast and IT WAS INCREDIBLE.
It was also incredibly tough.
I spent the next few years researching more about the link between weight and health, mastering intuitive eating, and learning how to best bring this message to other women.
It has taken hard work and dedication to learn the tools required to fortify myself (and other women!) against the culture we live in. To live boldly and joyfully within it. To be fine with who I am, at whatever size I am, letting go of the "some-day" fantasies, and living fully in the present. But I have done it.
And if you really want to do the same, if you are committed to finding the answer, you will find it.
And you don't have to do it alone.
I can help.
P.S. Are you already in The Find Food Freedom and Love Your Body Facebook Group?