Dieting: It’s not about the weight (but it kind of is)

Trigger warning: weight, numbers, body talk

I generally avoid the topic of weight and don’t go into much detail about my own journey of body fluctuations.  I don’t find number talk to be particularly helpful, and those who are stuck in any sort of chaotic eating pattern like I was for so many years know that there is a lot more to the story than the number on the scale or any particular body measurement.  We KNOW that health isn’t just about weight and body measurements…and yet those always seem to be the root of any health conversation or body woes.

Let me start by saying that I truly believe that we all have a natural, healthy setpoint at which our body will settle when fed intuitively and exercised mindfully.  Some of us may have a thinner frame, while others are more filled out; just like I have green eyes but you may have blue, I’m 5’nothing and you might be 6’2”…neither of us are wrong or any less healthy in some way.

Story Time

I was recently reminded how much I loathe dieting culture when at dinner with friends who are all partaking in a point-counting system of dieting.  You probably know the one: each food is assigned a value, and you are allowed to eat a certain amount of points per day to reach your goals. I imagine that eventually the idea is that one would stop counting points (once the goal weight is achieved?) and could start eating “normally” again.  

The beginning of that meal was dreadful, and I seriously considered feigning fatigue before ordering and heading home to feast in peace.  But I was freaking hungry, so I stayed and was suckered into splitting an appie (curse my frugal soul!!) which I totally could have destroyed single handedly with ease.  Luckily, once orders were placed we were able to move into much of a more fun and meaningful conversation, and I was glad to be there!

My Weight Story

This is something I don’t usually talk about. I have a lot of new people in my life right now, and many of them don’t know about my history with eating disorders. With that comes a ton of questions that may have been seen as inappropriate a few years ago; and when you’re a nutritionist or other health professional, the questions are endless.

Nearly every question I’m asked revolves around weight loss in some way, and I’m here to tell you to Chill.  Out.

Yup, that sounds harsh, and I might be shooting my business in the foot by saying this, but weight just isn’t that complicated.  

Let me rephrase.

Weight loss is REALLY hard.  Trying every diet in the the book, counting points, counting macronutrients, counting calories, is HARD.  The constant fluctuation, feelings of success then failure, time spent obsessing, measuring, restricting, overeating, suffering…is downright devastating.  It doesn’t have to be that way.

Ok, now for something I always avoid talking about: my own weight journey.  I struggled with disordered eating from the age of 5, finally ending up in residential eating disorder treatment at the age of 23. My weight has fluctuated from scary low to uncomfortably high for my height and composition.

How did my weight get so high?  By dieting. By royally screwing over my metabolism.  By torturing my body with stress, lack of sleep, and alcohol. By treating my body like crap, with an endless cycle of restricting, binging, purging, and yo-yo dieting.   

And how did I settle at a perfectly healthy and comfortable weight?  I stopped trying.

Seriously.  I stopped weighing myself.  I started just eating what I wanted, what my body told me it wanted.  I started moving my body in activities I enjoyed, laughed a heck of a lot more, and just generally chilled the F out when it came to food.  These are the skills learned when working with me.

Guess what?  I maintained my weight for about two years (including returning to pre-pregnancy weight within a week) without trying.  I maintained that healthy weight while eating everything I want. I eat carbs, I eat fats, I eat protein. I eat cake, I eat raw foods, I LOVE bread, I love juicing.  It truly is all about balance.

It Gets Easier

So to all friends, and especially to my ED warrior friends who are still stuck in the battle:  it gets better. It’s not easy, and I’m not saying it is; we can’t just turn off the thoughts. In recovery, overshooting your setpoint is SO. NORMAL.  

Trust your body, feed your body, practice gratitude and patience.  Trust your care team, and if you don’t, find a new team. Remove yourself from diet talk and culture; it’s not helpful, and frankly is just quite exhausting.

My Job

There are times where counting macros and calories might be useful, and there are a ton of ailments where certain ways of eating might promote overall health.  Let that be my job, not yours.

My passion and vision for my clients is to see them thrive without food rules.  To teach and allow people to trust their body, to have people find lasting change while freeing themselves of diet culture and restrictions.  It really is possible, guys. If counting/measuring/weighing needs to happen, let me worry about that; you shouldn’t have to. Working with me provides gentle and attainable goal setting for lasting change, realistic meal plans, and big results.  Through learning the skills of mindful and intuitive eating, we can learn to effortlessly maintain a healthy body and mind, while minimizing the instance of disease.

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