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 may be 6’2”…neither of us are wrong or any less healthy in some way.
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’ve never talked about before, but I feel like it needs to be said once and left to ponder. I have a lot of new people in my life right now, and almost none of them know about my history with eating disorders. How cool is that?! But 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 loss 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, ending up with full-blown diagnoses of Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and EDNOS from the ages of 19-25. At age 20 I had a BMI of 14.6*, which is absolutely terrifying (anything under 18.5 is considered underweight). Through recovery I was weight restored, and then some. And then some more. And my eating disorder had shifted from anorexia to bulimia, and I eventually hit at BMI of 33.1 (30+ is considered obese)*.
Please note that the BMI scale is not the be-all-end-all of health; it is a general tool of measurement that does not tell the whole story. In this case, BMI information is sufficient. Email me with any questions.
How did my weight get so high? By dieting. By royally screwing over my metabolism. 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 BMI of 23.5? 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. This is the major takeaway from my 4-week Weight Management Program.
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.
The intention of this post was not to turn into a self-promo…but here we go, I guess. 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.