It started with the best of intentions!
In high school I had somehow gotten into my head that there was something wrong with my 5’4″ ~115lb body. That it was broken, didn’t look the way it should, wasn’t good enough, wasn’t healthy, would never attract a boyfriend or friends for that matter, I’d never be happy, never have confidence, and I’d die alone – likely with dogs.
I wasn’t just going to sit there and take it, so I took action.
Being the type A person I am, I put rules in place for myself so I could look the way I saw other girls in magazines, in movies, and at school looking. Not just any girls, but thin ones, with pretty straight hair, no acne, and who radiated happiness and confidence and looked like the vision of health. I wanted THAT!
My rules over the years included things like: I could only eat a certain amount of calories a day, had to avoid certain foods or types of foods (I didn’t eat anything that didn’t say “fat free” or “sugar free” on the box), I took diet pills, exercised 2 hours a day, and if I could get away with skipping meals, that was a bonus!
Super disordered eating habits, but I didn’t think or realize it was a problem. Everyone wanted to lose weight, it was “weird” if you weren’t dieting it seemed.
I had gotten the idea in my head that thin = healthy..&..fat = unhealthy. And to me, I was fat.
That self-diagnosis of “fat” ended up being what drove my actions to pursue thinness as a way to get to health.
This wasn’t something I made up, it was instilled in me like many girls from a young age by diet culture. It teaches us that body size is an accurate indicator of level of health. It teaches us if we don’t have a perfectly, culturally ideal body, then there’s something wrong with us.
- I wasted TONS of money over the years on special programs, detoxes, diet pills, diet foods, books, juice cleanses, magazines, you name it!
- I suffered lots of health side effects from the crazy restrictions I put myself through. I got bloated nearly daily for 5 years, had horrible fatigue/low energy, poor digestion leading to leaky gut and a ton of food sensitivities, irritability, a bad immune system getting sick often, a slowed metabolism, skin breakouts for the vast majority of my life, anxiety that got worse as years went on, super damaged self esteem and self worth, and more.
- I spend a ridiculous amount of time feeling hungry and obsessing and over-thinking about food and my body, measuring and calculating, and binge and emotional eating.
- I missing out on doing social things to not be tempted by bad foods (I was basically a hermit in my dorm room all through college), or not fully being present and enjoying myself and others I was with due to my mental mean girl chatter clouding my mind and anxiety.
- I constantly beat myself up if I ate something wrong or missed a workout which sent me into a sabotaging spiral promising myself I’d start again Monday.
- AND I was STILL super self conscious about my body, I STILL had super low self esteem/confidence, I was STILL paranoid about gaining weight, and it all made me feel hopeless, frustrated, deprived, and overwhelmed.
Does that sound healthy to you??
Healthy habits accomplish health, oftentimes independent of body size. Work on uncoupling weight and health to experience true food and body freedom to look and feel your best.
Have health be your goal, and if weight loss comes too because that’s what your body wants/needs, then cool!
Here’s a fun activity to do:
- TO DO: Make a list of things you do/would do in pursuit of thinness, then make another list of things you do and would do in pursuit of health.
- Compare the two, and see which you think will really help you live your happiest, healthiest life
When my goal was weight loss, I: skipped meals, cut calories (to the point of feeling hungry all the time), exercised 2 hours/7 days a week, ate foods that advertised being diet foods or were “fat free, sugar free,” took diet pills, drank special fat-burning shakes, was always following random diet/eating plans, etc.
When my goal changed to health: I gave my body lots of nutrients through nutrient-dense foods – finding fun and tasty ways to do that, I exercised regularly but also got plenty of rest/recovery, I made sure to get 8 hrs sleep, drank plenty of water, ate *all* foods mindfully so I wouldn’t feel deprived, etc.
**I ended up gaining a little weight when my goal changed, because my unique body needed it…but I felt better and more energized than ever before! Plenty of people I work with end up finally losing weight they had been trying to for hears through ‘weight loss approach/strategies’ when their goal changed, it really depends if your body has weight to lose.
Share your list with me below! For more information about health at every size, click here.