It all started with the best intentions...as it always does.
How could focusing on health and wellness ever be a bad thing? Up until very recently I would not have thought that would be possible.
Let me give you a very abbreviated version of the backstory...I have always been "healthy" despite an early thyroid disorder diagnosis and a lifelong battle with depression and anxiety. After my first child was born I went right back to "normal". Lost all the baby weight and more. No problem.
Then when my son was 9 months old I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. What ensued was a five year whirlwind of major stress (emotional, mental, financial, physical) from which I am literally just now emerging from. (Hey world, postpartum is NOT SIX WEEKS LONG.)
My beautiful strong body survived two pregnancies in less than a year, two births (one 20 hour posterior delivery which my midwife told me would have ended in a c-section for most women), two postpartum depressions, two kids with health issues that brought us to the hospital many times in the same winter, working full time, mothering full time, starting a side business, working on my fitness (Fergie pun) and trying to just maintain my sanity. Guess how often I thanked this body and soul for all these miracles? Zero. Well, now one. Thank you body. Thank you body. Thank you body. Now three.
And here's the real kicker. What do you think my complaint was? What do you think the source of my distaste, distrust of my body was? What horrible, dehabilitating thing was plaguing me?
The way it looked. A number on the scale. That's it.
I went to doctors and gyms and did alllllll the tests.
I'm healthy. I have literally zero health complaints. I feel great. I rarely get sick. I have tons of energy. I have no pain.
But my body didn't look the way I wanted it and so I hated it. Makes sense? No.
In the past few years information about health, eating, wellness, fitness (and everything else) has become so easily accesible. So of course, when one is trying to lose weight, one tries it all. And each next thing is going to be the secret key...you just know it! So you try gluten free, grain free, dairy free, sugar free, keto, paleo, food combining, supplements for dayyyyyys.
I thought I deserved it. What the hell...I am working out and eating better (less) than most people I know so why in the actual hell is my body not responding? Must be something wrong! Which led to...more diets, more plans, more workout programs, more supplements, more self loathing...you get the drift. For years. Literal years of my life.
And when that doesn't work you find yourself fearing food. Terrified of eating the "wrong thing", which changes weekly if not daily depending on what plan you are currently following. You find yourself literally wishing you didn't have to eat. You don't mind not eating because it relieves your anxiety about what to eat.
I even tried a "diet" "prescribed" by my endocrinologist where I "ate" 1000 calories of "food like powders" mixed together with "flavorings". (Newflash: my endo sucks) The idea is that by using these powders, you trick your body into thinking it's eating enough to survive, all the while starving yourself. I lost 3 pounds in a week! Hallelujiah! I'll never eat real food again (seriously went through my head)! And then, I stopped sleeping. Like full on went weeks without sleeping. And then, I had major brain fog. And then, I had adrenaline rushes any time I tried to relax. And then, I got my period every two weeks.
My experience was this...I'm not sick, and so none of those things did anything. Because my body is not broken. It's just doing this thing called "weighing more than I want".
Some people have legitimate health issues and for those people a special diet is not just a fad, it's a medical necessity. Thankfully, for most of us, that is not true. The wellness industry, which I am now weary of, takes our money, uses scare tactics and convinces us that we are broken, damaged, toxic. Which may all be true, but it neglects the most important truth about our bodies...that they are FAR more intelligent, adapted and attuned than anything that tries to take our wellness away.
In the spirit of coming clean...there were many months that I spent upwards of a thousand dollars a month trying to bargain with my body into looking how I wanted it to. Between gym memberships, yoga classes, meal delivery services, "food like items", a health coach and supplements, a thousand dollars a month disappeared each month.
Do you know what I should have done with that money? How about had a weekend or even a night away with my husband (haven't done that since our kids were born 6 years ago!)? Or buy a new wardrobe so I can feel good about who I am right now? Maybe take my kids and family somewhere to celebrate life!
And here's the thing, when we don't see representation of different kinds of bodies in the world, in the media, on tv, we start to think we are wrong. Something must be wrong with us for our bodies to be doing the terrible thing of "weighing more than we want to". I don't mean just to see different bodies. I mean, to see the beauty and worth and sensuality in different bodies.
In some ways, our culture benefits from this. If women are obsessed with their bodies, there is not enough time or energy left over to rock the boat, to speak up, to take action in this world.
The most challenging part was knowing that this was my dirty little secret. As someone who works with women's empowerment and embodiment, I hid it. Because if I could JUST fix my body, no one needed to know how I got there, or the money I spent on it, or the hours I spent obsessing about it, or the nasty things I said about myself. I would never suggest it to anyone else, so what did it matter?
So this is both a before and after story. I have tried xyz (I dare you to think of something I haven't tried) and my body looks exactly the same, weighs exactly the same, as before I started on this "health kick". I eat well, I love exercising, and I weigh the same as when I did nothing.
I don't have it all figured out. I'm not over it. I'm not "cured". I'll probably still have the urge to change my body. But now I am seeing it as an urge that I don't have to act on. It is not my job, my duty, my purpose to have a different body. I do not owe it to anyone. I am not measured by that. I WILL NOT be measured by that.
When it comes down to it, I am practicing observing. My body is just doing a thing right now. In a while it will probably do a different thing. It will get bigger or smaller, maybe both. It will get older. It will die.
Right now it is healthy and strong.
Thank you, body.