Monday, February 10, 2014
Monday, August 19, 2013
Originally posted by Your Fairy Angel's blog. Struck a nerve with me. Take some time to read it. Enjoy.
"I worked at a popular weight loss company for 3 years. I loved my job there. I LOVED my clients. I loved making a connection and sharing my knowledge. And I learned a lot about nutrition, about dieting and weight loss and what works and what doesn't. My job was to be a weight loss consultant, and I learned that job very well. I can design a 1200 calorie meal plan, tell you which activities are most likely to make the number on the scale go down, and how many carbs are in a cup of rice. I can talk the diet game like it's my business...because it was. Volumize with vegetables. Don't go too long in between meals. Start with a bowl of broth-based soup. Are you drinking enough water? Did you exercise enough? Did you exercise too much? Let's look at your food journal...
This is not an anti-weight loss company post (although I could write that too). It's a letter to each and every woman that I unknowingly wronged. My heart is beating a little bit faster as I write this, and so I know this needs to be said. The words have been playing in my head for months. Sometimes it just takes time for me to get up the courage to say the right thing.
So here goes:
Dear Former Weight Loss Clients (you know who you are):
I'm sorry because I put you on a 1200 calorie diet and told you that was healthy. I'm sorry because when you were running 5x a week, I encouraged you to switch from a 1200 calorie diet to a 1500 calorie diet, instead of telling you that you should be eating a hell of a lot more than that. I'm sorry because you were breastfeeding and there's no way eating those 1700 calories a day could have been enough for both you and your baby. I'm sorry because you were gluten intolerant and so desperate to lose weight that you didn't put that on your intake form. But you mentioned it to me later, and I had no idea the damage you were doing to your body. I'm sorry because I think I should have known. I think I should have been educated better before I began to tell all of you what was right or wrong for your body.
I'm sorry because I made you feel like a failure and so you deliberately left a message after the center had closed, telling me you were quitting. I thought you were awesome and gorgeous, and I'm sorry because I never told you that. I'm sorry because you came in telling me you liked to eat organic and weren't sure about all the chemicals in the food, and I made up some BS about how it was a "stepping stone." I'm sorry because many of you had thyroid issues and the LAST thing you should have been doing was eating a gluten-filled, chemically-laden starvation diet. I'm sorry because by the time I stopped working there, I wouldn't touch that food, yet I still sold it to you.
I'm sorry because it's only years later that I realize just how unhealthy a 1200 calorie diet was. I stayed on a 1200-1500 calorie diet for years, so I have the proof in myself. Thyroid issues, mood swings, depression, headaches...oh and gluten intolerance that seemed to "kick in" after about a month of eating the pre-packaged food. Was it a coincidence? Maybe.
I'm sorry because you had body dysmorphic disorder, and it was so painful to hear the things you said about yourself. You looked like a model, and all of my other clients were intimidated by you, asked me why you were there because clearly you didn't need to lose weight. And yet you would sit in my office and cry, appalled that a man might see you naked and be disturbed by the fat that didn't actually exist. I'm sorry because you should have been seeing a therapist, not a weight loss consultant.
I'm sorry because you were young and so beautiful and only there because your mother thought you needed to lose weight. And because there were too many of you like that. Girls who knew you were fine, but whose mothers pushed that belief out of you until you thought like she did. Until you thought there was something wrong with you. And the one time I confronted your mother, you simply got switched to a different consultant. I think I should have made more of a stink, but I didn't. I'm sorry because you were in high school and an athlete, and I pray that you weren't screwed up by that 1500 calorie diet. Seriously, world? Seriously? A teenage girl walks in with no visible body fat and lots of muscle tone, tells you she's a runner and is happy with her weight...but her mother says she's fat and has to lose weight and so we help her do just that. As an individual, as women, as a company, hell, as a nation, we don't stand up for that girl? What is wrong with us? There ain't nothing right about that. Nothing.
I'm sorry because every time you ate something you "shouldn't" or ate more than you "should," I talked about "getting back on the bandwagon." I cringe now every time someone uses that phrase. When did the way we eat become a bandwagon? When did everyone stop eating and become professional dieters? I'm sorry because I get it now. If you're trying to starve your body by eating fewer calories than it needs, of course it's going to fight back. I used to tell you that then, when you wanted to eat less than 1200 calories a day. The problem was, I thought 1200 was enough. I thought that was plenty to support a healthy body. Why did I believe that for so long? I'm sorry because I wasn't trying to trick you or play games to get your money. I believed the lies we were fed as much as you did.
And it wasn't just the company feeding them to me. It was the doctors and registered dietitians on the medical advisory board. It was the media and magazines confirming what I was telling my clients. A palm-sized portion of lean chicken with half a sweet potato and a salad was PLENTY. No matter that you had "cravings" afterward. Cravings are a sign of underlying emotional issues. Yeah, sure they are. I'm a hypnotherapist with a past history of binge eating disorder. I KNOW cravings are a sign of underlying emotional issues. Except when they're not. Except when they're a sign that your body needs more food and you're ignoring it. Then they're a sign that your 1200 calorie diet is horse****. Then they're a sign that you've been played.
And that's mostly why I'm sorry. Because I've been played for years, and so have you, and inadvertently, I fed into the lies you've been told your whole life. The lies that say that being healthy means nothing unless you are also thin. The lies that say that you are never enough, that your body is not a beautiful work of art, but rather a piece of clay to be molded by society's norms until it becomes a certain type of sculpture. And even then, it is still a work in progress.
I owe you an apology, my former client and now friend, who I helped to lose too much weight. Who I watched gain the weight back, plus some. Because that's what happens when you put someone on a 1200 calorie diet. But I didn't know. If you're reading this, then I want you to know that you have always been beautiful. And that all these fad diets are crap meant to screw with your metabolism so that you have to keep buying into them. I think now that I was a really good weight loss consultant. Because I did exactly what the company wanted (but would never dare say). I helped you lose weight and then gain it back, so that you thought we were the solution and you were the failure. You became a repeat client and we kept you in the game. I guess I did my job really well.
And now I wonder, did I do more harm than good? When I left, you all wrote me cards and sent me flowers. I still have those cards, the ones that tell me how much I helped you, how much I cared. But I'm friends with some of you on Facebook now, and I look at your photos and you look happy. And beautiful. And not because you lost weight since I saw you last. But because I see YOU now. You. Not a client sitting in my chair, asking for my assistance in becoming what society wants. But you, a smart and lovely woman, who really doesn't need some random company telling her there's something wrong with her.
So I'm sorry because when you walked in to get your meal plan, I should have told you that you were beautiful. I should have asked you how you FELT. Were you happy? Did you feel physically fit? Were you able to play with your kids? There were so many of you who never needed to lose a pound, and some of you who could have gained some. And maybe sometimes I told you that. But not enough. Not emphatically. Because it was my job to let you believe that making the scale go down was your top priority. And I did my job well.
I am sorry because many of you walked in healthy and walked out with disordered eating, disordered body image, and the feeling that you were a "failure." None of you ever failed. Ever. I failed you. The weight loss company failed you. Our society is failing you.
Just eat food. Eat real food, be active, and live your life. Forget all the diet and weight loss nonsense. It's really just that. Nonsense.
And I can't stop it. But I can stop my part in it. I won't play the weight loss game anymore. I won't do it to my body, and I won't help you do it to yours. That's it. End game."
Monday, July 29, 2013
I've been up and down my whole life. I put a lot of that onto how I was raised - please don't confuse that with blame. I blame no one but myself. But we're all influenced at some point in our life.
My mother has struggled with weight for as long as I can remember. Every fad diet, every new book, and every exercise guaranteed to help "you shed the pounds fast", was tried and read and bought. I heard nothing from her, and that continues to this day, except how much she hates her body. The concept of loving yourself was unknown to me. I learned that weight loss was complicated, it was an endless struggle, it was all-consuming and exercise was the equivalent to torture. The media and press that I was surrounded with didn't do anything to help. I learned that unless you wore a single digit you were not what people wanted to look at, you should cover yourself up and be ashamed. And I learned if you're not thin, men aren't going to want you. And what else is there in life but finding a man? My mother even gave me "The Rules" when I was 16. That was probably when a spark of the feminist I am now started to glow.
My mother took me to weight watchers for the first time when I was 10 years old. I was writing down everything I ate as a 4th grader, and that's how I learned the concept of being obsessed with food. She had me on the Atkins diet when I was 15, sending me to school with cheese wrapped in turkey for lunch and eating omelettes for dinner every night for months. But none of these things ever lasted. And when she crashed off a diet, and gained weight, so did I. I was my heaviest - a size 22- in high school. I was depressed and unmotivated...but desperate. So I slowly started doing things, unhealthy things, to try and make a difference. You see, I'd learned through my life that you had to buy something or subscribe to a brand of diet in order to lose weight. I had no idea there was any other options. I was taking laxatives and diet pills, I wasn't eating & overexercising.
By the time I was 21, I was the smallest I'd ever been, getting my butt into a size 7/8, but unknowingly dealing with a warped view of health and body image, and whether I knew it or not, subscribing to an eating disorder and thinking it was a diet. Still my mother would say things like, "if you just lost those love handles you'd look much better." I was never good enough. And I was never really happy. And I never really loved myself. And as I had been taught, no one else would ever want to be with me if I didn't look a certain way.
At 23 I ended up in a horrible relationship. For almost 4 years I was emotionally and physically abused, I became depressed and self-loathing, scared and cut off from my family and friends. But I thought, "at least I have someone." If I left I'd be alone and who else would ever want to be with me? So I kept trying to make the relationship work, even after he cheated on me for the 10th time, even after he smashed my face into a shower wall, even after I knew without a doubt I hated this person - it wasn't enough to make me want to leave, because leaving would mean being alone for the rest of my life. When you're in a trap like that, when your own self worth has evaporated and your mind has given up on you, there is nowhere else to turn except food and TV. I went from the smallest I'd ever been back up to 230 lbs. And that's when I'd had enough. I wanted to be myself. I needed to be myself. With the help of my father, I was finally able to leave that abuse behind in the spring of 2012.
I have never felt more relief in my life, then that first night I went to sleep, alone. I was happy to be a single person. I was excited about everything I'd get to change. And the first thing was my weight. I knew there was a true, real version of me that had never gotten a chance to develop before because of my weight and because of how I equated my self worth to the scale. I knew there was something wrong with that kind of thinking, and I knew that no diet or fad in weight loss had ever worked for me before. I hit the ground running on learning everything I could about weight loss - the real details & the scientific facts about exercising and clean eating, calories and deficit, metabolism, BMR and muscle vs fat, etc. It was an eye-opening experience - to learn that carbs are actually good for you, that your body needs good fats, that eating less calories was actually unhealthy and that a lifestyle change was very different from a diet. I learned how to break certain patterns and ideas that had been taught to me - like that you didn't have to wait until a monday to start eating healthy, and that eating one bad meal didn't mean the rest of the week was shot, or that measuring your body was more accurate then a scale. I learned that being healthy could actually be fun and make me happy. It wasn't torture and it wasn't complicated.
I was happy to cook with good things, and to experiment with foods I'd never tried before. I found out I like avocados and mangos and that greek yogurt with granola was my favourite breakfast over maple syrup and pancakes. I learned what a serving size looks like and that snacks are good. I learned that lower calories didn't necessarily mean the food was better for you. I learned that I really like pasta in olive oil and spices after years of being on Team Alfredo Sauce. I learned that I could find ways to make the "bad" foods I like actually good for me, that sometimes it's okay to feed a craving and that I didn't need to feel deprived or restricted.
Fixing myself, both inside and out, has been a hell of a process. Especially the inside part.
After a little way of dedicating myself to this lifestyle change, I met someone. Ryan. We were following each other on Twitter. He reached out to me, said some nice things and wanted to share and talk. I really needed that. So we talked. And the talking just kept going. We were a safe place for each other. He was the best part of my day. He lifted me up, made me want to be a better person, and I was able to open up to him in a way I'd never done with someone before. Though we'd still never met in person because of distance, by the end of May we had admitted to falling in love with each other. I joined Sparkpeople sometime after that, knowing I needed a little support and a little more organization if I was going to be meeting this man soon.
Ryan and I met for the first time in July 2012. I was as nervous as I'd ever been for anything before. Though I'd managed to drop 20+ pounds before that moment, though I'd worked on my confidence and loving myself just as I was - I still had my mother's voice in my head telling me that as soon as he saw me, saw that I was a bigger girl, that he'd leave and that the love we'd started to experience would die.
But he didn't leave.
And he hasn't left.
We just celebrated our 1 year anniversary. And on May 31st, he asked me to marry him. The big day is October 13th.
As for my weight, I think I'd like to eventually be in the 130s, but to be honest I really don't know. I don't know what looks good on me and I try to not be too concerned with the number of the scale. So I'm just going to keep going until I find a sort of peace. I still have my "cheat" days, but I believe that there is another aspect to loving yourself and your body and trying to have a happier, healthy life - and that is that sometimes if you want to eat a whole bag of chips and sit on your ass on a saturday night instead of going to a yoga class, then you should. There needs to be a balance. And I have found that for the first time in my life.
More often than not I can look at myself in the mirror and be okay with what I see. I can be naked and enjoy sex without thinking, "can he see my double chin from this angle?" I know I'm constantly changing, becoming more fit and healthy, losing more inches and gaining more muscle. I know that I still have some stubborn areas, roughly 30 more pounds to lose and that permanent fat loss won't happen quickly, but I'm experiencing a level of confidence, dedication and love of myself that is so new and so rewarding, that those things don't matter at all. And on top of that, I've found someone that loves me just as I am - love handles or not - and I'm able to let that love surround me without questioning it.
If my past experiences have taught me one thing, it's that I can do anything, get through anything. A mushy tummy and stubborn thigh fat will be the easiest things I will ever get rid of.
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
Monday, March 18, 2013
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