My journey has taken me all over the nutrition map. Ever since I can remember I had always felt uncomfortable in my own skin. Maybe 10-15 pounds overweight, of hispanic ethnicity (that totally got me into college!) in a highly prevalent irish town and being one of the tallest girls in school didn’t help. At 10 years old, I started out with a typical diet. I am amazed at such a young age I fell into a restrictive eating cycle driven by “rules”. The diet worked (ah, to be young) and I lost the 10-15 pounds plus another 5 or so. I felt so happy with my body! I was getting all kinds of complements! Life was good! But because my values of myself and my body were not solid and positive (I had already learned to put emphasis on what I looked like more than how I felt inside) I felt that I needed to keep losing more weight. So I did. I fell into anorexia. Slowly cutting out calories by eating less and less of my breakfast, lunch and dinner. I remember thinking to myself that if I wanted to lose more weight all I had to do was eat less and unfortunately because I was young my metabolism responded. I became scarily thin. Scarily thin! From that end of the spectrum I traveled all the way across to the excessive side as an overeater driven by boredom (I ate just to eat). MTV had just aired and I was so obsessed with it. A try of shoestring french fries tastes so good with MTV! I had lost complete control of my body at such a young age.
Somewhere in between I figured out I could also manipulate my body’s shape by exercising – there started the combination of diet & exercise, but not in a healthy way. I used exercise to allow me to eat what ever I wanted, not a good relationship. More rules. I had to workout, typically run for at least 1 hour or I’d go on a machine for at least 45-1 hour. Torture! Through college I would wake up at 6am and run. In the cold, dark Amherst winters I’d run. I had to get my runners high fix. In college I was every size imaginable and would exercise for 2-3 hours sometimes. I would have posted a picture of me at my largest but you better believe I threw that picture away so fast (smart phones were not invented yet, THANK GOSH!!!). Here is where I hit the crux of my yo-yo dieting, I was still traveling through all the “dieting” stops where I had been before – this was all I knew. This pattern carried on through my 30’s.
Then babies came, surprisingly I was ok with the weight gain then, it was like I was only ok with it because I was creating a whole life in me (way to be loving to myself!). Wow! All of what I had done in the past really hit hard after pregnancies – when I couldn’t justify the weight gain because I wasn’t carrying an extra life in me. And mix a sprinkling of postpartum depression in there too! My last hooray was when I entered a fitness competition – more nutrition & exercise rules for me to follow. Awesome! I’m great at that!
As I approached 40, it hit me hard. I used this pivotal time in my life to get in charge of myself. This was my time to look back and understand what I was dong to myself and to stop the cycle. It wasn’t just one diet here, over exercising there – it was a lifelong journey of it all. That’s a lot to carry around. I was so ready to break out of this vicious cycle.
Think back at your childhood and ask yourself when did your first diet start? What was your relationship with food? Coming to terms with the past and the weight we carry in our minds directly effects how our bodies react. It’s time to live life and release that weight!