I am a 30 something working professional, trying to find her way in this crazy world. Like many women, I struggle with body image and health, and as I watch my nieces grow, I realize that we all must work to change the world that they will live. And really, it’s not too late for us either.
My Sordid Past With Food, and Where I’m Coming From
My passion for working with women on health, nutrition, and body image stem from my own personal struggles with weight and beauty. At 31 years old, I can look back and see that I have had a poor relationship with food and a negative body image since my early teens, or more than half my life.
I grew up in a very suburban family in the far western suburbs of Chicago. I don’t really remember a lot of what we ate, but I think it was fairly typical. Casseroles, pasta, burgers etc. As a young girl, I played almost every team sport imaginable. Which I believe helped my self-esteem early on. But right before I turned 13, I broke both shin bones in my left leg. The combination of a full-length plaster cast, crutches and puberty led me to begin changing the way I saw my body. As a result, I put on what I considered at the time, a great deal of weight. And as I entered high school, I became more and more unhappy with the way I looked.
Short, red-headed, freckly and curvy, I never felt pretty, and never felt comfortable in my own skin. As a junior in high school, I began to dread the “freshman 15,” and constantly complained about my weight. Not knowing what to do, I joined Weight Watchers with one of my mom’s friends. I was only 17. And while it seemed a good idea at the time, I believe this was the turning point for me and my journey with disordered eating.
Weight Watchers can be a wonderful program. I’ve known a lot of people who have lost, and kept off, a great deal of weight. It offers a supportive environment, helping you stay accountable for your goals and learn healthy lifestyle habits. But I chose a different road…instead, I began “playing the game,” trying to control the situation and manipulate the scale. I would eat what I wanted for the first day or two after a weigh in, and then slowly cut back on calories until I was essentially starving myself. I’d be down on the scale each week, but I wasn’t really achieving my goals. And thus the cycle of yo-yo dieting began.
After the first round (I’ve done the program at least 5 times) of Weight Watchers, where I experienced success, only to gain the weight back and then some, I moved into other forms of “weight loss.” I’ve dabbled in South Beach and Atkins, low-fat diet foods, and calorie counting. My lowest point was a bout with bulimia. Though never diagnosed, or treated, I definitely had a problem.
It was around that time I began exploring a vegetarian diet. Though I was taking a World Food Science course at the time, which did have a profound impact on my world view and belief system, I think that I chose vegetarianism as another way to “control food” and hopefully “control my weight.” But any weight loss I achieved was short-lived, because I was never willing to take care of myself and change my habits. I was only looking for the quick fix to a thin, beautiful body.
To this day, I still struggle with my weight. Post college, it only got worse. You think the “Freshman 15” is bad…let me tell you about the “First Office Job 20.” I consistently wish I were 40 pounds lighter. However, I have decided enough of the yo-yo dieting and weight loss games. My vegetarianism has evolved into an ethical way of compassionate living, but it is really easy to fall back on a junk food veggie diet. I want to achieve weight loss, but more than that, I want to finally heal my relationship with food and find my true healthy self.
What I Want to Do
My story is far too common. Most women struggle with their body image, and at the same time, have no idea what is healthy, and what they should be putting in their bodies. The truth is, we live in a culture that is obsessed with youth, beauty and thinness. Most of the beauty standards in this country are impossible to achieve, so we end up feeling like failures day in and day out. And on top of all of that, we move 100 miles a minute, trying to achieve it all. Often too busy to stop and take care of ourselves.
I believe that we can change the world by making positive changes in ourselves. I believe we lead by example. Hey, it’s a cliché for a reason.
I’d like to take the information I’ve learned on my journey, and share it on this blog. But more than that, I want to get an honest conversation started on how we can both change our health with simple choices, as well as change the way women and beauty are seen in this country.
How You Can Help
I would love to hear from you! I am extremely fascinated in hearing the stories of other women. What you’ve struggled with, what’s worked for you and what hasn’t. I’d also love to know what you want to read about. A lot of this blog will be a random mix of my personal health stories, recipes, and opinions on the state of women’s health, beauty and body image in this country.
But this blog is now in it’s second chapter, and I’m not sure where it will lead. But I’m excited to take a first step, and see what happens.
Know that any story you tell me will be kept in confidence (unless you tell me otherwise.) Email me any time, with any question!
Thank you for reading, and enjoy!