My Personal Journey
As a child of the 70’s, I grew up with the accepted belief that being skinny was an ideal that every woman should strive for. This message broadcast without pause through television, movies, magazines – everywhere. Most of the adult women in my world were pursuing some form of diet, while the mantra of “no pain, no gain” repeated through their heads as a way to keep them motivated to exercise. Back then it was not uncommon for a doctor to recommend that a woman gain no more than 20 pounds during her pregnancy, and if she needed to continue to smoke cigarettes to help her keep her weight down, that was fine. Being on a diet meant you were strong, in control, sexy and modern. Just think of one of the first diet drinks, Tab– it conjures up the memory of the tagline, “For beautiful people”. I can still picture the commercial with a woman in a bikini drinking Tab, and turning heads on the beach…
I remember my best friend and I going on our first diet at the age of 9 because we thought our stomachs stuck out too far–clearly we were just mimicking what we saw the women around us doing. We traded in our usual lunch of PB & J, chips, and cookies, for a salad. Luckily the diet only lasted until dinner time, where we proceeded to stuff ourselves from sheer hunger, but the diet mentality lasted a lifetime.
The diet mentality came back to haunt me as a young teen. I was a dancer, and trained to feel and notice the subtleties in my body. As my body started to change and fill out, I all of a sudden didn’t feel like me. The lanky, taut, little-girl figure I had was now replaced by one that was softer, rounder and that had movements of it’s own. I started to mistrust my body–where is it going to go next? If I’m heavier now, then what will happen in a year from now? I pictured myself as fat, ugly and unable to dance. This was compounded by the fact that I had an undigested trauma that I stored away as a secret deep in my body.
I started to study nutrition with abandon. I read books, medical journals, studied diet programs, read nutrition labels–everything I could to do to learn exactly what was in food I was eating. I developed a perfectionism around food and declared myself vegetarian. Before long, I was obsessed with controlling my food intake in the hopes that I could control my inner world, which was like a raging forest fire consuming me from the inside out. Soon I was barren, gray, numb, and in the midst of a full-fledged eating disorder. What I didn’t realize was that my problem had nothing to do with food–it was just the way I dealt with my inner emotional state. Back then, there weren’t any programs or professionals that addressed what I was going through. Even after spending a month in the hospital, I hadn’t really changed. So I lived in this shallow hell for many years, stuffing down the cries from my body for nourishment, fearing my hunger, and always trying to attain that “perfect” body.
Enter Real Nutrition
A beginning to my healing started during my first pregnancy. It wasn’t all about me anymore. I was in love with my body for the first time that I could remember. I was blown away by all it was doing all on it’s own: creating, housing, and nourishing a human being!! This was the first time in my life that I was LISTENING to my body. I wanted to give it whatever it needed to grow a healthy child, and I knew that meant I had to eat food that was way out of my comfort zone. This was an incredible blessing on so many levels. It pulled me out of the depths of self-centeredness and the deprivation, and it turned me on to my true BODY WISDOM. Our bodies are incredibly wise!! We search and pine for the perfect diet, yet all we really need to do is LISTEN to our bodies.
At the very beginning of my pregnancy I was protein and fat deficient. My knowledge of all-things-nutrition came in handy during this time. My body told me that it craved eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt, tofu, fish and nuts. I ate them without guilt, and instead with love, knowing it was providing the energy for my body to grow my baby’s body. I ate huge spinach salads, fruit, every vegetable I could get my hands on, more eggs, more fish, and even ice cream; which in my previous life as an unpleasured-control freak- perfectionist, ice cream was never an option. I ate and listened, and listened and ate. I gained 30 pounds, had a 9 ½ pound baby boy, and was completely transformed during this process.
“There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”. Anais Nin
Yet, since I never addressed the trauma that I experienced earlier in life, I wasn’t completely out of the woods yet. It was time to listen some more. Deep listening–the kind that can be painful, ugly, messy, and out of control. I learned that I was using food as a way to feel in control of my life. I learned that my poor body image was actually coming from stories that my mind made up, and that I am not my body image, but so much more. I learned that when I get present and listen to what my body needs, I am left feeling nourished and whole. I learned that pleasure is something our bodies are hard-wired for, and that it is ok, in fact it’s awesome, to allow myself to feel that pleasure every day. I learned to trust my body again. Perfection is not attainable. When we accept and honor ourselves just as we are, it allows us to express our soul at the highest level. So with lots of help and self-care, I was able to let go of my baggage and open a new chapter in my life. A life of freedom! And I am here to help you do the same.