I've struggled with food and body image issues since I was nine. It's hard to comprehend how a tiny 54 pound child could judge herself by her weight. I wasn't the slightest bit heavy, still prepubescent. The mere fact that I remember my weight at age nine attests to the inappropriate amount of importance it held in my young brain.
As you might assume, the fixation didn't go away. I filled empty cereal bowls with water and left them in the kitchen sink, telling my mom that I'd eaten. Then there was the calorie counting, if I went over 800, I felt like a failure.
Skinny didn't come easy. It wasn't my genetic predisposition to have the waif like body that I aspired to. When low fat became the rage, I ditched the calorie counting, and only ate non fat food. This equated to a lot more sugar, and my weight went up instead of down. Still failing.
I graduated from high school, and we moved back to my hometown that we'd left a few years prior. My friends were all away at college. I didn't get back in time to start school in the fall. I felt alone and aimless. This lead to a depression. Cue sad music, poor hygiene, and very sloppy poetry.
The number on the scale dictated to me whether or not I was worth something, whether or not I had any self control. I felt weak because I wasn't thin enough. The depression fed the hunger. I wouldn't eat at all some days. There were times when my body didn't even have enough energy to urinate. I felt psychologically empty and my biological state reflected that. This time, the scale cooperated. I was thin, finally.
Through the shadow of depression, I mustered a twisted sense of accomplishment, control.
Over time, I made friends through various jobs and started dating. The somber mood lifted but my body dysmorphia didn't take leave.
I still spent the bulk of each day thinking about food and judging myself for eating transgressions, avoiding fat like it was the plague.
I felt more in control of my life as an adult than I did as a teen, but the scale still dictated if I was good or bad. I felt strongest when practicing deprivation.
After I had my second son, I started having health issues, for a myriad of reasons, unbeknownst to me at the time. I was struggling with eczema that wouldn't quit, anemia, dizziness, and extreme fatigue. My infant son was also having eczema. Because I was nursing, I tried eliminating every food that was known to be problematic. For the first time in years, I started to feel good. I had energy, my moods were improved, my digestion was smooth, and I was sleeping at night. If I backpedaled and ate like crap, I didn't feel good, and my ability to be the type of mom I wanted to be went downhill as well.
This started what has become an obsession with health, not just being thin, but feeling good. Once you see the light, it's hard to go back. I still value keeping my weight at a place that feels right, but having energy and sleeping trumps that need. I'll never starve myself again. My body is my temple, not a vessel that I hold contempt for and do battle with. Consequently, being thin isn't a struggle anymore.
Learning my body and what works for me has evoked a passion for helping others explore what keeps them feeling vital. I take my bodily sensations as cues to tweak things as needed, and I watch my weight so that I can tell which foods do and don't agree with me.
My intention with the health component of MINDFUL+ MAMA is to share what I have learned through research and experimentation, maybe shedding light on areas that others need to explore.
Health isn't about being alive, it's about feeling good, and living each day vibrantly.
* This is the first post of many to come detailing specifics about health and wellness. Watch for the next one about Adrenal Fatigue. If you have children, and you're struggling with weight gain and poor energy, it's for you!