I wanted to start this post with a comment a reader left on one of my other posts:
“I workout almost every day and eat lots of fruits and veggies. Yet I despaired because I am 15 pounds over pre-kid weight (and even back then, I wasn’t pleased). I started therapy for body image issues. We’ve only had two sessions so far. This morning I was explaining that I lost weight and kept it off after college for about ten years. I exercised daily and tried to keep my calories around 1500-1600 a day. I told the therapist that I just haven’t been able to do that since I had kids and I feel so much shame about it. Her first comment – maybe you were underweight for your body before since that is a very low caloric intake. I have been poking that idea all day and it’s really hard to even understand. By BMI I was not underweight. By my standard of having tummy rolls I was not underweight. By the ‘ideal body size’ numbers online I was not underweight. And yet… should you have to work so hard every day to be at your body’s ideal weight?”
Your comment spoke to me on so many levels. I, too, kept the weight off for 10+ years and then had a kid and struggled with the 20 or so pounds I just could not lose. I love the comment your therapist said it was kind of a lightbulb moment for, too.
The lowest weight I ever got was 143 and I was NOT able to stay there very long (and according to BMI I was still considered overweight–eye rolls!). I was around 150 for most of the 10 years I kept the weight off. I look back at pictures from that time period and I was so skinny! Then I feel like a failure because I didn’t stay that skinny. But your therapist was right. Was it a weight my body wanted to be? Was it a sustainable weight? I spent 15 years eating really low calories every day, including working out, and now I wonder if I did serious, permanent damage to my metabolism.
Thank you for the comment and I hope you share more about your healing journey!
How do you connect with your body/do intuitive eating when you can’t recognize your fullness? Or you deny your hunger? If you binge, do you recognize that it could be because you’ve been restricting throughout the day? Not eating enough calories? Ignoring hunger signs because it’s not time for a meal?
Lately I am trying to get back in touch with my body and the hunger cues. Something I noticed recently was feeling very tired and fatigued and then I eat lunch and suddenly I have energy! Sounds pretty “DUH” huh? But honestly it’s a reminder of what it’s like to restrict. I was so used to it for so long and couldn’t figure out why I was so tired all the time. Part of that was because I wasn’t eating enough calories. Especially doing Keto. Barely any carbs, not enough calories = tired, cranky, chronic fatigue…
Something I heard about recently was the concept of Body Grief. Highly recommend Food Psych podcast! Check it out. This episode was very good and spoke to me!
“I had to grieve the perceived loss of the way society would celebrate me. Grieve that I was never going to be the “After” Photo. I had to grieve that I was never going to make certain family members proud of me because I never achieved that size.”
It’s weird because I *was* the “After” photo. For a very long time. But then things changed. Life, age, pregnancy, breastfeeding, metabolism, medications, injuries. They sound like excuses but the older I get, the more I realize the equation is NOT just food + exercise. It’s also rest. It’s genetics. It’s stress levels. It’s medications you might take. And since I *was* the after photo for a long time, for the last 5 years of gaining and losing the same 10-15 pounds, I felt shame and grief and disappointment and anger. Anger that what worked before no longer worked. Ashamed that I could SEE people in my life doing the body scan and silently judging my weight.
“My body caused me distress.”
What does Body Image mean? Is it how you see yourself? Is it how you FEEL in your body? Is it feeling happy in your body?
Does the way you feel in your body make you uncomfortable?
Is your love conditional for your body?
On another episode of Body Psych, they discussed Binge Eating/Body Dysmorphia and How to Stop Fighting Food. Something that has come up on the podcast many times, which was shocking to me, was that you can have a Binge Eating Disorder and be in a fat body. Binge eating/anorexia/bulimia = does not mean you are skinny. My mind was blown.
Before, I was a binge eater. After, sometimes I “binge eat” but it’s a different scale. It’s a scale from restriction/calorie counting etc. I have like 500 extra calories of chocolate in a day (hello Halloween or Easter) and I feel like I “binged” and my day is blown.
I feel like all of this is about mindset.
I go back and forth between really caring and not caring one bit (which is the phase I seem to be in). Did low carb about a month and while it was fun – I lost nothing. I’m going on vacation July 4 weekend and maybe after that I’ll feel a little motivated. I just want to feel normal – drink wine when I want to and not feel guilty about it. They are ordering in pizza for lunch at work today – can’t I have some with no strings attached? I’m about 25 lbs more that I’d like to be – I’d be thrilled to lose 15 – but I’m not in any kind of mood to do the deprivation it takes to do it.
I’m with you! I try low carb, I do keto, don’t lose any weight at all. So for me, it’s like is it worth it? To macro count, obsess? For no results?
I think the healthier outlook is to be more intuitive. When I was losing weight/maintaining weight before, I ate whatever I wanted as long it was in my calorie goals for the day. That was a lot easier.
I am also 25 pounds over where I want to be. 🙁 Thanks for your comment. It’s nice hearing from others about this!
Honestly, it sounds like both you and the commenter should look into reverse dieting. It’s very common after losing so much weight that the metabolism is completely destroyed and if you eat over 1500 calories a day, you’ll gain weight. It’s not sustainable and you can’t cut lower than you already are because your body needs food. Reverse dieting helps you rebuild your metabolism methodically so that you can get back to eating normal amounts of food between 2000-3000 calories and still maintain a physique that makes you happy. We aren’t meant to starve ourselves forever to have a body that we feel comfortable in. It’s worth looking into:
If you do it, I would hire a coach that specializes in it so that you can do it the right way for your body. Just thought I’d put it out there for you to look into!
Thank you for the info! I’ve never heard of that and I will read about it.
Oh I’m so glad I said something! I hadn’t heard of it before until a couple years ago, and honestly it’s a crime they aren’t talking about it more. Syatt Fitness is a great resource for finding out more about it, but it really will be a game changer for you.
It basically trains your body to be okay eating more food while not gaining fat. It’s how the ridiculously fit people you see on instagram can eat so much and still maintain their physique.
That is so fascinating. Thank you for passing it on! I will definitely research this
I just started listening to a podcast called Maintenance Phase (a phrase that probably sounds familiar if you’ve ever been on Weight Watchers!) http://maintenancephase.com/ – the hosts have been breaking down the reasons we ALL equate “Health and Wellness” with “Being Thin” – like weight is our only criteria. Be thin = that’s it, your healthy! Even though, surprise surprise, the research does not support that. One of the hosts, Michael Hobbes, wrote this excellent article – just read it for the first time a few days ago and I’m still thinking about it (and wondering why I hadn’t read it before!). https://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/everything-you-know-about-obesity-is-wrong/
I love Maintenance Phase! You’re Wrong About is my favorite, if you haven’t checked that out. Thanks for the article!