A few months ago I took an online course at Be Nourished, about Body Trust. It hugely impacted my thinking about my body, weight, diet, exercise. I had put on quite a bit of weight in my early 40s and no matter what I did, nothing would budge it. But in the process I learned a lot about nutrition and exercise.
I had a lot of shame about my weight and the way I looked, and it really impacted my ability to be in the world and being seen. My thoughts in the day were taken up with exercise, and walking as many steps as I could. I had a fitbit and the fit bit scales, and I was constantly thinking about food, exercise and how to reduce my weight. I hated looking in the mirror, and I felt as if I wasn’t doing enough to get my weight down.
I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism in 2016, and I had to go for 6 week blood tests for my thyroid and liver. Two of the tests for my liver showed my enzymes were elevated.
When I participated in the Body Trust course, I came to see how my relationship with my body was really controlling. One of the meme’s they have on their site is “We cannot hate ourselves into a version of ourselves we can love.” The shame I was feeling was because we live in a fat phobic society, and we think we can diet our way to losing weight and being the size we want to be, AND at the same time have a loving relationship with our bodies. We can’t.
We aren’t the problem, our society has dysfunctional values, and leads us to believe we can control our weight, if we just apply ourselves the right way.
I wanted to fit in so I didn’t feel shame. I wanted to be invisible and not stand out, and being overweight made me feel as if I stood out too much. I thought I attracted too much negative attention.
I knew so much about food. I’d tried lots of diets, which all seemed to focus on healthy eating. The Wheat Belly Diet, Paleo, Plant Paradox, Eat Right For Your Bloodtype. I tried them all. Nothing made a difference, but I told myself I was eating healthy so I must have a slow metabolism, or it’s my thyroid affecting my weight, or its high cortisol from the stress from the earthquakes.
I had very good self restraint. I could go no sugar, no wheat, no gluten, and I was always trying a new way of eating, or importing foods from overseas, or trying to track down ingredients around the country. I had tons and tons of vitamins and supplements. My body was like an obsession, wanting to change it, control it through what I was eating and how I was moving.
Orthorexia is the other end of the spectrum of disordered eating. It’s an obsession with healthy eating. It can be virtuous and elitist and shaming of anyone who doesn’t eat healthy. It’s very covert because it just appears like you are looking after yourself really well. I told myself I was just keeping up with the trends, the various chefs who wrote healthy cookbooks. I was optimising my health. I put A LOT of pressure on myself to eat perfect. My best friend had died from pancreatic cancer and that scared me to bits. I gave food a lot of power to hurt me and I was very rigid about what I ate.
In fact I think the way I was eating contributed to my thyroid condition, I’ve since read that going low carbs can throw your thyroid out of whack.
I learned on the course all about how to take the shame out of eating, out of my obsession about my size and weight. I realised I was obsessing about exercise in an unhealthy way too. I sold my fit bit and scales. I had a lot of fear about stopping thinking about exercise and food. I feared I would become a fat slob, that I would eat anything …