Posts tagged Natural Weight
10 Reasons You Still Hate Your Body (And What To Do About It)

I’m not anti-weight loss, but like most intuitive eating coaches, I’m anti-pursuit of weight loss. 

But what happens when you know this on an intellectual level and you’ve succeeded in ditching the diet, but you still haven’t made peace with your body? 

In my experience as an intuitive eating coach, the body image piece is the last to click. It isn’t a linear or quick process; it often takes a lot of self-compassion, patience, and perseverance. But the time is going to pass regardless of whether you like your body or not. I figure you can spend the rest of your life trying to change it while loathing it, or you can do the necessary work to make peace with it and move on to other things that will ultimately prove more fulfilling. 

Here’s 5 reasons you still haven’t made peace with your body and how to troubleshoot each piece of the puzzle. 

Intuitive eating, emotional eating, body positive, health at every size, all foods fit, non-diet, anti-diet. 5 reasons you still hate your body and what to do about it.

 

1 | You’re comparing your body to a younger (and possibly still developing) version of itself. 

While it makes sense that 37-year-old bodies won’t necessarily look like their 17-year-old versions, it’s sometimes difficult to accept and move forward with our aging bodies due to a number of factors. Female representations are arguably narrow; we’re taught we must always be hot. Who gets airplay? Hot twentysomethings, MILFs, cougars. If you get pregnant, you’re only permitted a small baby bump (and you best not carry weight anywhere else) and once you deliver, you need to lose the extra weight right away. 

The first step is really to set boundaries, and to regard your body as a vessel (what it has and can do) rather than an art piece (what it looks like.) Cellulite, stretch marks, wobbly bits, saggy boobs - these are part and parcel of the aging experience. Sometimes we get lucky, but by no means should Christie Brinkley set the standard for everyone else. 

Gently (and with a lot of compassion) shift your focus away from how much you hate your body to what it can do. If you’re not sure what it can do, I recommend starting there. How many push-ups can you do? Which forms of movement do you enjoy? Maybe you love taking walks around the neighbourhood after dinner with a cup of tea in hand. Maybe you love the way it feels to belly dance. Maybe you like swinging in the park. 

Secondly, immerse yourself in positive images. Unfollow social media accounts that don’t resonate with you or lead you to think negatively about yourself. 

2 | You’re playing a dead-end game of comparisonitis. 

We’ve inundated with transformation stories at every corner. From magazines to social media platforms, we’re reminded that if we don’t have something, it’s only because we don’t want it enough or haven’t worked hard enough to achieve it. But in my experience — and while many will certainly disagree — I think discipline is overrated. 

Whenever you pursue a goal, you need some degree of discipline. You need to commit and stay the course.

But ultimately the goal itself can (and should?) sufficiently drive you without much coaxing on your part. Whenever I’ve felt too much pushback from something, it’s usually a sign it’s not for me. I like to compare challenges to leather shoes. You want the shoe to fit somewhat snug initially because leather stretches out and you don’t want to be left with an oversized shoe. But you don’t want the shoe to fit too tight, either.

Weight loss is difficult for most people because it asks us to override our hunger signals to meet an arbitrary number on the scale, a measurement, or a percentage. From an evolutionary standpoint, this makes no sense. It counters our very programming. 

But weightlifting to get stronger? This one’s easier. We can wrap our heads around it. 

Running to strengthen our hearts and lungs? Yes. 

Eating to fuel performance? Yes. 

So when it comes down to stories about so-and-so and her amazing weight loss, think critically about it. Maybe that person lost weight, but will she keep it off? Chances are good that she won’t (they say 90-95% of diets fail.) But getting stronger and eating a balanced diet make a lot of sense regardless of age or experience and they work with our biology — not against it. 

3 | Your friends are still dieting in various degrees.

It can be enormously difficult to live as an intuitive eater. It seems like everyone is on a diet, looking to spot reduce, or working to change their size or shape in some way. 

How can you possibly feel good about your body if everyone around you feels the need to change theirs?

Regardless of whether it’s a friend, family member, or colleague, I recommend having strong boundaries. Let them know what you’re trying to do (i.e. make peace with your body, accept your body, stop being at war with food…or your own words!). I find people are generally pretty receptive if you just let them in on your plans. 

Another option is to find some body positive groups to join or additional friends who are not as wrapped up in diet culture. 

4 | You’re consuming toxic media. 

Comparisonitis and toxic media consumption are totally linked, but the difference is this: comparing yourself to others is active and conscious (“I need to change”), while media consumption is (in my experience) tends to get internalized and grows from the inside out. Suddenly you want things you never thought you’d crave, like chiseled abs, a thigh gap, and a booty. You’re consumed with the idea that you’re not enough, not worthy, and not deserving, even if none of these things are true. 

One of the first things I get my clients to do is to ditch the negative media and surround themselves with more positive influences. Narrow beauty ideals may be the only ones we’re exposed to, but they’re not the only ones that exist. The body positive world is filled with gorgeous, diverse representations of femininity and appeal to a broad range of people. 

5 | You’re carrying unrealistic expectations for what your body should look like. 

I get it. We’re taught from a very young age to criticize our bodies and to treat them like projects. We’re taught we’re not good enough if we don’t meet the (arbitrary) ideal, and that regardless of our desires, we should always be working toward meeting it — that it’s “unwomanly" not to. 

But we’re not all meant to be Kate Mosses or Beyonces or Ashley Grahams, to be gaunt or voluptuous or “curvy in all the right places” or to have “legs for days.” That’s okay. Your body isn’t wrong. Over the course of our lives, our bodies are going to change. They’ll be bigger or smaller, firmer or softer, stronger or weaker. It is okay — and perfectly normal — to have cellulite, wobbly bits, and stretch marks. Pigmentation and moles. We’re not meant to be perfect. We’re only meant to be human.

Is My Weight Normal?: 5 Signs You're At Your Natural Weight

Weight is a heavy topic in and of itself, nevermind natural weight. 

When I worked out of a local fitness studio, many of my clients came to see me to lose weight. It’s always a topic I’ve hesitated to coach on, particularly when it’s concerned young women. Some expressed interest in hitting the lower end of the weight range they give you at your doctor’s office, as though being on the low end makes you healthier (to clarify: it doesn’t). Some had gained a few pounds over the years and were puzzled as to why or how and what they could do to stop it. And some just wanted to be a specific weight they deemed best. 

I’ve been all three of those women. 

I’m just under five-foot-two. Since about birth, I’ve felt intense pressure to weigh light. I played soccer, figure skated, and danced throughout my childhood and spent my summers rollerblading, so my legs and glutes have just about always been developed (plus, genes). But when you’re shorter than all of your friends, shouldn’t you weigh the least? Not exactly. And not with my bone structure. But I couldn’t resist chasing after this impossible ideal for over a decade, assuming there must be something wrong with me that I couldn’t get there. Maybe I needed to exercise more? Eat less? Give up carbs? Or maybe I weighed exactly what I was meant to weigh, which was the hardest of the possibilities to accept because I'd spent so long fighting for the alternative.

Now I'm of thin privilege. I'm a small human. Because of this, my journey has been easier. I don't have to "convince" anyone of my acceptable size. But I also know what it's like to feel uncomfortable in your own body and to search for ways to get outside of it. 

Intuitive eating, emotional eating, body positive, anti-diet, health at every size. Wondering if your weight is normal or if you're at your natural size? 5 signs you're at your natural weight.

 

So today I’m rolling through 5 ways to know you are at your own healthy weight — so you can feel confident in the knowledge that you are exactly where you are suppose to be, regardless of the opinions of others or what you feel you "should" weigh. 

1 | Your natural weight is the weight you arrive at when you’re moving in a sustainable, intuitive way

Fitness level is important; statistically, those who are fit experience greater health outcomes than those who are not fit. Unfortunately, exercise has been marketed and packaged as another dieter’s tool in recent years, a vehicle for fantasy physiques, “effortless” weight loss, and worshipped thigh gaps. But what few point out is these results take intense training and restrictive meal schedules (you know, the kind that promote disordered eating and binge eating), which are far from healthy. 

Movement is important, but you want to make sure you’re doing it in a way that is sustainable for you. Exercise should not exhaust you. Exercise should not deplete all of your resources. Exercise should not result in skipped or missing periods, injuries, and a compromised social life. Exercise is just one part of your amazing, crazy life. Not everything. 

Sustainable movement is going to mean different things to different people. For some, it’s regular activity through walking and cycling. For others, it might mean a morning run a few times a week and yoga on the weekends. Entrepreneurs have taken to the term “fitness minded”, where you blend fitness into your everyday. Some of the things you might do? Use of a standing desk instead of sitting, keeping a yoga mat out for mid-day stretching and savasana, and completing one exercise (say, push-ups) to failure rather than trying to stuff a structured workout into an already-crammed day. 

I don’t believe in being rigid with exercise, forcing yourself to complete a designated number of workouts if you’re not feeling it, or pushing yourself to extremes. I just don’t. I know I won't exercise on Mondays or Tuesdays, for example, because the beginning of my workweek tends to be busy and I'm flat-out tired. I might go for a walk to feel the sun on my face, though, and get some fresh air. While having goals can be an awesome thing, rigidity is not. You are not “bad” at working out if you commit to a couple of workouts a week if that feels good to you, in the same way that working out six days a week doesn’t make you a better person.

Ultimately, exercise or movement should energize you (mind and body), help you to manage and reduce stress, and keep your body flexible and strong. Try to focus on functional reasons for getting fit rather than aesthetics. For example, I exercise because I want to be able to haul my own groceries home at eighty, I don’t want hip or knee issues, I sit a lot for work and crave movement, and I would like to strengthen my hamstrings and upper body. 

Sounds pretty reasonable to me. 

2 | It’s the weight you’re at when you’re eating a balance of foods. 

Let’s get real here: sticking to the lean, clean, green life is unrealistic and unnecessary. There’s place for both green smoothies and cookies, for kale salads and ice cream at the beach (and yeah, I’m talking about cow’s milk ice cream laced with sugar.) 

I am talking about all the foods

Food is pleasure. Food is love. And it’s an enjoyable, amazing part of life. The weight you effortlessly maintain is not the weight you’re at when you’re caught in a vicious restrict-deprive-binge cycle, trying desperately to stick exclusively to an arbitrary (often elitist) list “approved” foods designed by pseudo-science.

It’s the weight you arrive at when life involves a balance of vegetables, fruit, fats, protein, carbohydrates. Wine and cheese nights with your friends, chicken salad with Mom, cupcakes on a Sunday, brunch at the local greasy spoon, holiday cookies, ice cream on a hot day, sandwiches at the beach, spaghetti al fresco on the best night of the year, margaritas and guacamole just because, the best roasted Brussels sprouts, carrots dipped in hummus that taste like the earth only sweeter, yogurt with walnuts, a just-picked apple, sweet potato fries dipped in mayonnaise, local hard cider after a tough week, a kale salad studded with hemp hearts and softened by butternut squash.

Your natural weight includes a wealth of experiences, unforgettable moments, random occurrences, and everyday eating. 

Your natural weight is not the place you get to by restricting, counting, macro-ing, or depriving. 

3 | Your natural weight is the number you land on when you’re respecting your body

This works with both #1 and #2, but it deserves its own separate category because self-care is that important and requires some serious spelling out. Your natural weight comes when you’re respecting your body —  whatever that means to you. Sometimes this means staying home with Netflix and tea because it’s snowing and you don’t feel like working out, taking a walk when you feel like you *should* be working, or enjoying a relaxing bath in preparation for a busy workweek (hand raised over here.) 

Self-care is as essential to our well-being as what we eat and how we move. If you’re anything like me, you’re used to dismissing it as something reserved for people with more time who’ve accomplished more and have somehow “earned it”. But self-care is for everyone and can take so many different forms. Eating when you’re hungry, intuitive movement, reading for fun, taking a walk, going for coffee with a friend, going for a drink by yourself, cycling around the city, having lunch on the beach, journalling, yin yoga, organizing your closet…these are all forms of self-care. Whatever you need to do to re-energize yourself is a form of self-care. 

Because while kale salads and tabata workouts are nice, hobbies and pastimes are pretty high up there, too. 

4 | You’re (quite possibly) at your natural weight if your hormones are balanced. 

Or rather, you may not be at your natural weight if your hormones are all over the place (you’re not menstruating regularly, for example, or your progesterone is low.) 

There’s way more to hormones than weight, but it’s an important connection to speak to. Even if you personally feel you can lose weight and get down to a smaller size doesn’t mean your body is happy there or your genes will allow you to stay there. I was “in range” at my lowest weight, but I wasn’t having regular periods. In retrospect I realize I really wasn’t eating enough food. I was always hungry, hyper fixated on food, and overate at parties, social gatherings, and family dinners because I was always depriving myself back at my apartment. Interesting how all of this resolved once my weight was restored and I returned to what I believe to be my natural set-point. 

5 | You're (quite possibly) at your natural weight if your energy is awesome. 

Energy level is another factor to consider. You need to eat enough to keep amazing energy levels and to feel good in your body. Unfortunately, diets prevent this from happening, zapping your reserves. Most people don’t realize that even minor calorie deficits can really curb your productivity levels and kill your energy. While sometimes it can be easy to undereat, especially if you’re stressed, busy, and overworked. But it’s even more important during these times to make sure you’re eating regularly and meeting your energy needs. 

I realize we’re often encouraged to undereat. The longest living cultures don’t eat much! Dieting equals health! So many disordered alignments. But I’m going to go out on a limb here and say you’re at your healthiest when you have the energy to do what you need to do with some leftover for what you want to do. This isn’t idealistic; it’s entirely possible. But you need to make sure you’re eating enough (and a variety of foods, most of the time) in order to do exactly this. 

How to Love Your Body Through the Weight Gain: 5 Mindset Shifts Self-Acceptance Has Taught Me

It’s January — prime diet season — which brings inevitable discussions about loving your body and weight. Weight loss. Weight gain. Systems for weight maintenance. As an intuitive eating coach and anti-diet advocate determined to help women simplify eating and create emotionally neutral relationships to food, I’m clearly not a fan. 

But as someone who knows what it takes to love her body and prioritize health over numbers, I know how goddamned hard this work is — especially because of our emotionally-fraught relationship to our weight. I mean, caught up in all of it is our sense of “enoughness”, our value, our beauty, our worthiness. Mindset shifts are shifts because they take time and patience. Self-love is truly more of a fermentation process than a recipe (I’ve totally turned my kombucha to vinegar more than a few times.) 

So what happens if you’re already at your natural weight and can’t accept it? And what about the emotions that come up during recovery? I know what it’s like to check for morning abs and fall asleep feeling to make sure the thigh gap hasn’t filled — and while this is no way to live in the world, moving away from it feels unbelievably vulnerable. It feels, in a totally messed up way, like failing or giving up. 

But something magical happens when weight loss is taken off the table. When you’re no longer spending time chasing after the perfect diet and the perfect size, you create space for self-love, self-compassion, and self-care. I started to view myself in a different light. A kinder light. “If this is the best I’ve got,” I thought, “then I’m going to find a way to make it work in this world.” I wondered what would change for me if I accepted my body for what it was, instead of picking it apart for what it wasn’t, and realistically, never would be. Instead of saying “I need to workout harder to get rid of this,” I thought, “hey, this isn’t so bad.” The answer to unconditional joy and freedom isn’t ever going to be found in a mental jail. 

Body positive | emotional eating | intuitive eating | eating disorder recovery | weight gain | holistic nutrition. How to love your body through the weight gain: 5 mindset shifts self-acceptance has taught me.

 

Today I’m delving into 5 things to consider when your perception of your body is making you feel like shit. 

1. Self-Love, the Moon, and Your Body. 

Archaic gender constructs and stereotypes aside, the moon represents the feminine (yin) principle. The Moon is not like the Sun. It’s not fixed. It waxes and wanes, fills to completion and empties out. Similarly, women’s bodies change not only throughout the years, but inside of the months themselves. 

If you’re bloated, you’re probably not going to feel your most sexy kitten-y self, regardless of what size you are. That’s okay. But instead of dwelling on it, a) try to acknowledge its place, b) keep some loose-fitting, comfortable clothes around c) eat foods that make you feel good. This might mean a bowl of curry or a hearty salad. It might mean a cheeseburger. But the point here is: women’s bodies change. 

I know the Instagram world is riddled with ripped, hard bodies and the impression we can get there, too. If we don’t, it’s insinuated we’re just not working hard enough, not dedicated enough, not disciplined enough, to get there. The message? We’re lazy and unmotivated. Our soft bodies are unacceptable. And while there’s nothing wrong (and a lot right) with weightlifting and becoming both stronger and fitter, the constant pressure to be more, work more, and choose more isn’t productive. And the reality is, most women are not going to be able to rock six-pack abs without seriously compromising their fertility. Even the models gracing the covers of fitness magazines don’t look that way for most of the year.

While it’s important to find movement you enjoy — fit people, regardless of size, statistically experience better health outcomes — there’s nothing wrong with having a softer body. And because soft body sounds a little too soft, there’s nothing wrong with having fat on your body or having a fat body. In fact, being underfat actually poses a number of health risks often overlooked by the media and even health professionals. 

2. While on the road to self-love, get rid of “goal clothes.” 

I still have a few articles of clothing from when I was thinner. I kept them thinking I would somehow find a way to squeeze back into them, once I was “really fit” and could stop “eating emotionally.” But all these clothes have done is remind me of my perceived flaws and inadequacies. They’ve taken up emotional and physical space — valuable real estate — and filled it with fear, anxiety, distrust, and self-loathing. I finally gave up the elusive dream of wearing them again once I realized they only fit when I was sick (either heavily restricting or recovering from bacterial pneumonia.) 

If you’re still holding on to a pair of skinny jeans you’re waiting to lose weight for, I recommend selling or donating them. As you’re building a healthy relationship with food and your body — the first time, for many of you — these reminders can disrupt the process and make you feel as though you’re not enough. Instead, if you can, find clothes that make you feel good just as you are right now. Maybe you’ll lose weight. Maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll gain more weight as your body heals. But the sometimes difficult truth of the matter is this: your natural weight should not require extraordinary effort to maintain. Intuitive eating isn’t easy. But if you have to watch every bite of food you put into your mouth and exercise compulsively to maintain a certain weight, that’s not your weight

3. Remind yourself that you are prioritizing health and self-love over weight. 

I’ve received so many mixed messages over what “health” really means. When I shifted from being weight-focused to truly health-focused, it was the first time I thought about what it would feel like to be healthy as opposed to what it would look like. While I’m still pursuing “optimal health”, I think of it as dream living. A strong body is definitely part of this, but so is restful sleep, abundant energy, and elevated mood. Clear skin, easy digestion, and balanced hormones. And most importantly for me, self-love, self-care, and self-compassion. 

Prioritizing health over weight means actually asking myself what would make me feel the healthiest at any given moment. Sometimes this means exercising even though I’ve got a long to-do list in front of me, and sometimes it means staying in and indulging in some R&R. Mostly, it means gentle guidance without rigidity or expectation. 

When I first started working as a nutritionist, I was bombarded with images of gorgeous women with long, flowing hair who ate whole food vegan diets, practiced yoga, and had perfect kitchens. My life was not that. It’s still not that. Health is not necessarily that, either. It’s totally okay to eat a protein bar because you’re busy, to grab take-out because you’re tired, and to cook in a dark, dingy kitchen. I love cooking and eating whole foods, but I also feel our expectations for what constitutes a “healthy” life are sometimes too high. 

Sometimes prioritizing health over weight means eating something processed because that was the only thing available. Sometimes prioritizing health over weight means eating Mom’s lasagna, the one that tastes like love and care and home, because you value your emotional health as much as you do your physical health. 

4. Because fixating on a “perfect weight” is an archaic and counter-evolutionary practice. 

The Paleo diet is commonly criticized for its inauthenticity, but you know what else Palaeolithic people didn’t do? Obsess over their weight. In fact, carrying a few extra pounds would have been useful during lean times when food wasn’t readily available. 

Wanting to slim down or reach an “ideal weight” is similar to using bleaching creams, tanning lotions, corsets, and waxing. It almost never has anything to do with health. But what’s the big deal with wanting to lose weight to feel good? And I get it. But I also don’t think we’re lacking in self-esteem because we’re ten or fifteen or twenty or whatever pounds above the elusive “ideal weight.” The pursuit of it, then, becomes more of a distraction, preventing us from acknowledging and working through issues of shame, abuse, trauma, not feeling “enough”, anxiety, depression, and/or indecision. 

It’s also a slippery slope. It’s amazingly terrifying how a goal weight can shift from reasonable to completely unrealistic in a very short period of time. How a single diet can mark the beginning of a pathology. How a pathology can become a partial- or full-blown eating disorder. How an eating disorder can survive for years. Decades. Detected, undetected. And to be honest, we’re bombarded with so many impossible images that I’m not convinced we even know what’s achievable. 

5. Surround yourself with inspiring people — even if they’re mostly online.

I met with another holistic nutritionist and body positive person this week. We ended up talking about intuitive eating and our own relationships with food for over two hours. It was totally amazing and inspiring, and we both left better for it. 

Once I stopped listening to diet and conventional nutrition talk and started reading up about body positivity, health at every size, and intuitive eating, things changed in a deep, irreversible way for me. But even my profession is riddled with triggers, diets, and disordered eating advice. So I listened to Ashley Graham's Ted Talk on making it as a model and self-love. I read Linda Bacon’s books, Health at Every Size and Body Respect. I listened to Food Psych. I unfollowed anything that smacked of diet culture on my social channels, and discovered a community of body activists, anti-diet dieticians, and feminists. What I found was a football field’s worth of compassion, connection, and comfort. Stories layered upon stories. Truth. Authenticity. Transparency. Honesty. Insight. Revelation. 

I often think about young girls. Young boys, too, but mostly young girls. I think about what legacy we’re leaving them, what I’d like for them, what I can give to them that I so wish had been given to me. And I know I want them to have goals bigger than weight loss. I don’t want them to attack their bodies, to loathe their bodies, to waste energy and time on “fat talk” conversations. I want them to feel beautiful, valuable, wildly intelligent, and so enough. And because I want that for them, I have to want it badly enough for me, so that I can muster the courage to do whatever it takes to make sure they never have to fight for it.

So how do you love your body during the weight gain? Make a list of everyone who will benefit from your self-love. And then make a list of everyone who benefits from your self-loathing. 

Start there. 

If you would like more support, I'd love to invite you over to our Riots Over Diets Facebook Group, where I'll be hosting informative and inspirational Facebook Live sessions & offering up a good dose of encouragement. Join us. :)