Skinny. That’s the word that comes to mind when I see this pic.
I never had to work on being thin . . . I just was. Even after four pregnancies, I pretty much stayed at a weight I liked. Let me clarify: I stayed underweight for my height. Until I didn’t. Let me take you on a journey that led to the best dieting advice I ever received: “Eat more and change your mind!”
What Happened To My Body?
I don’t know exactly when it happened, but a couple of years ago, my body decided that it was done staying at that “nice” 120 lbs. The gain was slow at first, and I thought I could control it. I exercised even more and ate even less . . . to no avail. That number on the scale rose and rose until I was almost as heavy as I was during my first pregnancy. I didn’t understand it. I hardly ever ate dessert (or anything else that I liked), I rarely ate carbs, and I exercised daily to exhaustion. Why was I trending this way?
I Hate My Body
Fat is how I felt when this pic was taken.
I became increasingly emotional about my situation. I deleted pictures of myself that would have been precious memories to cherish with family and friends because I didn’t like how “fat” I looked. During workouts, I shed tears knowing that I was putting my body through hell for what seemed like nothing. I scowled in the mirror at myself. I hid from my husband under layers and layers of clothes, and I wore things I didn’t like and didn’t feel good in. Most of all, I obsessed over what to eat and what not to eat, making sure to only eat until my stomach was barely full at any meal. I truly hated my body for what it looked like and for what it was turning into.
Let’s Try Starving
Then came the day that I signed up for a diet app. The app asks you to give information on your current weight and your ideal weight. In order for me to get to my ideal weight, according to this app, I had to limit my caloric intake even more than I already had been. I spent a day absolutely ravenous, giving myself a migraine in the process. At the end of this day, I told my husband, “I give up. I can’t live like this . . . I guess I’ll just get fat.” What he said next caused a huge turning point in my life. He gently replied, “Babe, you need a shrink . . . not a diet app.” He was right. I needed to eat, and I desperately needed a change of mind.
A New Perspective
I realized that what I had was an idolatry problem. My identity, my worth as a person, and countless other things were wrapped up in my body image. I believed that I could only be content, peaceful, happy, and fulfilled if I weighed and looked the way I wanted. I thought that having a thin body would deliver all the things I truly needed in life. At the root of it all, I worshipped at the altar of beauty. I sacrificed for it, thought deeply about it, and gave it more attention than anything else in my life. And it was letting me down.
Because I am a Christian, I believed that the answer lied in exchanging my failed object of worship with one that was worthy of that worship. In that spirit, I came across a wonderful book entitled Compared To Who by Heather Creekmore. Heather shares her own struggle with body image as well as the truth that set her free from the constant losing battle. I found her book to be extremely helpful in gaining a new perspective on what my life is supposed to be about and how I should think of this ever-changing body of mine.
Though I still struggled to like my body, I found that I was in a much better, much healthier mental and emotional state. I didn’t think about it all the time anymore and definitely stopped trying to starve myself. Still, more needed to change.
A Happy Introduction and an Admission
Soon after finishing Heather’s book, I had a very fortunate meeting with someone who would also change my life. I met Jude, a coach and owner at Elevate Performance, Health, and Wellness in Albuquerque. Though I wasn’t seeking a fitness coach at the time, I took Jude up on his offer to do an initial consultation.
I thoroughly enjoyed that first visit. Jude focused on my body’s mobility and strength– not my clothing size. How refreshing! I signed up to train with Jude for a few months. As we talked over fitness goals, I gently danced around the idea that I’d been struggling with my body image. Jude asked me to walk him through a typical day of what I eat. A theme emerged: I try to eat only what’s necessary and never anything that I actually like. I’m also hungry a lot of the time.
“You’re undereating.” He said it so confidently that I was somewhat stunned silent. “You need to double your protein intake right now.”
“Yup. Trust me.”
I tried, but it was hard. Sure seemed like eating more would cause me to gain more . . .
At our next session, we had another interesting conversation.
“Are you still not eating carbs?” Jude asked.
“Mmmmm . . . not really,” I admitted.
“Ashley. Your body needs carbs. Have a handful at every meal, okay?”
I was worried about gaining even more weight now. But I had a new perspective. I was focusing on health now, not on weight. Additionally, I chose to trust Jude, who has been at this training thing for a significant amount of time.
Read “The Dieting Advice that Changed My Life :: Part 2” for the conclusion to Ashley’s story.