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You Are Not What You Weigh: how one woman learned to love herself unconditionally
Today I have Registered Dietitian, Kristy Leavitt from The Dietitian Kitchen, guest posting. Kristy and I both graduated from the University of Manitoba and completed our dietetic internship in the same program! In this story Kristy bares her soul and shares with you how she overcame body dissatisfaction through uncovering the root causes. This is a story of hope and redemption. I asked her if I could share her story with you because I KNOW it will inspire you as much as it did me!
With Valentine’s Day coming up soon, a day dedicated to all things LOVE, I thought I’d share a story about self-love. I actually went back and forth on whether I wanted to write this post, as it’s definitely the most personal post I’ve written thus far, and those who know me know I’m not one to publicly bare my soul. So strap in. I want to share with you my experience with body dissatisfaction and how I came out the other side stronger.
Growing up, I was always fairly thin- all throughout elementary school, junior high, and high school. Over the first few years after high school, my weight increased by about 15 pounds and then pretty much stayed there, fluctuating a few pounds in either direction from time to time.
Fast forward to 2016 and enter an all-inclusive resort…
Last January, my husband Stephen and I spent a week at a wonderful all-inclusive in the Mexican Riviera Maya. Lots of natural beauty, lots of lazing on the beach, and lots of cocktails and food. I didn’t realize my weight was creeping up, as I basically spent every day in swimsuits and dresses. When we got home, though, my jeans told a different story. I was actually shocked that my jeans were so tight (like can’t- do-up-the-button tight), so I stepped on the scale. I had gained 10 lbs??? This might not seem like a big deal, but for me it was. This was the heaviest I had been in my 29 years of being alive. And I was NOT happy about it.
In my work as a registered dietitian, I routinely talk with clients about how weight does not equal health, and encourage them to pay more attention to markers of health and wellbeing than living and dying by the scale. But here I was, standing in my underwear feeling frustrated, insecure, and angry with myself.
Fast forward a couple of months and my weight and size were still at the forefront of my mind. I avoided wearing jeans and dress pants like the plague, wearing dresses and leggings instead. I hated feeling ‘fat’. I hated that I had ‘done this to myself’ (because, really, nothing else had changed in my life- no new health conditions, no medication changes, no major life events, no increase in stress levels).
So what was a girl to do? I started tracking what I was eating and trying to somewhat restrict how much I was eating. I’ve seen this work really well for some of my clients, but it didn’t work well for me. I became way too focused on my food choices and how much I was eating, and felt a sense of guilt and frustration when I would go over my calorie allotment (proof that there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to weight loss). I decided calorie-counting and food journaling wasn’t for me and deleted the app from my phone.
After having many tearful events and much negative self-talk, I decided to seek out professional help. I’ve found there tends to be a stigma around seeking out mental health support. I felt it when my mom suggested I meet with a psychologist after my dad passed away and I sometimes see it when I share with some clients about the social work and psychology services available in our clinic. Thankfully, sucking up my pride and going to see that psychologist nine years ago to work through my grief had showed me that seeking out therapy is nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about.
So off I went in search of a psychologist. I found one pretty quickly and emailed her before I could chicken out and change my mind. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but figured I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.
To make a very long story short, she helped me understand WHY I was feeling so frustrated and self-conscious. Turns out it was rooted in my perfectionist tendencies. She helped me see that I had gone my entire life trying to be ‘perfect’ in every area and now suddenly felt like I was no longer ‘perfect’, and yet was worn out from trying to be perfect for so long. I had my work cut out for me!
I met with her a couple more times over the next months and I learned and grew in areas I wasn’t even expecting. Having her help me identify WHY I was feeling the way I was enabled me to deal with those root causes and actually bring about lasting change.
From time to time, I still have fleeting thoughts of body dissatisfaction, but they’re now few and far between and I have strategies to recognize those thoughts and handle them accordingly.
I chose to share my story, for three reasons:
- First, when we’re going through something difficult it’s easy to think we’re the only one dealing with that, when in reality we’re NEVER the only one.
- Second, women often tend to think “If I only lost another ___ pounds, THEN I’d be happy, THEN I’d be okay with how I look”. In reality, if our sense of security, worth, and value comes from how we look, no amount of weight loss will ever be enough. Sure, you could lose those 5, 10, 20 pounds, but I bet you’ll still find things you don’t like about your body if you don’t actually address the root causes of that body dissatisfaction.
- Third, the grass is always greener. It’s easy to look at someone and think “Oh, she has it made! If only I looked like her…then I would be happy with my body.” For all you know, though, she probably has her own insecurities and things she’s working through. Some people share their struggles far and wide, and others, like me, do a good job of keeping them under wraps.
Ultimately, until we address the root cause(s) of WHY our body shape or size bothers us so much, no change in weight will completely solve how we see ourselves.
I hope my story has shown you that you are not alone in your struggles and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You are not what you weigh. You are not how you look. You are not your body shape or size. Your body is a fantastic creation. You were made to be healthy body + soul + spirit. Sometimes the work of getting there can be messy and uncomfortable, but it’s worth it.
Thanks again, Kristy, for sharing your beautiful, redemptive story!
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