Updated: Jul 20, 2020
My last blog post describes my new understanding of my relationship with my body – an understanding that had been there below the surface all along. What had become so clear was that I had actually been at war with my body, in one way or another, since I was a teenager. The most recent manifestation of the war had been my immersion in “wellness diets” over the last 4-5 years since becoming a health coach. Swimming in the waters of wellness culture, and functional and integrative medicine, I adopted the view that “food is medicine” and “we are what we eat.” Though pain control was the ostensible reason for my adopting food restriction, weight control was never far from the surface.
And yet I always had doubt about the single-minded focus on diet as the key to health. In my work with clients, I saw so much “resistance” to dietary changes – resistance which I now see as a healthy insistence on a full and rich relationship with food as comfort, satisfaction, joy and social connection. When I created my first health coaching website I was careful to avoid images of food (in stark contrast to most other health coaching and wellness guru websites that are all about “super-foods” and green smoothies, and the evils of sugar, processed foods and “bad” fats). I wanted my work to be about support and meeting people where they were, not telling them what was good and bad (to eat or to do). But people came to me to fix what was wrong with their bodies. They expected prescriptive plans, goals, and strategies to get thinner and healthier.
It wasn’t working for me or for them.
Since February I have immersed myself in the research and media on intuitive eating, health at every size, body positivity, anti-diet activism, and the movement to abolish discrimination and oppression based on body size. The more I learn, and hear women’s stories, the more committed I have become to peace and freedom with food and body image. And committing to trusting the body’s innate wisdom to guide our choices about eating, movement, relationships, work. This runs totally counter to “wellness culture” with its rules about clean eating and “fitness,” (which is really just another word for thinness but with muscles).
But there are limits to my transformation. I am fully committed intellectually to being at peace with my body. Emotionally, though, it’s been a hell of a lot harder. This is the part that we don’t hear about in the anti-diet books, podcasts, and Instagram feeds. It is terrifying – after a life of fearing becoming “fat” above nearly all else – to suddenly find myself in a larger body with no intention of shrinking it back down.
That’s hard to admit –