I've had weight issues since I was a kid, a teenager really.
In middle school, I decided I wanted to play basketball. I was naturally athletic but a little bigger than the other girls on the team, and my dad told me if I wanted to try out that I had to lose weight. He made me run sprints in our back yard until I doubled over from cramps in my side.
My mom spent much of my childhood and teenage years in a neverending cycle of fad diets, and when I hit puberty, it was my turn to be subjected to low-carb, Atkins, Weight Watchers, whatever her diet-of-the-month was.
I entered my adult life having no idea how to feed myself in a healthy way.
College marked a time of eating whatever I wanted without feeling guilty — and gaining weight accordingly. Food was for me what alcohol was for a lot of kids leaving their parents' home for the first time, and sadly it didn't stop after college. A stressful job, getting married and eventually getting pregnant all totaled up to being about 85 pounds heavier by the time my 10-year high school reunion rolled around.
Finally, last May, I decided enough was enough. My family was worth better, and I was worth better! At the same time, I had been through so many diets that had little lasting effect, and I didn't want to fail again. When I came across a method of healthier eating called “Eat More to Weigh Less (EM2WL),” I decided to give it a try. It was exciting. I was actually eating enough. I was fueling my workouts. I felt strong and healthy, and I was losing about a pound a week.
Oh, but then. Then I went to a nutritionist, and she told me how wrong I was doing things. She told me I should be eating 600 fewer calories per day, an amount that, on a heavy exercise day, would leave me with a net of less than 1,000 calories.
Everything she told me went against what I'd been doing for months, but surely she knew what she was talking about, right?
I had been in a great place emotionally and mentally when it came to my health, probably the best I'd ever been. I was losing weight at a reasonable rate. But a well-meaning health professional really threw me for a loop because she tried to prescribe a cookie-cutter plan to someone who has a history of emotional eating, roller-coaster dieting and giving up when the going gets tough with weight loss.
I'm still working my way back onto the EM2WL wagon to try to resume my weight loss. The good news is that even though the weight loss got derailed, the work I put into normalizing my metabolism by losing weight in a healthy way didn't. Even through taking November and December away from dieting, I only gained about three pounds.
I realized after my visit with the nutritionist that listening to your body is the most important thing. Even the most well-meaning people can't know what it's like to be you; they can't understand the years of history, emotion, scars, neglect, self-loathing and whatever else you've been through.
I've spent a lifetime teaching myself to ignore my body's signs, and it's taking a lot of unlearning. But the good news is that I have a lifetime left to relearn about myself.