A change in mindset- How I learned to love my body
Disclaimer: I’m not a health professional, this is simply my story and what’s working for me on my health journey. Talk to your health provider about diet or treatment options. ❤️
Someone asked me today if I was doing Keto… and my answer was… wellll… nooooo….
See, I’m not doing Keto, nor Paleo, nor any other diet that is hip right now. But if I was to choose one thing that I am doing It would be watching sugars and carbs, and trying to get in more protein.
I’ve had a long history of a weird relationship with food. I’ve been bulimic… for a very long time as a teen. I’ve kept a food diary, a very restrictive food diary.
Once during my teen years, I ate half an apple and a cornflake. I shit you not. And, I’ve been heavier than I wanted to be. My weight has gone up and down most recently these past 15 years or so, with pregnancy and kids etc. I would say my weight has gone up and down my whole life.. but that’s a lie.
See, as a teen and young adult, I was slight. And to say my weight went up and down is disingenuous and a testament to a disordered view of my body and my self worth. I didn’t have a weight issue my whole life. I had a me issue my whole life.
I’ve lost weight doing 12 week plans… where I exercised away 500 calories a day, and adhered to a strict calorie controlled diet. Only eating what was on the plan.. in the exact qualities. I didn’t find this overly taxing or hard… but … meh.. it was pretty full on. Pretty restrictive. My meals were kinda small… and involved. The fam wasn’t on board with many of the recipes on offer.
And, the daily exercise, again, in hindsight, wasn’t reallllly sustainable. I was exercising to build a 500 calorie deficit each day. Hmmm… sounds legit? Calories in, calories out ? Eat less than you burn? What a total drag.
I’ve been through periods where I’ve exercised a lot… always at the gym… I feel good, but it was a lot. And with kids and a job and life.. it is now much too much and in hindsight – it was probably a part of my disordered eating., or disordered body image
I’m a smart woman. And the past 12 months in particular have brought me to the place I am now. So, while I agree that being “less heavy” is ultimately a good thing for me, the way to get there is something that needs addressing.
Diets don’t work. And the reason why diets don’t work is because the whole calories in calories out thing is a buttload of BS.
The thing is. I have arthritis and asthma and allergies and a whole host of other ailments that were, collectively starting to piss me off, mostly all inflammatory responses. I needed to clean up my diet in a much much more holistic way than just counting calories and flogging my body at the gym.
From a symptom perspective, my hips hurt, I had achilles tendonitis, my sinuses were stuffed (I recently had triple sinus surgery successfully), I had a lot of headaches, I suffered from anxiety, my sleep sucked, I had restless legs at night, my legs ached and were storing more fat than my upper body- this was always the case with me – from my teen years onward my lower body was always bigger than my waist or chest.
My hormones were starting to play havoc (perimenopause) and my periods were painful and long. REALLY LONG. 14 day periods is a shit show of a higher magnitude. With day one cramps the whole time. Mm hmmm. You can see a picture forming here right?
So, I started to rethink how I viewed my body and my health. My weight was a part of this but I now see this as another symptom.
The way I looked at exercise changed (more on this on another post). But from a nutrition and food perspective I did a few things, deliberately, to test what would work and why. Not purely from a “oh look I’m 1 kg down” perspective. But from a … oh shit… my body is back… I’m free, and moving well, and sleeping… and supple. I’m waking up less stiff, I can walk with minimal pain the the morning. And, I’m lighter. My legs hurt less when I am lighter. I don’t get as many aches and pains in my calves and thighs and the restless legs at night decreases.
Side note here. My weight is an enigma wrapped in tinfoil, sprinkled with stardust and tied with a large bright bow. Many, many years of restrictions, disorders and caring what society thinks had brought me to my tipping point. Finally – I didn’t give a fuck. Not a rats ass. Not one single fibre within me cared what anyone else thought of me and the size of my butt.
I wore shorts all summer long. I rocked my beach body in a bikini and I celebrated being the whole me that I was. Beautiful, strong, powerful and whole. Enough, just as I bloody well was.
Instead, I started to care for myself. Deeply care. Not care about my weight , and even less so what anyone else thought. Absolutely, Zero F&^ks.
But… because I was more heavy than I liked for my very small frame… I knew that my exterior needed some remodelling in order for my body to feel better. My arthritis knew that extra weight was harmful and exacerbated my symptoms. My achilles knew that those extra kilos put more pressure on already tight and sore tendons. And I knew that carrying this extra weight was a big deal for my joints and my poor body in general.
Fat also makes Estrogen – and god knows I didn’t need any more of that. Being progesterone low and estrogen dominant was doing me no favours.
I’ve also since learned that I have lipoedema (or lipedema in the US). What is Lipedema? Lipedema is a disease that means I store more fat in my legs and it is painful! It’s a disease and the fat is diseased fat. The fat hurts! and it’s not able to be worked off or removed through dieting or lifestyle changes. Some women have it in their arms also.
I’ve had to learn a lot about lipedema recently- I kinda knew I had it for years but recently – as menopause is not far away, I’ve been paying more attention. I also put on a bit of lockdown weight which made my knees hurt a lot! So the lipedema has gotten worse. I told my husband about it …. and cried… he thinks I’m perfect of course… but this is my journey…. I’ve seen my GP- and cried a lot! I wrote a list of all the shitty things people have said to me over the years and why I thought I had it. And now I have a plan.
I have already had an amazing consult with a vascular specialist. They did a scan of my leg veins. My veins are pretty good. No work needed on them which is fabulous. And this is a prerequisite or surgery.
I have an appointment booked to see a plastic surgeon in a couple of weeks. I’ve made the decision to have lymph sparing liposuction on my lower legs. This means that the plastic surgeon uses a water liposuction technique that ensures no damage occurs to the blood vessels, lymphatics or nerves. It’s costly. and not supported by the public health system. I’m going private and it will cost- a lot. But this is a decision I’ve not taken lightly.
At my thinnest I was 50 something kg at my wedding. And my calves were still huge. There is no amount of dieting or exercise that will change my legs. But the thing is now, it’s getting more painful and effecting me on a daily basis. I want to continue to be a fit and healthy mum well into my later years. I want to enjoy all the things I love doing, hiking, paddle boarding and being outdoors with my family. This surgery is for me. To feel good about myself, and the way I look, yes, but also to maintain my health and fitness until I’m reallllly old and grey. I want the best for myself.
I think lipedema has a lot to do with hormones… as it comes on at puberty- then worsens during pregnancy and then again at menopause (oh yay I hear you say!) I did notice my body was harder to change once I had kids, especially after my third. And I’ve noticed more pain since hitting perimenopause. It makes sense really.
I had endometriosis in my twenties. And have really heavy periods. I’ve learned that lipedema affects 1 in 10 women worldwide. ONE IN TEN WOMEN. That’s huge. That’s really significant and it’s actually really scary that people don’t know about this. I thought I just needed to work harder, eat less, and less and less, work out more.
Inflammation is a biggy for me… I have arthritis, asthma, lipedema, endometriosis, tendonitis and a range of other mysterious symptoms. Inflammation, Im convinced, is at the heart of a lot of my ailments. And, subsequently thats the heart of how I’m healing my body.
I was taking Vitamin D daily, but have just switched to a monthly higher dose. I had Subclinical Hyperthyroid a few years ago, and suffered a long eating disorder, so I have to protect my bones. Vitamin D is a great anti inflammatory! I also started taking apple cider vinegar gummies lately as my higher protein/ lower carb diet makes me a bit constipated and ACV can help with gut health. But ACV is also thought to be a great anti inflammatory and this mumma could use all the help she can get in that department. I take the Goli ACV gummies at the moment and they are awesome! They taste great, are packed full of ACV goodness, are vegan and gluten free and contain additional B9, B12…My tummy is happy and I am actually feeling the benefits in my joints and in my legs.
ACV is also thought to discourage the growth and proliferation of harmful gut bacteria- like firmicutes- believe me these guys are anything but cute! A high ratio of these fellas vs the good guys is thought to be correlated to obesity and type 2 diabetes.
So, here I am. Making some changes, or more so, some additions to my way of eating… my way of life. Adding more, not taking away … or being less.
I eat whole foods, meats, fish, veges, fruit, nuts, seeds, good oils, eggs , I do intermittent fasting on a 16:8 ratio (lately though it’s been more like 18:6) and a most importantly have introduced a range of foods that are the cornerstone of my plan, probiotic foods.
I’m mad passionate about the whole gut biome thing, and what it can do not only for your overall health, but what it means for our minds, bodies and general wellbeing.
I eat lots of good fats. I limit carbs…. carbs turn into sugar and my body and sugar don’t mix. Inflammation is the issues here for me. And, sugar makes me inflamed. No brainer really. Lipedema hates sugar and carbs and the culprit here. I’m not super strict. But I’m mindful. Again- it’s not about all or nothing for me – it’s about finding balance and finding the way my body responds and how I can do better to feel better. The recommended lipedema diet is Keto. I’m working towards more protein, less carbs.
Eating badly or eating with a disordered view of food is not on the table here. I will not cut anything out altogether. I limit and I add. Adding in the good stuff for me is the key.
See, I’m not looking to lose weight. I’m on a journey to health.