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My paleo journey began over a year ago when I suddenly discovered that wheat was making me ill. I immediately eliminated it from my diet and the changes to my digestion and disposition were almost instant. No more chronic heartburn, no more gas and bloating, no more painful cramping and diarrhea for no apparent reason. No more intense mood swings or PMS. After a few months I was happily adjusted to my new life as a â€œgluten-freeâ€ person, so I sat back and waited for my body to change. Having made such a huge change to my eating habits, I expected the pounds would just float away. They didn't. This was happening against a backdrop of body image, weight management, and disordered eating issues that had plagued me for as long as I could remember. Throughout my childhood, adolescence, and early twenties this was the primary battle of my life. I hated my body and my body hated me. By my late twenties I knew this needed to change, so I devoted much of my time and emotional energy to tackling the underlying issues that had led to this internal conflict. I made huge, life-changing progress. I stopped chronically â€œdietingâ€ and finally just learned to accept myself. Then, when I found paleo, things finally clicked. It was unexpected, but I realized that it wasn't until I starting eating to care for myself and my body that it became truly impossible to hate myself. How could I hate my body while eating to nourish, love, and care for it? The two could just not exist in the same space. Any last remnant of unhealthy self-criticism or shame simply dissolved. But while the mental and emotional battle had been won, the physical battle was still raging. It turned out that living life in a cycle of bingeing and purging had wreaked havoc on my system. Despite cutting out all wheat products, decreasing other grains and processed foods, and increasing vegetables and healthy fats, the composition of my body stayed exactly the same as when I was bingeing on bowls of cheesy pasta and junk food. That didn't make sense to me. It was frustrating. I had finally accepted my body but knew for the sake of health that I needed to lean down. I began to think I had a thyroid problem. Pursuing that particular avenue was like falling head first down the rabbit hole into wonderland. Confusing. More frustrating than ever. Then a friend who really DID have a thyroid problem told me about Whole30. Of course I'd heard of it in the paleosphere, so I dove right in to see what all the fuss was about. I consumed It Starts With Food like I used to consume Doritosâ€”with great enthusiasm and like I couldn't get enough. I would get so excited while reading the book that I couldn't read it before bed or I wouldn't fall asleep. My heart would race like I'd had too much coffee. THIS. WAS. IT. The mental preparation I did leading up to Day 1 was intense. I entered my Whole30 with a steely and unmovable resolve. But just as important was the preparation I did in my kitchen! If you aren't prepared to cook for yourself, you aren't prepared to eat whole food! Then, as the days rolled by, it was just like everyone said. Hard in the beginning, thenâ€¦.magic. The sleep was the best part. There's no way to describe it other than delicious. For the first time in my life I would put my head on the pillow and be OUT and stay out. For the first time in my life I didn't become overwhelmingly sleepy in the afternoon. I could walk for hours without aching feet and legs. I could rise above the gossip at work because my mood was so positive. And finally, finally, finally, I could feel my body changing. By the second week my pants were baggy. By the third week I could barely keep them up. Even after washing and drying them on hot! And was that a collar bone I just saw in the mirror? I went for a total of 37 days. I fumbled the re-introduction (see that post under OOPS!), but still considered myself wildly successful. It wasn't until after a week of re-intro that I decided to take my â€œafterâ€ pics. I wasn't in a hurry. I knew I looked different, but not that different, right? WRONG. What I saw in my pics truly surprised me. To see the physical manifestation of my hard work and self-love was overwhelming to the point that tears ran down my face. The grand total of my weight loss was 15 pounds in 37 days. I've certainly lost more (and faster) in the past. But this was weight loss for the sake of health, and it was sustainable. Besides, it wasn't about the number itself. It was about the fact that this was the first time in my life that I'd ever lost weight without pills, compulsive exercise, starvation, or any form of self-harm. Essentially, it was the first time I'd treated my body as something to love instead of something to punish. My body had done it on its own. Naturally. Healthfully. I had wondered for years if that was even possible. I'm not sure I can ever truly put into words the significance of this change. But I know I'll be forever grateful to Dallas and Melissa and this community for their support. The best part is, this is only the beginning. Who knows where this journey will ultimately take me? Wherever that may be, I know I'll be healthy when I get there. J