This is a continuation of My Story. If you haven't read it as yet, you might want to first.
I often joke about being the chubby nutritionist. I know I'm not really chubby per se, but I'm not skinny. That much my five foot nothing body is sure of. I am, as it is often described, a healthy weight. My weight tends to fluctuate between 128 and 132 pounds (though post Ireland we are a wee bit higher than that). There it is- for all to see. I must say though, I am happy for each and every pound- even the five or so extra ones that I think about doing something about. Having suffered for several years with severe digestive problems that culminated in a Crohn's Disease diagnosis, carrying any extra weight at all, for me, is a testament to my state of health. I am perfectly content to go on living the healthy way that I do, eating well, enjoying the food I prepare, exercising daily and embracing the few extra pounds as a part of me.
When women call me for appointments, telling me they want to lose weight, I am quick to respond that I don't do weight loss. The reason for this is because weight tends to be a symptom of other stuff- of emotional stuff, hormonal stuff, blood sugar stuff, digestive stuff... I can work with those issues. Weightloss is simply a by-product of healthy living and of correcting the body's imbalances and improving relationships with food. When we are at a place of optimum health, our body will be the weight that best suits us and for all of us- that is something different. Some of us are meant to be lean, teeny, and tiny, while others are intended to be a little more cuddly, solid and softer at the curves. How ugly the world would be if we all looked the same?
Weight is such a tricky issue when it comes to health. Skinny does not equal healthy- but weight seems to be what drives most of our health related decisions- whether to exercise, whether to order a salad, whether to celebrate with a piece of chocolate cake. The thing is, when we feel well and when we are truly happy from way deep inside, our weight becomes less of an issue.
Why would I rather be chubby? I was skinny once upon a sick sick time.
I was skinny when I was sick but never saw the beauty of it. I just saw sickness and tiredness. I got lots of compliments too which totally screwed up my self-image. I kept being asked how I had lost all that weight. Twenty pounds in one month. At five feet tall- and starting at 130 pounds, that is a huge amount of weight to lose in a very short time. What was my secret? As if anyone really wanted the details of what I was going through with Crohn's Disease. I may have looked great with my skinny jeans falling off me, but I couldn't leave my bathroom and my thick curly hair had lost it's curl and was falling out in handfuls.
The craziest thing about this time in my life was that I had never been sicker and had never had more people tell me how great I looked. As I began gaining weight back, when my disease went into remission, I became very self-conscious about this weight. I was often told how healthy I looked and would wonder if it might just be a nice way of saying 'fat'. I had been trying to squeeze into my 'Crohn's wardrobe' for two years and only recently packed it up to give away. I am just not meant to wear those tiny jeans and though it has taken some time to accept, I am now fully a-okay with that.
When I work with clients who need to gain weight, I can tell you there is nothing harder. Any of us who have ever had a challenge with our weight and struggled to lose it have no idea what people go through who are sick and can't gain a pound.
What I know for sure is this: I would rather buy new jeans than be sick again. I would rather not look as conventionally perfect in a bikini than be sick again. I would rather have thick curly hair and nails that grow than be sick again. I would rather be able to travel and eat at restaurants, sleep through the night, have a boyfriend, toast a best friend's wedding with champagne, wake up in the morning full of energy and excited about the day to come than be sick again. I would rather spend my day in the kitchen, cooking up amazing whole food based creations, be five pounds overweight and healthy, than living off pureed soup, rice cakes and liquid meal replacements.
I'd rather be a little chubby, with a fuller bottom, rounder face, clearer skin, thicker hair and feel wonderfully vibrant, clear-headed, excited about life, healthy and happy, than ever have to be sick again.
What would you rather be? What's most important to you? The way you look or the way you feel? Are you able to make these co-exist? Are you at a place of optimum health? What does health look and feel like to you?