Welp. I haven't written about food, body image or health on this here blog for quite some time. But I'm ready to start again!
This will be a heavy update post, but I'm going to try to fly through some backstory so I can share some real stuff. I made this handy dandy timeline above to unpack a little of where I've been, but here's the extended version below.
1. I don't remember anyone calling me fat, but my earliest memories are feeling f-a-t. That's not a word I like to use a lot, but it used to live real close to me, intertwined with my identity. Looking back at childhood pictures, I was probably on the heavier side of normal - but really mostly normal. Especially in my early teens when body image issues raged rampantly, I look back and see a pretty normal sized teenage girl.
2. I gained a lot of weight my senior year in high school and first year of college and at that point, I was no longer a healthy normal-sized girl. I lived mostly in denial until I stepped on a scale after freshman year and was shocked to find I was definitely about 50 pounds overweight. I started trying to combat that weight healthily but fell into disordered eating and exercise very quickly. Bulimic tendencies, anorexic tendencies, and exercise anorexia all could have been labels used to describe my weight loss tactics. I lost all 50 pounds and then some, but I still felt f-a-t. On my wedding day, at my lowest weight, I felt like I had more weight to lose. Which is sad and crazy.
3. While most new moms struggle (understandably) with body image issues - for whatever reason, motherhood brought some new freedom for me. I felt like my body had done something right and I was grateful. I felt good in my skin, even though it was 35 pounds heavier than pre-pregnancy. I still smile at pictures of myself right after having Elias.
4. Two babies in two years and I no longer felt shiny or happy or healthy. I was diagnosed with Hashimotos (an autoimmune thyroid disease) and I gained about 30 pounds in 3 months, landing me back at my highest weight ever. To top it off - I was pregnant again! Yay, thanks God! Ouch on the body.
5. After 3 babies in 3 years and working closely with a naturopath, I started to get my thyroid in order. I fell in love with cooking, running, vegetables, and all things HEALTH. My heart felt great and so did my body. Lost the 50 pounds again.
6. Though I was at a pretty healthy weight, I stepped out of my freedom and back into insecurity and brokenness by trying a really unhealthy fad diet to try a few more pounds. I took what was supposed to be a really extreme 21 day challenge and extended it over months time, probably undoing a lot of good work I'd done in the years prior. I also went off my thyroid medicine without the approval of my doctor, I think just because I was prideful. At the end of that weight loss, I found out I was pregnant.
7. Pregnancy brought more normal eating and weight gain. At the end of pregnancy, my weight wasn't crazy high. I actually weighed exactly the same amount a few days after having my fourth as I did a few days after having my first. So right back at that glowy, healthy, free number. I began exercising again, but didn't lose any weight.
8. In February 2013, I reached out to Alisa Keeton at Revelation Wellness and asked her to coach me. I hoped she'd help me to lose the rest of the baby weight, and instead the Lord used her to SET ME FREE. I addressed decade old lies about my worth and my weight. I learned to look at my body with love and freedom and to use it as a tool for worship, not as an object of worship. My heart felt free, even though I still didn't have the easiest time losing weight. Looking back now, I see that I was probably really needing a more thyroid-centered diet and to be on medication, but the heart growth was enough for me in that season.
9. In the fall of 2015 I went into the hospital with a scary bout of meningitis and spent the rest of the fall pretty sick with different infections and illnesses. My thyroid levels were horrible and I went back on medication. I met Rachel for coffee and asked her to help me fight. I knew I needed help big time. My heart felt ready, but my body and my diet needed help.
10. In early 2016, we started FIGHTING. I kicked up the exercise with bootcamps, kickboxing, and one on training. (Woohoo GritBox fitness) I started eliminating any and all thyroid inhibiting foods. I started taking supplements and vitamins, cut down on coffee and stopped drinking Diet Coke. I added in lots of water, lots more sleep, and dry brushing. Basically anything that any article says will help my thyroid - I give it a shot.
In the past few months I've begun weighing myself again. Not obsessively, just once or twice a week to check in on how things are going. I stopped for a few years and realized that the scale still had power over me because I was TERRIFIED to know what I weigh. Now I know that it literally has no say over my life or my day. It's a tool and it's not the only one.
I lost 30 pounds pretty quickly into working with Rachel but it was 30 pounds I'd put on in the thyroid relapse. The pounds are coming off slower now, but I have not ounce of stress about it. I don't have a goal weight. I do not feel overweight. I am a lady on a journey to being as healthy as God will have me, for His glory, and His work.
I still get tripped up about body image, but it's much less often and it's a lot easier to answer with truth. I can smile at unflattering pictures of myself and look full on at what the world sees as flaws. I see it as this great bag of flesh that gets to do God's work. I want to steward it well and worship with it and move it in love, not fear. I want to be as healthy as I can for as long as I can, for as much as I can help it, but I want to worship either way.
For now - my diet is fairly restrictive. I'm working with Rachel as my health coach, and honestly - I feel like we're experimenting in the best way. She's being gentle with me and not making me change way too much at once, but she'll also push me and hold me to certain things. Like when I text her about how I'd really like a margarita and she gently says, "not yet". I appreciate that. And she pushes me hard in the gym, which is crazy good for me - because I'm not the kind of gal who would push my own self physically. I usually cry when I leave a personal training session - from physical exhaustion, surprise at what my own body can do, and relief that someone is fighting with me.
I try to be super cautious to not complain or sound wimpy about the foods "I can't have", because there are SO MANY FOODS I CAN have. And these aren't rules that some unseen source has put on me, they're choices I'm making and I feel great about them! I refuse to believe that life is less sweet because I'm not having chocolate, wine, unlimited amounts of coffee, and goat cheese. My view of the Kingdom and this world means that I believe that those things are sweet and awesome and can be enjoyed, but they're just not what makes a great life. So cutting them out gets really easy in light of wanting to be as healthy as I can be. And I know one day, when my health is back in balance - those things can make an appearance once again in moderation.
So that was a very wordy and long update, if you made it to the end - woohoo! But now that a long update has been typed out - I feel like I can start posting more regularly about what's going on health wise. I would love to answer any questions I can in the comments below, or if you have suggestions for future body image/health/freedom blog posts - leave them there as well.
I'm posting almost daily on @myfreedombell - food pictures, heart thoughts, and exercise pics. Because that's a huge part of my freedom - ringing that bell loud and clear, being on mission to help other women, and taking my eyes off my own story.