As my daughter is growing up and getting into her "tween" age, I always try to make it a point to discuss being healthy vs "skinny". I know I struggle with body image and always have! I don't want that fill her head.
It wasn't until I was pregnant that I actually learned to appreciate my body for what it was, the way it changed and grew as the baby grew, unfortunately that appreciation ended after I got back to normal.
While I've never been "overweight" I've constantly yo-yo'd since I was in high school. I still struggle with body image and I think it will be a constant battle I have to overcome daily. I've gained and lost the same 10 pounds, who know's how many times, vowing to never do that again, but I'm learning there's more to that than I realized.
Over the last 9 months or so, I've struggled with a 7-10 lb gain that was really unexplained. I had been consistently working out, eating healthy and doing everything that all my challengers were having great success with. Now, was my nutrition 100% perfect? No, I do believe in a healthy balance! However, it wasn't such that it warranted the 7-10 lb gain that had no apparent reason.
This didn't help my struggle with body image as I found my pants not fitting the way they had before and knowing that it was swim suit season was here, that didn't excite me either.
I started to do some research on various topics related to weight gain. There were a few things that really stuck out to me that I proceeded to dig a bit deeper. Now, I don't have all the answers, I'm NOT an expert in any of this. This is simply my journey in trying to figure out MY body, how it's changing, how to make it work efficiently, and how to love it!
Here are the topics I dug into:
- Calorie restriction (long term)
- Thyroid function
- Hormone imbalance
- Increasing calories to get past a plateau
As I started with one topic, the others presented themselves which dug me into deeper research.
Here's the very real struggle I'm dealing with now that I believe has created my body to really want to shut down and not function properly the way that God designed my body to function.
Over the years and years of calorie restriction I have really done damage to my body and slowed my metabolism (we have always been taught that fewer calories means you'll lose weight, so what did I do? Ate fewer calories to lose that 10 lbs). Looking back on my years since high school (and gaining about 15 lbs in 3 months completely unexplained) I realized that I have restricted my calories to some degree for the past 15-20 years. That's not good!
Do you know what happens if you restrict calories consistently for too long? Your body goes into starvation mode! Now, I've always known this for "other people" but didn't believe it for myself! I was constantly putting my body into starvation mode (which is our body's way of protecting itself for times of famine). When our body goes into starvation mode, our metabolism SLOWS!! Yep...totally the opposite thing I wanted it to do! Here's what it looked like, workout and burn lots of calories, eat about 1200 calories a day, but only have a net calorie intake of 700-800 calories (b/c of the calories burned during my workout). Then, what would happen is that it would make me gain "the last 10 lbs" I always was trying to lose. So, we started a vicious cycle of lose 10, gain 10 and so on. All because I had slowed my metabolism and really damaged that part of my system.
Going further, I noticed that my body temperature was fairly low (like constantly in the 97 degree range vs. 98.6 degrees). What does that mean for me? Well, for starters, with a low body temperature it means I was also dealing with low functioning thyroid. Your body is in harmony with all other parts of your body when it's at the perfect temperature of 98.6. So...the research continued... I came across some articles talking about the yo-yo dieting and restricting your calories for too long can actually cause your thyroid to start functioning improperly and thus, slowing your metabolism, not to mention it screws with your hormone balance which can cause a whole slew of problems too.
WOW...this totally blew me away!!
[While I'm just touching briefly on all these topics, I have really felt like I need to share this, even if it is ever so brief. I feel like I'm not the only one who has suffered with issues like this and I want to be there to help support as we can figure things out together!!]
What all of this means and what I've learned and want to share with you is this. I've learned that my years of yo-yo dieting (lose 10, gain 10) and the constant restriction of calories (always staying in the 1200 cal range or lower) have really done damage to my body, to my metabolism and has prevented my body to work the way it was designed. I have learned that in order to start to repair my system I need to start training my metabolism to gradually accept more calories in so that it can function better as a whole. I've learned that I want my body to be a calorie burning machine, but in such a way that I'm truly fueling my body with PLENTY of calories in so that it can burn more calories out! I'm learning that I deeply want to have a true appreciation and love for MY body, just the way it is, flaws in all. I'm learning that I have a lot of repairing of my mind as well to train it to love my body again, the way I did when I was pregnant! I'm learning that this is a journey. It takes time to repair.
What does this look like on a daily basis for me? First, I continue to workout at least 5 times a week. (I have adjusted my focus from burning tons of calories to being strong and exercising for the stress release, health benefits and because I've learned to love it.) I have increased my calorie intake and am really tracking my calories because I have a very definite purpose (and that's train my body to accept more calories to make the functioning of my body greater). I daily have to surrender to my negative thoughts and focus on adding positive, inspirational thoughts in to my mind!
This struggle is very real to ME, and I'm sure there are so many others who struggle with situations like this and don't know why! While I hesitate to admit this, these struggles have become an obsession and I hate that, I don't want that in my life!! It's added to my insecurities of body image. It's made me question myself. It's made me confused. It's made me frustrated. It's made me unmotivated. It's made me motivated. It's made me want to share with you! It's made me want to so desperately get past this and remember how I appreciated my body when I was pregnant and make that a daily feeling and belief again!
If you can relate to my journey at all and you struggle with some of these issues too, I would love to support you in your journey as well! I don't have all the answers. I am not an expert in this area. I can only give my experiences, my support and encouragement, and share what I have tried and continue to try and adapt to.
(Obviously, first I recommend seeing your doctor if you have any concerns and getting appropriate test taken if needed).
I know I'm not alone in these struggles. I would love to support you in any way that I can. Whether that's connecting via email, Facebook, sharing your story, or if you'd like to join me in a health/fitness accountability group. I would love to support you in your journey too. I would love to connect!!
If you are looking for support in your health/fitness journey and would like more information about my upcoming accountability groups, please fill this out below!
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