Last year I was sitting on my teenage daughter’s floor, helping her pack up for school before bed, but when I was ready to stand up—I couldn’t get up. I couldn’t stand up. My body was too large and unwieldy. She watched me nervously, as I rolled over to my hands and knees and laboriously pushed off the floor to finally stand up. I even moaned. Like an injured animal. It just came out. It was hard to stand up! I had gained 40 pounds and now I found it difficult to move.
This shouldn’t have been a shock. I had recently had a doctor’s appointment in which she had told me, lovingly, "Katherine. You can’t gain 10 pounds every year. You have to figure this out. You’re gorgeous the way you are, but you can’t keep gaining weight."
There was something in her saying "You’re gorgeous" to me with full eye contact that really hit me. I did not feel gorgeous. I felt out-of-control and scared. But I felt so loved and supported and I felt her faith in me that I was going to figure this out. I was aware of what food to eat. I had been gluten-free for a few years but was still gaining. I was a registered nurse, an aromatherapist, and an energy healer for goodness sake. I really felt I should be able to figure this out!
I had tried punishing and unfriendly diets in the past. I’d done the master cleanse and felt like my tooth enamel was gone. I had done Weight Watchers—which made me rebellious and confused—eating McDonald's in the parking lot after weigh-in. Nothing had worked, so I had given up and decided to try just loving my body for who and what it was. It was marvelous. I really worked at it. I used energy therapies, Reiki, and EFT and found amazing coaches to help me really develop acceptance for my body, whatever it looked like. Also, as a nurse, I work with birthing women and my adoration and love for the female body and its strength had ballooned! I had self-love. All women’s bodies were beautiful! Hooray! But I still was gaining weight. And now I couldn’t get off the floor.
I couldn’t go back to being mean to myself or my body. I couldn’t go back to the nasty trap of thinking I needed some impossible idealized body to be valuable.
What could I do? Here is what I did to lose 40 pounds in six months and get off the floor with ease:
1. I came up with an inspiring goal.
I really want to be an awesome and lively grandmother someday. My girls are only 14 and 11, but I am so excited to be present and involved in their children’s lives. So, that is my goal. It’s not about numbers on a scale or my BMI or fitting into jeans (not that there’s anything wrong with those things—they are just not motivating to me).
I think the not-getting-off-the-floor really showed me that my weight was becoming a health and mobility issue and something needed to be done. So when I want to eat something that won’t be good for me, the image I use to inspire and remind me of my goal is one of me being a nimble and fun grandma. (I know they may never have kids, but the big idea is I want to age gracefully and have fun!)
2. I paid attention to what I was eating.
This was really hard for me. I grew up in a family of dieters and I never wanted to pay close attention to my food, so I did the opposite and sort of ignored the whole process. I ate mostly "healthy" foods but with no awareness, which meant a lot of sweet, organic, gluten-free snacks. I changed this by doing the Whole30. (Whole30 is a 30-day elimination diet that removes the foods that commonly cause inflammation and then slowly adds them back in.) It is strict and it was difficult. But it was amazing. I had been ignoring how food made me feel and I had been walking around feeling bad most of the time. I didn’t know how to change it. Whole30, with its clear rules and incredible support, helped me reset how I ate and how I thought about food.
3. I admitted I was a sugar and caffeine addict.
This was harder. I never thought addiction was the right term for my relationship with these foods. It sounded too heavy and serious, but once I saw how challenging it was to give them up and how much better I felt off of them, I could truly call it an addiction. The addiction had grown stronger than me, so even though eating those foods made me feel actively BAD—I still chose them again and again. More and more. Here again, Whole30 helped me break those addictions and finally find what foods made me feel good! A miracle in my life.
4. I realized I DESERVED to feel good.
We all do. Women spend much of their time making themselves small and accommodating everyone else, especially those of us who are mothers and caretakers. We suspend and ignore our needs until we forget we even have them. I realized that the way I was eating was making me feel bad and I was going to do something about it, even if it upset the status quo in my household, work, and friend circles. I have the right to change. My feeling good is a priority. I had to get feisty about this, for myself.
5. I accepted that my body is an exquisitely sensitive instrument.
And so is yours. Our bodies are speaking to us all the time. As a healer, nurse, and mother--heck, as a human, I use my intuition all the time. I feel into my body and notice how it responds to certain choices and certain people and I trust that intuition. I know my body’s animal awareness can interpret more than just my brain can in any given situation. I learned the foods that make me feel bad block and muddle my intuition. I was so foggy after eating a dark chocolate truffle or a gluten-free doughnut that I couldn’t tune in and was more distractible and moody. Sometimes eating those foods would shift my mood so much that I’d create some unnecessary drama and then have to deal with that. Those foods were a distraction and I was using them to distance myself from the signals my body was trying to give me. I was telling my instrument, my animal body, to shut up. Now that I eat mostly things that nourish me. My moods are more steady, drama has dramatically reduced (PMS is gone--hallelujah!) and I can tune into my body with ease.
6. I reminded myself that we can always begin again.
Don’t worry if you don’t get it right the first time. Keep trying. Each part of the journey is very interesting data collection! Stay curious. Implement some energetic processes to help shift your story around food (EFT and journaling were a huge help to me). Have patience.
7. I believed I owed it to the world.
It’s your responsibility to show up as who you are meant to be in this world. If you are eating food that makes you feel terrible and you're spending much of your time focused on how you don’t like how you look, you are wasting your precious time on this planet and in this body. You have things to do. It’s time to do them. Get off the cycle of self-criticism and blame that lead to eating and overwhelm. And if you are struggling with weight gain and starting to get scared, the first thing I want to say to you as you begin your amazing journey is: You are gorgeous. You can do this.