Before and After
I've debated for a long time whether or not to post this picture, but I finally decided it's time to share.
As a nutritionist, I often feel the pressure to look a certain way or eat certain foods and keep a vigorous exercise routine. But, I'm only human too and I have my struggles still to this day.
I've been on this path to finally call myself a nutritionist for 5 years now and it's been a lot of trials and errors, successes and setbacks. I've tried a raw diet, juicing & smoothie diet, I've tried to only eat organic and homemade, and I've even been on the Del Taco & In-n-Out diet. I feel like at this point I've tried it all. I've food shamed myself (and sometimes others), I've hated parts of my body, I've felt lazy and unmotivated, I've over eaten and gone into food coma, I've made myself purge 'bad' foods that I ate, and I've intentionally kept myself hungry and denied myself food to avoid gaining weight or to lose weight.
Writing this down and sharing it, feels a bit more exposing than I feel comfortable because the relationship we have with food is so much more complicated than just using food as fuel. It's private but also emotionally and socially involved in our lives, from the way some eat when we are sad or anxious to rewarding ourselves with cheat meals, or sharing meals and pastries for celebrations such as birthdays or holidays. Food is fuel, but also, food is emotional.
Navigating this complicated relationship with food and ourselves and our social circles can be tricky and challenging. For me as a nutritionist, the challenge lies not only in keeping up with the science but finding the understanding and tools to address the emotional and social ties with food for my clients.
That's where this picture comes in. The left is from August 2017 and the right from August 2019, almost exactly 2 years apart by one day. It was difficult for me to even find a picture of myself from a couple years ago in which I wasn't using a filter or 'angles' or hiding behind someone to cover my body in the photo. I just didn't feel comfortable in my own body and skin and it translated in pictures or lack of pictures.
The journey toward health and balanced nutrition is not a linear progress. You have a good day, a few good days or week and then you might have a couple bad weeks. But too often, we let ourselves get discouraged and give up when things don't continuously go well for us. That's life. One step forward, two steps back. Then three steps forward and one step back. But one thing is certain, when you give up trying, you will forever be stuck in a situation you are unhappy about. We get comfortable being uncomfortable because at least we are familiar with what kind of discomfort/disappointment/pain/struggle to expect. But in staying in this stagnant place, we deprive ourselves the chance to ever experience hope, joy and the success of our hard work and efforts.
When it comes to nutrition and health, sometimes it can all be so overwhelming to think you have to completely change your diet, start a new exercise program, lose weight, get healthy, and manage your family life and work stress and get enough sleep and..... only to end up at your doctor's office for your weigh in and blood test review with disappointing news.
I know. I've seen it happen for 10 years. Patient in and patient out. I've seen it in myself too. Poor sleep, high stress, increasing weight and high and climbing cholesterol. I was tracking every food I was eating and killing myself in the gym, doing half marathons, kickboxing several times a week but the weight was only piling on and I was only feeling worse. What the hell!
I know, I've been there too. And it's been a long journey of bouncing between different diets and bouncing weight on the scale and days of feeling great and energized and days of feeling exhausted and unmotivated. But that's the amazing attribute of our bodies and health. It's a machine that wants to work well. It just needs the right fuel. But the right fuel is not the same for every person. What also matters is where we get that fuel, how we feel about that fuel and how that fuel makes us feel. As I already mentioned, food is more than just a source of energy for our bodies. We use food to celebrate birthdays, we use food to share memories with our loved ones, we use food to comfort ourselves during heartbreak, and we use food to deal with our emotions and stress. Still, people always ask me what's the best diet to lose weight.
My question to you is, when have you ever enjoyed the process of dieting to lose weight?
Losing weight really only is a byproduct of a change in eating behavior. It's the least important result of getting your health on track. The deeper desire beyond the weight loss is really "How can I become healthier, or more energized, or more focused, or grateful of my body, or improve the quality of my life...etc."
When we have a balanced relationship with food, we eat what's mostly good for us and also what makes us feel good. When you can achieve this balance, not only will you feel less guilt about what you eat, but you will feel more energized and satisfied and the weight starts to come off too. And, how you find the path to your perfect balance of food as fuel and feeling good about what you eat will be unique to you. Every person's journey and balance will be unique to them. It's a journey that takes time, patience, experimenting and learning. My role is to support you and guide you with my knowledge and experience in navigating this complicated journey, so that you can eat well and feel good.
August 2017 / August 2019