New Year, New Mindset?
I have always had an all or nothing mindset. Especially when it comes to health.
Over years of extreme dieting leading to both physical and mental health problems, I have come to realize this mindset has been at the core of my health struggles.
It started with an all or nothing obsession to lose weight. I wanted to be so thin that even my lululemon pants wouldn’t stay on my hips.
I achieved that.
I kept my calories under 900 daily and exercised for 1-2 hours daily. OBVIOUSLY NOT HEALTHY!!!
Of course, my body fell apart.
I lost my period, became clinically depressed, and my bowel movements were literally just the salad I ate for lunch (sorry if that’s TMI!)
At first, I didn’t care because I was thin and I thought that must mean I was beautiful and worthy. So, I kept at it. No cheats. None.
If I slipped and went outside my calorie budget, I would beat myself up and eat even less the next day.
I tricked myself into believing I loved this. I loved the gym. I loved plain rice cakes and shiritake noodles.
I convinced myself everything was great and I didn’t need to change a thing, until I couldn’t lie to myself or anyone else any more.
Over the summer, I worked at one of the only bars in town, serving old high school “friends” and creepy old men. It was stressful, yes, but what job isn’t?
One day, some guy sent his basket of fries back because there “wasn’t enough when you gave them to me!”A normal, healthy, human being would have been able to handle this small criticism by rolling their eyes and replacing his basket. I, however, had hormones flying in all the wrong directions and proportions. So, I snapped. I ripped the basket from the kid’s hand and ran back to the kitchen, told a fellow waitress about it and bawled… like… uncontrollable sobbing. She definitely thought I had lost it… and I guess I had.
When I got home that night I could see how unstable I was. I cried a bit more because I was mad at myself for being so unstable and went to bed.
The next morning I woke up in a fantastic mood! I got up and sang some Shania Twain as I made my tiny bowl of greek yogurt & strawberries and - without a single bit of provocation - started sobbing again.
I curled up in my Mom’s lap and asked what was wrong with me.
“You’re too skinny, my love”
I got mad at her for saying that, but I couldn’t stop sobbing in her arms so I didn’t have a really strong argument.
She planted a seed of doubt. Still, I kept at it. Nothing but thinsations and smoothies for me!
“I feel great!” I would say to all the people that complemented me on my now frighteningly thin figure telling me to “keep it up” and congratulating me.
I was no longer fooling myself, though. I knew I was unhealthy and unhappy but I couldn’t let go of the thin person I had become, the image others had of me as this super healthy, fit girl was now a part of my identity and I couldn’t let it go.
Eventually, my body got so sick of my bullsh*t that I started getting intense stomach pains every time I ate and those undigested bowel movements got even worse. I had to start listening.
Finally, I was diagnosed with celiac disease - an autoimmune disease that attacks my gut and prevents nutrient absorption.
The perfect excuse.
I would tell people that celiac disease was the reason I lost so much weight so quickly. Not because I had an eating disorder.
Going gluten-free and healing my gut would be the reason I gain a little bit back. Not because I lacked self-control, I couldn’t have people believing THAT!
From here, a new “all or nothing” mindset took over. Now it was all about health. I had to be militant about going gluten-free and getting it right.
Honestly, that mindset kind of came in handy for a second. I was able to eliminate gluten and recover a bit.
HOWEVER, it just gave me something else to obsess about. If I slipped or caved I resorted back to the same self-punishment.
I remember once I caved and had a whole box of raisin bran… THAT’S what I cheated with!!!
Anyways, I became so obsessive about gluten and cross-contamination that I would never go to dinner with friends or eat at anyone else’s home.
After a year of being completely gluten-free, no compromises. I no longer needed medication for depression, I gained some weight back and my bowels improved. However, my bowels were still irregular, I had not got my period back and I was still very bad at dealing with stress.
I decided to go even deeper. That’s when I found AIP, which really truly brought me into remission. However, this restrictive protocol is meant to be done for a time before reintroducing foods, which I refused to do. I just cooked all my own foods, didn’t go out for dinners or lunches or coffee dates and never ever drank.
So once again, I snapped. I couldn’t do it 100% anymore so I didn’t do it at all. I gave up and I went in the complete opposite direction, drinking lots and eating all the gluten-free cookies (still cookies!).
I didn’t reverse all the good I had done but now I was experiencing odd hormonal symptoms again (irregular periods, painful intercourse & mood instability) and went through bouts of extreme fatigue.
Knowing that once you have 1 autoimmune disease you are more likely to develop 3 or more, I asked my doctor to test for endometriosis. He did a full hormone panel (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone & TSH) as well as an ultrasound.
The ultrasound came back clear and my sex hormones were well balanced. The only thing that was slightly off was my Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH). By “slightly off” I mean it was at about a 5. Mainstream medicine will tell you that it just mildly elevated. Naturopathic doctors will tell you that is extremely elevated. For perspective, you’re unlikely to be able to conceive if your TSH is much higher than 2.
With that, I asked for a full thyroid panel, including antibodies to test for Hashimoto’s - an autoimmune disease that attacks your thyroid gland and is highly associated with celiac disease. I’m lucky my doctor gave me the testing - some won’t - who knows why. If your doctor tells you no, keep pushing or find a naturopath… or just get another doctor who listens to you.
Sure enough, we found elevated antibodies against my thyroid. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s.
So, back I go on full AIP.
After everything I’d gone through, now I was able to go into it understanding that whenever I go all or nothing and never give myself a break… bad things happen. I did the AIP protocol this time, knowing I would reintroduce slowly and determine my particular sensitivities so that I could live my life, eating the most variety possible while keeping my autoimmune diseases in remission.
Now, I work to keep that balance. I work to remind myself that I am beautiful and worthy no matter what I eat or how much I weigh.
It is still a struggle.
This all or nothing mindset comes from a place of striving for perfection. It permeates into everything that I do and in everything that I do it results in burn out, self doubt and inevitably failure because that is what I have set myself up for.
Perfection isn’t real. It doesn’t exist. So if you’re trying to achieve it, you will fail.
We all have different perceptions. What is beautiful to one person is off-putting to another. What is success to one person is failure to another.
The only way to be perfect for yourself is to forget perfection and love yourself. Be proud of yourself. Honour yourself. Give yourself what you need and do the things that make you truly happy.
Again, I’m still working on it. Of course, the thought that I should go on another diet just to lose a bit of “winter weight” passed through my mind in the new year. In fact, it passed through my mind this morning!
But then I consider my priorities.
This year, my priority is falling in love with myself… unconditionally.
I feel that there is no way to be truly happy, successful and HEALTHY unless everything I do comes from a place of self love.
I think it is going to be the hardest thing I have ever had to do but I hope to be able to share my journey with you and to allow it to enhance my practice so that I can offer a truly holistic health transformation to those who work with me.
I write this long and seemingly self-indulgent post, not to brag about my progress or glorify my journey or ask for sympathy or sell you on my services or claim to have all the answers.
This post is truly just meant for you.
You -who has done the yo-yo dieting, never quite finding what you’re looking for.
You - who can’t connect with those around you because you’re too busy counting calories in your head.
You - who feels worthless if you eat a “bad” food.
You - who no longer sees their friends because they’re too afraid to eat at a restaurant.
You - who is over-exercising and hating every minute of it.
You - who cares more about how people see you than how you feel or how you see yourself.
You - the person who is too afraid to be seen as a failure to do what you know is best for you
This post is meant to give you just one example of the fact that you are not alone.
An example of how your all or nothing mindset can be destructive as it can be powerful.
An example of how loosening your grip just a little bit can make all the difference to your health and the way you see yourself.
This post is a note of encouragement and a call to action, if you’re ready, for 2019.
Fall in love with yourself this year - really.
I don’t just mean take more baths and breath more essential oils.
I mean talk to yourself.
Look yourself in the mirror and give yourself a compliment.
Ask yourself what will REALLY make you happy.
Ask yourself what you really NEED for both your mental and physical health.
Figure out what it is you really love, what really makes you feel good, what makes you feel the most like YOU and indulge in all those things.
Get to know yourself like you're just starting to date yourself and let yourself fall in love.
Head over heals.
You are worthy of that kind of love.
If you’re ready, I challenge you to make that your ONLY resolution for this year.
I’m willing to bet that if you do, all your other goals & desires will simply manifest in a way that truly best for YOU.
You can do it.
Share this with someone who needs it. <3
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