Girls do not decide to hate their bodies, we teach them to.
I went to my first nutritionist when I was 12 and wanted to lose weight before high school. That was when I first started counting calories, measuring 1/4 cups of cottage cheese, tracking my activity level, getting praise for the changing shape of my body, and oh yeah, melting butter in a pan with brown sugar and eating it straight.
Messing with your food, messes with your mind.
I wanted to lose weight because society and our culture teaches us that we are flawed if we aren't a certain size and shape. These messages were all around me and ingrained in me the feeling that there was something wrong with my body that had to be fixed. I wholeheartedly bought into this myth and from an early age started on a path to fix myself that would dominate the landscape of my life (and body) for the next 30 years.
Initially my dieting attempts were successful. I would lose weight every time I tried. But it always came back. And I always thought it was my fault. I must not be trying hard enough. I’ll do better on the next diet or when work calms down or when I get over this illness or when life isn’t so busy. Then it became harder and harder to start each new diet. How come the harder I tried to control my food, the more out of control I became?
One summer, I stumbled across a book that suggested the revolutionary concept of eating what I wanted. (I won't name the book, because I wouldn't recommend it.) By finding this book, I realized I was not the only one who struggled with diets and suffered from a Jekyll and Hyde relationship with eating. Hallelujah - I was not alone! I dove in and started to read book after book and eventually I learned that there was nothing wrong with my behavior at all. My relationship with food was like a stretched rubber band, ready to snap, and when I relaxed my attempt to control what I ate (and when, and how much), the tension subsided. I started to build a new relationship, first with food, and then with myself, based on allowance, permission, self compassion and trust.
I admit - I was hugely skeptical at first. While I was tired of eating the frosting off of a box of cupcakes and hiding the box in the garbage, I feared what would happen if I stopped counting calories, weighing myself, reading food labels and counting my steps. You know what happened? I also stopped eating the frosting off of a box of cupcakes and hiding the box in the garbage.
And then I discovered that it's not our bodies that are flawed, it's society's messages. Don't let it take you 30 years to find the freedom I have discovered. You can start on your path to freedom today. Let me save you some time.
My name is Elizabeth Hall and I am a Certified Eating Psychology Coach and Certified Intuitive Eating Facilitator who helps women heal from chronic dieting and helps them interpret the messages that food and body image challenges are trying to deliver.
My mission is to free women from diet culture and to offer shelter to women struggling with food anxiety. Too many women don’t realize that dieting is a prison to which they hold the key. I help women heal from diet culture trauma, learn how to be resilient to the pressures of our fat phobic society and stop harmful behaviors before they infect future generations. It’s not our bodies that have to change, it’s our minds.
My work has been informed and influenced by:
- Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch and their book Intuitive Eating
- Linda Bacon and her book Health at Every Size
- Rachel W. Cole- Feast
- Isabel Foxen Duke -Stop Fighting Food
- The Institute for the Psychology of Eating
- Tracy Brown RD
- Christy Harrison's podcast Food Psych
- Hilary Kinavey and Dana Sturtevant of Be Nourished (I will be participating in their Body Trust Provider Certification Training in the fall of 2017)
When I am not reading a book on body image or weight science or listening to a podcast on binge eating or self care, I can be found walking my dog, eating a meal with my family or napping on the porch. These are the things that fuel me to do the work that I love and I am grateful that I have learned how to nurture myself in this fashion. By putting on my own oxygen mask first, I am able to show up for my family and appreciate my life more than ever before, and you can too.