Ling Wong, MS, CHHC, AADP
Nutrition and Wellness Coach
Thoughts for Foods
I am 5’3” and currently I weigh 105 pounds. I had a baby about two years ago and now I am still fitting nicely into the clothes I had in college. But it’s not always been like this for me. I had my share of weight problems and struggled with my relationship with food. My journey into pregnancy gave me a big smack on my head and woke me up to my skewed body image and my relationship with food.
I continued to struggle with my body image all through high school, treating my body as something that was “in my way” and never learned to respect and love it. I diverted all my energy to intellectual endeavors and left my intuition and my sensitivity to what my body wanted behind, believing that I could think my way out of my body image woes.
Honestly, I have no problem eating. I love food. The challenge was what went on in my head. The incongruence would drive me crazy. Nothing good can come from counting calories and thinking about taking this pill and that tea to “counter” the calories just consumed.
My obsession with staying thin was further fueled by my involvement in endurance cycling. I could easily burn 1500 calories in one training and, with my calorie conciousness, I never let myself eat enough to replenish the calories burned. Being light means less weight to haul up the hill – good advantage. I soon got myself back down to 97 pounds. My period disappeared.
Then we tried to get pregnant. I went to the OB/GYN and she was very concerned about my weight and my low hormone level. She sent me for a bone scan and I was diagnosed with osteopenia (estrogen plays a role in maintaining bone density). She sent me to a fertility expert, who then diagnosed me with hypothyroidism (probably as a result of low metabolism due to restricted calorie intake). I was still doing things my way, thinking medication would fix whatever problems I had. After a few unsuccessful cycles of taking hormones, which made my life very miserable, and a miscarriage, I finally had enough and sought the help of an acupuncturist.
I knew I had to work with my body, respect what it needs and stop fighting it. I was treated with acupuncture and traditional Chinese herbal medicine. I followed my body’s lead, gave it the nutrients it wanted and gained six pounds. My hormones bounced back, I got my period. And I got pregnant three months later. This experience was a wake up call – I had to respect my body, listen to it and give it what it needs.
Getting my body “fixed” also gave me the kind of emotional stability I had not experienced for a long time – I began to see that there is a connection between food, the body, the emotions and the mind.
My journey through pregnancy was what it took for me to overcome my body image issues and my relationship with food. I loved my body when I was pregnant – it changed everyday. Something new and fascinating happens every morning and I was in awe what it could do. Pregnancy set my body image concerns and my relationship with food free. I learned to listen to my body and eat what was needed without being enslaved to counting calories. Weight gain definitely was a concern for me going into pregnancy and I was very careful with my weight – gained twenty-three pounds - but I ate well and exercised, so I was confident that I would get back in shape afterwards -and I did, three months postpartum.
Postpartum, I was determined not to fall back into my old pattern. I researched and studied and found ways to help me feel that I am in control of my weight without having to count calories, going on yet another diet, or taking pills and supplements. I have been able to manage my weight without the frustration and restriction that comes with “diets”. I studied holistic nutrition and became a holistic nutrition and wellness coach.When coaching my pregnant clients, I focus on listening to the body, feeding the body nutrient-dense food and trusting that the body will do what it needs to do.
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