“If you can pinch an inch, you’re fat.”
These were the words my friend announced as we gathered around the 7th grade lunch table. While nobody was looking, I quietly reached down and pinched my stomach. Disappointment overcame me as I definitely saw a good inch of stomach skin grasped between my fingers.
Was I fat?
It was the first time I had ever looked at my body in a negative way. My childhood consisted of climbing trees, neighborhood games of kickball and plenty of rollerblading in my neon knee and elbow pads. I loved to run and I loved to play sports with any boys that would let me. Coming from a family of all girls, I was quickly labeled the tomboy of the crew, which I was happy about.
As that day’s lunch talk continued with a discussion of how Skittles were totally low fat and Sprite would kill you, I found myself puzzled as to why I need to care about being fat. Up until that lunch day, I was healthy and happy. Wasn’t that enough?
That awkward moment when people tell you you’re skinny.
Most of you know the story of how I was able to reverse our family’s health issues and lose weight myself with a real food diet. To some it may sound overwhelming to eat real food, but actually it was pretty simple. We cut out the processed food, learned how to cook from scratch, and found that our bodies liked it. And bonus, I shed pound easily.
What you probably didn’t know is that while I was feeling better and weighed lighter, I found myself in the oddest predicament.
People kept praising me for being skinny. And it felt good. While initially my intentions were to reverse my health issues, I discovered people were more excited about the weight loss. I was able to write about my story in my book Have Your Cake & Lose Weight Too.
The problem came when I started to obsess about an extra pound here or there.
Finding peace with your body (and food).
I’m convinced that to reach TRUE health, we must be at peace with what our body is and where it has brought us. And we have to realize that health trumps weight, every time. A real food diet really has done amazing things for my body. I was able to reverse my chronic inflammatory state in my back to almost nothing, and improve my thyroid function.
In the middle of the summer, I was contacted by Woman’s World to be on the cover of their magazine to feature my “groundbreaking” diet and weight loss success. To me, it didn’t seem really groundbreaking because I just ate whole, unprocessed food. But to them it was unheard of, and I spend the next three months in interviews trying to explain the concept of eating full-fat dairy products and whole eggs (without reducing carbs to compensate) to the editors at Woman’s World.
As the cover date approached, I found myself nervous. Was I a total scam? Was I skinny enough to be on Woman’s World? Was that a question I should even be concerned about? I’m just a normal girl in Arizona, playing with some goats. Even though I did write a book on my success with weight loss and the healing of my body with real food, I wasn’t sure people would find me legit.
A dose of reality.
During this time of my insecurity, one of my well-known blogger friends told me one of the most profound things. She said,
“DaNelle, whenever I see a really skinny body, I always think, gosh, I hope she’s taking care of her body. Don’t equate being skinny with being healthy. People do it all the time, but it’s NOT the same thing. Focus on being healthy & being strong. You have one life to live, and I’m telling you that’s all that matters.”
Are skinny and healthy the same thing?
I’ve thought a lot on this subject and here’s the conclusion I’ve come to…
At the skinniest I’ve been in my adult life, which was around 120 lbs. after I did the GAPS diet, that was also the time when I felt the worst. Fatigue, achy joints, anxiety & depression all plagued me. At my current weight, around 130 lbs., I feel amazing. I’m happy, I sleep well, I enjoy real food (and 20% of crappy food) and most importantly, most of my health issues have subsided considerably.
When I think about which I would rather have, and the years I spent suffering during my most unhealthy years, I’m telling you, I’d take healthy over skinny ANY DAY.
Here’s my current thoughts on health & weight in general. I think that if you can focus on REAL FOOD, you are SO MUCH better off. You can naturally lose pounds while feeling satisfied and nourished. What I don’t believe is the ability to maintain that health by chasing diets or unhealthy practices to simply to see the numbers on the scale drop.
In the end, what we should be asking ourselves is, can we accept our bodies right now and focus on what we love about food instead of what we should limit? My hope is that we as women can support each other as we each find that balance for ourselves.