Hey hi hello friends! I feel like it’s been awhile since I’ve posted on here- things have been quite busy over in internship land. I am about two weeks away from being done with my internship which means I am two weeks away from becoming eligible to be a full-fledged registered dietitian, YAY! If I’m going to be honest with you, a career as a registered dietitian is something I grapple with nearly daily. I never, ever want to be a weight loss dietitian. I do not ever want to counsel people to lose weight- it just feels too hypocritical to me. Plus when you look at research looking at the effects of weight loss and health…it’s really not the holy grail it was once considered to be. More on that later.
Given that I’m almost done, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’m going to do once I’m done. I have a little bit of a buffer period where I’ll move back home for a few months and work for my sister and get all my doctors appointments out of the way to make sure my health is improving (fingers crossed!) but come fall, I’m going to be out in this big wide world and I’m going to need a job and a purpose.
Last week, I was talking to a woman in the hospital where I’ve been interning who was 87 years old. I went in to chat with her about the (medically necessary) low-sodium diet she was prescribed. As I started talking to her and asking about her usual intake, she told me that she had been on Weight Watchers for the last 20 years and eats mostly their frozen, pre-packaged meals. To which my only response was: ick! (in my head so as not to offend this little old lady).
Weight loss is so unanimously sought after that this nearly 90 year old woman was still trying to chase it. In fact, she was chasing it in detriment to her health (because those frozen meals were not really what she needed for her condition). Which got me thinking- do I really want to be like that? Do I really want to be on my death bed but be able to say that I’ve dieted for the last 20 years? Do I really want to be laying sick in the hospital but be able to say that I lost a couple pounds? That I’ve followed “diet” rules for the majority of my life? Will that mean anything in the end?
Or do I want to be like the other woman I saw last week- who was 90 years old, had no significant medical problems, who had zero interest in changing her eating habits at all because she’s going eat how she wants to eat? The lady who was eating pizza for lunch and potato chips for dinner, who had no illness to speak of? That lady was killin’ it. And to be honest, I would much rather be like her. I would so much rather live my life and eat what I want than dedicate my life to following diet rules.
There are so many talented, smart, passionate, genuine women who are wasting their time trying to lose weight or look a certain way. And it is so sad to me. We are capable of SO MUCH MORE than weight loss. In the end, I would rather be remembered for the good I did in this world than the body I inhabited. I am forever grateful to my body for moving me through life, for keeping me going even when it was starved, for being the vessel that carries me. And for the first time in years, I’m not going to try to fight my body into looking a certain way but rather accept it where it is and continue to be grateful for what it does. I’m slowly learning that there’s beauty in making peace with your body and not trying to change it. And what’s more, if I’m not focused on my body, I can be focused on the things I really do care about in this life. I can focus on the big things, the important things rather than spending my time in front of a mirror scrutinizing my body. I’m learning through my recovery that the brains in my head and my passion for life is much more important than my ability to control what I eat and how I look.
I’ve spent a lot of years trying to change my body or comparing it to other people and I have no desire to spend another minute engaging in these comparisons. I don’t know what I’m going to do after I’m done with this internship. But I do know that I want to help people be empowered by their lives and encourage people to live BIG- and not to restrict or reduce their life down to counting calories or minutes at the gym. For the first time in my life, I’m realizing that I’m capable of so much more than I ever thought. And for anyone out there who continues to struggle (whether you have an eating disorder or not)- YOU ARE CAPABLE OF SO MUCH MORE THAN YOU THINK. I promise. Even if you can’t see it yet. I promise.