Hormones and the Balance Between Diet Culture and Body PositivityOct 28, 2021
Whenever I do consultations with new clients, we always talk about their top three goals, and often, weight loss makes the list. Whenever I see this on the intake paperwork, I stop and take a deep breath because this topic is a tough one to navigate. On one end of the spectrum, diet culture promotes juice cleanses, cutting out macros and low, low calories to be an unrealistic size. Truthfully, this was the CAUSE of my personal hormonal imbalance because we NEED food and nourishment to create healthy hormones and I certainly didn’t have enough. On the other end of the spectrum, we have the body positivity and fat acceptance movement to reduce discrimination and accept all body sizes as normal. But there’s a problem here too, where past a certain point, being overweight and obese can have a severe impact on the circulating levels of inflammation in your body and tax all of your hormones. What I really want for my clients, my course takers, my members, and for you is the judgment-free area that lies somewhere in the middle where you’re focused on nourishing yourself, having hormonal and metabolic health, and that being the determining factor for your health rather than size.
So why do you want to be in the middle? Well, there are a lot of problems, as I’m sure you’ve heard me talk about on Instagram, with diet culture. As women, from a young age, we internalize these messages that to be thin means to be valued. We’re sold all of these products on Instagram, like skinny tea, on TV like laser lipo, or in our inboxes a discounted cleanse. Showing results of the Kardashians or other razor-thin models. The problem is, we all know they have surgeons, trainers, chefs and probably don’t use those products or those discounted treatments. The bigger problem? Through women consuming these things, we’re reducing ourselves to a number on the scale and we are SO MUCH MORE than that. Does that ever happen with men? Not that I’ve heard. So if you find yourself obsessively weighing yourself on the scale, counting calories, or spending all of your money on the next diet supplement, I would urge you to ask yourself: in all of the areas of your life, how much do you weigh.. how much money are you bringing in to your family? How many kids are you caring for? How many things are you taking care of on a day-to-day basis? Remember, you can’t hate your body into being thinner, and you’re damaging your hormones with all of the stress.
So if you’re obsessing, the answer first is to work on your body image and focus on your metabolic health. Your metabolism is all of the chemical reactions that take place in your body every day to keep it alive, as it turns calories you’ve consumed into usable energy. It’s determined by several factors, including your genetic makeup, body composition, gender, hormonal health, level of activity, and age. Some of these factors are in your control, like muscle mass and hormonal health, and some factors are not, like genetics and age.
Metabolic health is defined as optimal levels of:
- blood sugar
- triglycerides and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol
- blood pressure
- waist circumference
These lab levels dictate your risk of getting heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. If you’re in the optimal range, it predicts you are feeling well in your body.
Why do I constantly tell clients to ditch their scale? Because you CANNOT TELL SOMEONE's METABOLIC HEALTH BY THEIR WEIGHT. There are clients who I see who are at a perfectly normal weight whose markers are all off and there are clients who I see who are “overweight” who are perfectly metabolically healthy. When I was restricting food and chronically stressed, I was a “normal weight,” but my glucose was off and my cholesterol was sky high (a weird side effect of eating disorders). My clients and I, we’re not alone. Shockingly, only 13% of Americans are metabolically healthy.
The good news? Finally, am I right?!
There are ways to improve your metabolic health and potentially find a new set point weight that I review more in-depth in the course.
- eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables
- ensuring your microbiome is healthy - taking a good probiotic
- keeping your blood sugar balanced with the right amount of protein, healthy fats, and good carbs that is right for your body
- moving your body in a low-stress way
- regularly destress through meditation, long walks, and time away from your phone
- getting 8 hours of sleep and not skimping on it
So let’s let go of this argument between diet culture and fat positivity. The answer is in science. Health is not based on a size or a number on the scale, but rather the metabolic indicators that you can run through simple lab tests. Allow that to be what you strive for—the objective rather than the subjective. I would urge you to find the middle ground so that you can take care of your health and begin to promote a healthy body image in your own mind.
You can learn to take control of your metabolic health in my WBK health and hormones course - check out the free webinar here.