*Please note this is a report of my personal experience with weight loss and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Always consult with your healthcare team before making any changes to your current diet or management. *
I haven’t made it a secret I am trying to lose some weight. But I do feel it has become sort of taboo to try and do that. Don’t get me wrong. I do realize there are many people, especially young women, who have a very bad relationship with their own body and/or with food. I am not saying we shouldn’t try and change that narrative for those people! Young girls are too often complimented only on how they look instead of what they achieve or are able of. But it doesn’t mean that trying to lose some weight is necessarily a bad thing!
I think this subject has become very much a black and white topic. Or you are full on body positive and you don’t care about how you look and surely not about how much you weigh. Or you are sucked into diet culture head first. I feel there is a whole lot of grey in this story.
A healthy body weight is still important. We should start by acknowledging that having an excess of body weight (adipose tissue) is a significant risk factor for a number of chronic diseases. To pursue health should only be encouraged. The real problem nowadays is, in my opinion that the expectations of a healthy body weight have shifted (to both ends!).
There have been countless scientific studies that have (tried) to show a relationship between body weight and the risk of disease or death. It’s still very difficult though to actually show causality.
‘’Isn’t it then more about healthy behaviours then about weight?’’ you could ask. This might very well be the case. People who care about eating a lot of veggies and fruit, eating whole foods, making meals from scratch etc, are also more likely to live a more active life. They pay more attention to other health promoting behaviours like getting enough sleep and drinking enough water. It’s about the whole picture.
Balance is key is what I try to live by these days. And that includes a healthy and balanced way of eating.
Through my journey with diabetes, switching from a ‘normal’ diet to a low fat diet, then to a low carb and keto diet all the while avoiding insulin and eating such big portions and still feeling hungry,…. I had no idea what a balanced plate of food looked like anymore! How much should I eat in a day? How frequently? How many carbs? How many calories? ‘’No more restrictions for me! ’’, was the main thing on my mind!
I had absolutely no clue. This for me proves once again the damaging effects all these diet hypes can have on a person’s health and relationship with food. I adopted these previous mentioned ways of eating out of fear. Fear of insulin. Fear of gaining weight. Fear of complications. (See the linked blog post if you would like to read more about that one.)
And I did gain weight. Not because of starting with insulin, but because of having absolutely no idea about how and what to eat anymore. I felt like I had restricted myself for so long. I was done with all of that. So I just ate whatever I liked whenever I liked. As you can imagine, I gained weight. I gained roughly 15% of bodyweight in 18 months’ time. For me, this was the sign things needed to change.
So two months ago I decided it was time to take care of myself in that facet of my life. For me, that includes losing some weight. I want to feel more energetic. I want to hike, to climb, to cycle, .. with a healthy and powerful body to push me forward instead of holding me back. I want to feel like myself again - a very active, even athletic person. That’s who I am.
It’s okay if you have different goals. Healthy weight is a range, not an exact number. The scale doesn’t show the whole picture. BMI is an inaccurate estimate of health anyways. For me, gaining 15% of body weight was too much. So I took action.
With the help of Helen I regained confidence around food. I know my pitfalls. I understand myself better. And the best part? I don’t even need to restrict myself. We didn’t cut out carbs. We didn’t go all fat phobia. We embarked on a journey together, taking an evidence based approach based on my weight loss and fitness goals. It works like a charm. I even enjoy my meals more than ever before! A big thank you to Helen for coaching me so competently.
I repeat: ‘’Balance is key’’. In this story just the same. We don’t need to become the skinniest version of ourselves and focus on food all the time. We don’t need to ‘eat clean’, whatever that means. But we can’t neglect our overall health either.
I feel very fortunate to be able to afford a coach to guide me in this process. I know not everyone has those means. If you are a person with diabetes and struggle with weight, please reach out to your health care team. They can help you look for the help that suits you and your circumstances best. In some countries, nutritional guidance is covered (partly) by insurance too!
As always, feel free to share your thoughts and I am happy to discuss any of these statements or guide you to more qualitative information sources and reference articles.