- is my body different? For years I wondered…
- why you don’t have a slow metabolism
- the MOST attractive thing anyone can do
When I was in high school there was a girl named Barbara Kenny.
Ok… Her name wasn’t Barbara Kenny—but let’s call her that.
She had a thick, blonde pony tail down to her butt.
Ate food like Subway sandwiches for lunch.
And NEVER exercised.
I mean… she was the best basketball player at our school. (I’m talking could’ve-crushed-any-senior-male-player-when-she-was-just-in-Gr. 9 kind of good.) So she was active.
But she wasn’t doing any exercise on stationary machines.
Or running miles and miles a day.
Or counting calories, weighing herself, or doing push-ups on her bedroom floor in the dark, once the house was quiet and she could be sure the rest of her family was asleep.
…And still, Barbara Kenny was the perfect weight.
The PERFECT weight!
And on top of that she was gorgeous.
But she had no idea she was gorgeous.
Which, you know, only added to her charm.
Then there was me.
For years I wondered is my body different?
My hair was super dry. And breaking in half all over my head.
So my hairdresser suggested I get my thyroid checked. (For a hot minute I thought she’d solved the mystery of why I couldn’t lose weight.)
...tickety-boo...— Lord Mountbatten, Governor General of India, 1947
As it turned out, my thyroid was working tickety-boo.
In a moment I’ll tell you why, despite all my efforts, I couldn’t lose weight.
That was just my hair.
I also had chipmunk cheeks, cuts on my knuckles and the occasional blood shot eye. All from making myself sick.
How did I go from being a happy, healthy kid—a straight A+ student and athlete of the year—to being someone who did that to themselves?
I wish my story was unique.
But it’s not.
Over 30 million people, in the USA alone, have disordered eating.
And over 45 million Americans go on a diet each year.
In other words, over 45 million people in The States think they have to do something complicated… something “special” to be a healthy weight. Rather than eat regular meals, like Barbara Kenny.
(Barbara Kenny and everyone else in the world who’s healthy.)
So many people wonder is my body different?
When I look out my window at night, and see all the lights twinkle from the apartments around me, I worry about how many people, even in just a mile radius of my home, are suffering.
We need to talk about what you’re going through—and how to fix it.
Some GOOD NEWS about your body
No matter where you sit along the spectrum of chronic dieting to disordered eating, you CAN reach your HAPPY weight and get healthy.
Things can get better and they can get better quickly.
Then you can get on with living between delicious meals.
Why I wondered is my body different?
For all the years I was dieting, I hardly ate anything (most of the time).
I’d only eat fruit until noon and have lettuce, broccoli and carrots for lunch with a no-fat dressing. Then for dinner I’d eat as little as I could get away with.
And burning calories? I worked out for at least an hour a day. In sunshine and rain. At Christmas or when I had the flu. There were no exceptions. I felt anxious until I exercised.
But no matter how hard I tried, I was always around 30 pounds overweight.
So when Barbara Kenny was effortlessly perfect, it drove home the message even deeper that my body was different.
I believed I was born with a slow metabolism.
And what really put the nail in the hatchet?
(Gaud… I get all my expression wrong! Let’s try again.)
And what really put the nail in the coffin?
When I was around 16 years old, someone I trusted told me:
They weren’t trying to be mean.
They also believed that unless you’re a Barbara Kenny, reaching a “healthy” weight required sacrifice.
For these reasons I was SURE my body was different to everyone else’s
Fast-forward 8 years.
8 more years of:
- eating ultra low-fat cream cheese
- weighing myself throughout the day
- wasting time planning new diets
- skipping meals if I thought I ate too much
- doing extra exercise if I thought I ate too much
- wasting money buying diet coke
- counting calories
- saying “no” to a DQ blizzard when all my friends ordered the one with oreos
- punishing myself for breaking my diet
- wasting money bingeing
- wasting more money buying something symbolic to draw a line in the sand before starting a new diet
- questioning my character—where the h*ll had my willpower gone? I used to be so determined!
- wearing clothes specifically to camouflage the extra pounds I chauffeured around
- wishing I could feel like me again; I was so uncomfortable in my body
- walking through each day with big secrets
And the list of self-defeating diet behaviors goes on and on…
But after 10 years in total, of all this dieting chaos, and believing I’d always struggle with my weight, I suddenly realized something.
Dieting had taken over my life
Until then I’d been so preoccupied on the merry-go-round of starving, bingeing and purging, that I hadn’t realized the cost.1 in 4 teen girls are preoccupied by some degree of disordered eating, spending between 20% and 90% of their waking time thinking about food, weight and hunger.— National Eating Disorder Information Centre
I always thought I’d lose weight and then overcompensate… I’d come back and be better!
For years I truly believed tomorrow would be different and I’d stick to yet another crash diet. Then I’d re-enter my life with my best foot forward.
I imagined I’d take thin me down to the library first thing in the morning to get extra studying done. And do all the recommended readings. Then hang out with the TA’s after my lectures to ask questions and really understand the material so I could go the extra mile when I wrote essays and took exams.
All the years I dieted, I planned to lose weight and then go OTT (over-the-top) in every part of my life, to make up for lost time.
When I stopped caring if my body was different
The day it hit me that dieting had taken over my life, I was sitting in Tavistock Square (a small park in central London, near my halls of residence).
I was sitting in the grass at that time in the evening when the world turns blue. It’s called the gloaming and only lasts for a few minutes before the sun disappears and another day is through.
And in that moment I realized that:
Trying to lose weight was on my mind all day
and I had nightmares of bingeing at night,
& worse… all my disordered behaviors had interrupted other important parts of my life.
Life had marched on without me.
In just a few weeks I was going to graduate from teacher’s college.
So there was no getting back up to speed.
My academic life was coming to an end without the chance of redemption.
I was 24 years old and had been dieting since I was 14
The scene I played in my head, over and over again—the one that scared me the most, was imagining myself as a mom telling my kids I was just popping to the washroom and I’d be right back.
I didn’t want to have secrets anymore.
Or miss other opportunities.
And I didn’t want dieting to weave into any more chapters of my life.
Suddenly, sitting in Tavistock Square, my priorities changed.
I decided to focus on being healthy instead of being thin.
That ah-ha moment was so pivotal, that message is now on the back of my book.
And when I work with people 1:1 I always say:
Store my book with the back cover facing you!
How I realized the answer was NO! to: Is my body different?
When I decided to stop dieting and focus on health so I could feel normal and be productive each day, I lost weight.
Yup. That mind flip was the cure.
I wish someone had told me to focus on being healthy instead of being thin when I was 14.
It took me a while to figure out what “healthy” actually looks like because I had so much misinformation in my head.
But eventually I realized I don’t have to workout each day.
And that whole milk works with our bodies better than skim.
I also quit diet coke because it’s worse for weight gain than the full-sugar stuff.
And on and on and on…
Slowly I unpacked all the diet rules, tips and tricks floating around in my head that had been my holy grail for so long.
When I made these healthy changes, life got easier.
So much easier!
And a WHOLE lot more fun.
My body isn’t different
Now when I look back at Barbara Kenny I see all her moderate choices were healthy choices and in return she was a healthy weight.
She didn’t jerk her body around with wild extremes, like I did. (Which slows down your metabolism.)
BK was kind to her body.
Stop trying to “look” healthy and be healthy!
Your body wants to be a healthy weight.
If you give your body what it needs you’ll reach a healthy weight naturally—without feeling hungry.
Like I’m working 1:1 with an amazing woman in the UK right now, who said during our first week together:
“Kelly are you sure I’ll lose weight? I’m not depriving myself.”
Fast-forward just a couple weeks and she’s got more energy and her clothes are loose.
Everyone has problems
…Now I’m not so naive to think Barbara Kenny didn’t have problems of her own.
Like I found out years later she had an obsession with toe clippers—she had boxes and boxes of toe-clippers that she ordered from eBay and Amazon. She apparently had plier clippers, scissor clippers, guillotine-style clippers and antique toe-nail clippers inlay-ed with abalone because the pearlescent shell is known for having healing qualities. Or something like that! (No judgement.)
She even had specially hand-crafted toe clippers custom-made from Etsy with Barbara Kenny engraved on the lever.
And I heard that there were so many toe-clippers stacked in every room in the house, that her 3rd husband was like: I’m outta here.
Poor guy could hardly move around his home.
…Ok, I just made that up.
I have no idea what Barbara Kenny is doing these days.
But my point is, everyone has barriers they need to break down. And that’s more than ok. Obstacles are our best teachers.
Or as I like to say:
You haven’t really lived until you’ve had a problem!
So many incredible things grow from difficult times.
If you gave me a button to press that would remove the decade of disordered eating from my life, I wouldn’t press it.
We all need a little sand in our oysters.
A little aggravation makes us uncomfortable which helps us figure out who we are. Then we can create pearls of wisdom that heal us when we share what we’ve learned with someone else.
Here’s a pearl of wisdom
As you consider being kind to yourself
by focusing on healthy choices
diet-industry approved messages
that condition us to believe we have to do something extreme to reach a healthy weight
Let me leave you with this—
There’s nothing more attractive than someone out there loving life.
Get out there!
When you’re having fun, everything (including healthy eating) is easier.
Make Today Count
What small change can you make today?
Eat a sandwich for lunch instead of a salad?
Give your body a day off from working out?
Put on an outfit you feel good in?
Start by trying just one of these self-care acts that’s healthy, TODAY.
Build healthy eating and exercise habits. A healthy weight will follow.
Are you ready to throw CAUTION out the window? Ready to forget all your diet rules, tips and tricks and be kind to yourself?
Tonight the winds of change are blowin’ wild and free.
Personally I think the best place to start is by eating a healthy lunch.
Here’s bunches of lunches to choose from.
Don’t live your whole life on a might-have-been.
I LOVE Brandon Flowers and his commitment to doing the things he loves… whether he’s singing to 90 000 people in Wembley Stadium or he’s singing just short of into a hair-brush, looking at the bathroom mirror, Brandon’s all in.
(This recording was made for Jimmy Kimmel’s late night show, during quarantine.)
What are you committed to outside of losing weight?
What people, projects and animals motivate you to say bu-bye to dieting and get healthy?
Let me know in the comments below!
And if you think you’re ready to really get healthy but might need a little guidance? Let me know. I’m working 1:1 with a handful of people and absolutely loving the incredible milestones they’re making each week.
You can Barbara Kenny your life.
I’ll help you!
PS I found the Barbie featured in this post in a box at the back of a building on a dog walk. Now that restrictions have been lifted, she’ll be on her way to the Salvation Army and someone will give her a home. One that’s not pink and plastic.
Sharing what I learned makes the 10 years I STRUGGLED worth it