Around the age of 10, my mother put me on my first diet. She had only the best of intentions. But, looking back, I realized that my weight had made her uncomfortable. I had been fine with it. The body that made her uncomfortable was functioning just as it needed to be in preparation for the onset of puberty.
Years later, I have made peace with my cherished anorexic mom, knowing that she loved me as much as a mother could love a child, and was merely passing on what was taught to her at my age. I am grateful for having the right mom for me.
Nonetheless, this began my 14-year spiral deep into the world of what I refer to as “diet mentality,” which included endless dieting accompanied by dangerously rapid weight fluctuation and progressive weight gain, perfectionism, compulsive exercising, people-pleasing and negative self-talk in an effort to feel good enough and thin enough to be lovable. You name it, there was not a diet I hadn’t tried between 1969 and 1984. Trust me on this. No need to name them.
My primary focus throughout college was compulsive eating and dieting while I was earning my BA in psychology from the University of California at Berkeley. I considered myself a relatively intelligent person, but it took me another six years to confront my situation head-on and act.
Finally, in my late 20s, I made radical lifestyle changes to my physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual components. I made peace with my body and I made peace with food. I lost about 35 pounds for the last time, God-willing. This time, my primary objective went much deeper than merely taking the weight off. I aspired to keep the weight off, long-term.
Having been completely ensconced in diet mentality for well over a decade by then, I had a lot of work to do to heal. I soon learned that to experience lifelong weight loss maintenance, my participation needed to be on multiple levels. This was going to be much more than merely a journey about physical recovery. I slowly lost weight at the rate of about two pounds per MONTH. And once the weight was off, then the hard work began. Yes, my body was now officially “right-sized,” but there was so much more to it than the size of my physical body.
As a fitness professional and former bulimic exerciser, I knew all about staying in “fit” physical condition. What I didn’t know was how to stay in fit spiritual condition, in fit emotional condition, or even in fit mental condition. To maintain my new body, I needed these three other components. I had lost the weight so many times before, only to gain it, and more weight, back. This time I was determined to go to any lengths—to do whatever it took. I had embarked on an entirely new journey that I am still (usually) happily on today.
Even through pregnancy, I remained in what I called a right-sized body and mind. And, during my entire pregnancy, when the doctor wanted to document my weight, I got on the scale backwards (I haven’t owned a scale in 30 years)! Not until six months after my son was born did I ask what my weight was. I learned that my weight the day before I delivered my child at 40 years of age was still lower than my top weight in my 20s.
Then, in my 40s, a hormonal shift happened. I basically had to recalibrate my entire lifestyle—physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually—that had worked for me for more than a decade to address the extreme symptoms that accompanied these shifts. My entire personality changed. Would I and could I rise to the occasion? I was in total denial—menopause … surely, not me!
“Dammit … It IS Menopause!” is the journey of my struggles and recalibration through this phase of womanhood. I invented many tips and techniques to keep myself on track—and I am gladly sharing these with you. This is a serious subject. I’m sure you will relate to some of my predicaments. We women are comforted in knowing we are not alone, right?!
I have been fully menopausal for more than 10 years now. Through pregnancy at 40, perimenopause and beyond, I have remained in what I call a right-sized body and mind. A body I can do business with. A body I love the hell out of. I continue to feel good and my clothes keep fitting, year after year. I’ve learned that it is not about the weight—the weight is a barometer of what I am eating, and what I am eating is a barometer of how well I am staying current with my feelings.
If you have read to this point, chances are these thoughts and feelings resonate with you. I wholeheartedly invite you to join me as I share all my secrets about how I live a Varsity life: physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. Come on this journey with me to discover your Big Amazing Life. It’s waiting for you!
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Sally Bartlett, ©2021