Do you need to lose weight to become healthy?
– OR –
Do you need to become healthy in order to lose weight?
As you may know, I’m a huge fan on Sean Croxton from Underground Wellness. It was in his book, the Dark Side of Fat Loss that I first realised that we generally have things the wrong way around.
We think that we need to lose a few kilos in order to look healthy. But in fact, our body won’t release excess weight (on a permanent basis) until it’s actually healthy. (Read more about Sean’s take here)
Being thin doesn’t automatically make you a healthy specimen of the human race!
I first lost a fair bit of weight a few years back. It was mainly down to calorie counting and a whole lot of exercise. And it did work – to a certain point. I maintained a very low weight for nearly 3 years and I calorie counted every single day (with the exception of a few overseas holidays). It was really the tipping point of my eating disorder.
After 3 years of excessive exercise and a very low calorie diet (made up of fake protein bars, “weight loss brand” chemical-laden foods, and anything artificially sweetened), my body shut down and I went into hormonal chaos.
I believe that losing weight (using the calorie-in/calorie-out model) was actually the cause of all my subsequent health complications!
I was struggling emotionally and felt like shit on the inside, even though I looked really good on the outside. After several visits to multiple GPs over a 12-18 month period, I was suffered from the following health issues, and was given a prescription list as long as my arm:
- insomnia (was given sleeping tablets – zopiclone)
- anxiety/panic attacks and mild depression (was given anti-depressants – citalopram)
- amenorrhea – later diagnosed as PCOS (was given a combined contraceptive pill containing drospirenone – “Yaz”)
- hypothyroidism (was given artificial thyroid hormone – thyroxine)
- insulin resistance
- high cholesterol
- digestive issues
- and finally adrenal fatigue!
And in addition to the above, my worst nightmare was becoming a reality – I was steadily gaining all the weight that I had lost back, plus interest!
Throughout this time, it was never suggested to me that these issues could be related to my diet and exercise regime (with the exception of adrenal fatigue, which I’ll get into later). With the cocktail of drugs that I was taking, it’s no wonder that I didn’t actually feel any better. I was working with a psychologist in relation to the eating disorder, and whilst she had recommended the anti-depressants, she was also into incorporating natural treatments as well.
Eventually, I decided enough was enough and discovered the world of natural medicine. It was interesting that the adrenal fatigue diagnosis wasn’t given to me until I started working with holistic practitioners, and I finally understood that you can have too much of a good thing. I dramatically cut down my exercise, overhauled my diet and detoxed my life. I’m still on that healing journey, with thyroid issues even today. However, my menstrual cycle slowly returned and I was finally able to conceive earlier this year.
What were the biggest factors that contributed to my healing:
- SLOW food philosophy – Seasonal, Local, Organic, Whole food – eating as close to nature as possible.
- lots of fermented foods and bone broth for good gut health.
- a permanent detox – cut out the chemicals and plastics by only using glass and stainless steel in the kitchen, only natural skin care and natural cleaning products.
- incorporating mindful exercise, including yoga and walking through nature with my dog.
- replacing medication with a range of minerals and vitamins.
- taking care of my emotional and mental health through regular meditation, journalling and rest.
- daily use of essential oils.
- regular chiropractic care.
- regular acupuncture (weekly when I was trying to conceive).
- working with a naturopath/herbalist.
- a few kinesiology sessions.
- regular self-care – daily body brushing, magnesium footbaths, organic facials and thai massage!