The Truth About Dieting
I was nineteen years old when my boyfriend casually told me about a conversation he’d just had with a friend.
“And then Leo said Valentina’s so much smaller than his ex. And I said ‘she’s petite’ and he said, yeah man, my girlfriend’s petite and I love it.”
My boyfriend chuckled to himself at his brilliance. I’d just picked him up from a city bar where they’d been drinking together for a few hours, and you could tell.
“Oh?” I said, vaguely curious about what guys talked about when they were alone together, and particularly curious about whether or not my name had come up. “And what did you say?”
“I said my girlfriend’s voluptuous.” Grinning to himself, he started jabbering away about something else while my mind cranked into overdrive.
Valentina was one of my best friends. She was gorgeous and delicate and tiny, in direct contrast to my height. At five foot seven (and a half!) in flats, I was always so much taller than other girls, and I hated it.
I didn’t want to be tall OR voluptuous. It didn’t occur to me for a second that this might be a good thing. It was the mid-90’s and Kate Moss and the ‘heroin chic’ waif look had well and truly descended. Monica and Rachel were already beginning to jostle for pole position as the thinnest Friends character, and every magazine screamed about The Zone, Atkins, and South Beach diets.
I didn’t know much, but I knew thin was good and fat was bad. I wanted to be petite too!
Translation in my subconscious? If I was thinner, people would love me more.
So I did what, sadly, so many teenage girls do: I stopped eating. I might never be petite as far as height, but I could damn well be petite in body size if only I applied myself.
Needless to say, the next few years were torture. I started keeping a food diary and made challenges with myself to reduce the number of entries each day. Dizzy spells and almost fainting at work in the mornings became a regular occurrence as I delayed eating for as long as I could.
I lived with my boyfriend and two other flatmates at the time. Our bathroom scales lived in a third, spare bedroom, and every morning when I woke up, I tip-toed down the hallway to weigh myself.
Often I closed my eyes and held my breath as I waited for the display to light up. If the number was lower than the previous day, hallelujah!, I was in a great mood.
If it was even a single gram higher, I was a mess, unable to think clearly about anything else.
As the weeks turned into months and I started receiving compliments from people about how slim I was looking, I became even stricter with myself. I cut out pictures of models from magazines and posted them in my diary as constant motivation and looked at them whenever I felt hungry.
I also pinned these pictures up across one entire wall of the spare bedroom (where the scales lived), as ‘motivation’.
Looking back now, I’m surprised my flatmates didn’t have me committed for my serial-killer-style ‘wall of death’, although no doubt they were either too smart or too scared to mess with me.
I was moody, irrational, emotional, and completely obsessed.
By the time my body mass index (BMI) dropped to an unhealthy and dangerous seventeen, my boyfriend had had enough. He tried to talk sense into me but I’d started to feel a sick sort of power over myself. I mean, if I controlled my weight, I controlled my life (and my fears), right?
Meanwhile, ironically, my ‘life’ was also losing weight. I avoided eating out with friends or family because, well, that involved food. Activities I’d previously enjoyed became tainted by my anxiety around food, and friends pulled away as I became increasingly exhausted and snippy.
Sadly this went on until I was a nervous wreck. Even the smallest thing would cause me to burst into tears. It was affecting my relationships, my work, my study, and my sanity.
I was thin, but at what cost?
When I no longer had the energy or willpower to starve myself, my BMI shot up to 22. Not excessive, by any means, but very upsetting to a girl who had hinged her self-esteem on her jeans size.
In desperation, I turned to diet shakes. Completely unaware that the toxic, artificial contents of the shakes mixed with lactose-containing milk that my body can’t handle, were actually causing me to GAIN, not lose, fat, my BMI continued to rise to a very plump and devastating 26.
Believe me, I wasn’t laughing on the inside.
Over the next decade I yo-yo’d through various diets, shakes, frozen meals, pills and other nonsense, never understanding why the weight loss wasn’t sustainable. My overall health deteriorated, my skin suffered with chronic eczema break-outs of epic proportions, and all the mental grief over my perceived failures seriously affected my sparkle!
So much time, youth and energy wasted fighting a never-ending battle it seemed I could never win.
My time in diet hell wouldn’t begin to come to an end until many years later. On October 1st 2011 I chose to follow a plant-based lifestyle and everything began to shift.
No longer wanting to eat frozen ‘diet’ dinners or traditional processed foods laced with animal derivatives, I began teaching myself to cook and educating myself about proper nutrition. I relaxed, experimented more, and began to love the way healthy, wholesome food made me feel.
Slowly but surely, day by day, my mind and body began to change.
Thirsty for knowledge, I made another one of the best decisions of my life and enrolled to study at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and began to understand more about the psychology of eating and creating a nurturing lifestyle.
Finally I began to focus on the good, the happy, the healthy, and the nourishing, and whaddya know… the excess weight melted away – in its place, a new and peaceful serenity and appreciation for all the beauty and joy in the world – and a whole new relationship with my body.
It was this life experience that inspired me to resign from my corporate career as a Cost Engineer for a global energy company, and pursue a new path as a Health Coach. And it was this journey that made my work helping other brave-hearted souls with their wellbeing goals so deeply fulfilling.
The Sparkle Project is a 6-week lifestyle transformation program based on these very principles.
Over the past ten years, this magical challenge has helped thousands to transform their wellbeing, sky-rocket their energy levels, and fall in love with life again. ✨
And now? Dom and I have given this entire program a 2023 glow-up on our shiny new platform!
Click here to learn more and receive instant access.
Wishing you a whole new level of self-love, radiance and vitality!
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