WEIGHT WELLNESS BY IRENE MALTZAN, INTEGRATIVE NUTRITIONIST
What is weight wellness? Let me first tell you the story how I came to realize that weight should be about wellness.
This was difficult for me because we live in a society that places so much emphasis on being thin. Even when they are at the right weight, most people are still not comfortable in their own bodies. Instead of acceptance and gratitude, they feel the need to find fault with themselves and the body is an easy target.
I was no different. My struggles began in my early years. Born into a Russian family, I was not a petite size. Coming from wartime Russia, food was everything to my family. If you had an abundance of food you were rich, and we loved to cook and eat.
My struggles started in middle school. I watched my mother constantly diet and never be able to maintain her weight loss. I adored her, and the fact that she was never happy with her weight had a big influence on me. I, too, began my obsession with dieting. I felt I was overweight and always comparing myself to my shorter, slimmer friends.
My first serious weight loss program began in college. My mom, who had always told me I was perfect at my weight, couldn’t help commenting when she saw me put on those “freshman 15” pounds and then some. When she said, “You need to lose weight,” she might as well have hit me over the head with a 2 x 4.
So what did I do? I joined Weight Watchers. I did lose weight – 50 pounds in less than six months – but it was unrealistic for me to maintain it. I vividly remember going to a party, eating too many brownies and being sick to the point where I felt like throwing up. At the next Weight Watchers meeting I discussed this with my leader, and she told me it was normal. Really? It’s normal to overeat and get sick? The message to me was the key to maintaining weight was overeating and then getting sick or working out obsessively to burn the calories. That sounded like permission to create an eating disorder.
Over time I realized that being at the “right weight” was not weight wellness. I was suddenly a superstar at my new weight, and friends, guys and other adults treated me differently. I craved the attention because I didn’t love myself inside, but nothing really changed. In fact, it bothered me when I ran into people I hadn’t seen in a while because the focus was always about my weight. They wanted to know my secret and how they too could lose weight, too. The truth was, it was a struggle to stay there.
After a few years I decided it was enough. I realized being at an unrealistic weight didn’t make me happier or a better person. I wanted to be healthy, even if the weight charts didn’t put me at the lower number or my BMI wasn’t 20 percent.
It was 35 years ago that I decided to embark on a lifetime journey to be happy with myself. To have a healthy relationship with food and enjoy my life. I decided that being a great mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, nutritionist and cook was more important than a number on a scale or a clothing size. It was important to like myself.
So – what is weight wellness? It’s a term that describes being at a place with your body and health that feels good. You can go through your day and not obsess about the scale. You can enjoy food without guilt and eat healthy. You can look in the mirror and smile rather than look for faults. And live your life to the fullest without constantly worrying about your weight.
Ultimately, weight wellness is about being with our friends and loved ones and not body shaming ourselves or others. Moving our bodies by doing exercise we love. Most of all – it is giving yourself permission to love yourself.
Irene Maltzan is an Integrative Nutritionist at The Body Image Boutique.
Read more about Irene and her services here.