I recently found out that I have very high cholesterol. Like Scary High. Genetic, definitely, as my grandfather had known problems with this very issue. As a result, I'm having to make some changes to my diet.
At first, I must admit that I got really upset about it. I've been through the wringer so much on issues of diet, nutrition, and eating disorders in the past 2 years that this felt like a big setback, like another set of laws randomly imposed on my body. I felt lost about what to eat given this new set of guidelines, as my previous Paleo imprint was clearly now inappropriate with the saturated fat I'd been eating in the form of meat, ghee, coconut oil, etc.
It started to turn around for me when I realized that in making the change to be more cholesterol-friendly, I was showing love for myself. I'm making the conscious effort to adjust to a different set of nutritional guidelines out of care for my health - not to make my body smaller, or more attractive, not to fit someone else's guidelines of what a fit body should look like. This is truly about health, not appearance.
To be honest, I'm kind of down for whatever anyone wants to do, be it for health OR appearance, so long as they aren't harming themselves or others. It's your body; make it your own experiment.
During my eating disorder last year, I was making dramatic changes: removing all grains, legumes, dairy, peanuts, sugar, processed food, and alcohol from my diet, because I believed I needed to be different. I thought I wasn't good enough - enough of an athlete, a lover, an attractive woman. If I were smaller, I'd be better.
But actually, smaller wasn't necessarily better. It was easier in that it was less triggering for me. As I've extensively documented here, gaining back/redistributing the weight has caused some suffering on my part. But it wasn't better. I was sick all the time in 2013. I had an injury that wouldn't heal. I was stressed out of my mind, and alienating friends and loved ones with my obsession with exercise and eating the "right" food.
Well, as it turns out, the food I thought was "right" all along isn't really right for me. And now I'm having to recalibrate, again.
This is why it's so important to honor your body's journey, to see it in context of a long life, a bigger picture. If I didn't keep that in mind, I'd probably still be pretty pissed off that my body has changed, that I need to rethink what I feed it, that it won't stay at that smaller size without a damn lot of work.
But when I'm thinking bigger picture, I realize that bodies go through so much throughout their lifetimes - growing up, puberty, first love, stress, pregnancy, birth, menopause, death. It's kind of silly to define a body by one metric, whether that be your weight, size of your pants, BMI, cholesterol, how many strict pull-ups you can do, your score on a benchmark WOD, etc. Any time we get too fixated on one outcome, one metric, things go a little wacky.
Also important to note: anytime we get super obsessed trying to fix a singular metric we wish were different, things also get out of alignment. If we are trying to change out of self-hate, instead of self-love and acceptance, we are bound to make unsustainable changes. As Josey said, "This is the body I’ve got now. I might as well love it and create sustainable change rather than trying to hate myself thin."
Today, I tried drinking my coffee with almond milk, instead of with cream. I did the exact same thing for Whole30, but I did it then because I was trying to get thinner and cream was "bad". These days, I don't think of cream as bad; I just think of it as a dairy product that needs to be consumed in moderation. It's neutral. For me, for my individual body, it could cause my cholesterol to go up, so most days, I'll have the almond milk now, thanks.
And that choice feels pretty okay.