I remember the first time I felt insecure about my body. I was in 7th grade, and we were heading out to the soccer fields to practice one afternoon after school.
At the time, Marshall Mathers’ cult classic inaugural hit “Slim Shady” was at the top of the charts. Cupping their mouths like juvenile hand megaphones, my teammates would loudly sing: “Would the real Slim Sadie please stand up?” because they had just learned what a rhyme was and everyone needs a junior high soccer practice walkout song. Whenever the lyric beckoned me, I would go from sitting or squatting to standing with my arms outstretched like a proud hype man signaling the crowd because I lived to please. Thankfully though, the Team Mean Girl was there to sit my ass right back down:
“Slim Sadie… except she’s not slim,” she said as she snickers and sneers and reapplies her Dr. Pepper-flavored Smackers chapstick.
From then on, I became hyper aware of my body. Noticing that none of my friends shared the same sizes as I did, didn’t experience the same rolling situations I did, and didn’t have anything bouncing after them while they ran to lunch. I began to observe what they were eating, and kept careful accord of what and how much I ate. It was a mental and emotional burden that wholly consumed me. Pun intended.
This burden would stay settled on my brain all throughout junior high, high school, and college. I’d create asinine justifications in my head that I thought were going to make my body better, by whatever dumb standard. If I was going to be in a swimsuit, I made sure not to eat before or during said swim event. I never got dessert, soda, or seconds unless someone else did. I never ate breakfast because I didn’t want to go to school “full”, and lunches were paltry. As a result, I’d gorge at dinner because I was rightfully starved. Diet pills were a cupboard staple, and Sugar Free Monster nearly replaced water because I learned that caffeine was a diuretic. College was more of the same, plus alcohol. If I knew I was going to go out and party, I’d skip dinner. Pre-game nutrition was light or non-existent because I didn’t want the weight of nutritious food bogging me down as I ran for 90 minutes. I had no idea what real nutrition was, or how to fuel my body properly — even as a D2 collegiate athlete at a world-renowned small, private university in West Texas. I just knew that not eating was better than being fat. Sades was the name, and chronic food deprivation was my game.
It wasn’t until I got diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that I started to get a grip on my drunk and disordered eating. After my diagnosis, I read, I researched, I studied, I experimented. I learned what food could do for me not what I thought it’d do to me; I learned what macronutrients were, what foods exacerbated my disease, what balance looked like, what metabolic damage was, and how a dysfunctional diet contributed to like 99.999% of my mental, emotional, and physical issues.
Sleepy and sluggish? Eat more food.
Underwhelming workouts? Eat food sooner.
Skin breaking out? Eat better, whole food.
Achy, bloaty, generally irritated at your boyfriend and roommates? Eat different food.
Sayings like “food is medicine” and “I’d rather take vitamins now than drugs later” are pithy as shit, but I am proof that they are real and true.
So when Justin Hroch and Haley Hall — a real life Registered Dietitian — ambushed me at the gym one day and asked if I’d be interested in developing a nutrition program for Renew, my initial thoughts were, “I am in no way fit for this.” I am still very much a work in progress, and don’t have any abbreviations at the end of my name. But the more I chewed on it (I literally have food puns for every pomp and circumstance do not challenge me), the more I realized that an effective nutrition program isn’t about being a faultless example. Rather, it’s about teaching truths, providing valuable tools and resources, and delivering unwavering accountability and motivation for any human working toward their fitness and wellness goals. And an effective nutrition coach is someone who listens well and is trustworthy; someone who can sort through all the myths and fads and fake food news out there and give real, attainable, and sustainable counsel — without judgment. And I am definitely fit for that.
So if you’re a human with goals and needs surrounding nutrition, let’s chat. Because nobody should live their life confined by the shackles of food misinformation and physical frustration.
With love and corn dogs,
To learn more about Refuel, our aptly named nutrition program, check out our shiny new section of the website. Or, if you’re interested in setting up a nutrition consultation or just want someone to email, get at me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
And with that I leave you with the funniest health memes and gifs the internet has to offer: