I recently read that in Vegan for Her and found it inspiring. Well, okay: at first, I thought it was just another catch-phrase and my mind went “I know, I know, embrace myself, yada yada.” But Virginia Messina wasn’t just throwing out another catch-phrase. She continued to press her point by saying; “…healthy people may increase their risk for chronic disease by going on a diet. When you lose weight, you shed both muscle and bone matter along with fat tissue.”
Allow me to digress for a moment to tell you I’ve never been much for diets. My decision to become vegan had more to do with lifestyle and health rather than my wanting to go on a diet. Still, I can’t deny that I’d like to be thinner. I’m sure there are one or two women out there who have felt the same. But, this quote struck me. What exactly am I looking for? Am I looking to be healthy or am I striving to conform to some image of perfection I hold for myself? If the truth is the latter, what sort of harm could I be doing to myself? It’s a question I had to answer honestly because, as I’m in my early thirties, I’m statistically more likely to lose bone mass than improve it.
I never had a problem with weight: quite the opposite, really. When I was younger, I was a distance runner and couldn’t eat enough to put on a pound. Here’s a picture of me my senior year of high school.
I’m 17 in this picture, in pretty good shape, but I remember I never felt confident about myself. Also, school week nights more often than not consisted of a McDonald’s run before rehearsals.
Here’s a photo of me now:
I’m older, I hope wiser, and I’m definitely healthier. Of course, I’ve got some trouble areas I’d like to take care of but, since reading Virginia Messina’s book, I feel like my relationship with exercise is healthier. I’m not seeking to look 17 again which means I can stop killing myself with an exercise regimen I’m not physically capable of performing. Instead, I’m focusing on maintaining optimum health: bone mass, cardiovascular, and mental health. In the last two months, I’ve focused on doing exercise that makes me feel good about myself rather than chastising myself for not meeting a goal I was frankly never going to meet. I’m getting used to living in a larger body and am focused on making it as healthy as it can be.
I am blessed to find other women willing to support me on this new path. One is JL Fields, the co-author of (and creator of some amazing recipes in) Vegan for Her.
Another group of wonderful supportive women are the members of Project Purse Club.
Join us, and stop chasing your skinny! Let’s support each other as we each strive to be the best, and healthiest, we can be!
Quote can be found on page 125 of Vegan for Her by Virginia Messina, MPH, RD with JL Fields