I am not good enough. I am not worthy. I am nobody special. What do I have to offer that is unique?
These are common statements I hear from clients in nutritional counselling sessions. Through investigating the validity of these statements, and how they serve my clients, we often uncover self-sabotaging thought patterns. Often they are ignoring or are numb to internal cues, or use their ill-health or weight as justification to avoid doing what they really want to, such as travel, date, leave a partner, get a new job, start a business, learn to dance...and the list goes on.
As a nutritionist with a passion for helping others end the constant struggle with their weight and food, I have asked myself similar questions regarding my work. Although I have progressed a long way in my journey of accepting my body, learning to be aware of my internal cues and embracing conscious eating, I have had thoughts and feelings of self-doubt. Questions of worthiness do arise for me and have held me back in my journey as a nutritionist. This blog post addresses the question: am I good enough to be your nutritionist and the self-doubt that has held me back.
Let me explain with a recent example.
At the end of 2016, my husband and I moved to Singapore. As I started to apply for jobs and be called in for interviews, I started to worry about how others would perceive me. Am I slim enough to be a nutritionist? Will people think I am not the ideal size to take nutritional advice from?
When I was feeling this self-doubt and questioning whether I was good enough, I thought to myself: how long will I allow this lingering dissatisfaction with my body and thoughts that I don't know enough, or have anything more to offer than anyone else, hold me back? When will I simply allow my passion for healthy eating and movement flow through me, and share my perception on embracing a healthier relationship to food with others?
I know that learning and growing is a continual process, and although I am still on my journey, I have a lot to share and feel a deep desire to share. Some people may look at me and think she could lose a few kilograms. Yet for me to lose and maintain the weight loss is an enormous struggle. It requires me to drop eating intuitively and instead impose rules and restrictions on myself that I can only sustain for a short period. If I deprive myself to lose a few kilos, I feel hungry and obsess about food. Trying to stick to these 'rules' causes me to overeat, and send me in a cycle of yo-yo eating. I know this not because I have been on many diets, but because I have been unable to stick to any diets.
Others may judge me based on how I look today. They may judge me based on my size and their perception of health. However, they do not know my journey. They can't see how much my relationship to food has improved. They can't see how I can now listen to my body and nourish it in ways that it is asking for, rather than eating food purely because it is 'naughty' or because I think I deserve a treat. They can't see that I can now stop eating when I am full, rather than continuing to eat because the food is there or that it tastes good. They can't see the understanding and compassion I have for others who compulsively eat, overeat, eat to numb their emotions or feel discontent in their own bodies. They can't see that over my adult life I have maintained a good health without dieting, depriving or restricting myself.
Why then, have I fought to have a flat stomach for all these years, when it is pretty clear that this is not where my body wants to be? I can't control my body. I don't control the body that I have been given. I don't need to look like the models on the front of a fitness magazine to be healthy. I don't need to look like these models to share my approach to healthy eating. I don't need to look like these models to help others who struggle with their weight and eating behaviours, and who have a strong desire to feel content in their bodies.
If comparing myself to others prevents me from sharing what has enabled me to feel more content in my body, and that has enabled me to step off the diet roller coast, that is enough of a gift to others for me feel personal satisfaction with my work. My perspective on health and nutrition may not resonate with everyone, but I know through my coaching that there are enough people that feel the same way that I used to, and I want to share my thoughts and approach to end their struggle. If you are one of these people, I welcome you to my blog and the community I hope to create through sharing my perspective.