The Year I Became a Whole New Me

I used to fantasize about having a year where I would finally become a whole new me. No longer the “before,” but the new and improved “after.” What I believed (and what society told me) would get me there would be eating mostly “good foods,” restricting sweets, exercising regularly, and then I’d obviously lose a ton of weight. I figured then I would be happy with my body for the first time in years (decades?). In 2019, I did become a whole new me, but in a way I never imagined. I rejected diet culture and found a path to healing my relationship with food and myself.

In January of 2019, at my annual physical, my doctor encouraged me to really focus on taking care of myself that year. She wasn’t telling me to lose weight or join a gym or embrace a diet marketed as a “lifestyle change.” She was telling me to finally start prioritizing myself in order to be healthier and happier. I’d been back on medication for my anxiety disorder for a few months and was already feeling more like myself, but I knew finding a therapist was next on my to-do list.

Not too long after that appointment, an Instagram story came my way and set something absolutely life changing in motion for me. Another local mom shared about getting treatment for her disordered eating at Insight Counseling. When I read this, a lightbulb went off for me. My eating habits had been disordered for years and my relationship with food, my body, and exercise were causing me a lot of stress. It had reached a point that going to the grocery store would give me a sense of dread. I couldn’t eat without overthinking, guilt, and often I would just skip meals because I was so overwhelmed with the many food rules I thought I should be following. I decided to give them a call and see if they could help me, too.

At my initial appointments with both a therapist and a registered dietician, I basically word vomited a lot of thoughts, fears, and stories on them. They reassured me that I was in the right place. Over the course of the year, so many changes have taken place, thanks to their help. My therapist has helped me develop new coping skills for the stress of parenting (that don’t involve binge eating a sleeve of cookies during nap time) and helped me explore issues in my relationships (most importantly, my relationship with myself!). My dietician has educated me about how to stop the restrict/binge cycle that dieting promotes and how to implement the intuitive eating principles in my life. I no longer skip meals, and I have learned to recognize my hunger and fullness cues and honor them. I can see foods as neutral, instead of “good or bad.” My eyes have been opened to the toxic ways that the billion-dollar diet industry promotes a singular ideal for what a woman should look like. Once you learn to see diet culture for what it is, you can’t unsee it. 2019 was when my eyes were opened.

Rejecting diet culture is HARD. And I know many people aren’t ready to confront it yet (huge props to my friends Britt and Rebecca that have been doing this work alongside me!). If you’d like to kiss dieting goodbye in 2020 and heal your relationship with food, here are some books, podcasts, and Instagram follows to get you started.

To read:

Both books are packed with research and insights that will open your eyes to the lies diet culture has fed you and how you can live a happy and healthy life without dieting.

Podcasts:

Instagram accounts:

This is where I get SO MUCH encouragement and inspiration on a daily basis. If you follow me on IG you’ve probably seen me share countless posts from my favorite accounts like @evelyntribole (author of Intuitive Eating), @dieticiananna, @nicolecruzrd, @kristamurias, @therdnutritionist, @newmoonrd, @mollybcounseling, and @hgoodrichrd — to name a few!

Julia Willhite
I'm Julia and I live in Olathe with my husband of 13 years, my 7 and 2.5 year old daughters, and a sweet old blind pug we call Boopers. I’m a social worker turned SAHM (at least til my youngest starts school). I love Dr. Pepper, thunderstorms, and talking to other adults. I hate coffee, diet culture, and washing dishes. I'll talk your ear off about the best local parks and which restaurants have wronged me by changing their long-standing menu items. I try to walk the line between knowing a lot of stuff and not being a know-it-all. Some days I'm better than others.