How long have you been pretending that you’re not on a diet?
You’ve been counting calories and living on oatmeal, smoothie bowls, and kale chips. You never miss a day of barre class and you don’t bring any gluten or sugar into your home. You’ve lost weight. But the last thing you want is for people to notice.
You do weekend juice cleanses and snack on kale chips and flaunt your healthy lifestyle on Instagram. Gwyneth emails you and you immediately read the new post about Goop’s favourite detox, because she’s got this whole healthy-skinny-glowy thing down to a science. You hope your friends don’t comment on your weight loss, because you’ll have to pretend like it just happened by accident. You’ve got your shit together; you’re not the kind of woman who obsesses over her body.
The shame that you once felt about what you ate has been replaced with the shame of feeling like you are setting women’s liberation back by 50 years. Every time you choose a shot of wheatgrass over a shot of whiskey, you think about Naomi Wolf telling you that “dieting is the most potent political sedative in women’s history,” and you can’t help but feel that you’re doing it all wrong.
The lengths to which you will go to hide your dieting are impressive: you’re not exactly lying when you say you’d rather have a green juice (300 calories) than a muffin (560 calories). But you’re also not just casually eating a bacon cheeseburger (800 calories) without having quietly calculated the impact on the rest of your week (no drinks later; spin class tomorrow morning; salad for lunch).
Self-love is a radical act of feminism. Why isn’t weight loss the same?
As women, we’re told that we should love ourselves exactly as we are. Making changes for the sake of your health? That’s virtuous. But wanting to change your appearance? That’s supporting an ingrained cultural standard of an obedient woman. If you desire a thinner body or clearer skin, you’re made to feel that you are changing who you are in order to minimize the chances that your body might accidentally offend someone. But what if you’re happier, your clothes fit better, and you feel lighter when you’re at a comfortable weight? Then what?
You don’t need diets. You don’t need to be told how to love your body. What you need is a sustainable lifestyle plan that will balance your weight and your hormones, and finally get rid of the shame you feel about the way you eat and the way you look.
This is where I can help.
It all starts by fixing your period.
I’m Jessica von Bergen, nutritionist and health coach. I can help you balance your hormones and stop fighting with your weight, your skin, and your period.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had period problems. They started in my teens with irregular cycles — something that I now know is totally normal as your body figures out what to do with all the hormones. My family doctor quickly put me on the pill, and even though that seemed to solve my erratic cycles, I still had debilitating cramps and migraines, along with wildly fluctuating moods and world-ending food cravings.
In addition to period problems, I had skin problems. I had deep, painful acne; I had mysterious rashes on my legs and arms; I had different mysterious rashes on my torso. I saw a dermatologist who prescribed me industrial-strength creams. I would get lightheaded and shaky if I went more than a few hours without eating. I was diagnosed with hypoglycemia and given a monitor to check my blood sugar at regular intervals. My GP told me to stay on the pill because it would regulate my hormones.
When I came off the pill in my twenties, I still had acne, random rashes on my arms and legs, and my cycle was all over the place. On top of this, I now had digestive issues that nobody could figure out.
My collection of health problems seemed unsolvable. I started working with a team of practitioners: first my GP, then a dermatologist, a physiotherapist, a naturopath, an acupuncturist, a gastroenterologist, and a cardiologist. I had a group of wellness professionals making disparate recommendations that all solved one part of my problem, but nothing gave me a complete solution. I felt like I had tried everything and I was completely helpless. In the midst of all the supplements and therapies, I found one thing that helped me feel like I had some control: food.
Each practitioner had recommended that I make some changes to my diet, although none were able to create one cohesive plan for me to follow. I took it upon myself to create my own system, using food as a way of restoring my health. What I didn’t tell anyone was the secret joy over my discovery that when I eliminated gluten and dairy from my diet, I lost weight. In my research, I came across more foods that I could cut out, and as I did, more weight came off.
In the space of several months, I went from eating anything that was served to me to eliminating gluten, dairy, alcohol, meat, eggs, animal products, and nightshades. I became raw vegan and I thought this would solve my problems.
I was secretly on a diet for years. I hid it from my friends, my family, and my partner, under the guise of medical necessity and good health. I was ashamed that I was trying to lose weight – and I hid that shame behind my healthy mission of dietary restrictions and cleanses. I grew up speaking out about women’s rights and being interviewed about my views on feminism – how could I possibly admit to something as shallow and pedestrian as wanting to be 20 lbs lighter?
While all of this was going on, I changed careers completely and went back to school. I became a holistic nutritionist and attended university classes so I could get my Bachelor of Science degree. I got certified in health coaching and studied Traditional Chinese Medicine. I channeled my 5x-weekly yoga habit into yoga teacher training.
But with all of this knowledge and all of this effort, it wasn’t until I balanced my hormones and addressed my emotions – the emotions around my body and my unhappy relationship – that I actually healed my body. My skin cleared up, my periods became normal, and I lost the remainder of the weight that I had been fighting against.
When I started working with nutrition clients, I knew that I had to talk to them about the things that nobody would talk to me about – my relationship with shame and with my body, and the hormonal imbalances that were driving my health problems in the first place.
If you’re looking for help to stop pretending you’re not on a diet, and are ready to figure out how to get your weight, your hormones, your skin, and your period all figured out – get in touch. This is my jam, and it’s time for you to stop hiding.
- California State University – Nutrition
- Institute for Integrative Nutrition
- Shiatsu School of Canada/SSC Acupuncture Institute
- Canadian School of Natural Nutrition
- Yoga Teacher Training (250 hour + pre/post natal specialization)
- The Institute for the Psychology of Eating
- American Holistic Health Association
- International Association for Health Coaches
- International Positive Psychology Association
- International Association of Yoga Therapists