We come in all different shapes and sizes.

I am a registered dietitian, eating disorder specialist and Body Positive™ facilitator, whose mission it is to help all people learn to make peace with food, overcome body dissatisfaction and come home to our bodies. I want to take this opportunity to express my unwavering support for the Black Lives Matter protests, and to stand in solidarity with the enormous pain and suffering that my black clients and colleagues are feeling. I cannot possibly imagine what you are going through, but I am committed to change.

Until we know the price for black life is the same as the price of white life, we’re going to keep coming back to these situations over and over again.” ~ Rev. Al Sharpton

Over the past several weeks I have learned that, as a white woman, I have a lot to learn. I have never had to consider the color of my skin. Period. Not in my education. Not in succeeding in my business. Not as a part of challenging diet culture and feeling comfortable in my body; not for reasons too numerous to mention. Feeling comfortable in a body that has been traumatized, marginalized, seen as dangerous, jailed, and killed, just because of skin color, is too painful to imagine. But how much more painful is it for a person of color to feel? These past few weeks highlighting the deaths of George Floyd, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Botham Jean, Pamela Turner, Michael Brown, Ahmaud Arbery, Breanna Taylor, Philando Castile, and so many more, due to police brutality, and the ensuing BLACK LIVES MATTER protests – all in the background of the coronavirus pandemic, claiming disproportionate numbers of black and brown lives – is a call-to-action. It is a call-to-action for every one of us – for every white person to stand in solidarity with black lives – and it is a genuine call-in for me. I have been doing much soul-searching to understand my own deficiencies in challenging systemic racism and listening and learning ways to take immediate action to prevent further harm to people of color. It’s white people’s responsibility to educate and take action to dismantle this system of oppression. We must also recognize that the process of challenging racism is not a one-time event. It will require deliberate and sustainable actions. It’s not enough to not be a racist. We must actively work to be anti-racist. Won’t you join me? Thank you for letting me express these important thoughts as a white dietitian committed to social justice as an important value system in my life and in my business. Today, I want to share some information about some of the reasons why women’s bodies change as we age. Enjoy the lesson today, and thank you again for your readership.

Did you know there are four reasons women’s bodies change through their life cycle?

we come in all different shapes and sizesHere are some answers to the questions of: How and Why Our Bodies Change (or Why can’t I stay the same weight as when I was in high school or when I got married?). It is important to recognize that our bodies are always changing and that our weight, in turn, might increase, decrease or stay the same! The only thing that is constant in life is CHANGE – this includes our bodies. Think about how your body, or your mother’s or daughter’s bodies, have changed, or are changing, through different life stages:
  1. Puberty: A girl’s body can put on as much as an additional 40 pounds during this important life stage, yet, so many well-meaning parents AND physicians panic if a teen puts on some extra weight as their body is developing. I hear parents say, “But I don’t want her to feel bad about herself the way I did if she gains too much weight!” Here is a better dialogue to have: Explain, calmly, that weight gain is normal before and during puberty; Help your child to identify if a dramatic change in body weight is related to puberty, possibly emotional eating due to school or social stress, less physical activity than usual or behavioral eating with friends after school. Focus on healthy habits, such as recognizing hunger and fullness, rather than focusing on external numbers such as body weight.
  2. Childbirth: Although Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, lost all the weight she gained following childbirth almost immediately, most mortal women do not get back to their pre-pregnancy weight for at least 1-2 years, if at all.
  3. Perimenopause/Menopause: During the approximately 10 years prior to menopause, and for some time after menopause, women’s hormone levels will be shifting and eventually plummeting. This leads to an increase in body fat, especially around the middle. Dr. Margot Maine likes to refer to this as a woman’s life preserver, since the extra body fat produces estrogen (the hormone in short supply in peri-, menopausal and post-menopausal women).
  4. Influences on Body Weight and Possible Weight Gain: There are non-diet influences that can cause weight gain, such as:
    • State of physical and emotional health: Injury, childbirth, tending to the needs of our children and parents can sometimes get in the way of self-care, including physical activity. Certain health conditions favor weight gain, such as thyroid disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome, arthritis, and certain autoimmune disorders.
    • Medications: Some medications increase weight, such as corticosteroids, antidepressants and other psychiatric medications, and birth control pills, among others.
    • Aging: Natural shape shifting goes on here!
    • Stress: Chronic stress increases cortisol, a hormone which can lead to weight gain.
    • Sleep deprivation
    • Despite our best efforts at making our bodies smaller (dieting), each body is unique and has a pre-determined, genetic set-point weight. You wouldn’t try stuffing a size 9 foot into a size 7 shoe, or trying to change your height because you wish you were taller or shorter. The same applies to your body weight.
    • Embracing an attitude of acceptance of our body’s natural weight, and the normal changes that occur with various life stages, is the ultimate declaration of independence from diet culture.

It is very scary to let go of the notion that a diet will fix all our problems, but it is essential to acknowledge that people really are like snowflakes – we come in all different shapes and sizes.

If you are looking for help with ditching diets and learning to make, feel free to reach out to me and book a free 15-minute call so we can talk about your most pressing issue with food and your body image, and I will offer the best ways to move forward and make the changes you need so you can peace with food and your body image.

We are in Network with the following Insurance companies…

Oxford Insurance
Aetna insurance
United Healthcare
UMR insurance
Empire / NYSHIP
Erica Leon Nutrition & Associates is a group practice of Registered Dietitian Nutritionists specializing in Eating Disorders, Intuitive Eating, Sports Nutrition, Teen Nutrition, Family Feeding Concerns, and Weight Inclusive Medical Nutrition Therapy. We work virtually with our clients from our offices in Westchester County in New York as well as the tri-state areas of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, along with Florida, California, Wisconsin, Iowa, Texas, and Vermont.