by Robyn Schiller
Robyn is the wife of horse (and people) trainer Warwick Schiller. She invites you to join her as she journeys through her life as trainer’s wife, mother, businesswoman and Internationally competitive rider.
I get stuck writing these blogs because I feel like I have to have the answer for whatever it is that I’m sharing or a moral to the story or something to leave you with. This one will be different, in that it’s just pure sharing (and commiserating with those in the same boat).
I’m reading/listening to a book given to me by Angela Koning after I posted on the WSPH Facebook Group announcing my first FB live (thank you Angela!). The post was a musing on how I could contribute in other ways to this incredible community that we have gathered. The book she sent me is called Light is the New Black by Rebecca Campbell. Today, while listening (I have hard copy and audible version), she said something that made me sit down at the computer and write about something that I haven’t before. She said that I should write what I most need to hear.
I am going to write about this because it is top of mind right now and I guess I most need to hear that I’m not alone and that our worth is not determined by the numbers on a scale or the size of our bodies.
The best way to put it out there is to define it as a feeling that my body is betraying me. Shouldn’t there be a silver bullet by now? Shouldn’t it be as simple as calories in vs. calories out? Shouldn’t your body do the right thing – haha? This has not been my experience.
I’ve been the chubby kid all my life. I went on my first diet at The Diet Center when I was 12. Let me just say right here, that I don’t blame anyone. Thin has always been in.
I had grown out of my mom’s & sister’s size bra and pants when I was 13. I’ve always thought of myself as overweight and have measured myself by the numbers on the scale and size of pants I wear. The higher the numbers, the worse I feel.
When I was 19, I discovered exercise! At that time, in the early 90’s, aerobics were all the rage. I’d always been active, not athletic – I was a cheerleader in the days where we did standard cheering, not the crazy acrobatics they do now. I’d never really exercised outside of gym class at school. But when I found aerobics, I loved the way that I felt! I loved it so much that I went and got a certification to teach it and teach I did. I’d also do hours on the stairclimber (even before teaching a class). I had another measure of my worth now – did I exercise enough today?
It’s no surprise that this happened at the same time that I also had a very controlling boyfriend. He was the sort of “boy”that was jealous of the time that I spent riding my horse (which I had gotten back into after taking a break in high school) or going to school (I was attending a 2-year college then). I’m glad we didn’t have cell phones then – that would have been a nightmare. This is when I began a very unhealthy relationship with food and exercise. Amongst other things, I cut out ALL FAT – it was the devil (that is what we were told at the time) and if I ate something, I had to make sure that the exercise I did negated whatever it was. I did this because it was really all I felt like I could control. I guess it was to spite the boyfriend – ‘you can’t control what I put in my mouth’. But, here’s the kicker – my body betrayed me! I didn’t lose any weight! (I know now that, in actuality, my body was actually pretty good at survival – still is! I wish that realization made me nicer to the image in the mirror.)
I got rid of the boyfriend (and engagement) thankfully before I took on more of his stuff and I sought out the help of a therapist that specialized in eating disorders. He got me back on track and it was when I was really working on this that I met Warwick. One of the main reasons we didn’t jump right into a relationship was because I was not ready – I was still sorting stuff out.
Through the years I won’t say that I’ve ever been truly happy with my body – there have been times when I’ve been happier with it. Coincidentally always when I my body was cooperating with my efforts! I’ve had some success dieting, I lost 20 pounds after Tyler was born and then 30 pounds 5 years later on Weight Watchers. I’ve done the Bullet Proof plan and keto and lost weight and felt better on them. I’ve even – get this – had my belly fat frozen…haha. I don’t recommend it – I can’t imagine liposuction hurting any worse.
The last couple of years though, dealing with the changing hormones of menopause, I’m back to feeling betrayed again. I’ve always taken good care of myself, I don’t smoke or do drugs and I exercise modestly (not obsessively anymore). I’m active outside on most days doing horsey chores and riding. I don’t eat processed food anymore and my sugar intake is minimal. I do enjoy my drinks, but I’m a lightweight and if I have more than 2 I’m miserable the next day, so I don’t. So, why is my setpoint getting higher and higher? It’s embarrassing – I hate looking at pictures of myself these days (just keeping it real).
I wish that it helped to know that at this point in my life it is hormonal – I do blood work and have it reviewed by my naturopath every 6 months. So, I know, scientifically what we are dealing with and it makes total sense what is going on – it is totally hormonal. We tweak the supplements I’m taking to try and balance them back out. The latest results: my testosterone levels are so low that they couldn’t even do one of the tests! It had been low before (not this low) and she had given me some supplements for it. But I had gone off of them because for one of them, the World Equestrian Games Anti-Doping regulations prohibited it and the other I felt had side effects I didn’t want to live with.
I’ve started back on the one supplement and have just gone back to really cutting out sugar. If this isn’t successful, I’m considering doing some hormone replacement – something I’ve been dead set against because of all the nightmare stories I’ve heard. However, my naturopath seems to think it may be a good option on some lower doses.
May be a good option. It might work. But, in her opinion, our weight setpoint goes up until about a year after menopause and then it comes back down again (which is exactly what happened to my mom). I’m in that grey area of not really being post-menopausal (although some of my blood tests do indicate it). I can’t reach that year point, it keeps resetting itself! For me, this equals Body Betrayal of the utmost level!
Yesterday, I thought I’d start trying the deflection technique. What I mean by that (as there is probably a better name for it, but that is what popped into my head) is that anytime I start thinking about how I feel about carrying around too much weight, I will instead practice gratitude or think about something else. I’ll let you know how I go! I think between that and getting this written (and out of my head) it may help! I’m open to suggestions to those in the boat with me!
I guess that is where I’ll leave it. As Brene Brown says, “I am on the journey with you trying to get there, but I don’t have it mastered.”
Thanks for letting me share. Please know that I get that there are people out there who have a whole other level of “body betrayal” (not just my narcissistic one) and I can’t imagine that, this blog is not meant to lessen their situation or anything like that. It’s like another Brene-ism – I might not be in the same situation, but I may have the same emotional feelings as you.