Is "Wellness" The New "Diet"? | 144
Release Date: 01/10/2022
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It’s January, the biggest month of the year for diets… or is it “wellness” now?
Colorful words may be used. don't be alarmed.
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Hello, everybody. Welcome back to the uncurated life podcast. Before I even get into this episode, I wanted to give you a bit of a trigger warning for anybody who struggles with, talk about weight. Talk about dieting, talk about exercise, talk about disordered eating and all of that. I will be talking about my thoughts on how wellness and dieting seem to be.
Kind of interchanged with each other right now, is this all my own thoughts and my own experiences, but I know that for some people, this can be a conversation that can be really hard for them. So I'm just letting you know, upfront that if you need to skip this episode, no hard feelings. Totally understand.
But I wanted to say that upfront because I love you. Let's get going. Not that this is your first time here. My name is Cindy Guentert-Baldo this is kind of a heavy one to get started on, but it also kind of gives you an idea of sort of the, the different ways that this podcast kind of takes shape. I love to talk about how we live our lives on the internet.
And for me, that can show up in some sassy molassey and that can also show up in some kind of heavier conversations. And today's definitely going to be on the heavier side, but it is something that has been weighing on me quite a bit. Recently, no pun intended. And that is, is wellness. The new diet.
Imagine. Wellness and diet, both being in quotes. Now I had already had this thought and I will kind of talk about that a little bit in a hot minute here, but if you don't already listen to it, maintenance phase is a fantastic podcast where they dissect a lot of things around diet, culture and wellness culture, and it's fascinating.
And it has helped me really unpack some of the stuff that I have had ingrained in me for a long ass time. And. I think that if you haven't listened to it, I'll make sure to link it in the show notes. There talk about wellness and diet has been really instrumental for me in solidifying some of the thoughts I was already having.
Although I will also say that I don't have very solid thoughts on this. This is more of a stream of consciousness conversation that brings in my experiences and my thoughts on the subject. And this will be an ongoing conversation, I think, cause it's fascinating to me lately, especially as it pertains to myself, my body image.
And how some of those things can impact my kids. So I guess a good place to start is my history with dieting. I'm 42 years old. Well, I'm almost 42. I keep saying I'm 42, but I haven't quite turned 42 yet, but I'm getting there. I grew up in the eighties in the nineties. Dieting was everywhere, but it wasn't really something that was impressed upon me, partly because I grew.
In a fairly poor household. And there wasn't really any conversation about dieting because the conversation was often about. W what kind of food we were going to have for dinner? Like where are we going to have to go get the free government food? Or where are we going to have to get something on clearance at the grocery store that my mom was going to have to make stretch?
It, it wasn't like a, it wasn't a real conversation in our house. If my mom was into diet culture. Honestly, I don't remember it now. My sisters could totally contradict me on this. I also was a very self-absorbed teenager, especially, but I don't remember my mom being super into, into diet culture for one.
My mom, as a profession was a cook. She did was a kitchen manager at a restaurant at the cafeteria. She worked in various kitchens throughout her life and loved to cook. Unfortunately, when it came to our meals, she was burned out on cooking for the most part, and also trying to stretch a very, very meager budget when it came to our food.
But she wasn't afraid of. On top of that, my mom was a bigger lady. She was not skinny by any stretch of the means. She was a much a bigger person, but she seemed to have quite a bit, at least again, from my memory of a fairly good body image of herself, partly because my dad thought that she was just absolutely gorgeous and.
They may have fought like cats and dogs, but they also were high school sweethearts and super into each other. And so, again, from my perspective, I'm not speaking for my mom and my mom has passed away. So she can't really speak for herself anymore. But from what I remember observing. I didn't get a lot of my issues with food from my mom's specifically when I was in high school, I did have body image issues, but most of my body image issues were surrounded by the fact that I was six, two.
I grew a foot and a half in a year. And when you AE are super tall female and be. It's like the mid nineties and they haven't really started selling like long sizes and a lot of the super discount stores, which is all we could afford to shop at. I wound up having to do things like wear men's jeans because they were the only ones that weren't high waters on me.
So most of my body image issues that I remember were surrounded by, um, how tall I was not my weight. I honestly don't really remember being super. Annoyed by my weight in high school, what I will say. And again, this can go back to my self absorbed. Anise is that both of my sisters tended towards my mom's body shapes.
They were both are both larger than me. And maybe part of me was like, oh, well, I don't have to worry about that. Cause I'm skinnier than them, which is a shitty thing to say, but. I can totally see myself sort of internalizing that. I just don't remember any real issues that I had with body image that wasn't around, both my height and the fact that I have never been able to give my hair.
Like I didn't even know. Straight irons were like flat irons were a thing. I just thought people had naturally smooth hair and my shitty hair and my shitty teeth were just because I was poor. I found out later. Yeah, that is part of it because I couldn't afford the things to make them fancy, but it wasn't that fancy people, rich people just happen to be more fancy know they can afford the ways to be more fancy suffice it to say, I didn't start struggling with weight until I got.
It really started when I was in my first marriage. And some of it came from comments that my ex-husband made, that had to do with his standards for beauty. And they weren't about me being. Overweight. They were about me having smaller boobs basically. And I internalized a lot of that. I don't think he really knew when he told me those things, that that was going to impact me for years to come.
I think for him, he was just making an offhanded comment, but. For me, they did impact me for a long time. And the, and again, this goes back to a lot of what I've been thinking about lately, which is it's very easy for us to make offhanded comments. About ourselves, about other people that we don't think are a big deal, but there may be people overhearing what we're saying or that we're saying them to, whether it's our kids, whether it's other people in our lives, whatever the case may be.
And so what to us, does it seem a big deal because we've already internalized it or it just doesn't seem like a big deal to us. It could be really awful for somebody else. And that's just been something that I've been grappling with lately. Again, that particular comment did not make me really worry about my weight.
The worrying about my weight began when I was pregnant and it wasn't even when I was pregnant, my first pregnancy with cat, I went 41 weeks. I gained 70 pounds and when I had cat, cat was a little under 10 pounds. I was having a lot of trouble dropping the weight at first. And I wanted to, I wanted to just get back to my normal and believe me, my normal has Al was always at the time, like 180 pounds.
Again, I'm six, two. I wasn't ever expecting to be super, super skinny or anything. I just didn't want to be where I was at the time. So I went on weight Watchers for the first time. And this first round of WeightWatchers that I was on was successful for me. I wound up losing the majority of that weight and feeling really good about it.
I wasn't exercising all that much cause exercise and I have never been good friends with each other, but I was like just really counting calories and restricting the food I was eating and it worked. And then I got pregnant again. And this time with RJ. Because of various circumstances, which I can totally go into in another video.
A lot of it was my fault. Uh, we wound up, I wasn't working and we wound up having a lot of trouble, like with money in general, in the early days of my pregnancy with RJ, I wound up going without food for a week because I was so worried that we wouldn't have enough money for food and for gas to get me to the job I was going to.
And I ended up blacking out at my training. So. Suffice it to say that even when I started working again, I did not have either the time because I had a toddler or the disposable income to indulge all of my cravings. When I was pregnant with cat dude, I was all about the Wienerschnitzel, corn dogs and shit, or chili dogs, and shit like that.
But with RJ, I only gained 20 pounds. And then on top of that, he was almost 11 pounds when he was born. So that to me felt like, like triumphant, but I did again, try to go on weight Watchers to lose the weight a second time. And this time I struggled with it. However, I discovered that there was another way that one could lose weight.
Enter the time in my life. When I was below my goal weight, I was the skinniest I had ever been in my life. Not only that people were telling me how good I looked, I was also the most miserable I had ever been in my life. It was when things were really bad between my ex-husband and I, and I was a manager at trader Joe's and I was working 50 plus hours a week on a schedule where I barely saw my.
It was chain smoking. I was only eating basically goldfish, crackers and drinking. Coca-Cola. That was it. That was basically my life now. No, at this point, I didn't know I had polycystic kidney disease, but my blood pressure, it was only just then starting to skyrocket. Amazing. I can't imagine why. Right. But like, you could see my hips and I felt really, really like, like, like Zoolander would say really, really good looking, but I was utterly miserable.
This is a very self-destructive period of my life. I was drinking too much. All sorts of shit happened again. I might go into this more and more detail one day, but that's not the subject of this podcast.
The best weight I'd ever been in my life was the most unhealthy I'd ever been in my life. And yet I was still proud of myself for being that weight. And for a long time afterwards, once I had gotten out of that marriage, once Jesse and I had started dating and then living together and I put on like the happy, the happy weight, the weight that comes when one stops, one, quit smoking for one and is not like completely and utterly lost.
Depressed and just fucked up for that whole time. Yeah, I put on the weight, but I would keep idealizing this ideal of myself when I was a super skinny, but also really unhealthy. This was the first time it began to occur to me, but not in the front of my mind, in the back of my mind that it's not about how much you weigh when it comes to how healthy you are.
That doesn't mean that there can't be health problems that come with being. In the upper limits of weight and there's things that come with being in the lower ends of the weight spectrum or whatever. I'm not saying that, but what I am saying is that how much someone weighs is not necessarily an indicator of their health.
There are other indicators that are much more obvious making assumptions about someone's health based on their weight is foolish because that doesn't tell you anything. But at the time, I didn't quite think about that.
Now I was never a diet cycler, but in the years after I got together with Jess, I put back on weight because I had quit smoking cold Turkey right before we moved in together. And then. Generally speaking, I was much happier. So I was not like subsiding on crackers and soda anymore. There were times when I would return to my old favorite, the weight Watchers that I did, the whole 30, my kids will make jokes about that to this day, because they were like, mom, are you fucking kidding me?
I flirted with plenty of diets, but I didn't. Um, really go down the super high protein end of things. Mostly because again, knowing that I had kidney disease, that just seemed like a bad idea at the time. However, in the time of this timeframe, I began to notice certain wording around dieting coming from my diet fat free, you know, zero points kind of WeightWatchers lifestyle.
I began to notice with some of my friends. Th their wording was different, but it felt the same very specifically. It was around things like eating, clean, eating, lean, feeling, lean, feeling light, you know? Yeah, cleansing toxins. My first real exposure to this shit started happening. It was happening to me and a group of my friends and I immediately was like, what the fuck does that even mean?
It just sounds like diet talked. Clothed differently. And I had evidence of that fairly soon. I had a friend who blacked out from not eating enough in there eating lean phase or whatever. And so I was like, okay, this, this is kind of concerning me. But again, it didn't cause me to take a look at what I was trying to do.
Like, okay, this person is saying they want to eat clean and feel light. And I'm like, I'm kind of worried about you, man. But then I turn around and I'm like, how many? Zero point snacks can I get in today? Right.
So that all leads me to the most recent years where I've really, I've really kind of changed my thought process on all of it. One of the things that changed that thought process is having polycystic kidney disease. Literally because my kidneys are massive. They make me look pregnant and has taken me a long time.
I'm talking up until recent days where I can look at myself in the mirror and not completely hate the way I look. I recognize why I look the way I look and. I am trying real hard to love my body, but I think I've at least gotten to a point where I liked my body. I don't love the way it feels a lot at the time, but I also am at a point now there's nothing like fucking chronic kidney disease to let you know that when you eat something that your body doesn't like, your body lets you know, real quickly and that's where I'm at right now.
So it's a balance of how nauseated I am. Most of the time. And how certain things that I tend to go towards when I'm nauseated might make me feel like shit. Maybe because of my medications, maybe because of my kidney function, it depends on the thing, but it's, it's helped me work my way through it. I don't recommend this.
I don't recommend chronic genetic illness as a way to help you figure out your. Your issues with diet culture, plot twist, though, as I was starting to come to terms with my body, both how it felt and how it looked. I started to also notice at the same time that all of those things that were beginning to irk me years ago with my friends about eating clean and all of that, we're starting to take over the fucking world of dieting and so on and so forth.
Thanks to things like goop and all sorts of other shit. This idea of eating clean wellness, flushing your toxins, and. People talking about flushing, their toxins is one of the things that annoys the everliving shit out of me. If you have working kidneys, that's their job and your liver's job as somebody who does not have very well working kidneys when I need, when there comes a day, when I need to flush my toxins, that's done with dialysis.
So miss me with your fucking talks and flushing. Thank you very much. Moving forward. So noticing that, that eating clean the way that instead of talking about going on a diet, now, people were talking about improving their wellness and an eating clean and restricting carbs and whatever the case may be, it's they wouldn't say restricting, they would say I'm avoiding carbs or whatever.
The language softened, it felt a lot more like Gwenyth Paltrow, the way that you would talk about things. And then. I began to notice how I was talking about food around my kids.
When I talked about being bad, when it came to eating something, when I talked about. Having a cheat day or whatever. I didn't ever notice those things. But remember what I said before about comments that you think are not innocuous impacting people harder when one of your teenagers struggles with disordered eating, especially around avoiding and restricting foods.
You begin to recognize whenever that stuff starts to come out of your mouth and that began to happen for me. And so, even though I felt like I was coming to better terms with how I saw my body, I realized that I had a lot of the training retraining to do and how I talked about shit in general, because some of those things that to me were kind of throwaway comments.
We're impacting my kid in a way that was forming their opinions of themselves so that as they went into their life, they might change how they feel about certain things. Now that's kind of where I'm at now. So that gives you sort of the beginning to the, the current state of how I am feeling like I'm more at peace with my body.
Not at peace of the fact that my body is shutting down, but at peace with what I need to do in order to feel less shit. And not worry about the rest of it. That's where I'm at right now. Like currently I need to start reducing my salt according to my nephrologist. So that's something to think about, but not because I'm worried about being fat beat because I need to reduce salt for my blood pressure sake because I have kidney disease.
So I'm comfortable with where I'm at with my body. I mean, I'd be comfortable in my body, but that is reasons beyond my control. But what I am comfortable with is how I feel about my body. And I have hard days. But they're fewer than they used to be. But right now, currently, what I am worried about is my kids, not just the one, discover this, dealing with disordered eating, but both of them and the images they're taking into the world, as well as really thinking about like the things that are so deep inside of me, that I don't even notice them.
I want to remove as many landmines as possible, both for my kids and for myself. Anyway, now that we've talked about that, I want to talk about a few things that, that, um, are kind of at the forefront of my brain when it comes to this whole idea of wellness versus diet and how they're both just basically insidious.
One thing for me is the obsession with food. And this is something that my kid is working on, right. This obsession with eating the right foods. Which is now it's like, let's eat the clean foods. Let's eat the non, the non-toxic foods, whatever used to be let's eat the fat free foods or the no points foods or the no carbs foods or the low carbs foods or whatever the language has changed.
It used to be like, they would say like fat free or low fat or whatever, but now it's about eating clean. I keep coming back to that, but that's like eating clean and wellness are like fucking two sides of the same goddamn. I'm not saying eating less processed foods is terrible. It's a, it's fine. It's a good thing.
But when you start assigning morality to your food, that's when we start heading into trouble territory. Assigning some foods as good. And some foods is bad. Some foods as naughty in some foods is nice. Some foods is clean and some foods is dirty. That's assigning moral judgements to food that doesn't fucking exist.
It's just food. And believe me, when I say it is just a first world problem too, because if you think about it, If you really wanted to improve, people's eating. If you really wanted to improve public health, if you really wanted to improve all of these things, if it wasn't about beauty standards, if it was about real overall health that we would be working on things like bringing accessible food to food deserts.
Stopping equating obesity with health problems because really the health problems need to be addressed. The obesity is not the health problem. You can address it. If there's an issue that's causing like joint pain or whatever, but if you have health problems, doctors need to look at that first. And having access to things like open space, places for people to walk easily accessible things for people to do where they can move their body and making it so that moving your butt, like getting people, the clue that you just want to find a way to move your body, that you like, you don't have to punish yourself.
Exercise. Shouldn't be punishment. I'm getting on a tangent tangent here, tirade. I'm very sorry about that. I'm actually not very sorry about that, hashtag, sorry, not sorry. I will say that aside from my own management of changing my language around food and exercise and trying to remove the morality from food, the other things that really, really piss me off are a, the way that people make assumptions about.
Based on body size and that's gonna be an entirely different podcast. I can tell you from my own experience and from experience of my family members, the differences in ways one might get treated at the doctor's office based on how big you are, right? The way that you can't necessarily be diagnosed with an eating disorder.
If you aren't at a certain BMI, which excludes everybody, who's not at a super low BMI who also has disordered eating. And then of course, there's my anger at companies selling us. Now it's wellness culture used to be diet culture. Now it's wellness culture companies sell it to us because the way you sell something to someone, as you identify the problem, and then you sell them a way to fix it.
And so for company and wellness, dieting, all, that's a huge Indian. And so companies can make more money if they're selling a solutions to why we're fat solutions, to why we're unhealthy solutions, to help us with our wellness, as opposed to actually addressing the systemic things, donating money, or doing all the things advocating for government help for the.
Actually will cause society as a better as a whole to be more well, we're selling us this thing that makes us feel like, well, if we do this and we eat clean and we remove all of our toxins and blah-blah-blah, then, then we might get closer to Gwyneth Paltrow. You know, I don't know. This is a big rant. You guys, I don't even think this is as organized as I wanted it to be, but we go back to my central thesis.
Right? Is wellness the new diet? Yes. Yes, it is. I think that it feels like, and I got this from wellness, from wellness, from maintenance phase, they said something like, sometimes it feels like you just take a bunch of papers about, or like advertisements about diet and control F and replace all of the diet with wellness.
And there you go. It's the same fucking shit. And I'm not saying taking care of yourself, self care, that sort of thing is not important. But what I am saying is that companies. And gurus and people trying to make money off of us capitalism if they take diet, which is an extremely, extremely lucrative industry.
But it's starting to get a bad rap because dieting does not sound like the business in 2022. If they repackage it as wellness, suddenly people are willing to buy it again. I'm trying to be more discerning about that. And my hope is that if you struggle with this, that this might help you get a little bit of clarity towards being more discerning about it.
And I know this was ramble-y, this was all over the place, but I needed to get some of this off my chest. I will be re-exploring this topic more in upcoming days or upcoming months, whatever. But in the meantime, what I would love to know if you understood or agreed with any of this, let me know in Instagram stories, tag me at @llamaletters so I can see it share this podcast.
If that's interesting to you, I just I'd really like to know your thoughts anyway. Thanks to my patrons for sponsoring this episode. That's what they always do and the rad, and you can check it out at www.patreon.com/cindyguentertbaldo to find out more. Thank you so much for listening until next time, my friends peace out.