Kelli Yates is a Dietetic Intern, Freelance Writer, and Co-Host of The Nutrition Nerds Podcast. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Life University and is currently completing her dietetic internship to become a Registered Dietitian. In her spare time, Kelli is an avid rock climber and loves spending time in nature. Kelli is currently accepting new coaching clients – contact her here to get started!
Everyone has their story of why they are where they are. This is mine.
I grew up with some health problems – migraines, depression, eczema… none of it was disabling, just part of my young life. What would end up catching up with me in my early twenties was a health problem I didn’t even realize was abnormal – extreme discomfort and often outright pain that came just from eating. This pain was what I thought being “full” was all throughout childhood and into my teens. I would literally spit food out the moment I thought I was approaching “full” in an attempt to prevent the pain and bloated stomach that came from eating a normal amount of food. This pain, combined with a need for control, led me to develop anorexia in my late teens. I was able to get by for quite a while this way. It worked for me, until it didn’t.
Once I moved out of my parents house and in with my now husband at eighteen years old, the stomach pains increased in severity as my diet decreased in quality. Finally it got so bad in my early twenties that I went to a GI doctor, who proceeded to tell me I had food poisoning. Obviously this was not the case, unless I had had food poisoning since I was six…
After seeing a series of doctors and naturopaths to figure out what was “wrong” with me, after blood work and genetic testing and food elimination trials, I was still in pain and beyond frustrated. And now, on top of everything else, I had stopped menstruating. I felt broken, defective, and unfixable.
The moment that changed my life was when I looked into the mirror and realized there was more looking back at me than my body. At this point I had been working out like crazy for a year, counting calories, eating “healthy” and I was still in pain, PLUS I wasn’t even happy with the lean, strong, amazing body I had achieved. I was deep in the throes of a secret binge eating disorder and miserably depressed. I thought to myself, if I can’t even be satisfied and healthy in this 110lb body, with this strict 1200 calorie diet, while completing intense workouts every single day…. I’m missing something huge. And I was.
I went on a quest to figure out what I was missing. I realized that I had been treating my body like something that needed to be controlled and manipulated, rather than a home that needs to be nurtured and respected. Deeper than that, I was neglecting the human being inside the body, the one that needs to be cared for and cherished and loved.
So I started the slow process of healing my neglected spirit and abused body. I started going to therapy. I learned how to stop the negative inner dialogue and perfectionism. I quit the job I hated, and the next job, and the one after that. I took bubble baths and drank good wine and ate good chocolate. I started practicing yoga, and surrendering. And in 2015, I made the scary decision to go back to school for dietetics so that I could one day help people like me.
It’s about the food, but it’s about so much more. It’s about the attitude with which you eat your food. It’s about loving the body you’re feeding, and loving the spirit that inhabits that body. It’s about taking exquisite care of yourself, not just to look good in a bikini but because you truly love yourself. When I learned these things, my body starting telling me what she needed, and my symptoms started to resolve.
It’s not magic … it’s love.
These days I don’t obsess about how much I eat or what – I just listen to what my body wants (and try not to feed her things she doesn’t). Weight isn’t something I think about anymore. I have more and more good days than bad, and even on the bad days I can love and forgive and trust through it.
This story is why I went back to school, and it is not unique to me. Women and girls starve themselves, eat in secret, and feel guilty for simply taking up space. If this is you, you are not alone. It doesn’t have to be this way.
This is my story so far, and I can’t wait to add to it. In fact, I’m doing that right now!