June is Lipedema Awareness Month and what kind of health and wellness coach would I be if I didn't talk about nutrition for lipedema management!? Dietary choices (different than a diet) is so important in my holistic approach to lipedema wellness. I talk to clients every week about what they're eating, and how they're eating it, and when they're eating it, and even why they're eating it.
Contrary to popular belief, most women with lipedema do not eat thousands of calories a day. There are women with lipedema who may very well weigh twice as much as they need to weigh and are continuing to gain weight, but eat the same amount as a small child. There are women with lipedema who watch their legs increase in size every month but never touch a carb or a dessert. It seems impossible, but it is the absolute truth. Our bodies just do not follow the rules everyone expects them to follow. When I talk about all of these decisions about food, our talks are always centered on nourishing the body for optimal health.
Because we've all been so conditioned to think in those terms, the question of calories inevitably comes up. Until today, I thought I always told clients (in a very professional manner, by the way) that our focus needs to be on nutrient dense foods rather than the number of calories. Until today, I thought that I used all that information in my head that those hours and hours and hours of studying put there to reassure clients that we were building a nutrition plan that they will be able to stick with and we need to focus on that rather than worry about counting every calorie. Until today, I didn't realize I'd ever asked the question.
My client, Angelique, is known as The Lippy Butterfly on Facebook and Instagram and the monthly roundtable she's part of on The Lipedema Channel. I sent her the quote I planned to use for this blog and she replied, "You've never said that." What!? Of course I have. I've said until I'm tired of saying it: It's not about calories, it's about nutrition. I've thought about her response all evening. She said, "The quote needs to be 'Why are you counting calories?' You said that a million times... I think it's more fitting because you never said not to count calories. But rather gave me the question of where the importance lies."
And she's right. I hope what she's learned in our coaching sessions is not that Kelly's rule if I'm her client is that we don't count calories. I hope what she's learned is that she needs to ask herself why she's making the choices she is making and have a good reason for doing it. She needs to understand why that is the right step for her if she's going to add that step to her journey. If it matters enough to be part of her nutrition plan, then it matters enough for her to answer the "Why" of it and take ownership of that decision. She needs to make educated, confident decisions that work for HER. I'm here to guide her, perhaps give her information and educate her more on the disease she's fighting and ways to help manage it. I'm not here to dictate what her journey needs to look like while she blindly follows along.
The "Why" question isn't just about calories. You need to ask yourself that question about every decision you make as you determine how your unique journey will unfold. As women with lipedema, we've often been told what we've done wrong or failed to do or should have done, especially with food choices. We've been told what we need to do or must do. Mostly likely, everyone in our lives has an opinion, and some of them are better than others. At the end of the day, though, you need to remember that this life is up to you, and that includes choices about your health and how you manage your nutrition, exercise, therapies, and those involved in your care and your life as a whole.
Ask why more often, and don't stop until you have an answer that gives you mind reassurance and your soul peace.