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S1 E28: Body Image & Food Fear While Healing with Fallon

podcast Jan 09, 2022

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Amanda: Hey, this is Amanda, women’s health dietitian.
Emily: And I’m Emily, nutritional therapy practitioner.
Amanda: And this is the Are You Menstrual? podcast where we help you navigate the confusing world of women’s hormones and teach you how to have healthy periods.
Emily: Each week we will be diving into a different topic on women’s health and sharing our perspective using nutrition, female physiology, and metabolic health.
Amanda: Our goal is to help you wade through conflicting health information and empower you on your healing journey.
Emily: We hope you enjoy it.

Amanda: In this episode, we are diving deeper into a couple aspects of the healing journey that a lot of women struggle with. And that's body image and food fear. So after we did Episode 19, where Emily and I are, went really in depth on different hormonal shifts that happened during the healing journey, symptoms that arise, we had a lot of you reaching out and asked us to talk about more, like, body image stuff, weight gain. Why do these changes happen? And just a little bit more insight into, like, what can I do to support myself mentally during this time.

This is a big topic, I want to make sure I did it justice and discuss it in a lot of detail. So that's why I invited my friend Fallon, she's @fallondanae on Instagram, to come on and talk about this subject with me. It's something she talks about a lot. She's been very transparent with her healing journey. And I just I love the way that she goes into body image, how she has respected her body throughout the healing journey. So we're gonna dig into all of that.

But a little background on Fallon. She is a mom to three boys, wife to her college sweetheart, and a kitchen creative turned business owner out of Dallas, Texas. She launched Fallon's Table to help bridge the gap between nutrition, easy kitchen prep, and delicious food. She offers calorie specific meal plans and recipes on her website and loves to walk alongside and encourage women in their pursuit of making peace with their bodies. Fallon has a long history of restrictive dieting and food sensitivities. And she's really watched her own health journey go from being limited to seven foods to finding vibrancy and food freedom. So thank you so much for being here, Fallon.

Fallon: Of course, I’m so honored.

Amanda: I'm excited to kind of dig in. And I feel like the best place to start is to have you just tell us more about your healing journey, and what you've gone through, you know, to really get to where you are today.

Fallon: Yeah, so I was diagnosed with Hashimotos back in 2015. And this was after several years of feeling really off. Like, starting in college I dealt with really bad crippling anxiety, panic attacks, you know, joint pain, terrible digestion, I had started losing my libido as I'd gotten a bit older, I had back pain…. And I'm like, what, 19 at this point, like, I should not be plagued with all of these health issues. And in hindsight, you know, in college, I was way over exercising, I was doing, like, half marathons, working out all the time, had a major lack of nutrition understanding, even though I thought I had a really solid grasp. And then, you know, after the birth of my first two children, my health just sort of continued to spiral. I had my first two kids 18 months apart. I got pregnant when my firstborn was nine months old. And you know at the time, I had no awareness of minerals or what happens in your body when you're pregnant in terms of, you know, your mineral stores, and I was not aware of, like, nutrients. So it was just, you know, I was kind of, I was kind of coming into this whole scenario already behind.

And then my second son developed really extreme eczema and allergies at, like, two months old. And it was in that same several month time frame that I got my own diagnosis. And so we started diving into this idea of healing through food, more for his sake than for mine actually. And before long, you know, we had really gone full force into sort of the paleo realm and then autoimmune paleo, and we were just on this seemingly endless journey of just cutting food. And it felt like every single week, we were just finding more cuts. You know, we still had symptoms, so in my head it was like, okay, what foods are causing these symptoms, or, you know, toxins or environmental stuff, but mostly it came back to food in my head. And so we just continued to cut more and more things.

We were doing muscle testing at the time and then cutting whatever we couldn't have. It was a short-term progress honestly. It was like, okay, yeah, we would maybe cut something and then for the next few days, it felt like, oh my gosh, we had this burst of, you know, feeling good or energy or lack of symptoms or whatever it was, but then we always ended up chasing more food sensitivities, you know. It was never the, the long-term answer. And my diet got so limited during that time, I mean, I got down to like 110 pounds, maybe even less than that and I'm 5’5” so, like, that's a pretty significant amount of weight to drop down to. And I was eating 7-10 foods in several different seasons. You know, at this point, I had cut dairy, gluten, soy, nightshades, coffee, chocolate, eggs, nuts, seeds, legumes, grains, like tons of fruit. I mean, it was just, it was crazy how limited I was. You can imagine I was majorly afraid of food, and I had really severely disordered eating. I was convinced I would never recover.

And then I finally found what's called the dynamic neural retraining system. It's like a brain rewiring program to help, you know, sort of calm your limbic system, rewire your brain. So I slowly started doing that and introducing more foods as part of the program. And so I was able to jump from, you know, that seven food range to more of like a paleo, Whole30 style diet for several years. But there was still this hump that I feel like I couldn't get over. You know, I still had low energy, I still had digestive issues, I still had no food freedom. And I was still having autoimmune flares, like, all the time. I mean, I remember spending most days in the bath by the end of the day, because I just was in so much pain and so tired I couldn't do anything else besides, you know, take a hot bath and crawl into bed.

And so I finally found the world of metabolic eating and healing about a year and a half ago now. And once I started incorporating, like, really basic principles, you know, eating enough, increasing my carbohydrate intake, I mean, I was super low carb in the world of paleo. I mean, I almost immediately came off my thyroid medication, like, it didn't even take much—my body was so ready for that nourishment. And then, of course, I started viewing food much differently than I had before. And started shifting from, you know, those black and white food rules to focusing on bioavailability, focusing on nutrient density, and really listening to my body in terms of what it was asking for, instead of, you know, trying to adhere to some list that someone had given me.

So I feel like my journey has been, I mean, really beautiful, honestly, like, I wouldn't, I wouldn't change any of it. It's been tough, and we've learned a lot over the years. And it's funny that, you know, how my nutrition philosophies has, have sort of just been on this roller coaster. You know, my husband still laughs that we have dairy in our house, because it was, like, I swore I would never, you know, dairy was just the worst for the longest time in my head. So I love just how far I've come and how free I feel around food now. And I love that I get to, you know, talk about that today, because I feel like you're so encouraging in that light too, Amanda.

Amanda: I feel like everyone gets there eventually. I talk to my dietitian friends, my NTP friends, and it doesn't even matter if you are working in this space. I feel like even more so if you're working in the space, you tend to experiment a lot and dive really deep. You read all the books, you try all the different diets, eventually you kind of get to this place where you're just like, oh, this is all of them. Okay, got it. Like none of this actually works. And this is missing the entire point of health and achieving health. It made me laugh when you said that your husband still laughs that you guys have dairy now. I feel like I can relate to that one.

It can be really hard. You can look back and be super frustrated and think why didn't I understand food sensitivities better? Like, why didn't I just support my digestion? Why do I have to keep taking foods away, but it's, like, you have to get to that place where you basically, you're at the point where you're, like, I can't do this anymore. This is not working, this is crazy, I'm doing the same thing over and over with the same result. And then you're really willing to branch out, because I feel like a big part of that for you was likely all those fears that you created around food. A lot of people do that when they start to eliminate things and follow different diets—you literally get afraid to consume a food because of what you've learned about it. And for you, you, so you got down to like 7-10 foods, you had lost a significant amount of weight…how old were you when all this was happening?

Fallon: I was 24? Maybe not even. I started having kids pretty young so yeah, I mean, I was young. Like, this is really early on in life to be dealing with significant health issues, you know. Feeling, feeling like you can't eat anything, you can't, you know, find health. I mean, I was, I was virtually a child still, like, it's, it's crazy that I was dealing with all of that at such a young age.

Amanda: Things change, you have more stress and stuff. And you've had two kids, one of those kids has health issues. When you were describing that I was like, that's a lot. Like, you getting the diagnosis, your son having all these issues, and then you just be, like, alright, I guess we're gonna try to figure all this out. Was that because you weren't getting the help that you needed from your doctors?

Fallon: It was, it was. I'm sad to say it's empowering to kind of find the answers yourself—and I have appreciated that journey—but it also is, of course, incredibly frustrating to feel like your practitioners aren't really listening to you. I remember really insisting with people, I mean, everyone from our primary care physician to, I mean, specialists that we would see, like, dermatologists, that there was a food link here. And I just remember them being like, no, there's not, there's just no science to prove that. There's nothing that suggests that food and, you know, skin health is related. And I'm just like, this is mind blowing to me that there's not a clear connection here that, I mean, obviously what we put in our body and put on our body is greatly affecting our skin health and our gut health and our immune health. And it feels like every practitioner that I saw, just insisted that that was not actually a link that was proven to be true.

And so finally we just decided to take things into our own hands, because we just were not finding healing for…again, this was all sort of for my son more than for me. I mean, I reaped the benefits of really diving into this. But, you know, as a mom, the worst thing is to watch your baby suffer and to watch your little one suffer with absolutely no answers. And so it was like, yeah, my health is in shambles. But that was on the backburner for me. And so we really dove into all of this because of my son. And, you know, finding his path to health is what put both of us on this path to health. And gave me, I think, the ability and the encouragement to, you know, make choices myself and to be informed and to seek out knowledge and wisdom and research and feel that I have the capability to do that as a parent.

Amanda: Yeah, I can't even imagine, like, how much that… it’s just difficult and you're just, like, what else are you going to do? If you can't get the answers from your doctor, if you have this innate feeling that you're, like, I know that there's something deeper going on. I could totally see that driving you to look for those different options and kind of going really deep into the AIP, like, autoimmune paleo world, which is just, like, super restrictive. It just is, I can't even imagine a kid eating that way. I'm like, your whole family ate this way?

Fallon: We did. We did for so long. It's really crazy. And now I see. I got an email from an old doctor's office not long ago, about, you know, snacks, AIP snacks for your kids. And I'm like, but why are these kids on AIP is my question. You know, it's just crazy. But because we were there, we've been there. And I think that, you know, I have to give myself grace, and hopefully others grace, in realizing that sometimes, that's, that's the knowledge that you have available. And that's what we felt like was the best choice at the time. I know better now. And so we've changed now, and we've seen a lot of improvements because of those changes. But at the time, you know, we, we really thought like, okay, this is the best choice for our family.

And I think that yeah, there was some short-term healing. And I think there was some principles that we learned in that season that we still apply. But yeah, oh, my goodness, I mean, I, my older son, you know, we shifted him from sort of standard American diet to like AIP. And he was, you know, two at the time, so it wasn't a huge loss. But it's tough to do that with kids. And it's not their favorite, you know, kids have a great need for sugar and carbs. And you know, AIP is not super high in those things. So we've, we've done a lot of shifting over the years in terms of how we feed our children and definitely for the better.

Amanda: I can only imagine. I, just in my mind, I'm like, I can't imagine getting a toddler to eat that way. Just, you know, eventually they hit that age where they're just like, nope, I don't want any of this stuff anymore. My nephew's in that stage right now. My sister sends, like, a group text. It's like, another dinner, another night spent trying to make, you know, a bunch of different dinners to see what my toddler will eat. Like, it's just, and he used to be, like, the best eater ever. So it's, like, you know, they're gonna go through phases, but like, wow, AIP with kids, I can't imagine.

But interesting that you all did it. I think the tricky thing with food is that it's something we can control. It's an easy thing to want to adjust and make changes to. And I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing. Again, it brought you here. And now your family's in a place where you guys eat very nourishing foods, don't have a ton of restriction, and it sounds like you guys have all seen health benefits.

Fallon: Oh, absolutely. The, I mean, my, my middle son that was so sick, still carries a lot of allergies and things that we're sorting through for him. The amount of allergies he's lost, and the way his hair has grown, and the way his sleep has regulated, and his mood has regulated. I mean, all of us, I mean, I have an older son who's had cavities that have been reversed. Like, I mean, all of us are seeing just incredible amounts of healing from this new nourishment path that we're on.

Amanda: That's so cool to hear. And one thing, like, obviously, you're on this journey because your son, and then you kind of benefited, because you were diagnosed with Hashimotos and had your own, like, health struggles at the same time. You're on the other side of that now, I would say, I don't know if you would agree. One thing that's brought you is obviously relief to a lot of your symptoms. But obviously, there's changes that occur along the way. And one thing that I love that you have such a beautiful way of talking about is how your body has changed throughout your healing journey. It's easy to talk about how your symptoms have gotten better, you know. Like, oh, my energy is better, I got off my thyroid medication, I have a libido now, like, you know, my period’s more enjoyable, like, all those kinds of things. But it can be really difficult with the body image stuff. So can you talk a little bit more about how you were able to build up that positive mentality toward your body during this time?

Fallon: Yes, I love this conversation so much. And I'm so honored to get to have it on your podcast. This is really so great. So for background, I have gained probably 25-30 pounds over the course of my healing journey. And I was coming from major restriction for, like, half a decade, if not more, so my body needed some major adjustment. You know, not everyone comes from that place. But that's been my journey. And lately, I've really had to learn that, you know, feeling peace with your body is truly a daily choice. It's not some destination that you just magically arrive at. So for years, I thought that I was super confident and that I didn't deal with body image. In hindsight, I always just happened to fit a societal mold of thinness, and looking back, you know, my image was always a struggle even when I was like 115 pounds in a size two. You know, there was literally always something that I was critiquing about myself.

And, you know, like you said, what I do have now is energy and food freedom and a recovering libido, and, you know, my hair is strong, my cycles are completely pain-free and, like, on the dot regular. And so my quality of life has changed drastically and while it certainly continues to be tough, you know, to maybe buy new clothes or, like, adapt to sort of a new version of yourself. You know, I, have to remind myself of the life that I've gained in the process, because I used to legitimately cry over food and over missing out on experiences. You know, I wasn't nourished, I wasn't happy with my relationship with food, and I wasn't even happy with my body in all honesty, and I think that's one of the biggest lessons that I've learned is that a lack of confidence is hardly ever about our physical bodies.

You know, we want affirmation and acceptance and approval. And so many of us have convinced ourselves that a certain body type is how we receive that. But I've learned over the past, you know, year and a half or so, and 25 pounds or so, that nobody's love or care for me has changed. Like, honestly, my husband probably likes my figure better now. So this pressure to be a certain weight is a completely internal desire and struggle for most of us. You know, the people around us, honestly, don't care. You know, first of all, they're probably thinking about themselves mostly anyway. And I think there's something beautiful about, like, a flawed group of people loving and supporting each other. And, you know, realizing that they're not alone in the quirks that they have or the struggles that they have. Like, if you spend time with women in person, we all get acne, we all have places on our body that we don't love, like, no woman just shows up, shows up and is like, I love everything about my physical appearance, like, I just have nailed it, I love every part of it. Like, no woman feels that way.

And so just realizing that, you know, when you are really living life with other women and thinking about how other women view you and how you view them, like—nobody has friendships because of the way that the other person looks. We don't love people more or less because of the way that they look. It's something that we've put onto ourselves, you know, to fit in some mold when really, like, nobody else really cares. It's just, it's this pressure that we've put on ourself to meet some standard of either what we used to look like, or what society says we should look like. And it's just not, I mean, it's not serving any of us well, you know.

I had to really shift my thinking on weight and weight loss in general. Because, you know, for a while I think, like, most of us assumed more or less that all weight loss is healthy, right. So for years, I equated thinness with health, and I grew up—probably most of us, kind of, in this generational era grew up—surrounded by, like, fat shaming and weight jokes. And not to mention the skinny culture of like the 90s and 2000s. Like, this weight journey of my own is honestly what made me realize how toxic my personal view of weight loss was. You know, I always praised people for it, or judged people by their looks, you know, made judgments on their health based on how they look, commented on, like, celebrities’ body changes, you know. And I felt okay with all that, because I was hiding my own securities in my thin body. But I'm convinced now that it's just not ever okay to criticize or pass judgment on another woman's body or make assumptions based on their body in terms of their health. Because, you know, we don't, we don't know what people are going through behind closed doors and behind the scenes.

I think there are some people who would probably even question my own level of health, because, like, our culture's emphasis on thinness is just so prevalent. You know, at this point, I would consider myself probably a mid-size woman, and I don't think that's always what people want to envision for a healthy, thriving woman. But we have to acknowledge that even, like, calories in and calories out, is not a 1:1 representation of body weight. And even, like, how often you exercise, like, that's not a 1:1 representation of weight, you know. Like, I'm stronger now than I've ever been, I'm healthier than I've ever been, and my body happens to be a bit larger than it's ever been. And all of those things I think can exist and coincide.

Amanda: There's so much to unpack there.

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Amanda: Two things you said I want to highlight, because I feel like we need to hear it over and over again. Number one is, like, because I feel like this is probably, I'm guessing, a question you do get a lot is, like, but how do you show up like this for yourself on a regular basis? And like you said it's a choice. It is a choice every single day. It is not something that you will just automatically believe. Because there's social media, I mean look at Instagram. You open Instagram and even if you don't follow people that are like fit influencers or whatever it's called, personal trainers on Instagram, Instagram models, when you go to your Explore page, you will likely still see that even if you don't like any of those photos or anything like that—you're still going to see it. Somehow you're going to get exposed to it. If we look at TV shows, this is something that I always noticed, it's very rare that you're going to see someone that is not thin in a TV show, especially as, like, the main character. And we're never going to be like 100% happy with our bodies. I mean, maybe eventually. Like you said, like, there's always that time or like, you look back at a picture, and you're like, I look so good. But at the time, you did not think that way. And it's like, you just have to remember that, and our bodies are meant to change.

I think that, you know, so many women are, like, well, I weighed this for, like, a good portion of my life. And that's, like, my normal weight. I'm like, okay, but that was 10 years ago. So our bodies are going to change as we get older, and that's, like, totally normal and healthy. It's a daily practice, I want to emphasize that. And the life that you gained, when you said that I was like, whew, that's like, very powerful. And something that it's really easy to overlook, you know, the idea of… I even get women that reach out to me, they're like, I'm afraid to start eating more, I'm afraid to have more carbohydrates and, like, to really nourish their bodies, because they are afraid of gaining weight. And the question is not, like, will they or will they not gain weight. It's why do you have such an issue with it? Like, where's this coming from?

And I think it is a lot of societal pressures. And like you mentioned, those assumptions that people make about people that maybe they are overweight, they are considered fat or obese, and it's not accurate. Everyone thinks that, like, okay, I'm going to lose this weight and then I'm going to be healthy. That's maybe even what someone that's listening to this their doctor might have said that to them. I have so many clients who can't even get the right lab tests done at the doctor because they're like, well, that's not the issue, you need, your weight is the issue. It's hard both ways, you know, whether you enter this journey as a thin person or you're entering it, maybe you feel like you don't have weight that you need to gain. And you might still gain a little bit of weight, or at least not lose any weight in the beginning—it's going to be hard no matter what. But I think the important point is that you will learn a ton in the process and gain a new appreciation for your body.

Fallon: I have also had to really change my definition of what loving my body means. Because for so long I had this idea that loving our body is focused on our physical body and everything about it. So, you know, the goal is to get to this place where I love my stomach and I love my thighs. And I don't think that's the goal, I think the goal is to focus on showing our bodies love. And I think that we're just not going to achieve our dream body, because the definition of what that is, is constantly changing—individually and then on a societal level. Like, we look at how women's bodies standards have changed even over the past 40, 50 years. It's just constantly changing. And then our own kind of view of what we should look like is also constantly changing.

So I think for me, you know, my new goal, instead of getting to a place where I, you know, feel like oh, I love my body, like, I want to get to a place where I feel confident in the choices I've made toward nourishment and healing. And honestly, overall, just thinking about my body less. I think that's more of my end goal than, you know, feeling like, oh, I love everything about my body. Like, I want to be so full of life and so full of pouring into other things, and meaningful things, and, you know, pouring into purpose and passion and, you know, parenting and friendships that, like, my body is not even the first thing that I'm thinking about.

Amanda: That is such a good point. I have a membership for people that have worked with me or for if they've gone through my course, and there's a ton of amazing women in there. They're just, like, people I'll be friends with in real life. It's, like, the coolest thing ever. One of the things that often will get posted about is, like, wait, and I'm like, man, I remember at first when I first started, I'm like, why is this topic coming up so much? Like, who cares, you know. Because I was already in this place where like, my body changed, like, you know, five years ago. So I'm like over it. And I spent my whole life hating my body. And I feel like you get to a point where you're just like, I don't have the energy for this anymore.

I really like the concept of body neutrality, where it's, like, you don't have to, it's just like a lot of stuff you're saying, like, you don't have to love your body. You just have to respect it. And you want to make choices for your health and for how you feel versus how you're going to look. And it took me a long time to get there. But at first, I had a really hard time, like, holding space for that kind of a topic. And I think it was just so, like, I'm like, but guys, this doesn't matter, like, none of this matters. But when you're in it and you're in the thick of it and you're on your healing journey and you're gaining the weight and you're just, like, what's happening to my body and I thought I'm feeling better, so why am I gaining weight? I think it comes back to that association with, like, weight gain and not being healthy and, like, weight loss with being healthy.

So when you were on your healing journey and you did start to, like, gain weight, maybe your body, even just seeing changes in your body. A lot of people don't even weigh themselves. How did you react to that initially?

Fallon: It was tough, I won't say that I handled it in the best way. I think it was a battle for me every step of the way. I think once I started shifting the focus from this internal sort of pity party and started actually sharing this message—that was a big turning point for me to really connect with other women who were feeling the same way. And realize that, you know, this needs to be talked about. And I think there's something about again, shifting that focus from yourself onto others that really helped sort of alleviate that pressure. But it's been a daily battle honestly to refocus my attention, because I did grow up with really skewed ideas of health. And even worth. You know, I did pageants in high school, I was always praised for my appearance, like, that was kind of the thing that was, like, I just felt like was my identity, you know, that I looked a certain way. And I would, I just, I swore that I would never, like, let myself go or gain weight. And I remember saying, you know, as a teenager, who again, at the time was like, what, 112 pounds, you know, that I would do anything to get weight off if I ever gained it.

And so I have to laugh at the irony of my journey, because I am at a place where I'm larger than I've been before. And I, I'm not, like, freaking out or trying to get it back down. I'm, you know, honoring my body and trusting the process. And I think I've really had to come to grips with a few things. So I don't think this is a new concept probably for anyone listening, but, you know, we know that being skinny does not mean that you have a healthy metabolism. Like, I was stick thin my whole life and my metabolism was absolutely trashed. And I think we also have to come to grips with the fact that being skinny doesn't equal beauty. You know, when I look back at some of my skinnier days, I don't objectively feel like I was necessarily prettier. I just think that I had the societal pull toward thinness. And that, you know, that this idea that thinness and beauty went hand in hand. But even as, like, my own face has gotten more full, I see a life and, like, a vibrancy that I didn't have for a long time.

And so, and again, like, my husband, we have conversations about this quite frequently, because you know, he's kind of my safe space and has been such a great partner in all of this. But, you know, even he is not, like, I wouldn't trade your body or the way that you feel about life for those former days. Like, it's not even, it's a non-issue to him. And so I think that I have to, you know, just recognize that as my body is healing. And if, as my symptoms have improved, like, yeah, I've gained a few pounds, but again, my life has changed. Like, I don't have autoimmune flares, like I used to, I don't feel defined by my illness or my limitations anymore. Like that used to be sort of my defining feature is that it was, like, I was the girl who couldn't eat out and had to bring my own food and didn't drink coffee. And, like, I don't feel defined by those things anymore.

And you know, it can be hard to gain weight, but again, most people don't love their bodies, no matter what stage they're in—we can always find something to be unhappy with. You know, it's funny, my journey has been sort of rapid, because I dove in really quickly. And we can talk about that more at some point if you want. But you know, I can look back at my past a year and a half of pictures and there's this, like, stairstep of body changes. And at no point in hindsight, was I like, oh, this is it, I feel good about my body. Like, all along the way I just thought, oh my gosh, I need to lose weight, need to lose weight. And now looking back and I'm like, there was literally nothing wrong with me. I was perfectly fine. It was this pressure that I was putting on myself.

In hindsight, you know, after I had my third son, I remember thinking like, oh, I need to lose 10 pounds. And now that I look back at the pictures from that time frame, I'm like, I honestly probably needed to gain weight. I mean, we just convince ourselves that we need to lose so often. And it's like, do you though? I mean, is that really what your body needs? And I think just functionally, you know, I have to remind myself that… I have a post that sort of talks about this, like, that I didn't let myself go, I let diet culture go. Because the truth is, like, the forceful mental weight of diet culture was much stronger than any, like, physical weight that I might have gained. It's so, just limiting and, like, feels so…I don't know, just, you just feel stuck. When you're in diet culture, you feel so stuck, when you're chasing this whole food sensitivity journey. You know, trading that for maybe having to buy some new clothes, like I'll take that any day.

Amanda: One thing that you said that I want to reiterate and ask you a little bit more about, if you don't mind sharing…talking with your husband about it. Whenever, like, people bring it up, whether it's like a client or someone in my membership, and oftentimes they're worried about gaining weight. One of the reasons is often their partner. I get it, like the first thought is, like, especially if you're married, you're like, oh my gosh, they, did they sign up for this? One, they did, and then, two, it's like, you don't know, you cannot assume that you know how they feel about your body. And that's something that I have had many conversations with my husband about. I mean, we met when I was 19. So it's like obviously he knew my body was gonna change, like, the longer we were together. But I was a CrossFit athlete, so I was, I had a lot of pride in the way that I looked and I always wanted to look a specific way.

And, and it was really hard when my body started changing. And I was like, are you good with this? Like, are you still attracted to me? And so I mean, he definitely did not act like he was not, you know, there was clearly nothing wrong, but I, even having the conversation, hearing him say it, and getting the affirmation and then having him recognize like, oh, this is something that she needs to be reminded of…was probably the biggest thing that helped me let all that go and just really feel more comfortable with myself and not feel like worried about everything. Is that super healthy? Maybe? Maybe not. But it really did help me on my journey. I'm curious, like, what was your husband's reaction? Like, did you bring it up? Did it take you a long time to talk about it? What did that look like?

Fallon: Yeah, so my husband and I are both, like, chronic oversharers, which is a beautiful thing in our relationship, because, it can be beautiful I should say. We always know what the other person is thinking and carrying. So like, from day one, I'm like whining to my husband, like, oh, my gosh, I gained, you know, three pounds, whatever like ridiculous number it was. And I mean, he's just been right there alongside me the entire way. And I do remember a certain conversation that we had, where I told him, you know, the amount of weight that I gained, and he was like, honestly, if you hadn't have told me, I probably wouldn't have even noticed. Like, he's not nearly as aware of it, as I am. Because I'm, you know, sitting there staring at the scale, which is a separate issue—you might not want to do that, and I think that's a solid choice—I was really tied to it for the longest time. And I don't think that really supported my mental health in the best way. But he didn't even notice, like, it wasn't, it wasn't even an issue for him.

And I, for most of my life looked like a 13-year-old boy—no shape, no figure, like, I was just a stick. So this weight gain has been very kind to me, in certain ways. You know, I feel more womanly now. And my husband appreciates that quite a bit. And I think that, he's always been like this anyway, but I think because like you said, Amanda, because he knew that this was really difficult for me, and because he knew that, you know… Especially like, you know, marriage is your most, like, intimate, safe space. And like the worst and best parts of you are revealed. And so I think what I hear from a lot of women, I mean, to get a bit more personal is that their intimacy feels so strained, because they're afraid of, you know, being revealed to their husband, or, you know, and I think that's a really sensitive place to be.

And so I think that, because I did have a husband that was so affirming and went out of his way, you know, not just during those times where we were, you know, having intentional intimate time together, but even outside of that would just remind me that like, okay, I think you're beautiful, and I can't stop looking at you. And I mean, just these, these affirmations that I think were, I mean, like you said, Amanda, I think that it really radicalized the way that I dealt with all of this, because I had such a supportive husband. And I think that it was important that I communicated that to him, so that he knew sort of, before the issue even came up. And again, I don't think that he does this, because it's like, oh, I've got to make sure that Fallon feels okay about herself. I think it's an outpouring of what he really feels. And I think that's even further affirmation that we care a lot more than our husbands do, or anyone else does. Like, my husband would have probably never noticed or cared or been bothered by it. It's just because I was bothered by it. But I think that, you know, it's, it's so sweet to have that safe space to process with somebody who really does care for you and really does have unconditional love.

You know, one thing that my husband's been really good about is reminding me that I was not all that happy when I weighed less, you know, because I think this is a really toxic mentality. But sometimes I'll sit and think like, would I be happier if I lost 10 pounds? I think that's a legitimate question that several women on this journey have had to process through, like, would I be happier if I lost a certain amount of weight? And every time through my husband's wisdom, I come back to—no, because 10 pounds ago I was criticizing something else. I was sucking in my stomach. And, you know, wearing baggy shirts to cover whatever up, like, this has always been an issue. It's not the current weight that I’m at. It's an internal struggle that I'm dealing with. And the weight is really not the central issue. It's, it's something else. And so to have someone who could remind me of that, and sort of objectively look at the situation and say, hey, you actually weren't happier before. You weren't happier when you weighed 15 pounds less, you were actually probably less happy because you couldn't eat food. You always wanted to expand your diet.

I would cry when my husband would drink coffee, because I couldn't drink coffee. And so it's really helpful, you know, whether it's your husband or a close friend or somebody who can look from the situation from the outside and say, you know, I've seen you change, like, I've seen you gain life. Like I said, I mean, I've seen you gain vibrancy and freedom and health. So that, you know, point being I'm so thankful for my husband in the way that he's really spoken truth into this whole journey, because it's really easy to just get so internal and spiral and think that everyone else is thinking about this as much as you are When the truth is, they're just not. Like, we're the ones thinking about our bodies, nobody else really is. Maybe our husband, but like, in the best way, you know, they're not criticizing us, they just have love and affirmation for us.

Amanda: I love that. And I'm so happy that, I figured, I was like, I can't imagine, obviously, I don't know your husband, but I know that you're a very kind and intentional person. So I can imagine that you're not married to someone that isn’t also that way. But it does make a big difference. And whether it's like, like you said, like a friend, a partner, a spouse, whatever it is, on that journey. I do, it's just like, just talk about it, do not hold it inside, because you are creating all these problems that are not even there. And I think the other big thing to emphasize, and I definitely have seen this with my husband as well, it's like, what, you're happier, like you're doing all these things, that you have energy to do all these things that you enjoy. Like, you know, it's, like, having, like, I have this amazing business, and I get to help all these awesome women. And I mean, you're a mom and you homeschool your kids and you started a business and you're making a cookbook, as of this recording, that will be out by the time this is out. Listening to your story in the beginning about how it's, like, you never could have done that, you were in the bath at the end of the day because it's all you could do. So there's so many other aspects.

And I think our bodies are really just the least interesting things about ourselves. But I know it's the first thing that people see when they look at. Like, it's, I get it, and we live in a society that puts a lot of value on that. But I just think it's so important to just remember that you can take care of yourself so that you can feel good, you can respect your body and treat it well without being, like, loving every single thing about it. Two things can be true at the same time. And it's okay to want to change your body—I don't think that that's wrong. We're really more focusing on that healing journey and dealing with the changes that can happen. I mean a lot of women are changing their food, but they're, they're also changing their exercise. You know, like I went from doing CrossFit five, six days a week, to lifting three to four times a week. A lot changed, you know, it just they're two very different things. But a lot of it was positive.

Finishing off with, like, the food fear stuff, because I, I get this a lot, especially from women that have done food sensitivity tests or they've done AIP or other restrictive diets because that's what they were told or they were following their intuition. They felt that that was right. How, like you mentioned, like 7-10 foods previously, how do you feel at this point? And like, what made you really decide to experiment and like, give it a go with the whole metabolic eating?

Fallon: Yeah, I mean, I was at a place where I just felt so hopeless, you know, when I was in that season of eating so little. And it really felt like I didn't know how I was going to get out of that. And, you know, thankfully, the brain rewiring program I did was sort of the first step that made me feel hopeful. And one of the first reasons I found for actually trying to reintroduce food, because part of the program was to intentionally introduce and expose yourself to triggers. So it was a bit scary, but it was also super fun. Because I had been so limited and discouraged for so many years that it finally felt empowering to get a chance at experimenting a little bit. It did broaden my choices, but I was still super limited, like, even until the past year or so, I wasn't doing coffee, eggs, nightshades, most grains, like not super high fruit.

And it was actually, ironically enough, it was a food sensitivity test a couple of years ago, that gave me the confidence to play around with food. Granted, I don't totally stand behind food sensitivity, food sensitivity tests as an accurate or helpful tool at this point. But at the time, you know, I was stuck in the cycle of finding the sensitivities, cutting them out, and I actually had the test done to figure out what I needed to cut. And then ironically enough, it was the push that I needed to start reintroducing some things. Like dairy, for example, what, you know, once I saw that, that was a possibility, for me, it was just so exciting.

It's funny to me, if you tell somebody that has not done, you know, coffee and chocolate and dairy, and, you know, fruit and whatever else you want to insert…if you tell them like, hey, this is actually a really good way to support your health. I don't know of many people that are gonna be like, no, I'm actually good without those things, I was really enjoying my life without chocolate. Like, not many people really feel that way. And so I think once I felt like I had the green light from, you know, sort of this approach and, you know, work inspired by like Dr. Peat and, you know, just so many people in this sphere that have really been shedding light on really important nutritional information. It was sort of, like, that was the push I needed to step into this freedom and start enjoying food again.

Amanda: So you did the retraining the brain program, it's the DNRS, right?

Fallon: Yes. Yeah. So I think the actual website is retrainingthebrain.com. Annie Hopper is the creator, and there are a lot of different avenues to do brain rewiring. You know, I know you have, like, a tapping module in your course, Amanda, and that Theresa at Living Roots Wellness has a great series of tapping videos. And I mean, there's so many ways you can dive into brain rewiring, but I think it's, I think it's a tool for every toolbox honestly, regardless of what you're dealing with. I think it's an incredible way to combat those, like, spirally thoughts that we get about whatever the issue is that we're dealing with. Or health issue, I mean, I have friends that have recovered from, like, severe POTS with brain rewiring. I mean, it's really a far-reaching program, and it's just phenomenal.

Amanda: I mean, you were, that's a lot of stress. Like, you were not eating enough food, super limited, you were stressed about your food it sounds like, and then you had the stress of your son and his health. So that's a lot at once. I think the retraining your, the brain program, I, it's great, I have some clients that have done it. There's another one that I can't think of, that's pretty similar. But I feel like retraining the brain is very straightforward. And it gives you stuff to do, which I do think people need, especially if it's, like, a new concept to you. So I do think it's great. But it's really helpful when you've been in that fight or flight mode for a long time, because it's going to help you get out. So as soon, I didn't realize that you did that program, I was like, this is so cool. But I can totally see how that would help you. And then, you know, exposing yourself to those triggers, those food fears, and setting that brain reaction off in your body going into fight or flight and, like, worrying about like, what's going to happen if I eat this food and stuff. And then having to retrain your brain and fix that neural pattern—that's really powerful.

Fallon: Yeah, I mean, I still use it. Honestly, I still use principles from it, because it's far-reaching. Like, it's just, this concept of neuroplasticity, I mean, can be applied to food sensitivities. And now it's being applied to body image. I mean, it really is just such a beautiful tool that you can use for so many different things.

Amanda: You started adding in a lot of different foods, more nourishing foods, dairy, all that kind of stuff, not being terrified of sugar, and eating more pro-metabolic. Did you see any food fears created from pro-metabolic eating?

Fallon: You know, I did, but I think that was my own fault. Honestly, I think it's because I was sort of stuck in this world of viewing everything through a black and white lens. So yeah, I mean, I, especially looking back at the very beginning of my journey, I almost had this tendency to switch from one diet culture to another. And I think that's, kind of out of the gate, how I approached metabolic healing is that I wanted a list of foods to do and not do. And then gradually, as I sort of learned more and learned more about my body and learned more about nutrients and, you know, bio-individuality, like, you just, you can’t approach nutrition that way. And I think that I've fought food fear the entire journey, because of my extensive history with being so afraid of food. You know, I still will occasionally have these panic moments of like, should I be eating dairy? And like, is fruit good? And are carbs good? And then I just have to play devil's advocate with myself and think through the nutritional value of whatever I'm worried about. And then consider, you know, how has it been used historically? And how has it been used in my own health journey to bring the healing?

And so I think people sort of have this misunderstanding that you can't ever question what you're doing. I think the questioning is helpful, because then it brings you back to a solid decision, you know, behind what you're doing. I think that when we question and ask, okay, why do I feel like dairy is necessary in my diet? Well, I have a really solid answer to that. And when I'm questioning it, I can go back to those principles and remind myself that, okay, these are the things I stand behind. And I have an incredibly good reason for it. And there's no reason to be afraid of whatever food it is that I am approaching, I am approaching because I, you know, I know that it's a real whole food, I know how to prepare my food correctly, I know how to balance it correctly with the rest of my meal and the rest of my day. And so I don't, I don't have to live with that fear. But you know, when you, when you lived with that mentality for so many years, I think it continues to be a battle that, again, you have to sort of have this daily fight against. That, you know, you have to believe that, you know, you're nourishing yourself in the best way you can and just feel empowered about the decision that you've made.

Amanda: Yeah, and I think it can be tricky, too, because it's, like, no one food is gonna make or break you. And I think that's the, the, an important concept to come back to. And because it's like, oh, is this okay? Is this okay? What food should I eat for this, this and this? It's, like, that's not how it works, you know, and everyone is so different. Like, I eat a lot of beans, I enjoy them. They're great for excess estrogen, they're great for healthy gut bacteria, I prepare them properly, and every time I post beans, dairy, anything like that, in my stories, you know, the food police come out. And they're like, oh, but what about this, this and this.

And so many times we're worrying about things that are not truly moving the needle for us. You know, when I think of food fears, like, that's what I think of as…I'm like, is this really the best use of your time and energy? It's typically not. Sometimes people really do have an issue with gluten. Sometimes people really cannot digest dairy. That's fine. Stay away from a food that does not make you feel good. But if you are creating stress around food—that's a stressor. If you are talking to yourself, saying negative things about your body all day, every day—that's a stressor. So often we're looking to like improve our health, minimize stress from other places, try to eat the best we can, but we're actually creating a bunch of internal stress that we're not even fully aware of. So when you, I love when you talk about food fears, like, the 7-10 foods and, like, I can't even imagine what did you eat, you know. But it sounds like you've come a long way.

Fallon: To your point, I think so many of us are stuck in this cycle of feeling like, you know, we can't heal, we can't have this food, you know, we're going to be limited and defined by food rules forever. And, again, you know, our brains are so powerful, and, like, you sort of alluded to, the emotions and feelings we have around our food are so powerful. Because if we're constantly telling ourselves that, you know, this food is bad, and it's gonna make us sick, or it's gonna give me an autoimmune flare…like our body’s receiving that message. And, again, like you said, we're filling our stress bucket even more with that mentality. You know, I used to get so stressed thinking about, like, cross contamination or, you know, a trip where I may not be able to control every detail of my food. And I fully believe, like, that level of control and worrying was not contributing to the bettering of my health in any way. It was just making me more stressed out.

Amanda: So you went from this whole restrictive mentality around food and feeling like you had to restrict in order to achieve health…you've really reversed everything, you reversed how you thought about food, how you feed your family, how you feel about your body, how you show up every single day for yourself. It's pretty amazing, in a very short period of time, year and a half. It sounds like, so… A lot of the stuff that you've done and created from this, I just love, I love everything that you share. If you guys are like eating up this conversation around body image and healing, and you want more of it, I would say just follow Fallon, @fallondanae on Instagram. I will definitely tag her in everything. And her Instagram handle, the link for that it's going to be in the show notes. She also has a great website, Fallon’s Table, and she has meal plans. But she also has a new cookbook coming out. Do you want to talk about your cookbook at all?

Fallon: Yeah, I would love to. You know, I knew I wanted to help women find freedom from, you know, their symptoms and their illnesses, and I knew that food was going to be a fundamental piece of that. But for a long time, I didn't really know how that was going to manifest, and I, you know, spent so many years sort of spreading the, like, paleo gospel. And you know, once I found this new freeing world of nutrition, it was like a lightbulb moment of realizing I wanted to combine my love of recipe developing with something that would truly empower and help women to find joy in their nourishment. And help them step out of diet culture instead of stepping into it.

And so I toyed around with, you know, like, blogging or writing and then some, some, one day something just sort of clicked and, like, meal plans just seemed like the perfect marriage of getting to create recipes, while also helping people see what a nutrient balanced day looks like and a week looks like. So I ended up creating a total of six meal plans, five of which are specifically correlated to calorie ranges—the lowest one is 1800-2000 and the highest one is 2600-2800. And then there is a dairy reintroduction meal plan or dairy-free meal plan, if needed. I created a quiz for the website to help determine which range is the best based on, like, personalized lifestyle questions. Because, you know, we know that traditional calculators are severely off base and often working off of like just BMR and not accounting for, like, movement, you know, pregnancy, breastfeeding.

So I really wanted a resource that showed women what they should actually be aiming for. Because, you know, it's essential that women are eating enough. Like, you look at something like MyFitnesspPal or even certain certified nutritionists that are suggesting for women to eat in, like, the 1300-1400 calorie range. And that is exactly how we spiral into, like, hormone issues and thyroid issues and cycle issues. I mean, so many things come back to how nourished you are. And I mean, at the end of the day, fewer calories inevitably means fewer nutrients. So while calories aren't everything, they're a big piece of the puzzle. And I can't tell you how many stories I've received from women who have, like, gotten their lives back just from doing something like the meal plan and finally giving their body the fuel it needed. So the meal plans kind of feel like my baby, they are the first thing I did, and I love them so much. They have about 40 recipes and then, you know, sourcing notes and brand recommendations and implementation recommendations. So that was a lot of fun. I love that I got to do that.

The cookbook was more of a creative pursuit, and so that was a ton of fun. It's all focused on make-ahead batch prep, you know, freezer-friendly style meals. And so there's lots of nourishing soups and casseroles and, you know, make-ahead, like, large portion style recipes, which is super fun because I know that that's what a lot of people need in the season. You know, a lot of my audience and connections are, you know, moms or they're busy women and they've got, you know, however many kids to feed or they're, you know, feeding themselves for the week and they're meal prepping. And so that was kind of the goal behind this cookbook was to give recipes that were nourishing and that would also make your life easier and, you know, get you spending less time in the kitchen and more intentional time in other places. You know, we, I love cooking, I love to create, but our life requires a lot of us other than just, like, spending all day in the kitchen.

So that's my hope with this cookbook is that, you know, it just gives you a bit more flexibility to just be prepared, have nourishing meals ready. You know, it's great for, like, postpartum moms or, you know, families that are needing extra, like, care or help in certain seasons, you know, just have a quick meal brought over that'll last them a few days. So it's, I really have loved this pursuit, and it feels so different from the meal plans, which is, has just been super fun.

Amanda: I, I, the first thing I thought of was, oh, that'd be perfect for planning for your postpartum time. Because usually I recommend to people to, like, make, try to make as many freezer meals as you can. Because that first month is going to be tricky when it comes to, like, balancing that time of, like, one, eating in general, but then two, like, having that time to actually make food to eat. So that was like my first thought. I can't wait. I have your other meal plans I've bought. So many of my clients, women in my membership, use your meal plans. And they like having the calorie ranges.

And I know sometimes people hear that word and it throws them off. But it, like Fallon said, it has a purpose, it's intentional, because the whole point is that you do need to eat enough in order to see all of the benefits. So she does have that quiz, I will link it in the show notes. If you guys want to take that, figure out which one is the right one for you. And then by the time this airs, your cookbook is going to be available. And you guys can purchase that as well. You do share recipes on your Instagram too. So if you're trying to get a feel for, like, is this a good fit? Like, go check out her Instagram, see what recipe she shared. I can't tell you how many people tag her in recipes. So, like, the social proof is there guys. Like, if you want, if you want metabolic-supportive, nourishing meals, I feel like is a great way to get it.

Is there anything that you want to leave women with that are maybe like in the thick of it on their healing journey listening to this podcast? How would you want to end that conversation?

Fallon: So you’ve actually got a fantastic post about healing not being linear. And I appreciate that way of thinking so much, because we just can't fit our healing into some projected path—because our bodies just don't work like that. So I think if you're a woman in particular who's struggling with a weight bit in the midst of healing, I would encourage you to start getting objective with yourself. So if that means making a physical list, if you have to, of what improvements you've seen, I think that can be helpful, honestly. We often find that our health has actually radically changed. But because we still want to lose a few pounds, we've convinced ourselves that, you know, our journey isn't working. And really, that's not true. We just kind of need to take a step back and evaluate. Because our health often has been totally revolutionized, but our clothes may have changed some. Which, by the way, if you need to buy new clothes, please feel the freedom to do so—it is amazing how much easier life is when you are not trying to cram into, like, an old pair of jeans. You can breathe, you can be comfortable, give yourself the freedom to do that.

And I want to, again, just remind us that, you know, our relationship with our body is a daily choice—it's not something that just happens to get better. It doesn't, like, magically change when you reach a certain size or a certain number or even a certain number of symptoms lost. And you have to remind yourself of that every single day, that your body's a gift, it's a temporary gift—you're going to age, you're going to get sick, you're going to have to face the reality that your body will change. And if we're constantly telling ourselves that we, you know, hate our bodies, or that we desperately want to change XYZ or that we're, like, terrified of gaining weight. Those are the thoughts that are going to control us. So I think you know, if that's a thought that you're wrestling with, you know, I'm terrified of gaining weight…I think you have to evaluate why, why is that so scary to you? Like what is it that you're going to lose in terms of quality of life, relationships, etc. What would actually change if you happen to gain some weight and also find healing?

I've tried to be really diligent about redirecting any negative thought about my body and put that energy into something I'm thankful about. So if I, like, walk by a mirror and I get a bad glimpse, I'm going to immediately stop that thought and redirect to something that I am proud of about my body or something I'm thankful for. And I think these little shifts in thinking are really powerful when it comes to healing. Because our bodies need safety, and we're not creating safety if we're constantly insulting ourselves. And at the end of the day, we as individuals are in charge of that change. And I think that that's incredibly empowering. So again, throw away the scale if you have to, like, evaluate if you went in too quickly, you know, work with somebody if you need to. And then at the end of the day, I think just give yourself grace, to feel confident that you're making empowered and informed decisions based on the knowledge that you currently have—no matter what body changes you see, no matter if your healing journey is up and down and you have to reevaluate. I think that we have to give ourselves the grace of making a choice, feeling confident about it, course-correcting if we need to.

And then just, like, having fun, you know. Have fun with your food, with your creativity, with the other activities that you're involved in. And this is something that Amanda I feel like has reminded me of so often that, like, sometimes we get so stressed out about trying to do the next right thing, that we're just making it worse. Like, it doesn't matter how good of a pursuit we're following. If that thing is making us more stressed and adding to this never-ending to-do list, then it may not be the most worthwhile pursuit. So I think, like, evaluate the way that you're approaching health. Is it stressing you out more? And if the answer is yes, then I think we need to reevaluate and figure out how can we enjoy our nourishment. How can we enjoy this healing journey? And how can we just really feel confident that the choices we're making are the best ones that we can just stick to and feel good about?

Amanda: I love that, it reminds me that quote, “We can't heal in the same environment that made us sick.” And I think a lot of people think that that is a physical environment. But for me, I think of it more as, like, what is your mental state? You know, and that's, you summed it up perfectly.

So I really enjoyed this podcast. I feel great after talking about all this stuff. I hope that everyone listening has appreciated it. Go follow Fallon. Let us know what you thought about the episode. Share it in your stories. Tag us. And thank you so much for being here, Fallon. I really appreciate it.

Fallon: Of course, it was so fun. Thank you, Amanda.

Thank you for listening to the Are You Menstrual? podcast. If you enjoyed today's episode, please consider leaving us a review and sharing the podcast with someone you think it will help. If you are new here, we can't recommend enough to start with our mineral imbalance quiz. This is going to give you an idea if you are at low, moderate, or high risk for mineral imbalances. And then of course, make sure you follow us on Instagram @hormonehealingrd. And consider signing up for our newsletter if you like nerding out and you're just loving these podcasts but maybe you're a little bit more visual and you want to see things too. We go into a ton of detail in our weekly newsletter. So we would love to have you join us there. Alright, thank you and we will see you in the next episode.


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