• Erin Engelke

Hate Diets, Love Your Body

Each of us is uniquely made, but finding the healthy balance between our love of food and the dissatisfaction we feel toward our bodies is really hard some days.


I haven’t always had a healthy relationship with food or the way I look. In fact, as a young girl, I hated my body.


The gap between my legs.


How curvy my body was shaped.


That I wasn’t “skinny” like my friends.


When I was 11 years old, I broke my femur in a terrible snow tubing accident which rendered one leg shorter than the other, also causing it to be shaped differently because of the surgeries, time spent in the hospital and the two months I was wrapped up in a full body cast. Needless to say, it wasn’t the most wonderful experience but certainly a most memorable one.


Most people don’t know this, but to this day, I wear a lift in my shoe to make up the difference in the lengths of my legs. I'm actually very self-conscious about it!


After being sedentary for so many months after my accident, I had naturally gained weight, which propelled an even greater resolve within me to be thin.


I regularly compared myself to the tall, skinny girls I took dance classes with each week, wishing I could look like them. I took laxatives, taped my legs to look smaller and even went on crazy weird fad diets that involved me eating nothing but heads of lettuce and hamburger patties.


I lost some weight, enough to be able to make it onto the competitive dance team but could still never shake the fact that I wasn’t like the other girls.


Sadly, I didn’t realize that I was perfect just the way I was.

Fast forward to college. I relaxed and just enjoyed life, especially the life I was creating with my soon to be husband, Jason. I gained the typical “freshman 20” but it honestly didn’t bother me.


It wasn’t until we began experiencing years of infertility and multiple miscarriages that I began to emotionally eat in hopes it would make me give me the comfort I was craving during a time of complete helplessness.

One day, I looked up and realized I had gotten to a whopping 160 pounds and didn’t feel good about myself, both emotionally and physically. So I signed up with Weight Watchers and took control over my food, counting my points and measuring everything I ate.


I lost 25 pounds and felt the best I had in years. I had finally identified what it meant to eat healthy, or so I thought. What I didn’t realize at the time was I was eating calories that weren’t right for my body type which is mesomorph (with a tendency toward endomorph), meaning eating too many carbs causes me to gain weight quickly even though I have a very athletic build and gain muscle easily when I work out.


When I was enlightened to this amazing piece of information, it completely changed my view of dieting and shifted my mindset to be one of eating for fuel and for what’s best for MY body…eating healthy as a lifestyle, not just to diet for a month or two and go back to my daily intake of sandwiches, chips and bowls of cereal.


Do I ever miss some of those comfort foods? You bet! And I still eat them, only in moderation and on the day of the week I allow myself to indulge. Quite truthfully, if I’m going to indulge, it will almost always be on my world famous chocolate chip cookies! They’re worth every calorie.


As women, our body image can be all consuming. We are emotional creatures that often use food as a way to feel better. I still do. But being educated about our body types and how we respond to what we eat is everything.

So today, I eat whole heads of lettuce because I want to! Not because it’s part of a fad diet, but because my salads are topped with clean vegetables, lean meats, spices and, on occasion, satiating healthy carbs that fill me up and are also amazingly delicious.


I often get asked how I stay so disciplined with my nutrition. And the first thing I say is, I’m not always! But having made the decision years ago to make this a lifestyle change has made all the difference in the world and gives me clarity about what is best for my body.


If you are interested in learning more about my lifestyle journey to eating clean and healthy, I would love to be an encouragement to you.


All of us need daily reminders that our bodies are beautiful miracles, no matter what size or shapes they are!

You can read more about what to eat and how to work out based on the three different body types here: https://www.coachmag.co.uk/lifestyle/4511/ectomorph-endomorph-or-mesomorph-what-is-your-body-type.

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