“Whoa, gaining a little weight there, aren’t ya?!” My brother asked me while poking my side after I had returned home for winter break after my first semester of my senior year in college.
Um, as if I hadn’t noticed my jean no longer fit 🤔.
That comment, although not intended to be malicious, reinforced a narrative that had been running rampant in my mind since I started school that year. That my weight was becoming a problem. It was all people saw. That to be the person I wanted to be, I had to get the weight off. ASAP.
(Read my HuffPo piece here: My Body Is Mine, Hers is Hers, Yours Is Yours)
That winter of dieting sparked years of struggle.
Years of dieting, self criticism and seemingly endless emotional exhaustion that I just couldn’t achieve what I wanted.
I wanted to be confident. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to feel worthy of loving relationships. I wanted to make new friends and spend time with old ones, too. I wanted to be successful at work.
But, I was convinced that because of the way I looked, none of that was possible.
So, I tried harder.
No, not to achieve those things. To change my body so I felt worthy enough to someday achieve those things.
And, the harder I tried to transform my body the smaller my world became.
I skipped outings with friends. I made excuses to stay in. I *never* missed a workout. I obsessed over the number on the scale, my cellulite and how many calories I was allotted.
And, as my waistline shrank, expanded, shrank and expanded, my world shrank twofold. Until I woke up one day, realizing that I was still depressed and anxious, I was still talking mad shit to myself, I still didn’t feel like I deserved what I wanted out of life. But this time… I didn’t have too many people to lean on.
What I did have was an undiagnosed eating disorder and an obsession with exercise.
Because I had cut myself off from them, from experiences that might come between me and my diet- in order to achieve the external appearance that I thought would be worthy of love and connection.
Funny how that happens, right?
The one thing you count on to be your superpower, actually becomes your kryptonite.
Most likely (yup, I’m generalizing!) it was to alter your appearance- to fit in, to feel less ashamed, to gain some confidence.
But, what happened when the weight didn’t stay off? Or, what did you lose as a result of being so insularly focused on your body and the way it appeared?
How has your world shrunk because of your relationship with food and your body?
Get specific. Name the ways.
I started healing my relationship with my body by making a commitment to myself. To engage in my life- to play, move, rest, work- without focusing on how my body appeared.
I set out to reclaim who I was and what I wanted out of life with my body- regardless of shape, weight, perfections or imperfections- instead of what life could provide me if I had the body that society convinced me I should have.
I lived my life in my body.
And, when I had those days when I cringed when I looked in the mirror, I re-grounded myself in my commitment. And I carried on being in body, looking out at the world instead of being in the world, looking back at my body.
Because, quite frankly, life is too short to continue hating the vehicle you have to carry you through it.
What do you crave?
What do you want out of your life?
How could the rest of your life change if you weren’t consumed with the external?
How could the rest of your life change if you focused and leaned into the power of your internal gifts?
If you committed yourself to being in your body, instead of critiquing, judging and shaming your body, how would your world shift?
Some proverbial food for thought. Or, maybe some journaling prompts for you to lean into.
Seeing you for the beautiful badass you already are ✊🏼 .
I'm a self-love, body image and eating disorder therapist in Horsham, PA.
I help women and teen girls to make peace with their minds, bodies and food and learn how to see, appreciate and love all that they are.
I specialize in treating anxiety, binge eating and helping women learn how to stop dieting and really start living.
Questions? Get in touch here!