I want to share something it took me a long time to learn, but that helped me immensely to get where I am today.
For most of you, following a strict diet and losing weight alone is not going to bring you more joy than you have now. Doing the inner work and learn how to embrace your emotions and be grateful for your body will do. And it’ll also bring along self confidence, that sense of self-worth you’ve been chasing after for such a long time.
A declaration of love
Let me start with this:
“You’ve got the most beautiful face I’ve ever seen. If only you could lose weight, you’d be perfect.You’re wasted like this!”
I still remember that comment from an ex boyfriend like it was yesterday. I must have been 26 or around that age. It felt like an arrow landing right in the middle of my chest to break my heart in a million pieces.
At that time I had already developed a big grey cloud of self-doubt and hate for my body, which would always follow me day in and day out, everywhere, right on top of my head.
My big grey cloud would be with me at the supermarket strolling in the aisles and stocking up on chocolate while trying to avoid the judging looks of the other shoppers. Because I’m 100% sure they’re checking on what’s in my basket and get the idea that I don’t have any control at all on what I eat, let alone on my life.
It would be with me, when out with my friends, trying not to make eye contact with the good looking guys in the room, because “Yes, they’re gorgeous!” but seriously, do you really think they’d be interested in you? You fool!
Honestly, my boyfriend’s comment just added more weight to that cloud and made it bigger and bigger after years of me strenuously collecting proof of what people found wrong about my body to then turn it into an opinion about my life and me as a person.
“If someone who loves me is telling me this, then it must be true”, I told myself. Right, I can’t be beautiful NOW but wait! let me lose those pounds and I’ll be a bomb. I’ll get rid of this big fat grey cloud and shine as a star in the sky.
Only a sprinkle of willpower
Dona, listen, just a little bit of willpower and you’ll be happy, everyone will want to ask you out. You’ll be able to apply for the job that you really like and get rid of the job at the call centre.
You’ll be able to go back to take dance classes with a fit body and forget about loose t-shirts, you’ll show around with that glamorous blue gym set you’ve got sitting in your wardrobe (never used and gone to charity).
Seriously, think about travelling and get to the most amazing beaches wearing that bikini and feel free, no need to hide like you did when you went for that trip with your class in secondary school.. Awe, it’ll be wonderful! Just go lose those 40..35…20…10…5..2 pounds.
And then it happened, I lost weight, probably even more than I’d planned. However, the same “self-doubt/hate my body” big fat grey cloud was still there. What the hell! This wasn’t part of the plan. WHY is this happening??!!
The crippling anxiety of still feeling uncomfortable, not fit for my job, not pretty enough for someone despite dropping more weight than I could have possibly imagined to drop started to rise. And I could only find the same way to cope with that anxiety: food, isolation, talking negatively to myself.
I felt like I cheated on myself so badly for thinking weight would be the meter of my happiness and the measure of my worth.
THINK about this cycle: losing weight, putting on weight, dreaming of a better life as a lighter person and be defeated by the same old problems as a lighter person.
NOW multiply it by something like 10 times and you get an idea of the spiral I was in for nearly 25 years of my life. That’s a good amount of days, months, weeks, isn’t it??
Changing from the inside out
A couple of weeks ago I received a private message on my Facebook page.
I find it describes so well what happened to me, what happens every day to so many people, and maybe what’s happening to you now.
I find it points out two key elements in the journey to accepting our body and taking care of it to not only lose weight but thrive in life: awareness of our body and gratitude for the miracle it is.
With the owner’s permission I’ll share it here, omitting some parts to protect their privacy:
“I was pretty heavy weight when growing up [..] I was always the ugliest and the bigger till the age of 22? Never having a boyfriend or someone fancying me…all the other girls were so confident and beautiful. I think at that time I started to…stop eating to loose weight and be free. But..[..] “It doesn’t matter if you loose weight. Even if you loose weight, you will always be fat and feel fat deep inside. It is your mind to be fat“.
And in fact I was still not confident in myself even if I was not big anymore.
I did avoid meeting with people, especially when food was involved.
It did happen to me to avoid meeting people because I was still afraid of the way I looked, or the way I did think I looked. Accepting an invitation from friends for a meal or a day out in the countryside and then…spending 4 hrs in front of the mirror struggling and examining every inch of my body till inside my soul, trying on every single item in my wardrobe in 1000 different combinations and never see in that mirror what I wanted and then…realizing it was getting late for my appointment and…simply making up excuses or simply not showing up…[..] I am still so sorry I have disappointed many around…
Of course it is not like this for all, but many people still feel miserable even if they have lost weight. That’s why it’s important what you say, losing weight if you want, but most importantly building up gratitude for your body and appreciating what you have and having the right mindset [..] Today I feel more comfortable with a thinner body, I love how fast I move, how long I can walk, I love my hair! Curly again. I love the miracles my body does for me every single day, cells reborning, the power of seeing colours, the good feeling of smelling something nice [..] Little things. Big things.
It is a journey to find myself that is not finished yet. But. Let me tell you. Having you at the last chapters of this book of my struggling life is a relief. It is a gift.
And Im grateful of this today. It makes me stronger.
Thank you for listening.”
I thank this person immensely for embracing their vulnerability and sharing their feelings.
After all, if we keep pretending we’re not hurt or have a problem, we can’t heal. Embracing whatever it’s hurting us it’s a step toward recovery. Because RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE!
There is only one person who is truly invested in every decision you make every day. That person is you.
That time you spend worrying about what people will think about you it’s time you can never get back. It’s time you could spend doing the things you like and just living your life.
If you stop worrying about judgement, if you stop listening to whatever comment someone else makes on your body or your abilities, what would you start doing?
If you stop that inner voice inside you telling you’re not worthy, what would you be capable of doing? What would you achieve?
I hope you’re able to take some of these reflections into your day.