Just announced during this years Healthy Weight Week, I am truly honored to be named one of the Top Healthy Weight Bloggers of 2014 by Green Mountain at Fox Run, an amazing organization and retreat center that helps women discover integrative health and wellness. Explore the full list of Top Healthy Weight Bloggers of 2014.
To support the important message of Healthy Weight Week, I’d like to share with you my personal story of how I shifted from dieting to focus on sustainable health instead.
A few years ago a simple, yet disruptive, thought came to me after failed attempt number who-the-hell-knows-anymore at trying to lose weight. I remember it vividly - it’s one of those sudden thoughts that sets a flag in your memory - it lasts.
I was cleaning the bathroom, my mind full of chatter on all the things I had to do the the week ahead regarding diet and exercise:
“Ok, gym tomorrow night...pack my bag tonight, make sure I bring my headphones god-forbid I have to run without music. Oh, lunch! Do I want turkey or tuna? How many WW points will that be? Well, I’ll burn enough with activity to make up for it...but wait, what about dessert? We still have some of that Ben & Jerry’s left.... What should I wear to work? Nothing too tight, I don’t want my roll showing. Seriously though, I’ve been doing this for MONTHS now and still keep gaining/losing the same five pounds -- what gives?”
Then suddenly, unprovoked, a different voice popped in…
“What if this IS my body..what if I’m already at my natural weight?”
I stopped cleaning and paused, looked around with shifty eyes because I felt like I just committed a crime, scouting to see if anyone saw. Did I really just think that THIS body, my body, was at its natural weight? I shrugged it off, offended, and got back to scrubbing the sink, sinking back into my obsessive thoughts about the week ahead’s weight-loss cannon.
It’s the profound and unexpected messages which linger most because they burn of a truth you’re unwilling to accept right now. The burn was real: THIS is my body.
I felt devastated.
My body didn’t look like what I thought it should, and despite leading a very healthy lifestyle with diet and exercise, I never seemed to break the weight-threshold I felt I must. I was going through all the actions of a healthy person, but to me my waistline discredited it.
I really sat with the message “this is my natural body” for a few weeks, experiencing all the conflicting thoughts and emotions which surfaced. And one day (oddly enough, in the bathroom again) another message came: I am allowed to love my body at any size.
Instead of panicking, I felt relief - the war was over and it was time to rebuild.
I soon gave up dieting all together and well, you know the rest of the story. But I will be honest: breaking away from the weight-loss herd can be a terrifying and uncertain place. I shut out weight loss-media, books and people. In its place, I sought after messages and images that transcended the body’s myth of perfection, learning about the Health At Every Size community and the noble workers of it.
When you give up the ghost of dieting, you also begin an emotional process of releasing years of misinformation about what is best for you. For a while, I felt like a nomad in a new territory - I had to relearn how to trust, respect and listen to my own body. It was hard, scary, but something inside assured me there is no chance of failing when you walk along a self-accepting path.
Throughout my writing, you can read how I overcame feeling like I owed the world an apology for how I looked, and here is a great place to start.
Today, I view my body how I view the ocean - sometimes it’s calm, sometimes it swells as storms come raging through, and moments of bliss are found when it’s so warm you can soak within it for hours. My body moves, and like the ocean I'm alive, happily answering “yes!” to the question “doesn’t it look beautiful?”