To love your body is an act of courage and freedom. And I've had the distinct privilege of witnessing first hand the transformation which occurs when a woman chooses to learn what it takes to love her body, and by extension, herself.
A couple of years ago, I was not sure what to do with my newly discovered sense of body-acceptance and self-love. I felt alone for a while, like I had a big secret, but was too scared to share it. I was terrified to open-up about how I started to love the body I naturally had because it was so anti-normal to actually LIKE yourself. Especially if you're considered fat, big, plus-size - whatever.
It was a taboo to shout aloud "Yeah, I'm fat..so what?"
But I couldn't avoid this surge of pride within me any longer: I has successfully resolved a long-tarnished relationship with my body. I felt relieved, vindicated, awed, overcome with happiness and hopeful for the shame-free future. Finally, I felt beautiful. But more importantly, I realize something bigger – lots of other women probably want to feel this way and maybe, just maybe, I can help them.
As a trained life coach, I was able to talk about some aspects of body-acceptance in a fairly technical way, like how change happens and what keeps people from being confident. But something felt different and hollow with that direct approach. The more I got personal with my writing regarding my own body-acceptance, a flashing message began to form: Rach, you’re on to something there…this is beyond just being a life-coach – there is a movement here!
A new spark of zest flooded into my life. It became my mission to not only teach and write about what it takes to learn how to love your body, but to also forge a community of women who value this quest and to then, encourage them to support one another too.
I officially launched More To Love (MTL) 3 days after I got married last October. Most couples are basking in their honeymoon, but I was writing code and content for my new website. The timing in life never felt so right. And with the pulse of new energy, I also threw it out into the universe that I wanted to TEACH women, step-by-step, what I learned and encourage them to make body-acceptance their own. I wanted to show them how possible loving your body could be.
A few months later, the More To Love Class was born from this desire of service and despite some self-doubt of my own ability to make it happen, I went for it and launched the first class in February 2014.
I was not disappointed: each MTLClass has proven to outshine even my wildest dreams. From all ages and walks of life, women registered with the hope of dropping off baggage from years of feeling defeated and exhausted from the never-ending cycle of body-shame and chronic dieting.
Every woman who takes the More To Love Class is seeking one thing: validation for being themselves, coupled with a deep desire to realize that despite having a larger body, they are a good person.
All women want to feel like life is more than weight and size - we want to be honored and appreciated for the mother, wife, daughter, employee, athlete, citizen, lover, friend, story-teller, healer, griever, caretaker, breadwinner, scientist, humorist....whatever our changing role in life may be. Let's be valued for THAT and allow our bodies to become a vessel, not a misfortune.
In the More To Love Class, we openly talk about the burden of a body which never quite feels right; the heaviness of stomachs and thighs that make it hard to move freely about the world; the embarrassment of eating too much, working out too little, and never feeling like enough. We talk about the disappointment and grieving of dieting's empty promises of one day, everything will finally be perfect once the weight is gone.
And once members of the class yell out into the world how they really feel about themselves, something miraculous occurs: they discover the ground didn't crumble below them. The sky didn't fall down because flabby arms went sleeveless. Their lives were not being held captive by a body-size, but rather, of fear of being true to themselves and daring to be seen.
In less than one month, many of them discovered they were free to be the wife, the mother, the lover, the friend, the goddess, the caretaker, the vixen, the teacher, the cancer-survivor, the thriver of mental illness -- each independent of weight dictating worth. They each harnessed the power within themselves, and as a collective community, to stop letting their body-size define the size of their life.
To lead a group of inspiring women embarking on this quest was like witnessing empathy in action and love made visible.
Through the class, each woman learned her body wasn't a problem to be solved, only her opinion of her body needed changing. The rolls on her stomach are not unforgivably egregious, but tell a story of pain, of living, of childbirth, of cancer, of healing, of depression, of sorrow, of happy times and so much more.
If you never learn to love what you consider broken, you’ll never feel the deep peace which comes from total acceptance.
More To Love Class is not a prescriptive approach to living life as a larger women. There are so rules, guidelines or requirements beyond trying each of the daily activities I provide. You can even say “Screw this activity!” and still, you’ll learn something valuable from that resistance alone.
My own opinion of how to love yourself and your body doesn't matter – instead, MTLClass becomes a personal survey of how you’re defining your worth with an open invitation to change some fundamentals ways you've been misinformed on how you approach your body and life.
In only three month-long classes to date, over 110 women made a pledge to devote their time to learning how to cast aside body-shame and look at their bodies, their lives, in a different way.
A More To Love Class graduate chooses to move beyond the personal pain regarding her body, to let-go of what that pain robbed her of, and through action and courage, realizes the size of her waist means nothing compared to the expanse of her spirit.
And that's why I continue to do this work - everyone deserves to look in the mirror and say "It's nice to see you, today!"
For those ready to learn how to finally love your body, the next More To Love Class begins Wednesday, September 3 with registration starting on Monday, August 11.