Body weight is a highly sensitive topic. If for any reason reading my own personal experience with seeing myself as a heavy person and my journey with losing/gaining weight would be triggering for you, please take care of yourself first and honor where you’re at in your own journey. You are so worthy of love regardless of a number on the scale or measuring tape.
It’s hard to know where to begin with telling the story of my journey with my own weight. I was born in the late 80s, a total millennial, coming of age during a time when a woman’s ideal body as projected by the media was clinically underweight, and finding “plus size” clothing for my midsize body in high school was absolutely mortifying.
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t insecure of the shape of my body and conscious of how I was different from other people. I used to view myself as the “fat girl” in the choir, and believed that the reason I didn’t have a boyfriend was because I wasn’t attractive enough *because of my weight*. I did have plenty of affirmation of how “pretty” I was, but I knew they were talking about my face.
In college I was 240 lbs, struggling with PCOS, giving myself injections twice a day to try to help me with insulin resistance, and being told by doctors that my weight was the reason I was “broken”. I was so sick of these medications that I finally took matters into my own hand, and started focusing on my own weight loss from a food intake perspective. I had found an article in an online PCOS forum, and it was the single most helpful thing I found. It was like a switch flipped in my brain and over the course of a few years, I steadily lost weight. I finally broke through and, though it took years, by 2014 I was in the 160s.
I felt so proud of myself and so accomplished for doing what felt completely impossible! I was surprised that I could become an “acceptable” midsize person- the lowest pant size I ever was was a size 10 and so I “knew” I wasn’t “thin” by any means but I genuinely felt pleased with my body. I swore to myself I would keep this lifestyle no matter what and work hard to keep up with this body that I had earned.
Life kept moving, and so much happened over the next 6 years. I started my own business, worked at Apple, left Apple to go full time with my business, had a few bad break ups, fell in love with Dave, bought a house, we got a dog, and kept working hard to build our life together. There were good moments and bad moments. There were times we were eating and moving for wellness, and there were a lot of moments we were just trying to survive.
But in March of 2020 I found myself on the scale realizing that somewhere along the road I had gained back some of the weight that I had worked so hard to lose. While I was still below the dreaded 200 mark, I was so discouraged and wanted to do something about it, so I decided to try Noom.
When you first join Noom you put in what you want your goal weight to be and they say you’ll be that weight and this date. So I agreed to do it for 4 months, thinking by July 23, 2020 I would be back down to 175 and “all would be well again.” When I set my mind to something, I really do it! And I liked Noom during the time, it made sense to me and I believed if I just bought into the process that it would work. So everydayI was counting my calories, working out, and literally putting so much of my heart and soul into getting “back down to my ideal weight.”
Well July 23rd came and went and I was down 8-10 lbs in the 4 months I had been working the program. Not the 20+ that I felt would definitely happen if I just worked hard. Instead I was completely stuck and frustrated.
I had never experienced what they say happens on ‘diets’ that as soon as you stop you gain all the weight back plus some until then. Looking back, Noom messed me up more than it helped me. I was so hyper focused on their system, which in hindsight was quite overwhelming for me (at least during a pandemic), and it wasn’t sustainable nor was it working. As soon as I quit, I was so overshot that I just told myself I’m going to eat whatever felt good “within reason” and that I had to stop thinking about weight and food.
At that point in life the stress was REAL. I was in the midst of the pandemic, trying to work in the wedding industry much less, and manage all our amazing clients and navigate their heartbreak with what was happening to their wedding dreams. I didn’t even know if we were going to be able to financially make it through the rest of the year, or what was going to happen. I also felt the heartbreaking loss of losing the yoga studio I called home to and taught at, and opened a new business to connect with students online. Survival mode was 100% activated, and as an empath living during a pandemic- I was feeling ALL the feelings.
In hindsight I could say, you saw this coming, but in reality- I didn’t. Sure, clothes started fitting differently (and not in a good way). And I felt myself shrink away from taking pictures, or even skipping through my yoga films while editing to see myself as little as possible. But then I genuinely thought that it was just me feeling hyper critical of myself, and not really suspecting what was happening with my body. But one day, I looked in the mirror and I saw the face of my high school self; the one that was 230+ lbs.
I had to give myself a serious pep talk, and this was after 2 weeks of already trying to hit my workouts every single day, and “eating healthier” but eventually- I forced myself to get back on the scale. I *KNOW* that a number is just a number- it doesn’t change your worth- or where you’re at. I told myself, just find out how much you weigh so you can know what we’re dealing with. So I stepped on the scale and 225.6 lbs flashed up at me.
My heart started racing, my breathing shortened, and tears filled my eyes.
I thought maybe I’d be just a little more than my weight before noom, like in the low 200s? I didn’t really have a number ready, but I was not prepared for this. Shame and grief took over.
How did this happen to me?
I wallowed the rest of that day. I couldn’t stop crying when I thought of that number. I almost always stay away from any mindset that feels like one of victimhood but that day I FELT like a victim. A victim of bad genetics. A victim of diet culture. A victim of being a child in the 90s. A victim of being an American. A victim of western medicine. A victim of being a woman. I felt like a victim, and totally ashamed.
I also realized full force that I had so much unresolved pain from being a “fat” teenager being triggered inside of me. All of those negative cognitions about being overweight, not fitting into clothes, being unattractive (i.e. “unworthy” in my mind)- it all came back as strong as before.
If you’ve ever struggled with your weight, you know the emotional pain that comes with it. You know the struggle with buying clothes- or worse, having clothes given to you. You know the pain that comes with talking to health care providers and the way they can look down and talk down to you. You know the pain of looking in the mirror, and not seeing who you wish you saw.
I now have even more work to do because not only do I want to lose weight, but more importantly, I know this is my opportunity to heal those parts of myself and change the way I feel about my body. Yes, I appreciate my body, and doing so many years of yoga has helped me “love” my body too – but I’m not sold on using that word. I honestly don’t know if I can say, “I love my body” 100%, unconditional, etc. and believe it fully. There are aspects of love that I feel for my body, but I am still struggling with it. That’s where I’m at.
I know I need to heal my mentality around weight, weight loss, food consumption, dealing with stress, and movement. (Oh is that all?- haha!) It is a tall order BUT I have so much motivation in my WHY. Of course I want to do this for myself, but I’m also hoping to bring children into this world, and I don’t want to pass along any of these negative thoughts that I have of myself off to them. I want us all to be wildly accepting and loving of our bodies, in harmony with food and movement, and completely knowing of our worth and belonging in this world.
I will say that I DO want to lose weight. That’s my choice, and it’s deeply personal that I want this for myself. That being said, I KNOW that none of us have to lose weight to be worthy! We are ALL worthy of love and belonging to matter what size or weight we are, and so please know that while I want that for myself, it’s not something I think anyone *should* choose to do.
To help me move forward, I have created these 10 New Approach to Loving My Body Commandments to help support me along the way. These are meant to be grounding and inspiring guiding principles that I believe will continue to support me no matter what size I am.
10 New Approach to Loving My Body Commandments
I will acknowledge ALL of my feelings, feel them, and honor them every day.
I will make decisions for movement and eating that are logical, reasonable, and as scientifically backed as possible.
I will stay away from any “diet” or weight loss fad and deem such as dangerous to my wellbeing.
I will have FUN moving my body.
I will weigh myself at least once a week so I am never shocked by what’s happening with my weight.
I will track my food before I prepare, order, or eat it so that I have the power to make food decisions based on facts before hand, so when I eat I do not feel shame or discourage during or afterward!
I will prioritize keeping my stress lower by implementing pranayama practices, daily movement, communicating effectively, and consciously checking in with my emotions and how I’m handling them.
I will not restrict any food or food group unless I have felt the effects of them in my body and choose for myself not to eat them anymore.
I will remind myself every moment that my worth is not tied to my weight, my measurements nor my perceived success or failure with my weight.
I will not give up.
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