When I was 16 I experienced my first heart break. I was not equipped with the tools to handle the loss and my parents were going through their own sadness coming to a divorce. In my sadness I couldn't eat. It may have been the first time I can remember not being hungry or drawn to food. I was a mayo, mustard, cheese, lettuce, pickle, white bread kind of girl. With a side of chips or fries. And a diet coke (right, because of course). In the non-hunger I started to loose weight. Since I can remember I have had a belly, the one below the belly button, though after 3 babies, above too. I was the only girl who wore a t-shirt over her leotard in ballet and tap class. The teacher told me I wouldn't be able to wear it for the recital. I can remember being a young girl and my best friend and I were having a sleep over. I was always aware of the fact that the darn belly was there. She told me it was probably baby fat and it would go away.
When I stopped eating at 16 it did go away for the first time. I "learned" then that I couldn't control many things in my life, but I could control what I ate and how I looked. As dieters know, with the restriction comes the binge. So after spending some time controlling my food, I would then turn to food to also get through the tough stuff. I managed to keep my weight fairly steady. Until the next heart break in college. This time limiting my food no longer seemed an option, I wanted to eat and stuff the pain down. I wanted to be one of those girls who didn't form life long attachments to every (all 2 at this point) guy that she fell for. But there I was. Wondering why I needed every plastic sugar coated doughnut from the vending machine in my dorm and why I was starting to feel uncomfortable in my skin.
I obsessed about many other things when I was younger, creating a high level of anxiety that I never realized. The gap between my teeth, my large lips, my knees, skinny legs, flat bum... I never practiced looking at the things I admired. Today some of my former obsessions are things I admire. Full circle.
I have tried most diets. My favorites were the South Beach Diet and the liquid protein diet for every meal. Those were effortless to me and worked to take off belly fast. I felt a sense of control with each diet and with all of the results. As dieters know, with the restriction comes the binge. When I enrolled in school to become a Health Counselor, Lucas was 4 months old. Usually around 6 months I would start dieting the weight off. Knowing that I needed to heal this part of me, I made a commitment to never diet again. Healing instead of controlling, a new plan for my life as it was taking on a new direction. SCARY.
I wasn't sure I believed I would lose the weight. I also knew that I would most likely have to learn to love a body that didn't fit into my idea of perfection, a hard thing to let go of. In my journey, I discovered how powerful thought is. How we can use thought to create the life we chose to live. I have chosen to live life in a body that I appreciate for it's health and ability to make and grow beautiful babies. To have a body that can be sexy and motherly all at the same time. Nursing in heals and sequins will bring that out in you!
I never gained a large amount of weight until I was pregnant with Chloe, putting on 64 pounds. South Beach took it off by the time Chloe was a year old. I am what is called a disordered eater, common among women. We have a small window of weight where we feel extremely happy with ourselves to depressed and not fitting our clothes. For most of us, that number can be small, an eight to ten pound range. For others it can be a larger number.
It is still challenging for me to put pictures of myself on my blog or newsletter, but time and practice are making it easier. I regularly take self portraits now to help calm my nerves in front of the camera. My daughter takes most other pictures of me and forces me to smile with my teeth showing because she says I look beautiful that way.
I work on emotional eating and healing the inside with my clients. It seems to have become the path that, dare I say, chose me. I've been experiencing a magical moment in my own life, having just hit the 1 1/2 year mark of not dieting, not restricting, of fully feeling and fully living in my body. I turn 36 in September and I will be able to say that my dieting lasted 18 years. When I turn 36 I will acknowledge that 16 year old, who felt her only choice to get through the pain was to find something to control. She seems so young and full of fight. Insecure and yet so sure that she was here for something great, something big. She is the one who brought me to where I am now. Working with women to heal themselves and live their greatest vision of themselves.
One of my clients, a beautiful and creative woman recently wrote and thanked me for following my bliss and doing this work. She said other nice things that I'm too shy to share at the moment, but that touched me so deeply. That inspires me because we all have the choice to live with energy, passion, abundance and joy. The more people who experience that, the more this world will heal.
This post danced in my head for the last few days. It was hard to write, yet I could not sleep until it was finally words visable. I offer up bits of my story as I feel ready. The first that I wrote which was deeply personal, did more to help and encourage than any other. The feedback which I am still receiving is touching and motivating. For me it is part of healing my past, and part of the forgiveness I have chosen to show myself and others. It is part of my journey to that deeper spiritual place. Of Women Food and God in my life.
I am leading a Holistic Health Book Club in Providence, RI. The first book will be Women Food and God, by Geneen Roth. I would like to encourage you to join the conversation in this space by sharing with us what you feel passion for. If you feel moved to share a bit of your relationship with food, your journey is sure to reach someone and inspire them. Each comment will be entered in a give-away for a copy of Geneen's book. Give-away will close on June 28th at 7:00pm eastern time and be announced on June 29th (the night of the book club) on this post.
I just tried to interlibrary loan this book from my library but was told it’s too new. So, I would love a chance to read it through your generosity. Thanks for sharing your very real, common, normal journey. May our daughters never face struggles with body image.