When my body entered puberty, I began to wage a war with it. For over 20 years, I deprived and berated my body. After each of a dozen ‘lost’ battles, my weight crept up. Part of this was a natural part of growing. I was getting taller and developing a woman’s body. Unfortunately, I interpreted this as failure and doubled down my efforts. In addition to deprivation and restriction, I began taking diet pills and other substances with anorectic properties. When I decided that I couldn’t do this to myself anymore, I developed a binge eating disorder that added 40 pounds to my previous adult high weight. I began my last diet in January of 2012. In six months, I lost 30 pounds. When my husband got into a motorcycle accident that summer, I gained 20 pounds back within a month.
I remember standing in his hospital room thinking, this isn’t working anymore.
At that moment, I attempted to see a world in which I did not have to constantly try to make my self small, or deal with the exhausting cycle of restriction and hunger pangs, binging myself into immobility, the resultant insufferable shame, and the endless repetition of this spiral of self-abuse. I began an ongoing and often tedious process to undo the diet dogma that was so deeply ingrained in me. This included therapy and reading every book I could find on intuitive eating.
I let myself gain as much weight as I needed to to normalize my relationship with food. Turns out, that was about 60 pounds, putting me firmly in the obese category. Despite, or in spite of that weight gain, I learned to love me as I am. This empowered me to get medical attention for several chronic issues that have plagued me, and a doctor that listened when I said I didn’t want to focus on weight. His response was: “I’m not concerned with your weight right now, how are you sleeping?” It was a life-changing conversation that I am still reaping benefits from 2 years later, including an effortless 20 pound weight loss – which I didn’t even notice, except for my weigh-ins at his office. Now, he does want me to continue losing weight to get my cholesterol lowered, but his parting words on our last visit were, “You’re doing great, don’t let me mess you up.”
My dream is that one day all women will love themselves as they are and I believe this will lead to a healthier, stronger society. If we fuel our bodies and minds, our potential to achieve is exponentially greater than if we are constantly neglecting and ignoring our body’s requests for nourishment and rest. Loving ourselves creates more room to feel love and compassion for other women, instead of the competitive, judgmental relationship popular culture tells us are ‘normal.’ Imagine the power we can create in our own lives and in broader society if we shift our focus from our bodies to our agency to change the world we live in.
Things I advocate: Body-love, self-acceptance, happiness, inclusion, health, wellness, and personal growth.*
Things I don’t tolerate: Body-shaming, fat-shaming, or any other form of hatred including, but not limited to homophobia, racism, sexism, transphobia, and ablism.