As some of you know from my About page, one of my claims to fame is that I was able to lose almost 100 pounds of excess weight. I haven’t really written about this on the blog so far, but that’s about to change. I’m currently working on a book about the whole journey (which I hope to release around July), but don’t worry, I plan to continue to provide loads of free content on the blog (and possibly even some videos. Stay tuned). In keeping with that spirit, I’d like to describe one of the biggest “issues” I had to clear on my way to reducing my physical volume by almost 50%.
I hated my body
Ever since I can remember, I had a deep mistrust of anything that had to do with my body. I was always tall for my age, with a good, sturdy build. Yep, that’s what you want to be called as a little girl: sturdy. I wasn’t fat as a child, but I was “healthy”, i.e. not slender or petite. I towered over the girls and boys in my class. This wouldn’t have been so bad if I’d at least been athletic, but I had convinced myself somewhere along the way that I had no sense of balance (this was my mantra for years), and anything that required even a modicum of equilibrium made me freeze up and turned me into a total klutz. I was able to ride a bike, but not incredibly well. Any kind of traffic turned me into a panicky mess. So did having to turn left. Ice skating? I did ok, but I couldn’t stop, much less go backwards or do anything fancy. In gymnastics class, I was always less flexible than everyone else (or so it seemed). And every time my physical abilities didn’t measure up, be it in athletic performance or esthetically, I blamed my body. It was obviously plotting against me. I couldn’t depend on it, except to always, always betray me.
Of course, I didn’t realize that it was my fear of my body’s betrayal that caused my inability to climb a tree. I knew that I would fall, so I didn’t even try. And if I’d done a few more stretching exercises, my flexibility would’ve improved. I didn’t know that then, of course, so I just assumed it was because my body was broken somehow. I’d gotten a defective model. And then, there was the weight. Every excess pound I had, and there were many over the years, represented my spiteful body’s stubborn dedication to f*%&ing with me and making my life a miserable hell. Every pound I lost, especially if it had been particularly painful, seemed like a triumph over my greatest enemy. I saw my body as something that needed to be conquered and defeated, something that had always stood between me and the happiness I kind of figured I deserved (I wasn’t really sure then).
I could’ve been popular in school if only my body wasn’t such a dud. If I’d been athletic, or petite like the other girls, that would’ve solved all my problems. If I’d have been able to do really cool stunts, like back flips or skateboarding or whatever, I’d have had a much easier childhood. I was sure that all my problems would simply vanish if only my stinking body would play along instead of always betraying me. It was my greatest nemesis and I didn’t just hate it, I despised it. I loathed it. I would’ve done anything – horribly unhealthy diets that left me depleted and weak, hours of painful and exhausting exercise (the tougher the better!), constrictive clothing meant to “hide” my flaws while making it difficult to breathe and actually causing me pain, even surgery. Actually, with the exception of the surgery, I did all of those. And my body deserved it, damn it. It deserved to be punished. It needed to be strong-armed into submission, because clearly, I had not picked this fight. I mean, my body had been betraying me from day one and I was just defending myself, albeit, not too successfully.
What you push against, increases
All of that focus on what I hated about myself, only served to increase it, of course. My weight continued to increase, no matter what I did. I was at war and I fought valiantly, but lost battle after battle. And then, one day, I just couldn’t go on. I was tired, I was exhausted, I was beaten. And so, I surrendered.
And then everything changed
What followed was a whole series of realizations. It dawned on me that although I “had no sense of balance”, I’d never had any problems dancing. I loved to dance, and had done a lot of Salsa while living in San Francisco. Didn’t dancing require a certain amount of balance? Yes, yes it did. So obviously, I’d been mistaken. I did have a sense of balance (otherwise I wouldn’t be able to walk…), I just tensed up and sabotaged myself every time I thought my body would betray me. I expected to fail, therefore I did, or rather, often I didn’t even try.
There had been instances when my body hadn’t failed me, but it was always a huge surprise. My first reaction when faced with a physical challenge was always “I can’t do that”. If I did somehow manage to perform physically, like winning a swimming race, I was so shocked that it didn’t do a thing to change my opinion of my body.
My body wasn’t the bad guy – I was
Once I finally got this whole Law of Attraction stuff, I realized that I was not angry with my body because it had betrayed me, but that my body had seemingly betrayed me, because of the way I was thinking. My body was simply reacting to my thoughts and beliefs. It had no choice. It was doing the best it could. And here I was, beating the daylights out of it every chance I got, blaming it for all my troubles, and punishing it for all its perceived wrong doings. I saw myself torturing this sweet, patient, calm, never complaining, long suffering version of myself. My body had only ever been trying to help me. It continuously found ways to stay alive and even reasonably healthy, even when I fed it almost nothing, or drank nothing but shakes made from powder and water, or subsisted mainly on diet pills, and bombarded it with nothing but hatred and contempt. All that venom I threw at it, and yet I was still able to get out of bed every day, go to work and/or school, and think clearly. My body wasn’t the evil one. I was. I’d been asking my body to comply, while doing nothing but putting obstacles in its way. And then, when it failed, I blamed it and unloaded all my hatred and loathing on it. This realization just broke my heart.
When I began to really listen to how I was talking to myself, I was shocked at how mean I could be. I said things to myself that I would never ever say even to someone I hated. I wasn’t this person. I told myself I was fat, ugly, stupid, dorky, klutzy, worthless, etc. It all came back to my body, though. Nothing could bring out the bitchy in me quite like what I saw in the mirror.
I had to come up with a new dialogue
One of the first changes I made was to begin to talk to myself as though I was a person that I loved. I thought of a small child that I adored and ran everything through that filter – if that child made a mistake, how would I talk to him about it? I wouldn’t scream “You effing idiot! What the hell were you thinking?!?!” I’d gently soothe him and tell him that “Everyone makes mistakes. This is a great opportunity to learn, and no real damage has been done. It’s no big deal. Everything’s going to be just fine.” My tone would convey love and reassurance, not hatred. That new filter completely changed my self talk. Almost nothing I’d been saying to myself passed that bar. I had to come up with a whole new dialogue. And boy did it help. Instead of beating up on myself, I gently coaxed myself into the actions I wanted to take. I began to work with my body instead of against it (don’t worry, I’ll detail a lot of this in future blog posts); I stopped seeing my body as the enemy and began to focus on what I really wanted.
I figured out what I really wanted
Because what I really wanted wasn’t to be thin or athletic or to have superhuman abilities that I could impress everyone with. What I really wanted was to be loved and accepted. And that’s exactly what I’d been denying myself all those years. I hadn’t loved myself. I hadn’t accepted myself. Every message I ever sent my body was that it was vile, unacceptable, broken, simply never good enough, and the source of all my problems.
It took a lot of time, but I did finally make it to the point where I love my body and myself. I’m so much kinder to myself. When something rude does slip through in the old self talk (and yes, it does still happen from time to time), it feels off and I notice it immediately. When my body doesn’t respond in pleasing ways (I have a pain, I gain a pound, whatever) I realize that my friend and ally is letting me know that there’s something in my thoughts that isn’t serving me. It’s sounding alarm. And instead of shooting the messenger the way I used to, I’m grateful for the feedback and then I get to work on fixing the real issue – my thoughts and beliefs.
How to make peace with your body:
- Listen to and evaluate how you speak to yourself. Chances are, if your body doesn’t look the way you want it to, you’re not being very nice to yourself. Change the filter that you run those conversations through (or create a filter, where there wasn’t one before). I suggest you pretend that you’re talking to someone you really love. Small, defenseless children are the best – they will bring out the softest side of you.
- Question every “fact” you know about your body. For me, it was a fact that I had no sense of balance. Once I evaluated this logically, it made no sense, of course. You need balance to walk down the street. And I had no issue dancing, which requires balance. It was all in my head. What do you “know” about your body that may be completely untrue?
- When you look in the mirror, you’re almost certainly looking straight at your worst feature to check if it’s still as horrible as you expect it to be. Change that up, and train yourself to look at your best feature first. For me, my stomach and thighs have always been my worst body parts. But I’ve always had a really small waist. It took a bit of discipline, but I was able to wrench my focus off of my tummy to my waist every time I glanced at my reflection. Often, there isn’t enough time in that glance to also look at my stomach. So, every time I walk by a store window, I get positive feedback instead of negative confirmation. That little change made a huge difference in my body image and self esteem. Figure out your best feature and begin forming the habit of looking at that part of your body first.
- Understand that your body is just a mass of energy, just like everything else. It has no agenda, though. It has no real sentient consciousness. Its only real function is to always find the highest vibration possible and it does a remarkable job of that. The only thing ever stopping it from being perfect is, well, you. Your body responds to all of your thoughts and beliefs. So your body is not your enemy. You are generally your body’s worst enemy. But you can stop that. When you figure out that your body will find perfection as long as you provide it with an environment where it can do so, your perspective changes to a much more cooperative and loving one. Your body is your partner and it can be a pretty damn good one. You just have to let it.
Your body is perfect just the way it is
While my incredible distrust of my body wasn’t the only issue I released on my weight loss journey, it was certainly one of the big ones. I may never know how this belief was formed. Perhaps as a toddler, I was trying to do something physical, failed and concluded that my body didn’t have the ability to do it. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I found the belief and was able to shift it. Is my body perfect? Yes. And it always was. Do I believe this 100% of the time? No. I still struggle here and there. But all I have to do is get there more than 50% of the time, and it will become the dominant energy that creates my reality. Of course, I’m still making changes, but just because I’m still a work in progress doesn’t mean that I’m not perfect just the way I am. And so are you. Your body is the perfect biological machine – it will respond as long as you treat it as a partner instead of an adversary. Yes, you can beat your body into submission. But it won’t last. Cooperate with it. Love it. And you’ll be amazed at how quickly your body turns from your greatest enemy into your best friend.