As long as I can remember, I have been aware of calories, and fat, and how much is "proper for a lady" to eat, and how much is NOT. I have also been aware of all the ways in which I could fail to attract the attention of a man, be it my round hips, my full breasts, or my muscular thighs. I grew up in the 70's and 80's, when, if you didn't look on the brink of starvation, you were undesirable. I learned to enjoy hunger, and became alarmingly anorexic. I ended up in the hospital, 97 pounds, near death, and I was very pleased with myself. I had done what I needed to do in order to be accepted by my peers and society. Then the therapy started, and I slowly became aware of the fact that I was actually destroying my health. I became obsessed with every health and diet fad that came out, determined that I would force my shapely body into the boy shape I so desperately wanted. I was convinced that THIS was the key to my happiness. For many years, I was thin to the point where people would ridicule me, yet, shockingly, I was not happy or fulfilled. As the years passed, I went through all of life's trials and gradually started to overcome my anorexic tendencies. When I became pregnant with my first child, I was concerned that my baby would be harmed if I did not eat exactly what I was supposed to, so a new obsession was born: being perfect nutritionally. This manifested in the way that I judged others for eating the "wrong" things, and, of course, I judged myself the most harshly. If I missed a day at the gym, I was depressed for a week. If I ate a cookie, I would spiral into failure mode. As my child grew, it became clear that he was blessed with my curvy figure, and the cycle continued. I fed him what I believed to be the "perfect" diet, yet he still was chubby. Doctors visits would send me home in tears. I had failed my child as well as myself. When I became pregnant for the second time, I gave up. I ate everything in sight, and tested positive for gestational diabetes. When my second son was born, I was 200 pounds. I was miserable and depressed.
When Sam turned 2, I decided to start over. I started seeing a trainer, and he was kind and non-judgmental, and the weight dropped off. I lost 60 pounds and filed for divorce. I became interested in partying again, and the bars kept me from having to be alone at night, when the kids were with their dad. This phase was to last 2 years, and then, one day, I realized that I was on the fast track to nowhere, and I began to spend less and less time drinking, and more time with myself. Cooking and baking had always been a passion of mine, and I began to experiment with this again. As I rose up out of the ashes of my marriage, my old friend, obsession, resurfaced. I had kept most of the weight off, but it was creeping back up, and I felt it start to overtake me again. I spent the next year gathering information on every diet and nutritional fad I could, and, in the end, I had gained more weight. I spent more time at the gym, and obsessed over every calorie, and yet STILL I was heavy. I felt discouraged and painfully close to giving up again.
About this time, I had been attending meditation classes for a year or so, and I started to feel as if I was close to a big discovery. I suffered some painful losses through relationships, yet gained knowledge from each of them. One day, as I prowled the aisles of the local health food store, a thought stopped me in my tracks. "I am healthy, strong, and active. I take care of myself, I respect myself, and yet I am still not skinny. Maybe this is how I am supposed to look!" As I pondered over this thought for the next month or so, I slowly shifted my reality. I don't want people in my life that judge me for how I look. The most important thing is to love myself, and care for my body in a way that nurtures it. Food and exercise are about function, NOT looking good. What I eat should make me feel great, and fuel me for whatever I want to do, whether it be a walk on the beach, power yoga, snowboarding, or even just playing with my son. I do not want to live my life sitting on the couch, therefore I must fuel myself appropriately.
Food is not the enemy, and it is also not your friend. Food is fuel, pure and simple. If you find yourself looking for comfort, go for a walk, read a good book, or watch a movie with a snuggle buddy (my cat is great at snuggling:) Punishing ourselves with what is meant for fuel is the fastest way to destroy ourselves. In the end, what you eat is not nearly as important as how you feel about yourself, and what could be more important than the deep love and gratitude that comes from within? I welcome you to share my journey, and let us learn from each other. Namaste.