I almost gave up on myself once.
Overweight and overwhelmed, I cringed whenever someone pointed a camera at me, hated going out because I felt so self-conscious about my weight, and loathed looking in the mirror because what I saw filled me with so much pain and disappointment.
"Why didn't I have any control over the food in my life?" I asked myself constantly.
I didn't have the answer then, but a turning point and moment of clarity that came because a close friend asked me some hard questions made me realize that I had to start looking.
As I worked on healing and losing my excess weight, life gradually began to feel different, and so did my perspective on it. These changes didn't happen overnight, in a week or a month though. It took me over a year to get comfortable in my new (and progressively slimmer) body and shed the helplessness I'd been feeling for so long.
It also made me realize that being OK with being 'me' required more than just losing weight. I could have felt this way a lot sooner, no matter what my weight was -- all it took was a little compassion and awareness in knowing that I had the power to change whatever wasn't doing me good, whenever I wanted to.
When I was ready and started loving my body, amazing things started to happen, like these six revelations:
1. I felt less of a need to eat my emotions
The stronger I felt in my body, the less I felt the need to turn to food to fill a void or deal with a difficult situation, and the more compelled I felt to do the things that strengthened me further, like connecting with a close friend, heading to my yoga mat or joining a kickboxing class.
2. Movement started to feel like joy, not punishment
When I first started exercising and couldn't jog for more than a minute without feeling like my lungs were going to explode and legs would collapse, it felt like punishment. And the more I loathed myself, the more I felt like I had to punish myself for eating that extra slice of pizza or serving of pasta. But as my perspective shifted and the easier moving felt, it gradually became a source of joy, not suffering.
3. Food inspired feelings of calm and happiness, not fear and overwhelm
Despite my weakness for food, it scared me because I felt so out of control around it. Now, after years of practicing being mindful of my body's hunger and fullness cues, I pretty much eat whatever I want, but in healthy portions. And, even though I still have days where I slip up, I instinctively know what to do to return to a place of balance.
4. I started to feel at home in my own skin
The first time I realized that I was comfortable in my own skin was when I stopped feeling self-conscious about how I looked -- I was no longer obsessing over my weight, what other people thought about it, and what I had to do to look and feel differently than the way I did.
5. That spring in my step came back
The further I progressed, the more I realized that I no longer dragged my feet or hunched my shoulders, and the pep in my step returned. I felt lighter and less encumbered inside-out, and saw possibilities, not dead ends.
6. I became kinder to myself
The less I hated my body, the more I did to nourish, rest and move it with purpose, all of which in turn, expanded my ability to embrace being 'me'.
Are you ready to start loving your body?
Stop yo-yo dieting, struggling with your weight and letting food control you with Michele's free, Lose 4 Pounds in 4 Weeks Without Going On A Diet email course.
Photo courtesy of Quinn Dombrowski