I know when you're battling your weight, it's hard to believe that anyone can love you at the weight you are. The whole "just love and accept your body" culture is much easier said than done.
I want to tell you some things about this I wish someone had told me. (But first a little story...)
I remember when I got back from living in Ecuador for a year. I left thin. I came back fat. Well, in my mind, I was huge, but really I was only about 15 to 20 pounds heavier.
I was ashamed and embarrassed of my weight gain. I seriously wanted to hide away in a remote village for six months, eat nothing but rice and veggies so I'd lose weight, and then return to society.
When I got back from the states, I had to go shopping for a wedding because none of my dresses fit.
There's nothing like dress shopping after you've gained weight... I remember sobbing in the dressing room, devastated that I was buying a dress three sizes bigger than I was a year ago.
The night of the wedding, I remember how uncomfortable I felt in my skin, in myself, and in my dress.
I was convinced the people who I hadn't seen for a year were staring at me, thinking "Wow, I wonder what happened to her. She gained a lot of weight."
I wanted to avoid all pictures because I knew I would look at back and cringe, criticize, and be repulsed at how I looked.
One of my close friends seemed to notice I was a little off. She came over to where I was standing and said, "You look sad. What's wrong?"
Normally, I would plaster over a smile and continue with a "Nothing, I'm fine," but I was on my third glass of wine so my emotions spilled over.
"Well, I just feel so fat, gross, and well... like a beached whale. I feel like everyone is thinking about how fat I am. I hate how I look and I'm mad at myself for focusing on how fat I feel when this is a special day for one of my friends. I just want to have it be a year ago when I was skinnier."
And what she said back to me has stuck with me for years.
"But, Jenn, you know we aren't looking at what size you are. No one cares if you've gained weight. We love you for you. For who you are. Not for what size you are."
The tears spilled over then. Although all of my body issues didn't vanish that second, it did create more space in my heart to allow my friends' and family's love and acceptance to heal me.
I have remembered that moment for years. It stuck with me when I was in my lowest lows, feeling awful about my body, desperately trying to lose weight. I tried to keep reminding myself that no matter how much I cycled back and forth in my weight, my friends and family still loved me for who I was. I know. It's hard to believe that people really do love you for you. Especially when you just can't seem to get your weight to where you want it.
But I'm going to tell you what I wished someone would have told me over and over until I believed it.
Remind yourself daily, plaster it on your mirror, or a Post-it note on your desk:
Your friends and family love you for you. Let me gently break it down for you. Your parents, your siblings, and your close friends adore you for who you are. For the unique perspective and quirky qualities you bring to every situation. For your kind, caring, and thoughtful demeanor.
They will not love you more when you are a size two. You may think they will, but their love will be the same because their love is not based on your size. If I could tell you this every single day for the rest of your life, I would.
It took me almost 30 years to believe this truth and I want to save you from the heartache of thinking that the smaller you are, the more someone will love you. It simply is not true. It's only true in your own mind.
Allow yourself to experience the love from your friends and family and let it continue to provide even more healing.
Your acceptance comes from within: We delude ourselves into thinking that when we are smaller, we are somehow better-more lovable, more acceptable, and more desirable. But I can tell you first hand, when I was a tiny size two, I didn't feel anymore loved.
In fact, I felt even emptier inside because I thought that by achieving that size, my whole world would change. And it didn't. I wished someone would have told me and I wished I would have believed it: Your acceptance begins within YOU.
A hard truth to swallow, as we are inundated by advertising and media that project an image of thinness = happiness. But when you find that place within where you can accept yourself and your body flaws and all, your life will begin to change.
How do you go about believing this?
By choosing to see yourself as more than your weight. By choosing to allow who you are to shine in the world-regardless of your current size.
Don't get me wrong, it is a choice. And not an easy one. But when you accept your body, really truly accept yourself where you are now, your whole world will change. Because how you feel on the inside affects everything else in your life. And you deserve a life where you feel good, both inside and out.
Allow these words to sink into your soul, your spirit, your mind. Allow just a small part of you to start to believe them. Allow that love and acceptance to come into your life.
And if you somehow just can't quite believe it yet, allow it to sink it and this message will resurface when you are ready to hear it.