When I was in college I gained some weight (shocker). I guess it was around 20 lbs by the time I was in my senior year, though, oddly enough, I didn't pay much attention to food or my body back then.
After I graduated, I went on my first real, full-on, bought-a-notebook-to-record-what-I-ate-and-everything, diet. I counted calories, I started regularly incorporating exercise and lost about a pound a week until I got back to what was roughly my high school weight.
I moved to Vermont about six months after I graduated from college in order to take a job at a ski lodge (September 11th had happened in the mean time, and it was hard to find a "real" job). I was mostly okay with my body, but for the first time was very aware of my size and shape as compared to those of the women I was with whom I was working and living.
As the years rolled by, I became more and more convinced I needed to continue to lose weight. Three years after that initial weight loss I dropped another pant size. A year later, I went down another size.
I was at my lowest adult weight, yet I was still not happy. I saw pictures of myself and thought I needed to be more toned. I felt extremely self-conscious when I was out and about in the world, even though I was getting compliments on my figure. I was obsessed with healthy eating.
I maintained that weight for about 1.5 years, all while being generally unhappy with my body and increasingly preoccupied with food. After the end of a serious relationship my binge eating kicked up a notch and I gained weight, back to the range in which my body always seemed to be most comfortable.
I was miserable and hated myself. I spent the next 7 or so years, on and off, worrying about and trying to lose the weight. I did not like my body and spent an embarrassing amount of time thinking about food.
As time went on, I was realizing, with growing clarity, that my body hatred, obsession with weight loss and relentless dieting were fueling my binge eating cycles. Even though I knew this, it was very hard to change my behavior.
Luckily, a series of events tumbled together that shifted my perspective completely (it's a long story, but it involved a very bad reaction to an antibiotic, the hospitalization and eventual death of my father and getting pregnant). From that point forward, I was able to completely let go of hating my body (even my post baby body!) and diets.
Now I dig my body, even though I still have big calves and stretch marks and a not-flat stomach and a kind of cottage-cheesy butt. My body didn't change-my belief about my body did.
I'm telling you all of this because I want you to answer this question: If you can't accept your body now, then when can you accept it? When I was at my lowest adult weight, I still wasn't happy, but now, when I'm a size or two bigger, I'm totally fine with it. Seriously, when do you think you'll actually be able to accept your body?
Don't buy into the idea that losing weight will make you automatically love your body. It just doesn't work that way. If you hate your body, you will always find something to hate about it, no matter what your size. On the flip side, if you love, accept or respect your body, you can always find something to like, no matter what your weight. Really and truly.
There is no downside to accepting your body the way it is right now, right this second. ZERO. Accepting your weight does not mean that you will stop caring about your health. It does not mean you will eat everything that isn't nailed down (you are more likely to do that when you're restricting food, not when you're allowing it). It does not mean you will not want to exercise anymore. It does not mean you will gain weight.
The only thing it means is that you can actually start enjoying yourself and your body and your life. It means you can start questioning whey you spent so much time hating your body in the first place, and why you go along with others when they hate on their own bodies.
Do this today: Give yourself permission to imagine what it would be like to be okay with your body, starting now. I'm not even saying you have to actually be okay with your body, I'm just suggesting that you imagine what it could be like. Write down a few things that would be different. What you do with that information is up to you.
If you'd like to learn more about making peace with food and starting to accept your body, get my free guide, "The One Thing You Must Do to Stop Feeling Crazy Around Food."