There is so much emphasis, in America, on having to look "good" (read: slim) in order to get the job, the guy, the prestige, the attention, etc. People hurt themselves over it every day. Anorexia, bulimia, and even suicide are very real consequences of the pressure to "look good." I know, given that we live in a society obsessed with looks, it doesn't seem likely that a person should be fat, fit and foxy, but it is possible!
I'm 34, I weight 240 pounds and I wear a size 24. I started gaining weight when I was 6 years old. Eating candy (and everything else in sight) was my way of dealing with the pain of growing up in an abusive family and an attempt at keeping men and their sexual attention at bay. As an empath (psychic, intuitive), it was also a means of protecting myself from other people's energies. Unfortunately, I was also hurting myself in the process.
Have I tried to lose weight? Of course! I usually did it for looks and attention. Okay, there was one time that I did it to feel good and be healthy, too. I wanted to feel my best for my senior voice recital at San Francisco State University, where I was going to be singing on stage for an hour and a half, so I lost 60 pounds. Unfortunately, when the concert was over, the pounds piled back on.
It wasn't until I moved to Boulder, Colo., that I finally started to get a handle on my health. First of all, the elevation will make anyone's body work harder just breathing! Secondly, in my eyes, this is the "land of the super fit." The emphasis here is not primarily about looking good, it's about being able to climb a mountain, run a marathon, ride your bike to work, etc.
In the first year, I lost about 40 pounds. I went from 285 to 245. I did that by walking and cooking healthy food at home more often. When money was super tight, I challenged myself to forgo the $80 bus pass for a month and see how much I could walk. I'm sure I clocked at least 60 miles that month.
One time, I stumbled across Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition on Hulu.com. I was really inspired by Chris Powell to up my game. I started walking at least four miles every day and riding my friend's bicycle.
I loved the freedom of cycling, and I tested myself to see how far I could ride in one day. I got up to 21 miles! That was awesome! I could see my body starting to shape up, and I was feeling stronger every day. Then, one day, I was done with cycling and looking for something else to do.
My friend invited me out to an ecstatic dance event, and I loved it! Still, I felt awkward and fat on the dance floor. I wanted to change that. At one dance, I dared myself to wear this slinky, fitted red dress. I felt really hot! It was the first time where I was more in tune with the music and how great it was to move my body than how "fat" I looked. It helped that people were telling me that I looked like a goddess in red.
I started going to Rhythm Sanctuary in Denver shortly after that. I'm so grateful for Ahva Lenay, the creator of this magical dance temple. It's an amazing place where the community gathers to dance every week. There is always an opening and closing circle, and we usually dance with a certain intention. For example, one week we were asked to stretch outside of our normal way of dancing and try on some new moves.
We're lucky to have awesome DJs, including DJ Seriah, DJ Sundragon, DJ Vonobo, DJ Rolf, and DJ Orpheus. These guys spin some real cool, crazy, eclectic and magical music. Talking is forbidden on the dance floor. There are altars, too, honoring things like mythical gods and goddesses from various cultures. Dancers are encouraged to participate in their creation.
I've been stretching my comfort zone gradually, every week. Last Thursday, I was feeling down and I wanted to do something to jump start my flagging energy. I decided to dress as a gypsy for our Halloween dance. My roommate encouraged me to wear a fitted purple lace top with a bra and a skirt.
I wasn't sure I could pull it off. I weigh 240 with rolls in all the wrong places. I know, what's the big deal right? I wasn't baring any skin, and people wear revealing things all the time. But, it was a big deal for me. I brought other options, just in case.
In the end, I went with the daring version. I felt both exposed and sexy. It helped that my friend Melissa told me how amazing I looked. Another friend said, "You look like a rock star!" Yeah, that was awesome! And, it felt really great to move to the music and to get over my own self-judgments about my body.
So, if you're feeling fat, you're not alone! And you have a choice of either being fat and miserable or fat, fit and foxy! Which sounds like more fun?
I encourage you to exercise, because it feels good to move your body. Do it to amplify your chi, your life force energy. Do it because you want to get in shape and be strong and healthy. Find ways to make exercise fun rather than miserable.
Start treating yourself and your body temple with respect and love, no matter how huge you feel. Go for the gold, the job, the guy. Be bold, be courageous! Let weight loss be a natural and effortless consequence of feeling good, having fun, and being excited about life!
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
For more by Claire Amber, click here.
For more on body image, click here.