Let’s change the conversation.
It breaks my heart to hear “Oh, I’ll love myself when I’m thinner” and all the shame that comes with being softer. As if life will only be perfect and wonderful when your body is “perfect.” But here’s the kicker… It’s never perfect. Once those 10 pounds are gone, you find something else to complain about. It’s never enough.
And then there’s guilt eating. That slippery black hole. You give yourself all these restrictions to follow a diet. You cut out anything pleasurable thinking that’ll solve everything. But, all you do is make yourself miserable. You put pressure on yourself. You weigh yourself down so if you don’t follow it to a T, you’re automatically a fuck up and you might as well should just keep going down the hole. And then every single thing you eat makes you hate yourself. You compare yourself to every image you see. You follow all these inspirational people who have lost weight. The story always seems to be “I hated myself then. I was miserable. I couldn’t do anything. But now I can do everything.” And it sends this message that they can only do everything now because they have less fat… When in reality it’s because they worked damn hard and realized how capable they were during the process. And it seems to shift from doing it for the sake of fitting in, to doing it for the sake of self empowerment. For some, self empowerment is lifting weights. For some it’s cardio. For some it’s just taking care of the body in anyway necessary. You can workout everyday and eat the most strict diet and never be a size 2. It’s not just about the goal. Can you be present in the moment?
Imagine how it would feel if everyone could meet themselves right where they are and embrace it. Imagine how it would feel if you accepted that you are beautiful…or let alone…Enough… As you are… Right now.
Let’s see how we can shift this.
Here’s my personal experience.
I wanted to love myself. All I wanted to do was learn how to love a body I loathed. I saw it’s potential to be beautiful, and some days I really believed it… But if I didn’t follow the story in my head of how everything was supposed to go, then I might as well should just eat whatever I want and feel shitty about every single thing. Oh, and I can’t forget about all the guilt and self sabotage that accompanies missing workouts. I didn’t feel good. I was always bloated. I used my love of food as a way to fill the void of my own love. And I realized my love of food wasn’t even real food. It was sugar and sodium and greasy products.
One day I woke up and everything shifted. “I just want to feel good. I don’t even care what that means. I just want to feel good.” And so everyday my challenge was “How can I feel good today?” At first, I found one thing I loved about myself every single day, and I would express my love for that attribute. Eventually I started to believe myself and I found the beauty in super simple aspects of myself. I started to enjoy mirrors and would even catch myself thinking “damn girl” while passing my reflection (please do this for yourself. It’s silly but so empowering).
Then I started just noticing how the food I was eating affected my moods, body and even mental environment. I started to invite more things into my life that made me physically and mentally feel good. I simplified my diet to whatever went with hummus, avocados, any veggie I could try, and I still found time to really enjoy chocolate and cake. When I’d go out, I genuinely wanted the vegetarian dish… But I still wanted dessert. And I will always want dessert. And I will always let myself have dessert.
My practice became this sacred space for myself to figure out what this whole love thing is. It shifted from being all about poses and sweat… to catering to what I needed each day. And some days it was big tear plops. Some days it was consistent movement until I got that negative voice to stop yanking my hand in every direction. And some days it was sitting with my shadow… That negative voice… All those old thought patterns… And listening to her. Listening to why she feels the way she feels. Listening to why she needs more people to feel her misery. And then responding with “I see you. I respect you. I value you. But you can’t run with my life anymore. You may sit with me and enjoy the ride and continue to speak up to voice what is necessary, but I control this ship.” And that was possibly the most empowering thing I’ve ever experienced.
I naturally and unintentionally lost weight this way. When I wasn’t focused on it. When I wasn’t treating myself like shit. When I was genuinely and unconditionally loving my self. I do not follow any diet or any kind of restrictions. I follow this method. Pleasure vs pressure. When I do something out of pressure, I can feel that voice creeping up on me. When I tell myself “I need to practice today” I can start to fall into the trap of guilt if I miss my practice. When I tell myself “I would like to move today” then I gravitate towards my mat. Every day starts with a simple mantra. “How can I love you a little louder today?” This makes every choice come from a place of pleasure. Eating healthy food physically and mentally makes me more joyful. Not at first. I had to retrain my taste buds to taste and feel the complexities and subtle flavor of real whole foods. And I still really love cake… I actually ate a donut today with my coffee, and there’s no guilt because in that moment, it made me joyful. And when I step on my mat today, it won’t be about how I can get results… I’ll ask myself my daily mantra and let me body and breath move me.
And so. How are you living your life? Full of pleasure? Or full of pressure? And how much of that pressure is just in your head? How much of that pressure is the continuous story you tell yourself? How much of that pressure is guilt?
One day I wish for before and after pictures to be about self love journeys and not self hatred. I wish that whatever goal you’re working towards, that you can enjoy each step of the journey and not just the end goal… Because that takes time. And it’s not always about the goal. The goal shifts. You realize what is actually necessary and what has been engrained into you through media and social media. One day I wish that the word “fat” was simply a description and not an insult. One day I wish we stop shaming our softness and love the way our bodies curve and roll and create lines.
The only thing I can actually tell you that everyone needs to hear. Stop comparing yourself. You will never look like her because she is not you.
Whatever you do, I wish that you do it for you. Not to fit a mold. Not to accommodate the current social norms. Not to appease people who don’t understand. For you. Not for your partner. Not for your dream bod. Not to fit into your old skinny jeans. For you. And for damn sure not to make body shamers feel better. I want you to feel good for you. Only you know what feels good. And right now you may not know what that is. You may be so broken down from the pressure put on you by others and yourself that anything is used to dull the heartache. The yearning of self love has been muffled and stuffed away by that negative voice that needs company. There’s a hole that needs filled, but nothing is ever enough. Listen patiently and go where you feel guided.
If you wish. Start here. “How can I love myself a little louder today?” And just keep coming back to it until it’s second nature. And then let your life shift to one of pleasure. And don’t let anyone tell you to settle down or “I’d hate myself if I ate that.” And lastly, embrace all of those around you. All sizes. All shades of nude. All hearts yearning for a love that they can only receive from themselves.
I hope you learn how to love yourself as loud as possible.
I hope you live a life full of pleasure.
I hope you fully live.