I’ve battled my body for as long as I can remember.
There are entries in my diary from high school where I admit to “cheating” and eating a Hostess apple pie or some Oreos. Reader, I wasn’t heavy. At all. I look back at pictures from that time and can’t imagine what I was thinking.
I can clearly recall two times in my life when I felt happy with my body. Two times. I am 52. Once was on my wedding day. I loved my dress. It fit perfectly and was exactly what I had it mind. Another time was in a beautiful one-piece swimsuit I ordered from Calvin Klein and I put it on and felt great. And it wasn’t it looks great for a bathing suit. Nope. I felt amazing in it.
But those two times that I can recall are like grains of salt in an ocean of judgment, berating, disdain, shame and loathing I’ve felt for my body throughout my life.
Recently, I’ve lost almost 22 pounds. And I feel great. I feel like I am befriending my body for the first time ever. But I had to ask myself this hard question: Am I befriending my body now because I’ve lost weight? Is my compassion contingent on that? I sat with that one and finally came to this conclusion: I believe I am losing weight because I am finally loving my body.
Let me explain.
When I hurt my back two years ago I did a lot of soul-searching. I felt betrayed by my body. I cried, a lot. I wrote, a lot. And what emerged was that my body felt betrayed by me. Betrayed by my lack of compassion, my insistence on numbers on scales and clothing tags revealing my worth, hiding behind sugary treats and big glasses of wine, moving to burn calories rather than moving because it feels good.
It’s been a long journey over these last two years. Physical therapy, Bowen Therapy, Cranial Sacral, Shamanism, journaling, yoga, walking, meditation. Lots of tools that basically all led to me finally listening to my body. Really hearing what it needed rather than thinking I knew what was best.
I moved carefully and mindfully back into my yoga practice. I began starting each day with 5-10 minutes of meditation while in Constructive Rest Pose then moving into my PT exercises and other gentle yoga moves that my body seems to love.
Next, I became a vegan again around my birthday. I had tried it a few years ago and it didn’t last long. I think I came at it from a distorted angle, looking for yet another quick fix that would solve my weight loss issue. This time I tried it to help my body heal. To fight inflammation, to ease the pain in my joints. I also became more aware of the impact my choices have on animals and the environment. Plus, my oldest daughter went vegan as well and she has been huge support in staying the course. Nowhere on my list this time was losing weight.
Eating vegan feels right in my body. I feel lighter, clearer. I have more energy, less aches and pains.
Finally, I had a physical in September. My weight was the highest it has been since I was post-pregnancy. I do not take any medications for cholesterol or blood pressure and I want to keep it that way. So, I started thinking about an approach to losing the extra weight, not an easy task at 52 and in the middle of menopause.
I decided to track my calories. I loaded Spark People onto my phone and was soon astonished at what constituted a serving versus what I had been eating. I didn’t become obsessed with it. I tracked my calories for most meals but still went out occasionally (though I eat out less often because the vegan options are so limited) and slowly I began to see results. The pounds began to drop and my back began to feel even better and mysterious aches began to dissipate. Because I am eating less sugar and foods that feel “noisy” in my body, I have more time to write, to do yoga, to read, to meditate. There’s a stillness at my core that has probably always been there but I wasn’t connected to it. Now I am.
Every change I have made has come from a place of love. A place of tender yet fierce compassion for my body, for what it needs.
At 52, I can finally trust that I am truly befriending my body.