Her: “Ok… I can see how you can think that.”
Me: “Everything you are sharing with me makes so much sense and I can feel it inside of me, that it’s what I need [pause & sigh]… but I need to lose weight”.
The tears started to roll off my cheeks. Uncontrollably crying. The tears were coming from the depth of my gut. It was one of those moments when you want to stop crying because you really don’t want to cry in front of strangers but you can’t… it’s not in your control.
Her: “Stephanie, your desires to lose weight are valid. It’s normal that you want to lose weight. The society in which we live, an environment that is full of weight stigma, body size discrimination, and fatphobia encourages these desires every day. It makes perfect sense that you want to lose weight.”
I was deeply confused.
But I need to lose weight…
I was 38 years old and the last 25 years of my personal life had been a series of pressing “pause” and “play”. I only allowed myself to “play” my personal life when I was at a weight that others recognized to be ok. If I was gaining weight or not working hard to lose the “abnormal excess weight”, my personal life was on “pause”.
Her: “So, let’s work through this, Stephanie. Why do you want to lose weight? What do you feel will happen when you lose weight?”
Me: “ Uhhh….. “
No one ever asked me this question. I never asked myself this question either. My brain was stumped… blank.
Her: “It’s normal that you don’t know how to answer this question. You likely never thought of the desire to lose weight as optional therefore never considered why you desired it.”
She was right. At that point, it had been 27 years. Since my teens, I had lived on and off diets always chasing “another body”. My happiness was conditional to the way my body looked. Even when my body looked “ok”, it was such a battle to keep it up that I didn’t have the mental space or time to fully enjoy my now “allowed happy life”.
Me: “I guess you’re right...”
Her: “Until we see each other again, I want you to ask yourself these questions: Where is the desire to lose weight coming from? What do you feel will happen if you lose weight? Will you be treated differently? Will you feel beautiful? Worthy? Healthy? “
As a good perfectionist, I did my homework.
I had so many Ah Ah moments… so many realizations. It took me a while to fully accept what these questions forced me to see: As a strong, independent & feminist woman, I had given away my power.
My power was in my body size
The way others view my body affected my capacity to be myself. My power was in my body… size. Over time, I had acquired a deep sense that “I wasn’t good enough” so nearly everything I did was serving the purpose of proving to the world that I was enough even though my body wasn’t.
It was hard to prove my worth all the time. I had to strive for perfection, be sure to make choices that would appease and please others around me not to give them another reason to reject me beyond my body.
I was working so hard that my health had collapsed 2 years earlier. It was the time that I was trying to feel better, be healthier but nothing was working, not even… weight loss. I had spent a lot of $$$$ with many health professionals trying to “find and fix” my weight loss resistance without success. My body didn’t want to collaborate anymore… no matter how hard I worked: nothing.
Love versus fear
“Maybe it’s time for another approach…” That’s what my very expensive functional medicine doctor told me after doing all the tests and protocols possible. She said to me, “Maybe there’s nothing wrong with your body… what if you try to love it?”.
To be honest, I was pissed when she said this. I invested a lot on her. “Loving my body? WTF… that’s not a solution.” It took me time to accept these words and gave it a try. But I did.
By now, you might have guessed HER was a professional I was seeing to teach me how to “love my body”. When I sat and reflected on the questions, she had left me with after our first appointment, I realized that I was living in fear.
Fear of not being good enough, being rejected, not being loved, not being promoted at work, not being healthy and live a long life, …. I was powerless in the face of my body.
The journey back to my power
The hard truth was that patriarchal social conditioning had kept me very busy dieting and chasing after the false currency of beauty instead of chasing my dreams. Diet Culture taught me how being consumed by the fear of my body not being “thin’ enough was the way to be a woman… and that indoctrination kept me quiet, and most importantly, conform to patriarchy.
For 27 years, I had fully embraced the lie that my power as a woman was in the looks of my physical body. That lie was the real reason why I was struggling, anxious, and secretly depressed.
Her: “So now you are ready to do the work, sister?”
Me: “ F*ck yesss… let’s do this!”.
The journey to conquer and thrive
The first layover was to conquer my mind. All that societal conditioning was showing up in my negative self-talk. What I now call Diet Brain had to be reprogrammed. From there, I was able to conquer my beliefs around food and let my innate power guide my food choices instead of some “weight loss guru” tell me what my body needed. My body and I are smart enough to know what to eat.
The most powerful part of the journey was becoming emotionally intelligent. I had to shift from being the victim of my emotions to using my emotions as a source of information to make the best possible choice for ME. That’s how anxiety and depression left and confidence and compassion came into my life.
That led me to thrive in my relationship with my body. What I sought in my life was no longer the outcome of my body’s look… that gave me freedom. I could care for myself unconditionally and beyond dieting which is the key to bringing back my health.
I now have a relationship of trust and respect with my body. My female body wisdom is my power. I love myself, care for myself, and I thrive in my relationship with myself.
I found my power. The power to live my life now. I gave myself the permission to be enough unconditionally to what my body looks like or weight.
That’s my true power.