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“YOU’RE SO FAT, YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO TALK ABOUT HEALTH AND NUTRITION.”
This was what someone took the time to tell me recently.
At first I didn’t feel like writing a post about it, but the more I reflected on it, the more I felt I needed to discuss it publicly. Ironically, I received 3 comments and messages with the same theme within a very short period of time. So, I took that as a sign that I needed to write about it. And, once I started writing, it was hard for me to stop.
Now, as I type this, I am oh-so-thankful that these people spoke these words to me. It gave me a great opportunity to really spend time reflecting on how far I’ve come, where I am now, and where my passion will take me in the future.
I’m not going to lie though. As excited as I am to share my story and my struggles in hopes that it helps others, when it came time to hit the “Publish” button, there was a little fear that crept in.
But I did it, I hit publish anyway. So, let’s go…
Words From Strangers
These words from complete strangers reminded me of EXACTLY why I am on the mission that I am on:
To inspire women to step into their most vibrant lives, free of fear and full of love, regardless of the number on the scale or the size of their clothes.
I have grown to have a pretty thick skin over the years. You have to if you are going to do anything that remotely puts you in the public eye, not matter how small or big. There are always going to be negative people and sometimes hateful comments that come your way. That just goes with the territory.
Did that comment sting?
Yes. For a little while it did. I’m human and I’m keeping it real. We never like to have negative comments directed towards us. I think anyone who says something like this doesn’t sting, even if it’s just for a millisecond, is lying.
Did I dwell on it?
No, which shows such a massive shift in my mindset and mental healing over where I was even just one year ago. Had this happened a couple years back, I would have dwelled on it for days (weeks?). I would have let it be a determination of my worth and value to the world.
I would have let words from a person who doesn’t even know me dictate how much I valued myself.
You see, I have had a lifetime of body image issues and flat out body shame (and subsequent depression).
I have spent more time than I care to admit berating myself for how I look, for not fitting into a certain size, or for what the number on the scale reflects. And for the most part, I’ve kept it hidden from the rest of the world. My internal struggles stayed right there — on the inside — eating away at my soul and crushing my hope and inspiration for a happy life.
But now, it is my calling to start talking about it publicly.
Because when I started going down this new road of personal development and exploration of my inner demons, I was craving other people’s stories. I wanted to know that I was not alone, that other people had struggled like I was, and that there was hope for recovery.
If sharing my personal struggles and my journey to heal helps just one person, then I will be happy. I’m not here to change the whole world, but I am here to change my world. And hopefully, help and inspire you to change your world too.
Making a CHOICE
For close to two decades, I would often avoid looking in the mirror because I didn’t really like what I saw. Going clothes shopping was a nightmare and typically only took place when I was alone so that no one else could see how “fat” I looked in what I was trying on. Spanx® became my new best friend.
Even when I was at my leanest (before autoimmune disease came into my life), I STILL thought I was fat. I would have moments where I felt confident (if I was wearing the aforementioned Spanx®), but those were typically short lived and overridden rather quickly by worries about what other people thought about me.
A few years ago, I lost 50 pounds by dramatically restricting my diet. The number on the scale looked good, but inside nothing had changed. I thought that losing weight would make me feel better about myself. That when I got to that “magic” number, all my worries would disappear, the heavens would open, and life would begin.
Little did I know that the dramatic restriction in my diet created further issues with my health, both mentally and physically. And don’t even get me started on the physiological issues that arise from chronic negative self-talk and unhappiness directed at your own home (your body)…
I came to realize that no matter what number I saw on the scale, the issue was INSIDE, not outside. I still didn’t like myself or my body, even when I lost the weight I *thought* I needed to lose in order to be happy.
I realize now that I would have never liked myself if I had not decided to cut the sh** and make a CHOICE.
Ultimately, everything in life comes down to making a choice about something. And one of the very best choices we can make is to love ourselves for who we are.
So, today, I CHOOSE to love myself.
I CHOOSE to love my body, even in moments where chronic illness leaves me feeling like I would rather throw a temper tantrum than be nice to myself.
I CHOOSE to not give a flying f*** about what size is displayed on my clothes or what a number shows on the scale (and I only get on a scale when my PCP makes me for my annual exam).
I CHOOSE to not dwell on what other people think of me (especially people who don’t know me) because they don’t know my life, my story, and my heart.
I CHOOSE to work on my own personal development every single day so that I can treat myself, and those around me, with love and kindness.
I CHOOSE to accept where I am in this season of life, embrace it, learn from it, and always have faith that a new season will follow.
Weight, Weight, Weight
I am not the epitome of health. Nor have I ever claimed to be.
I am, however, an avid researcher and student of nutrition and healthy lifestyles. I do this because I have a deep-rooted desire to eat well, live well, and heal my chronic illness as naturally as possible.
I also have a calling to help others do the same.
Because I am “fat”, does that not make me qualified to talk about such things? Maybe and maybe not. Ultimately, I’m just a real person, living a real life, dealing with real challenges, and trying to share those experiences with others in hopes that I can make their lives just a teeny, tiny bit easier.
It’s not up to me what you think of my body and my message. That’s on you. And that’s totally cool. I’m not here to judge.
But I AM here today to say that I have had enough of people shaming others for what they look like. I am SICK AND FLIPPING TIRED living in a society where a person’s worth is dictated by what size clothes they wear or what the number says on the scale.
And most of all….I am tired of watching people miss out on their life because they are ashamed of who they are.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
After years of waiting on the “right” time, the “right” weight, the “right” size, the “right” health, etc. to live my life, I literally woke up one morning and had enough. I was a spectator in my life, rather than being a participant. And I was going to wake up on my deathbed with regrets.
I don’t want to have regrets. I want to live, love, and enjoy life.
So, I made a choice.
And now, I want to help other women do the same.
It makes me sad to reflect on the years that I spent disliking my body. But, I don’t regret it. Because without that experience, I would never know what it feels like to break free of the bondage and find healing where I never thought I could.
Have I conquered all my personal demons?
Heck no. I’m a work in progress. Every, single day I face life head-on. Some days are more successful than others. But every day, I CHOOSE to be a participant in my life.
I’ve gained weight and I’ve lost weight multiple times in my life. I find it so interesting that right now, after gaining back some of what I originally lost a few years ago, I am FINALLY finding peace with my body. I am finally breaking free from the years of self-deprecation.
By society’s standards, I am fat.
There. I said it.
I’m a size 14/16 and I wear XL shirts. Even at my fittest, I was always a size 10/12 (and I still wore XL shirts thanks to my broad shoulders and big boobs).
I used to have a lot of muscle and was very active. Unfortunately, with chronic illness also came chronic fatigue and a lot of that muscle has turned to fat.
And you know what? I am OK with that.
Because I know that it does not make me any less of a person, it does not hinder my ability to bring joy into my life and others, and it does not determine the value of my soul.
Because I also know that dealing with chronic illness is hard, hard, HARD work and it requires us to bring extra amounts of love to our heart and to treat all areas of our life with grace. It may mean letting go of the “perfect” body you once had and accepting that we now have a new path to follow.
And lastly, I know that it may mean simply accepting that we are in a new season of our life. And seasons always change. How things are now is not a direct indication of how things will be in the next season.
Will I lose weight again? Maybe. It depends on what my body chooses to do. In the words of Marc David, nutrition and psychology visionary and founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating (where I will be getting my coaching certification):
“We (a collective ‘we’) do not truly know how much someone is supposed to weigh.”
There is no scientific formula that says X + Y + Z = The Perfect Weight
Yes, you read that correctly. There is ZERO hard science out there that PROVES that there is an ideal number that we should all weigh to be healthy (see the videos at the bottom of this post for more on that).
There can truly be health at every size.
Health is not a one-size-fits-all thing. Health comes in all shapes and all sizes. What you see deemed as “healthy” in the media and by society at large could not be further from the truth. You can be fat and healthy and you can be skinny and unhealthy. I’ve seen it both ways and all levels in between.
And, as my own nutritional therapist (Lydia Shatney) always says:
“You don’t lose weight to get healthy. You get healthy to lose weight.”
So, if my body chooses to release weight in the future, then I’ll roll with it. But my focus will never, ever, EVER again be on losing weight to fit into some ideal that society dictates I need to fit.
Instead, I choose to nourish my body, mind, and spirit every day with healthy, real food, mindful movement, quality sleep, self-care, love, and laughter.
I choose to love every inch of myself regardless of what anyone else thinks of me (and I choose to BELIEVE my husband when he whispers how sexy and beautiful I am — this one’s a hard one for me, but I’m getting better). <3
I choose to release the negative energy that has weighed me down for so many years. When that weight is lifted, you can truly begin to embrace life.
I can, with all my heart, tell you right now that it doesn’t matter what you look like, how much you weigh, what size of clothes you wear, or what anyone else thinks of you.
You are beautiful and have an amazing gift to give the world (even if you haven’t discovered it yet).
You have a bright light within you. Don’t let what other people think of you dim that light. Let it shine. Let it shine so bright that they have no other choice than to be blinded by you and your magnificence.
I could go on and on and on, but ultimately, this whole post can be distilled into one message:
Just because someone looks different than what YOU think they should look like, does not make them any less qualified to speak about whatever it is they are speaking about. Including health and nutrition.
Oh, and in case you missed it above, someone’s weight is not an indication of their value.
Let’s all strive to create healthy lives and healthy habits for the sake of health and well-being rather than as a method to control our weight or be someone we’re not.
In the wise words of Marc David:
One of the lessons we need to learn, if we are truly carrying excess weight, is to get off the bandwagon of hate and see through the eyes of love and compassion.
I dream of a world where size doesn’t matter. Where people are not judged because of how they look, what they weigh, or what size clothes they wear. Those are superficial things — they are not an indication of a person’s value and service to the world.
I dream of a society where people are loved (by themselves and others) for who they are and the amazing gifts they share. A place where people are able to let go of their preoccupations with what they *think* they should weigh and start focusing on living a healthy vibrant life.
And that is why I will continue to move forward and make the choice every day to help serve my own needs and hopefully inspire women around the world to take that first step into a life they truly love.
Further Reading and Resources
If you’re ready to say goodbye to the years of feeling out of control and compulsive around food (resulting in body shame) and shift into a place of peace and freedom then I can help. Come join my 7-day Food & Body Freedom eCourse (it’s free!) here. This eCourse came from my passion for helping women transform their relationships to food and body. What you desire IS truly possible if you are ready, open, and willing. It is time to say goodbye to the years of control, compulsive behaviors, limiting beliefs, scarcity of joy, and actions driven from a place of fear and feelings of unworthiness, once and for all. Learn more and sign up here.
If you are interested in learning more about this topic of “what we are supposed to weigh” and body image and body shame/hate, here are some great videos for you to peruse.