Every few years I grown into a new awareness, and as a result, a new self. Reconnecting with my Mexican and Indigenous heritage in my early 20’s, becoming vegan in my early 30’s, and growing into my spiritual and mental health in my late 30’s are all major turning points of growth and reconnection that have helped me to become more whole. Now, there is another layer that I am growing into. Specifically the ability to truly love my body.
In 2013 I became familiar with Jes Baker’s blog and I immediately knew it was the beginning of a much needed layer of healing for me. I knew that fat advocacy had been around for a long time, however, I was so deep in my shame about my own body that I saw subscribing to fat advocacy as giving up.
I was a chubby baby who grew into a fat kid, and eventually became a chunky teenager. I didn’t eat abnormally large amount of food, and I was as active as any kid around me. Foods like chips, soda, candy bars, and fast food were not a part of my daily or regular life as a kid. My food and lifestyle was healthy, yet I carried extra weight easily.
Growing up I was constantly teased about my body. This teasing came from family, friends, classmates, people in my neighborhood, and strangers. It was a daily nightmare that had me hating walking into a room at an early age. I learned early on that my body fat and my mere existence was ugly, unacceptable, and a target for jokes.
In my early adulthood my self-esteem was wrapped in my body image, and both were pretty low and unhealthy. I lost and gained several pounds and at one point I maintained a substantial weight-loss for 5 years. I thought I had my fat body beat. I was the Scarlett O’Hara of weight loss exclaiming, “As God as my witness, I will never be fat again!”
Then the weight crept back. Now, I didn’t get lazy about my “health routine” and begin to gain weight. No, I was working hard at the gym 5 days week for 1.5 hours a day, hiking and running 2 days a week, and counting every calorie, fat, sugar, and carb gram. So when the weight crept up, I freaked out. The harder I fought back with increased exercise and stricter eating habits, the more my fat fought to claim it’s place all over my body. I followed the regimens of fitness trainers, nutritionist, and lifestyle coaches yet the weight on the scale, and my jean sizes crept up. I couldn’t exercise any more or eat any less. I was exhausted and decided to stop fighting. I felt like a failure. No. I believed I was a failure, and I have been dragging that burden around ever since.
It was only after my emotional and spiritual healing journey had begun that I was able to open up to the concept of body love.
Becoming familiar with Jes Baker opened up a whole world to me that I was finally ready to accept. I learned about other amazing women who have been paving the way for body love. Slowly but surely I have been learning what it means to love my body and focus on my health instead of my weight.
I have recently finished reading the book “Health at Every Size” by Linda Bacon, PhD. I know I am quite late to the party, and there are people who have their criticisms of the book and HAES philosophy. However I have gained so much from reading this book I can’t help but acknowledge how it has benefitted me.
Having a background in mindfulness, I absorbed the information of being present with my body, listening to it, and tuning into it’s response to hunger, stress, emotional and physical needs, and food. I was surprised to notice how I truly didn’t feel how full I was until an hour after I ate. I also learned that only a few bites of something sweet was usually enough to satisfy a craving.
It has been an interesting few months, as I have been steering this brain around to understand that my weight is not the focus, but rather, my health. It’s also been hard to be patient, be kind, and be forgiving. Yes, there are many days where I go unconscious and eat more that I need to, and yet there are more days than in the past were I lose a craving after I check-in with my body.
Being patient with body changes is hard for me, since I am use to doing extreme measures to achieve fast weight-loss. Luckily, as the weeks go by I notice a new healthy habit which strengthens my faith in being patient. Recently I noticed that my critical voice isn’t as intense as it use to be. A kinder, more patient and observing voice in present now. This helps me to see my life experiences from an observers perspective. Instead of “See?!? You screwed up again!”, I hear “Well, isn’t that interesting? What am I learning about that?” Every choice I make is no longer a definition of my worth, it is data. Information that can help me understand me and my body better.