Learning to Love Your Body
Guest Blogger: Shannon Kaiser | www.playwiththeworld.com
For 22 years of my life, I have lost and gained the same sixty pounds. I was a food addict, anorexic, bulimic, a compulsive overeater, a sugar addict. It was not uncommon to have 5 different size jeans in my closet and fluctuate into each pair every year. I've tried every diet ever concocted by man, including my own inventions, such as the grape diet, or the saltine cracker and water diet. All of them worked for a couple days, sometimes for as much as 6 months, but every single time, they stopped working.
My problem was not the physical weight on my body; it was the emotional weight in my head. When you feel ugly and fat, diets become seductive. My thoughts consumed me, "If I could just fit into my skinny jeans, my life would be great." When I was stuck in my eating disorders, I only considered three options.
- Liposuction which goes against everything I believe, is expensive and not permanent
- Yet another diet where I would inevitably gain all the weight back and more
- Mental flogging myself where I continued to feel guilty, eat more, and end up gaining even more weight
These choices served to only keep me in a vicious cycle of self-abuse and sabotage. Unfortunately, our culture celebrates thinness, while linking fatness to undesirable traits such as unworthiness, ugliness and laziness. I have struggled with my weight in the same way.
For the majority of my life, I attached my self worth to my body weight. I thought I had my body issues under control, but awhile ago something happened that brought up those same thoughts of unworthiness and fear of not measuring up. My thoughts triggered intense feelings of insecurity and self-doubt, which pulled me right back into my eating disorders.
I gained 5 pounds in 3 days and crept up another pant size. Disgusted with myself, I realized there had to be a better way. Looking deeper into this issue, I realized I had an opportunity to learn from the pain. I realized that my old behavior was no longer serving me. It was time for a change.
At times addictions feel bigger than life itself. The compulsion takes over and demands a fix. I needed to try to see the silver lining in my obsession. So I went to work and prayed. Which inevitable lead me to spiritual teachers, mentors and self-help books. My road to recovery became my best friend. I joined a 12-step program, traveled the world to see spiritual healers and started meditating daily. All in a quest to save myself. Through my healing journey I discovered the most important relationship in life is the one we have with ourselves.
Today my life is much different than that lonely, lost girl crying on the bathroom floor after an epic binge and purge fest. Today I am grounded, balanced and full of self-love. I recognized that my eating disorders were a path to my true self. I was able to look at them and learn from the pain. Loving myself is the greatest gift my struggles gave me.
If you are struggling with any area of your life, these tips can help.
Accept Where You Are
Let go of past success and failures; part of my challenge was holding onto my illusion of who I was in the past. I used to be a hard-core endurance athlete and my body was much different than it is today. By holding on to past success and failures, we focus on situations that are no longer relevant. To feel true peace, you need to practice being present and accepting where you are.
Appreciate the Process
Back when I consistently suffered from eating disorders, I naively believed that there was a "there" to get to. Once I reached my goal weight, I would meet the man of my dreams, my parents would finally understand me, and my career would sky rocket.
Over the past 22 years, each time that I have met my goal weight I have still felt unworthy, unloved and ugly…and then the weight came back. I now can see that the weight is just a manifestation of my emotional turmoil.
As you step into 2013, look at where you are playing small. Where in your life are you uncomfortable? Ask yourself what you are afraid of? What is really on the other side of that fear? Ultimately fear just tries to protect us from the unknown, so get clear about your desires and the fear that stands in the way.