I started my life at seven pounds, eight ounces, and by age 49 I weighed 350 pounds. I used to think that my remarkable ability to add and drop pounds at will (at least in the short term) was a function of my relationship with food. So I was as surprised as anyone to discover that it actually reflected my relationship with myself. It seems as though I had created not only the yo-yo pattern, but the tension itself that created the binge eating in the first place, which led to the radical dieting and even surgery that inevitably followed.
In an effort to be thin (read that as normal) or really cute (read that as anorexic) I tried frantically, though not successfully, to over-control not only what I ate, but also how I ate (I once fasted for almost a year on liquid protein), when I ate (I would not eat after 3pm ) and where I ate and even who I ate it with. And although this approach became little more than an exercise in futility, it took me a long time to give up on the process, and in fact I even stepped up the effort after each successive failure.
So what happened to change my path or course? How did I get off of the treadmill (both figuratively and literally) of excessive dieting and binging and create not only a new body, but also a new life? Of course there is the joy, satisfaction and downright pride that comes with maintaining a 200 pound weight loss for close to a decade now. But the real story, like the real victory, lies deeper inside.
Instead of focusing on what I was putting inside of me, I began to focus on, with acceptance, what was already worthwhile about me. I began to make real and lasting progress by concentrating on my core potential. It was at that point that I could fully appreciate that the before picture had little to do with food, and the after picture, little to do with dieting. It mostly had to do with my inaccurate and cruel self-evaluation.
This change of focus from the outer action (food, eating, dieting, exercise) to the inner being (focusing on love, acceptance, nurturing, healing) was transformative and a relief. I began to see and experience changes in my body almost immediately.
The first steps in my journey where clearer motivation, willingness, acceptance and self-love (self appreciation). I made an agreement with me to accept myself the way I was right at that moment, fat and all. I also became willing to love and accept whatever I saw inside of me as all being a part of God. I got a close-up look at my demons -- my distorted thinking, my fear of not being enough, my delusions and illusions about myself. I got to experience at the most primal level the deep-seated pain that I thought for sure would kill me if I ever allowed myself to feel it. I went so deep that I was able to rediscover my core and much to my surprise not only was it there, it wasn't broken. It was me. It was -- I was -- fully intact. There was a there, there.
I had been protecting myself from my own self-hate and self-judgment. I had somehow changed from my own best friend into my own worst enemy, and to make matters worse, I had become a bully to myself as well. It was impossible to tell at this point how and when this had all started. Maybe it had it's origins as a kid when the boys were teasing me for being fat, or my dad yelling at me that I was a fat smelly bed-wetting slob, but that was then, this was now, I knew that I was the only one who could end it. Only I had the power. Only I could love and confront myself enough to take the responsibility to care enough for this most wonderful of God's creations, to ensure that I not only survived, but also thrived. My purpose had never been clearer -- first to transform myself emotionally, (letting physical transformation follow on it's own), and then to assist others in transforming themselves. Yes Virginia, there was a Santa Claus and she was me.
All of us have an outer visible story and an inner invisible story about weight, how we see ourselves, and who we really are. And the two stories are inexorably connected. As I continue to blog I will focus on the inner story, the inner pictures created by that story, and the inner work required to reclaim your life from the bully hidden within. It is a story that is both personal and universal at the same time. It is my story and it could be your story. It is our story. And although it's loaded with clever plot twists and really scary villains, it is hopefully a story with a very happy ending for all of us.
I would love it if you would share your stories with me.
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