My first boyfriend, at age 14, called me pleasantly plump. He'd always hug me and say, "There's just more to love on you."
My dad at age 16 nicknamed me "Thunder Thighs."
Another boyfriend, at age 22, asked if I was pregnant because I'd gained so much weight.
Needless to say, I always felt unloved, judged and insecure.
Because of my insecurity, I would eat and try to reach self-love through satisfaction in food. I never reached satisfaction though, and the pounds just piled on and kept a protective layer between me and the rest of the world.
For the past 25 years it's been me against my body -- a painful, insecure, self-defeating battlefield. Even when I lost weight, I never felt comfortable in my own skin.
A few months ago I found myself explaining to a friend, "I weigh more than I ever have, I'm in the largest pants size of my life." As the elastic cut into my stomach, my stubborn attitude refused to admit my extra large size.
My pride kept me trapped for years, hiding behind baggy tunics and stretchy pants. I'd tell myself "I'm pretty cool, wearing fancy yoga pants everyday." But who was I kidding, I had stopped doing yoga two years ago. Stretchy pants were the only fabric I could squeeze my excessive skin into.
I continued to think that if I could only lose 10 pounds, I'd be happy. That 10 pounds turned into 20, 30 and then 50lbs. If only the weight was off my body, my life would be great. I'd squeeze my fat and cry, begging God to grant me my wish of a skinny body.
I saw how this was affecting my life. I found myself pushing away men I'd be interested in because I was ashamed of my body or passing up social engagements out of embarrassment about my weight, always trying to protect myself from judgment and criticism.
That demon was in my own head, and that was a typical day in the life of chubby me... until one day I saw a quote that hit me to my core. "Accept what you can't change and change what you can't accept."
For years I had painfully tried to change my body. I'd force myself into uncomfortable diets, tasteless cleanses and resorting to extreme measures while suffocating in guilt because I couldn't keep the weight off or keep the cookie dough at bay.
My addiction to food was the problem, or so I thought. Why can't I be a normal person around food? Why do I shove food in my mouth when I am not hungry? Why can't I put the peanut butter down? I'd try to answer these questions every day, after each new guilt ridden food binge, but they always eluded me.
Until I came across that quote... and I realized that if I couldn't change myself, then maybe the real issue was one of acceptance. Maybe it was time I actually accepted myself. Instead of pushing away the popcorn, maybe I could allow myself to enjoy it. What if I admitted my truth, that I actually LOVE food? That sugar makes me happy, that salt tastes damn good.
After years of sacrifice and suffering it seemed my only other choice was to accept what I couldn't change. Gulp. Could I actually look in the mirror and like what I saw, even with stretch marks and 50 pounds of extra skin cushioning my body? Could I really and entirely love myself despite my body? A few months ago I made this my full time mission.
I started to approach food differently. Instead of saying I couldn't have that, I told myself I could eat whatever I wanted as long as I enjoyed it fully. This meant really tasting it, embracing the texture, the flavor, even taking in the smell. The idea of conscious eating was radically new to me.
I accepted that I really do love food. And sugar is super fun to eat... which led me to the real miracle, of realizing that I accept myself. No longer was I hiding or ashamed of a being me.
I began to acknowledge that my body is just a vessel for love. Perhaps I have a lot of love to give to the world so the bigness I exhibit is nothing more then a desire to be seen and give my heart to the world.
I began repeating the mantra, "I accept myself in this moment, I am right where I need to be. I am beautiful and full of life."
At first I didn't believe this but in time, I was able to re-train my brain to see the good, and as I embraced myself, I returned to my true self. Instead of obsessing over what I ate yesterday or counting calories in my chewing gum, I've loosened the reins. This process has allowed me to be more comfortable being me.
If we don't accept ourselves, food and weight will mask the pain. The extra weight on our bodies is just a manifestation of the imbalance of our thoughts. It is a by-product of lack of self worth. When we value ourselves, we can be fully present with our food and enjoy it as part of living a full life.
For me, once I admitted that I really like sugar, and that eating it makes me happy, my cravings died down. I stopped wanting it because I knew I could eat it if I wanted it. I replaced my years of resistance and pushing away the foods I loved with a more compassionate approach: consciousness.
Now I eat what I want when I want. My desire to shove cookie dough in my face has gone away. I'm left with being present in my life and feeling real self-love. I make healthy choices and feel more grounded. I've allowed myself to be me. Accepting my desires and allowing them to be has changed my life.
My shift was simple; I turned down my mind and tuned into my heart. The result? Freedom and self-awareness.
Instead of trying to reach some predetermined cast of perfection, I've turned inward. No more body hate, no more avoiding foods I love, and no more self sabotaging thoughts.
My obsessive thoughts about food have disappeared and my weight is returning to normal. All because I stopped resisting. I decided to stop fighting myself and gave in to the real me, the one who loves life fully and enjoys each moment, even when... no especially, when she's eating chocolate cake!