During the second-half of 2017, I added an additional 25-pounds on my 5’2-frame. For months, I’ve been carrying around tremendous amounts of guilt and shame for this weight gain. At one point, I convinced myself that if I could get my physical body back to where it was 3-years ago, then I could be happy again. Instead of confronting the truth, that life had changed in completely radical ways this year, I continued to deny my pain. Life would never be the same, but I couldn’t bring myself to believe it; I was too overwhelmed by stress and sadness.
Working through loss and grief does require some movement. Whether it’s walking around the block or simply walking away from the old reactions and automatic responses that keep us in pain and do not bring us the peace and love we are seeking, it is important to remember to keep the old, wounded energy moving on. About 2-months ago, I finally surrendered. And with each breath, I learned how to be compassionate and gentle with myself. Eventually, I gained control over my emotions; I allowed them to surface instead of resisting or suppressing them. I learned to sit in pain, accepting it without judgement. In understanding that I only had to face one day at a time, I began to cope. And here is the lesson that I can share with you — stop wishing to go back; appreciate the present moment and know that you are perfect, just as you are. It’s time for us to start working with our bodies, not against them. And that starts with self-compassion.
This year, I became so frustrated that I just stopped. Stopped reading, studying for my next certification and pushing myself to learn more. Stopped trying to maintain a clean diet. Stopped running and working out. This was probably the best thing that could have happened. Gaining 25-pounds gave me the incredible opportunity to find a deeper appreciation for my body. When I look in the mirror, I see a body that supported me through another year full of challenges and changes. It was with me as I made some of the most difficult decisions of my life, as I faced fears and took risks. It experienced loss, heartache and fought extreme bouts of depression. It felt the rollercoaster ride of medication changes and suffered through the physical side effects. It worked 7-days/week with very little time off. It made sacrifices and endured sleepless nights. It got me up after those sleepless nights and devoted all of my attention to teaching and working with my clients. It gave me the energy to keep and maintain my personal relationships, even during times when I was feeling burned out and worn down. It broke down, fell apart and continued to carry me through. When I look in the mirror and see that my face is fuller, my stomach is rounder and my thighs are thicker, I see a woman who ventured into unknown territory and a body that supported that. This is the deepest level of self-compassion that I have ever achieved.
Despite what I do for a living, body acceptance has always been a HUGE struggle for me. I work in an industry that’s obsessed with physical appearance and my own weight has always been open to criticism. When I lose weight, I hear about it. When I gain weight, I hear about it. And as a professional, I’ve been guilty of not treating myself as a client. For many years, my irrational mind made me believe that I was somehow above my clients and peers; I was the exception to the rules. But truthfully, I’ve been fighting a painful battle with my weight and body-image for as long as I can remember. As an adult, my weight has fluctuated from 135-lbs to 185-lbs; I’ve worn everything from XS and size-0 to LG and size-13/14. And some people will argue that even at my biggest, I still looked good. But it’s not about how they feel about my body, it’s about how I feel about my body.
I’ve trained for specific athletic endeavors. I’ve trained for speed and power. I’ve trained for strength and hypertrophy. I’ve trained for endurance. I’ve trained for fat-loss. I’ve trained inconsistently without any structured program or methodology. I’ve trained obsessively without adequate rest. I’ve trained with injuries and physical ailments. I’ve struggled with depression, obsessive dieting and disordered eating patterns. I’ve struggled with the pressure of being a role-model that “walks their talk” and the scrutiny of colleagues and clients. I’ve struggled to keep a smile on my face and a positive attitude when someone makes comments about my weight fluctuations. I’ve struggled with feeling unworthy and not enough in my personal and professional life. I’ve struggled with my confidence as a professional because hiding these secrets makes me feel hypocritical and less credible. This is not my essence; this is not who I am.
Why am I telling you all of this? After over a decade of working in the fitness and wellness industry, I’ve had the pleasure to meet and work with countless people dealing with similar struggles. I hear their stories, celebrate their successes and help them learn from their defeats. I laugh with them, cry with them and talk them off the ledge when they’re ready to jump. Why am I qualified to do these things? For the first time, I realize that it’s not the impressive resume of certifications that I’ve worked for years to build — it’s because I am one of them. Today, I embrace my story to help you change yours.
Truthfully, I’m not too concerned about the weight. I know my body will release it when it’s ready. So, I’m starting the new year with a focus on creating a lifestyle where I’m able to pay attention to my body in the way it deserves. I plan on sharing a series of posts over the next several weeks explaining what lifestyle changes I’ll be making in my life in order to take care of myself even better. It’s going to be a lot of little things, no drastic changes. And it will be a combination of what has worked for me in the past and new strategies that I’m excited about implementing.
If you’re interested, stay tuned!