I stood under a beautiful tree with my sister at a California winery. The air was cool, and it was just a perfect day with good friends and zero worries. I was feeling amazing and at peace. I had recently posted, as I have since Facebook’s inception, something that discussed my struggle with happiness being contingent on size and how I’ve wished for others to call me a skinny bitch. I chose the particular topic because as a Life Coach, I believe transparency is important and relatable. I have not tackled all my gremlins and occasionally I fall back into self-loathing. But, being able to share my challenges helps me become stronger.
I’ve long felt that my sister doesn’t really get me. She loves me. But, truly just doesn’t understand me. My beliefs, the different groups I have belonged to, the road I’ve traveled in my life and the decisions I’ve made. You see, my sister is one of the strongest women I know. She’s smart, independent, loyal and giving. But we grew up differently and so maybe that makes it difficult to grasp the inner workings of a little sister.
Under that tree she wished that I had more self-confidence like her and that I loved my body the way it was, as she loves her body. I know that her hopes were coming from her heart, a place of goodness. But in that moment, like so many other moments, I felt judged and misunderstood. I took a deep breath and tried to explain that the writings I had just posted were to help clients who also struggled. And in the next pause, I truly felt like I didn’t know what I was doing or feeling, and I doubted myself.
I had been working out consistently 5 days a week and eating a strict Keto diet (except for the wine) for 5 months. My work out consisted of karate 3 times a week, lifting weights 3 days a week and 2 days of cardio. In that time, I gained 13lbs and my thighs increased by several inches. I’d like to say that I looked at this change as a good thing. That my body was just getting stronger. However, skinny and fit was what I walked into the gym to achieve but I walked out feeling obese. I could only squeeze into one pair of pants and even my workout leggings were getting tight. And as much as I promoted body positivity and acceptance, I was negatively obsessed with the way I looked. I spoke poorly to myself and about myself. And I sank deeper into a depression.
As a Life Coach, I knew I had to do something to change how I felt at the pit of my stomach. I knew that I had to walk my talk and the smile I carried on the outside had to show up in my heart. Because, most importantly, the depression was truly exhausting and almost crippling. I set a goal…to change my relationship with my body, mind, and spirit.
I signed up for a health coach certification and a yoga teacher training. Although I was a health education teacher for pre to high schoolers and a doula in my past, I had never really focused on health education for my age group and beyond. As one certification ended, I started the next. I spent months (and I still have a few more to go) making health my hobby. Learning about how our bodies make its own medicine and how treating it poorly has lasting effects. But it wasn’t until yoga teacher training that I had a profound moment.
We were discussing that everything we do is with love (or at least that is the goal). I’ve understood this concept to always mean doing for others while completely forgetting about self. And so, with every difficult situation, with every challenging concept, with every deliciously tempting meal, with every feeling of guilt, I approached it with love for myself. Allowing myself to just be. Not trying to shove acceptance of my body down my throat…but just existing in the moment and experiencing what it’s like not to judge myself negatively. Instead, loving my body for all it does for me, my mind for all it imagines and loving my ability to see the divine in me. It has been life changing.
I reflect on that time under the tree with my sister and I’m thankful that she was kind enough to express her feelings of concern. Years of trying to walk downhill in an uphill battle of the mind left me feeling like I couldn’t make any more changes except to constantly repeat mantras. “My body houses the most beautiful and amazing soul” is my favorite. I wear it proudly on a shirt that my husband made for me. But now it means so much more because I have a deeper understanding of how I fit into this world and how I affect those around me.
I exercise and eat because my body is capable, I meditate because my mind is valuable, and I engage because spirit is alive in all of us.