34. In This Moment

34. In This Moment

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Curvy & Confident

In This Moment

Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.

~Lucille Ball

When I was fourteen, my first boyfriend called me pleasantly plump. He’d hug me and say, “There’s just more to love on you.”

When I was sixteen, my dad nicknamed me “Thunder Thighs.”

Another boyfriend, when I was twenty-two, asked if I was pregnant because I’d gained so much weight.

Needless to say, their words made me feel unloved, judged and insecure.

So I would try to show my love for myself through food. I never attained satisfaction though, and the pounds piled on like a protective layer between the rest of the world and me.

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 every day.” But who was I kidding? I hadn’t done yoga in years. Stretchy pants were the only fabric I could squeeze into.

If only I could lose 10 pounds, I thought, I’d be happy and my life would be great. That 10 pounds turned into 20, 30, and then 50. For years I tried to change my body, forcing myself to endure uncomfortable diets and distasteful cleanses while suffocating in guilt because I couldn’t keep the weight off or keep the cookie dough at bay. I’d squeeze my fat and cry, begging God to grant me a skinny body. But even when I did lose weight, I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin.

I pushed away men I was interested in because I was ashamed of my body. I passed up social engagements to protect myself from judgment and criticism of my weight.

My addiction to food was the problem, or so I thought. Why couldn’t I be a normal person around food? Why did I shove food in my mouth when I wasn’t even hungry? Why couldn’t I put the peanut butter down?” I’d try to answer those questions every day, after each new food binge, but the answers eluded me.

For the past twenty-five years it’s been me against my body — a painful, insecure, self-defeating battlefield.

A few months ago I said to a friend, “I weigh more than I ever have, I’m in the largest pants size of my life.” The elastic was cutting into my stomach, but I was too stubborn to admit I needed a larger size.

A few days after that, I saw a quote that hit me to my core: “Accept what you can’t change and change what you can’t accept.”

I realized that if I couldn’t change myself, then maybe the real issue was one of self-acceptance. After years of sacrifice and suffering, 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 extra pounds cushioning my body? Could I completely love myself despite my body? From that day forward, I made this my full-time mission.

I started to approach food differently. Instead of saying I couldn’t have something, 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. Instead of obsessing over what I ate or counting the calories in my chewing gum, I loosened the reins. I accepted that I really do love food, which led me to the real miracle — accepting myself.

Soon, I wasn’t hiding or being ashamed of myself. I began to acknowledge that my body is a vessel for love and that I have a lot of love to give to the world. So the bigness I exhibit is 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 retrain my brain to see the good. And as I embraced myself, I returned to my true self.

Once I admitted that I really like sugar and that eating it makes me happy, my cravings diminished. I stopped wanting it because I knew I could eat it whenever I wanted. My desire to shove cookie dough in my face has gone away. 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.

Now I eat what I want when I want. I make healthy choices and feel more grounded. Accepting my desires has changed my life.

My shift was simple; I turned down my mind and tuned into my heart. Instead of trying to reach a predetermined idea of perfection, I turned inward. The result? Freedom and self-awareness. No more body hate and no more self-sabotaging thoughts.

With my obsessive food thoughts gone, my body is returning to a healthy weight.

All because I stopped fighting myself and embraced the real me, the one who loves life fully and enjoys each moment, even when . . . no, especially when . . . she’s eating chocolate cake!

~Shannon Kaiser

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