This post is a rambling reflection on what has been, thus far, my travels down the road to body-love and self acceptance. It is a learning process; a long and often times confusing path filled with many questions and always the hope that one day, at that glowing end of the hard-work tunnel, I will find stability.
It has been many months, perhaps even a year now, since I first began to read FA blogs and work on my own understanding of HAES/Intuitive Eating. As with any thing you choose to take on in your life, it is the small little goals that you have to appreciate reaching. Those small steps are what will get you where you need to be. I think, in the last week, I have realize one of these small goals; taken a step or two. I have finally gotten to the point when I am able to listen to my body’s hunger cues. I know when I’m hungry. I know when I’m thirsty. I KNOW that I’m finally eating enough to sustain my body well because for one of the few times in my life (the others also marked by the periods in which I was not dieting); I have stopped biting my nails! It may not sound like a monumental thing to anyone else; but for me it is a huge accomplishment.
After finally deciding to stop all the harmful yo-yo dieting and work on accepting myself for who and what shape and what size I happen to be I went through a rough time trying to find my footing. Going from absolute control over every morsel to enter your mouth; counting each crumb and every calorie; to a free method of trying to listen to my own body’s signals was very difficult. How would my body know what it wanted?? Worse, how was I supposed to know how to LISTEN to it!? What if all I THOUGHT I wanted was cookies and instead I really needed celery? Would I become the stereotyped fat person out of control, eating everything in sight?!?? Did I want to lose that much control? What if I NEVER stopped gaining weight?!?!?
Yet, turning towards Shapely Prose, the blog which first introduced me to the idea that maybe, just MAYBE, hating my body (and thus myself) every second of every day, for not holding up to some incredible ideal to which I was trying to stretch, was not a healthy approach to life. I began to ready about Health at Every Size. I read about Intuitive Eating. I wondered, how do I start down this path? Will it be easy? Will I never again wish I was someone thinner? Will I fail as I seemed to at every other “Lifestyle Change” I tried??? However, SP once again saved my sanity from the destructive meanderings of such thoughts with something that continues to shape my own learning process in finding out what Health at Every Size really means.
It’s about looking out for yourself and your health, physical and mental, without judgment or obligation. That could mean veggies and walking, or it could mean cake and five minutes to yourself for once, or it could even mean another day of deliberate food restriction but with one micron less self-hatred. It’s a spectrum and a process. But one thing HAES always means is taking care of your body as much as time, finances, and energy will permit.
I am learning to take care of myself. Learning to love the body I have; in the size and shape it happens to settle at. I am working to unlearn the negative associations that tiny numbers on clothing have; reduce the sway that moving from one number to another; in either direction; have on my daily mood. And it is difficult. A lifetime of self-hate; of body-disgust; of just pure unadulterated displeasure at your own body’s place in the word; takes a lot to overcome. But, it is a learning process.
So, no matter what your current stage along your own path towards body confidence, whether you’ve just barely said NO to the idea of constant dieting, or whether you’ve finally heard your body’s hunger cues, or whether you’re already loving your body as much as you can, taking those bad days in stride with the rest, we can all benefit from remembering that it is always a learning process. But learning never stops! So drop that diet. Go out and get that new haircut. Get that adorable dress. Treat yourself with love. You deserve it; now and always.
Learn something new. Try something different. Convince yourself that you have no limits.–Brian Tracey (The Treasury of Quotes)