I just had a birthday and while I felt loved and celebrated, seeing the pictures of the celebration brought on a shame spiral in which I just about decided to give up on trying to eat healthy and lose weight.
In the moment these pictures were taken I was feeling loved, celebrated, happy with my outfit choice, strong inside and out, and a bit awkward being in the spotlight at a family event. I was in a beautiful setting surrounded by loved ones. Yet when I scrolled through the photos my husband had taken that memory got quickly rewritten over by shame.
"Oh my gosh! Did I really look like that? Have I just been lying to myself? I thought that outfit was flattering. Ugh.. look at my stomach, look at my arms, my boobs need to be higher, I look like a round, short ball. I call myself a health coach? People will look at this picture and think who does she think she is?"
It moved from thoughts like this to, "I don't want to share this photo. People will look at this and disqualify me. They'll see my imperfections. I wish I could tell them how hard I'm trying. That I have PCOS and endometriosis and the obesity gene and all that I have overcome and that is ongoing. But who am I kidding... I tell others about the primal lifestyle and it works better for them. They lose weight quickly. Maybe I'm just lying to myself. I felt strong and confident and beautiful in the moment, now I just see a blob. Why should I keep trying so hard?"
That evening I knew I needed to name the shame.I was headed to a dark place and I knew where this kind of thinking used to lead me - giving up, not caring, and eating all the sugar. I shared with my husband and confessed how I still don't love this body because of the above thoughts. He listened with grace and love. He shared his own struggle with how he sees himself. I'm not alone in this. He also reassured me with what he sees. I know what a gift it is to have someone see me with very different eyes and I am grateful.
What I identified though is the desire to protect myself from criticism with the idea of a perfect body. If I was more fit, more thin...then maybe people would admire rather than critique. Yet, I realized that I am not in control of what others think of me. I am forgetting how those that know me just spent the day speaking words of love, admiration and gratitude for who I am. Am I really going to just throw all that away? I allowed myself to feel the vulnerability of not being in control of what others think of me.
I thought about the why. Why do I eat healthy? Why do I keep trying? The answer came quickly - to be around for my family as long as possible. I remembered that my blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol and many other markers are doing great. That part of my body has really responded well to the primal lifestyle. This is my deeper why. So, no, I won't give up.
I also realized that I am still very much in the journey of loving myself. I'm not there yet, but I did see how I can be kind to myself.I can meet myself with compassion.I can give myself grace and credit for the things I have overcome. I can find gratitude for my strength and capabilities to be active. I can start there and hopefully that will lead to a more loving relationship with myself.
This kind of thinking led me to wake up the next morning and begin again with the commitment to chosing the foods that will serve me well, to exercise, to take care of this container of my soul.
I know this message was a bit longer and if you're still reading, I thank you. My hope is to share my story so that you will know that you are not alone. On my website I say, "We're in this together," and I mean it. I know the frustrations and hope and disappointment and determination of staying on the path to health.
Here's to transformation - whether it's slow or fast - we're in this together.