Chocolate, Self-love and Fat Toes
Once upon a time when I was a young girl I dreamed of becoming a Catholic nun. I played school with a mini chalkboard and took on the role of my dearest teacher, Sister Annette. I wanted to reside behind big old convent walls, live a life of devotion and wear a long habit and lace up boots. It was a time of freedom when I believed that dreams came true.
With eight of us in our small home I loved to break away from everyone and spend time by myself. Solitude felt like bliss. I imagined I could fly and one of my glorious childhood pastimes was to stare at the sky and feel the wind in my hair. Climbing trees, riding bikes, picking apples, playing hopscotch, shooting goals and reading were amongst my favourite things.
Then suddenly, in grade five, my carefree days seemed to disappear. I was heartbroken when I was moved to a public state school. Away from my dearest teacher and friends I felt terribly insecure. It was the first time that I had the awareness, or the judgment, that I was too fat.
Fast forward to my first year of high school and I was throwing out my lunch on the way to school because I didn’t want to be seen eating. Of course I would race home from school each afternoon and stuff myself with food because I was so hungry. By the time I reached thirteen I utterly hated myself. I was already on the diet, starving, binge-eating cycle. My weight was up and down like a yo-yo.
For the sake of being economical with my words, I won’t go into all the nitty-gritty details, but if you’ve lived the experience of an emotional-eater with food addictions and self-hatred, you probably have a fair idea of the emotional and mental turmoil. Negative self-judgments reign supreme.
Every little sense of disappointment, sadness, challenge, or even happiness, can send you running for the biscuit barrel, the chocolate box, the cake shop, or off to the nearest fast food joint.
I was a sneak eater who hid my shameful eating behaviours and chocolate addiction from view. For the most part I felt out of control around food and used it as reward and punishment. I never used it for its intended purpose, to nourish, nurture and sustain life. Enjoyment of food wasn’t part of my experience. It was like a drug to me and the joy was fleeting.
In the year of 2009 during a difficult personal struggle I turned to food to numb the pain. Before too long I was wearing size 24 trousers and my body was starting to break down physically and emotionally. I felt totally out of control. I started 2010 with a New Year’s resolution to become healthier. I didn’t even last for seven days!
On a hot summer’s day I did something that turned the direction of my life around. It was February 21st 2010 and I had a light bulb moment while watching an Oprah® show. The show was called Stepping Out Of The Box. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I sat there on the couch in the living room. I watched as a small group of women did things that scared them. They were courageous and I wasn’t. I was afraid. They were afraid too, but they were doing something about it. They were taking action.
Their acts of courage highlighted how pathetic I felt. They helped me see that I could be different. My life was lacking courage and I was sick of hearing my own excuses. I knew it was time to step out of the box with my self-imposed limitations. I wanted to stake a claim on my right to live more fully, love more deeply and make a difference. I was tired of hating myself and wanted to find true peace with my body. I wanted to be over the self-pitying-poor-me-I’m-so-fat attitude.
I got off the couch, walked around the house and dug out some tools for change.
My little toolkit consisted of –
1. black bikini (I’d never worn)
7. tape measure
8. pair of size 16 jeans (I’d never worn)
I was shocked to see my bikini photos! I was used to hiding out under lots of loose clothing and not looking at my body. My body was fat all over. There wasn’t one little part that I even liked, let alone loved. Even my toes were fat. To really see my body made me feel terribly sad. It was like looking at a stranger whose self-hatred was evident. I was full of questions. Have I gone too far this time? Did I have the guts to change? Could I do it? What if I fail?
As a qualified life coach I knew about techniques, processes and strategies to help others but doubted that I could help myself. I also knew that I needed to start asking myself more empowering questions. So I did. I started treating myself with non-judgment, like I would a coaching client. I decided not to believe my negative thoughts and the lies I told myself about not being good enough and not being worthwhile. I would act as if I was worthy even when I felt I wasn’t.
I devised a 100-day plan of action. Here is the cliff-notes version.
1. What are the facts? I am wearing size 24 pants. I barely have any energy. I have gallstones. I have chronic back pain. I have a fifty-inch waist. I’m scared I will fail again. I have indigestion. I’m unmotivated. I don’t want to give up chocolate. I have no willpower. I don’t like exercising. I feel tired. I won’t diet.
2. What do you want? I want to be able to zip up my size 16 jeans in 100 days or less. I want to reduce my waist size by at least 11 inches in 100 days. I want to have energy. I want to love my life. I want to live with courage.
3. What will your life be like if you don’t change? I won’t get to help other people the way I want. I will slowly kill myself because my life force is already draining from my body. I will live an uninspired, unmotivated, depressed kind of existence. I won’t be the wife I want to be for my husband. I won’t be the kind of mother I want to be for my daughter.
4. What could your life be like if you live with courage and commit yourself to change? Pretty much all the opposite of number 3.
I looked for things about my body and my life for which I could feel gratitude. This certainly helped in overcoming a propensity toward negativity.
I wrote out a commitment to myself and signed my name to it.
I created an affirmation so I could affirm to my mind what was happening to my body. (Even though I didn’t believe it at the beginning, I repeated the affirmation after my shower when I massaged oils into my stomach each day.) I made a blend of aromatherapy oils that kept my skin soft and stimulated my appetite.
First and foremost I employed creativity and imagination to set an intention on Day 1 for what I wanted to take place.
To my surprise, by Day 92, I could zip up my size 16 jeans. My energy had increased. I hadn’t dieted. I had even eaten a lot of chocolate goodies and Easter bunnies along the way. Potatoes, bread and sweets were part of my regular intake.
I had broken my commitment on more than a few occasions-especially in the exercise department. When I started out I told myself I would ride the exercise bike and lift weights. I did neither after the first week. The only form of physical exercise I did was gentle walking that started with only ten minutes every couple of days. As the days went on and my energy and stamina improved I increased the time and distance.
Within 10 months of watching the Oprah® show and writing my first intention I had gone from size 24 stretch pants to size 12 jeans.
Lessons learned along the way.
Your creative mind is your most powerful ally when you want to transform your relationship with your self.
The gentle art of self-love begins with one simple decision and it starts within.
One of my favourite lines in the film, The End Of The Affair, is when Sarah says to Bendrix, “Love doesn’t end, just because we don’t see each other.”
In my mind it speaks to the soul’s promise of unconditional self-love. Even if you are in a dark place, even if you don’t like your self, or you are in judgment of your body, it’s never too late to turn it around and finally see the unconditional love your soul holds for you.
Releasing weight doesn’t necessarily mean physical weight from the body. It could be the weight of years of self-defeating thoughts that will, in the end, set you free and allow you to find true peace with your body.
I wish you that. To find true peace with your body, where your size or shape is of no consequence, because you know it’s only an external representation that is showing up in a physical form. Your body is not you. Don’t allow it to limit your beautiful experience of life. In the end, love is all that matters. Here’s to chocolate, self-love and fat toes.
|The Weight Loss Alchemist, Lily De Réhe, is a maverick mindset coach and the creator of Chubette to Bombshell – an e-course with a difference. Course commences 9th January 2013. She teaches women how to fall in love with life through self-reflection, gratitude and creative mindset techniques that show them how to change their relationship with their body. Lily is a tea-drinking, chocolate-loving, coffee-swilling, introvert who lives in the Southern Riverina district in Australia with her husband (of 31 years) and fluffy dog, Mr. Boz.
You can be inspired and gift yourself a free copy of the baby Chubette to Bombshell Manifesto.