I was talking to my therapist a while ago about the struggle I have with my body. I told her how uncomfortable it is to be in my body most of the time. I saw her jot something down, then she got up and handed me a blue post it note that read, ‘this is my body right now.’
I still have that post it note.
I have spent years struggling with weight gain and binge eating. It started when I was 21 years old and I found myself eating my way through a hard marriage. It continued into my second marriage, this time playing out through each pregnancy. I gained 60 pounds in my first pregnancy. I would mindlessly eat ice cream until I was gut punched back into reality every time I stepped on the scale by the doctor’s office. “You’re gaining too much weight. It’s going to be harder for you to have a natural birth if you keep going at this rate.” The doctor would tell me consistently. There was something about the words, “at this rate”, that made me feel even more out of control and anxious.
I always left the office with my head down, carrying an emotional backpack full of self hatred, fear and empty promises for better eating.
After each pregnancy, I told myself, “I’m going to lose all the baby weight and get back to myself.” It worked some of the time and other times I would wake up knee deep in pasta and wonder how the hell I let myself get here.
I remember I was out shopping with a client for bathroom tiles. After a few hours of shopping, I got back to my car and realized I was starving. All I had packed was a small ziploc bag of “party style” mixed nuts. I poured the bag into my mouth. There was no party and I was still hungry. I used my hand to scramble on the floor looking for something to eat and found some leftover cookies. Thank G-d my kids were not skilled enough to get every cookie in their mouth.
I was sitting in the front seat of my car eating small cookies, one by one, off the floor of my car.
“This is why I’m fat. This is why I will never be attractive. I’m eating cookies off the floor of a dirty car like a caged monkey. There’s something wrong with me.”
I got to the point where I felt insecure all the time. Every time I got dressed, it was a disaster. Every time I saw myself in a picture, it ruined my night. I spent so much time and energy ripping myself apart that I felt hopeless. I considered myself invisible because of my weight.
I hid my body under black clothing.
I hid my ideas under silence.
I hid myself under the belief of being undeserving.
I started intuitive eating 2 years ago. I worked with Soshy Adelstein who dramatically helped me with my habits around food and binge eating.
It’s a complicated thing, intuitive eating.
How do we learn to understand our bodies and what it needs?
How do we learn to listen?
It’s easier to follow a way of eating because there’s relief in a solution.
It’s so much harder to let go and trust that you can figure it out.
It takes time.
It’s been 2 years and I’m still a beginner.
The treasure that I’ve found in this process is how I feel about myself. I have slowly come to a place where I feel deserving to BE HERE. I spent so much time holding onto this idea of ‘getting back to myself,’ that I had disconnected from my actual self. It was the thin Chana that mattered. It was the thin Chana who knew how to have fun. It was the thin Chana who people liked. I’ve spent so much time telling myself I don’t matter because of my body size, sometimes it feels hard to forgive myself.
“Being kind to yourself is one of the greatest kindnesses.” – Charlie Mackery
I am slowly learning to treat myself with compassion rather than judgment. I haven’t been on a diet in 2 years, I am more at peace with myself than I’ve been in a long time and I also still want to be thin. They both exist. The difference has been in the compassion. I have expectations and hopes for my body but I choose not to hate myself until I get there. I no longer torture myself for not having the body I “should have.”
This is my body right now.
This body is doing a hell of a lot of great things for me right now and for that I am eternally grateful.