I want to share this with you…

I started gaining weight at the age of 9. I remember coming home from school one day and realizing that I was heavier than other kids. That was the first time I cried over my weight. It was the first time of many. It was also the beginning of a 30-year war against myself and my body – a period of endless dieting, yo-yo effect, frustration and self-loathing.

Now, standing on the other side of it, I am at a place where I have made peace with my body and maintained a weight that is comfortable to me. I realize there were (and still are!) many bits and pieces of the puzzle that I needed to become aware of to get to this place.

I want to share one of the most important aspects of my journey with you now, and it is this:

Honor the fat. Recognize what the over-eating and the excess weight has done for you in your life. This may sound strange for those of us who have considered over-weight to be the enemy for most of our lives (myself included), but think about it; what pain did you ease with food? What emotions were dealt with by eating? Maybe you were not ready to face whatever it was at the time and this is how your subconscious kept you safe.

I didn’t know it back then, but in my teens and twenties when I needed to cope with difficult emotions and situations, I had a way to relieve pain and stress (considering all the possibilities and substances a young person can use to drown emotions, I’m thinking it could have been worse than overeating). At the same time, I feel like my “armor” (the excess weight on my body) kept me stable and safe and sane…it had a calming effect and didn’t let any uncomfortable emotions get to my “core”. I was not ready to face my emotions at that time, and I lacked the strength and maturity to be able to deal with things the way I do know. For that reason, yes, my eating habits and my weight was like a buffer – a safe place for me to “park” my struggles at that point in time.

Now, you might say that over-weight itself causes pain – the frustration of dieting, appearance, and so on…That’s true. But it’s a different kind of pain, isn’t it? It’s the pain of the “result” as opposed to the pain of the “origin”. And in this way, it is like a “deflected” pain, because now it is no longer regarded as a deep and personal emotional issue, but rather a superficial one of: “I hate the way I look in jeans, my ass is huge!”. So, a deeply personal pain turns into a generic and superficial one. It’s easier to deal with the latter.

When I came to the realization that my over-weight actually had purpose and value in my life, everything changed. Because two things happen then:

1. It turns the beast into the friend and therefore takes the power away from it

2. It opens the door to self-love and compassion – two important roles in peaceful weight management

Mother Teresa once said: “I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.”

Let’s start to acknowledge the positive side of our struggles so that whatever it is we strive for becomes that much more likely to succeed.



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