This love affair started when I was young and it grew deeper and deeper in high school and college.
I placed all of my hopes and dreams on being thin.
If only I could reach my goal weight, then everything would be perfect. Then I would be loved.
Perhaps on some level I was searching for the acceptance of my father, who used to make fun of me when I was younger and call me fat.
I remember choking back tears in my throat after he would pinch my double chin or tell me that my butt was too big. It really, really hurt. Much more than my tender heart could process at the time.
I learned to swallow my emotions as quickly as I swallowed food down my throat.
My young brain must have thought, “I am unlovable because I am fat. I have to be thin for him to love me.”
Which of course, later translated into if I am just thin enough, then everyone will love me, especially men.
And since I was so love starved, I did anything I could to be thin because I thought it would get me the love that I wanted. And I mean anything.
You know how they banned ephedra pills because they were so dangerous? In junior year of college, I found a way to make my own using a formula I found online of baby aspirin, asthma tablets and a high dose caffeine pill.
They reduced my appetite alright. I was only eating 500 calories a day, but I couldn’t sleep at night because my heart was racing so much I felt like I was going to die.
And as anyone who has ever starved themselves knows, there’s always a binge waiting on the other side.
And boy would I binge.
I would eat an entire large pizza and large fries after a night of binge drinking and then force myself to vomit, alone in my room, into garbage bags, which I threw out the window. I didn’t want to do it in the bathroom and have my roommates know.
I felt so ashamed.
Yet, I couldn’t stop.
In my head, being thin and being loved were so inextricably linked.
It got so bad that I even had a panic attack one time at the thought of going out to a restaurant with my friend. I had to tell her, “I’m sorry, I just can’t go. I’m afraid of getting fat.”
Food became the enemy, the thing that would keep me away from the love that I wanted.
But food was also linked up in my mind and in my nervous system as a source of love. Food comforted me when I was young and numbed the wound in me that yearned so deeply for love.
And this is what perpetuates the cycle. You eat to feel love but you also fear that if you eat too much, you won’t get love. The thing you want so bad is also (it seems) keeping you from what you really want.
Can you relate?
I’m happy to say that I eventually broke free from this cycle.
Do you want to know how I did it?
I stopped believing the lie that when I was thin, I would love myself and others would love me.
I started working on loving myself NOW.
I did this because I had taken an honest inventory of my life. And when I looked back, I saw that no matter what my body looked like, I was unhappy with it.
Even when you could count my ribs and my hip bones were jutting out of my jeans, I still didn’t feel good enough.
I saw that in my quest to find love by being thin, I had been really, really unloving to myself. I had put my mind and my body through so much abuse.
When I looked back, I felt compassion for that girl who would do anything to get love, even if it meant hurting herself.
My tender heart opened to myself. I finally wanted to give myself the love that I had been searching for in the arms of men and in the illusion of thinness.
And I was tired.
I was tired of food being the enemy (because I really do LOVE food).
I was tired of being at war with myself.
I was tired of waiting for someday in the future, when I was perfect, to love myself.
So here’s what I did. Here’s the thing that healed it all:
I decided that before I tried to change my body, I was going to accept it completely.
I looked in the mirror and said I love you to all of those parts that I hated.
I asked myself, “If my body NEVER changed, could I love myself?” And I saw that I could.
From that place, change was easy.
Because I wasn’t trying to fix something that was broken. I was making choices based on loving myself and wanting the best for myself.
I started to ask myself, “What food would make me feel nourished and feel really good inside?” And I ate based on that choice rather than on what I thought would make me thinner.
I chose workouts that made me feel really good (zumba, rebounder) rather than workouts that I thought would burn the most calories (bye bye elliptical).
If I felt fat after eating something, I just FELT it. I hung out with the feeling of feeling fat and didn’t push it away. I saw that the feeling would eventually pass and be replaced by another. I didn’t have to run from it anymore.
I threw in some affirmations and positive visualization as well, but from a place of love, not from a place of desperately wanting to be somewhere other than where I already was.
It sounds counter-intuitive, but if you want to change your body, the first thing you have to do is accept it right now.
You have to choose to love yourself now, as you are, and stop waiting for some perfect moment in the future to love yourself.
You have to choose to be your own best friend, not your own worst enemy.
So, if you loved yourself, what choices would you make right now?
From a loving place, what would you choose to eat?
What kind of physical movement would you do, and how often?
Body Love and True Love are closer than you think. It starts with the decision to love yourself NOW.
Nicole Moore, Love & Relationship Coach and founder of Love Works, helps women unlock their hearts and create lasting love. Nicole coaches women to break free from their romantic fears so they can love with an open heart. She teaches women the art of self-care, feminine communication and simple mindset shifts so they can finally create the love and life they desire. Check out more info on her website.