As I’ve spoken of before, I have been overweight almost my entire life. It was definitely hard to deal with in those awkward middle school years and rough high school years. I look back at photos now, and I wish I could tell that girl how beautiful she was, what she would accomplish when she got older, and how NOT FAT she was! Sure I was overweight, but NOTHING compared to what happened as I got older. I was so hard on myself, spewing hate in my mind directed at my body, wearing huge clothes to try and hide what I thought was disgusting, which in turn made me look bigger.
As I got older, in the college years (when I wasn’t going to college ha ha), I remember dressing better, but still very ashamed of myself. In romantic relationships, the lights were ALWAYS off, and I hated if my partner came anywhere near my stomach, butt or thighs. I would swat their hand away, like it would burn me if I was touched on those spots that I hated. My boyfriends, and later my amazing husband, always told me how beautiful and sexy I was, but of course, I didn’t believe it. I look back now and I’m so saddened with how I treated myself.
When I was 20, I was looking for an activity to get some exercise, because I (still to this day) HATE and CANNOT do gyms. I had always been mesmerized by the art of belly dance, so I decided to enroll in a local class. And guess what? I was really good! Slowly, my walls started coming down, as our teacher spoke of other dancers who were bigger that were amazing at what they did. They weren’t looked down upon because they had some cellulite or rolls, in fact, those rolls emphasized the amazing dance moves that they performed. I loved seeing the “bigger” girls on stage, claiming ownership of their bodies and the way they moved, not sucking in their bellies, but rather, pushing them out to show them off even more! All bodies were celebrated, because the woman’s body is a work of art, and this dance was made to show it off in such a beautiful way! It was the first step I can remember towards body positivity and I decided that I needed to be kinder to myself. During those years of dance, I was in the best shape of my life, even though I was over 200 lbs. I could isolate my muscles, roll my abs, and dance non stop for hours! Unfortunately, my teacher had some health issues and couldn’t keep teaching, and I have taken other classes around town, but it just isn’t the same as what I had with our troupe. But I will always be thankful for those years, because it started my quest to love my body, no matter what it looked like.
I gained A LOT of weight after we got married, thanks to eating like crap and partying hard. I was drinking way too much, eating a ton of fast food (Taco Bell is my weakness), and not being active at all. I ballooned to almost 300 lbs, and I even thought about surgical intervention. But even through all of that, I felt beautiful. My husband made me feel beautiful, I loved experimenting with my hair, my makeup and my clothes. As a big girl, I taught myself how to dress for my body. I was no longer trying to fit into the size I wanted to be, I accepted where I was and that if you wear clothes that fit you, you look better, no matter what size you are! And yes, I am human and I had those moments of depression because I didn’t feel good. I was so unhealthy. I couldn’t keep up with the kids I was watching as a Nanny. I watched TV ALL THE TIME! And I drank tons of booze, life of the party style!
When we decided we wanted to start a family, I kind of panicked. I had read that getting pregnant when you are overweight can be hard and the pregnancy can be difficult. I made an appointment with the OB I wanted to see (she had delivered my nephew and I fell in love with her) to get looked at and make sure all my parts were working ok despite my weight. Lo and behold, by the time that appointment rolled around, I was knocked up! My doctor laughed and said, “Well, I guess you figured out how it works!” I voiced my concerns with her and she soothed my mind, letting me know that yes, I was overweight, but if I ate healthy and took care of myself, we (the baby and I) would be fine. She never made me feel ashamed with my body and she has cheered me on through the years, which I am so thankful for in a doctor. She only wanted me to gain 15-20 lbs which scared the crap out of me, cause all my friends usually gained 30-50 lbs during their pregnancies. But with taking out the booze and eating healthier, I actually lost weight in my first trimester. I ended up gaining 12 lbs, and my big baby boy weighed 9 at birth! I embraced my pregnant body, loved my belly, took photos of it and celebrated the miracle that I was going through. Pregnancy is so crazy, you are growing a HUMAN! And I mostly felt beautiful and glowing.
In the first months after I gave birth, I struggled with post partum depression, not eating enough, not taking care of me, and I lost about 40 lbs, but it wasn’t healthy weight loss. I finally got balanced thanks to medication and counseling; I started to come out of my cocoon and I really liked how my body looked, but then old habits crept back in and I gained some back. The period between my first and second son was rough; I was putting all my energy into my family and not taking care of myself. And I lost my confidence. My once smooth, yet big stomach was now covered in stretch marks and loose skin. My breasts were ginormous and uncomfortable. Pregnancy changes your body and it’s hard to accept those changes. I ended up doing the stupid HCG diet, killing myself to lose some weight, zapping any energy I had, hair falling out, I looked like death! And gained it all back, my usual MO.
I decided that enough was enough, I wasn’t going to torture myself anymore with diets and crazy things, and I was going to accept my body and love it where it was. My body gave birth to two humans, it has carried me through 29 (at that time) years, and after being completely insulted by a new doctor (pretty much fat shamed me my entire appointment), when my blood work came back, I was actually very healthy for my weight. And it’s interesting when you let go, and let God/The Universe/The Goddess whatever higher power you believe in. When I gave up the struggle, the best program ever entered my life and I taught myself a different lifestyle. I lost weight in a healthy, manageable way. Crazy to think that if you eat real food and get rid of the processed crap that you will get healthy and lose weight! Who’d have thunk it?
I ran across a People Magazine with a woman named Tess Holiday on the cover. She is the first size 22 super model, and holy hell, she was GORGEOUS! I loved her message of accepting and loving your body, no matter what, whether you are fat, skinny, white, black, curly hair, straight hair, crooked teeth, trans, gay, albino whatever! She started a movement called #EFFYourBeautyStandards on Instagram and I loved it. She inspired me to buy my first bikini since high school and rock it all summer long! When my mindset changed, the weight came off easier, especially after really learning how to eat in a different way and supplement my body with the things it needs.
I look at myself today and I can honestly say that I LOVE what I see! Loose skin, saggy boobs, floppy stomach and all! I will keep going with my weight loss journey, NOT because of my looks, but for health reasons. I want to be the healthiest I can be for my family, teach my boys healthy habits, and be able to participate in all their activities without feeling like I am going to die. That is the important part!
When I am coaching others in our program, I definitely come across the hateful comments towards their bodies, and I get it, I have been there. But I try to help them stay positive and learn to love things about themselves. When friends put themselves down in front of me, I shut that shit down! If you talked to someone else the way that you talk to yourself, would that person be hurt? Or would they be thankful for a positive supportive person in their lives? Don’t compare yourself to others, comparison is the thief of joy! I share my story, not to brag, but to show them that you can do anything and you can change your mindset, no matter how low you are. Even if you have to fake it for a while, eventually you will start believing in yourself. If I can do it, anyone can!
If you are having a hard time with something about your looks (whether it’s weight, or anything else), I really want you to sit down, get quiet, and come up with 5 things you love about yourself. Also, give your body gratitude for the things that it does for you. It carries you through your day, it breathes, it helps you succeed in life. Give it thanks and love and I promise that the more you do that, the easier it will be to accept it and move forward with your journey. Don’t let these hang ups bar you from living the life that you want to live. I missed out on a lot when I was at my heaviest, not because my body couldn’t do things, but because I was ashamed or embarrassed. Don’t go one more day doing that to yourself! You are an amazingly wonderful being of light and beauty, and you were created for a purpose, not for what you look like!