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I have gained and lost hundreds of pounds over the past 22 years. I have been bulimic, anorexic, a compulsive overeater, a food addict and sugar addict. I have been 60 pounds overweight, as well as 30 pounds underweight.
I admit I've tried every diet in the world, including my own concoctions. All of them worked for a few days, sometimes for 6 months, but every single time, they all stopped working.
When you feel ugly and fat, diets become ever so seductive. If I could just fit into my itty-bitty skinny jeans, my life would be perfect!
Unfortunately, we live in a world that celebrates thinness, while linking fatness to many undesirable traits such as ugliness, unworthiness, and laziness. For the majority of my life, I have struggled with my weight in the same way.
I use to attach my self worth to my body weight. Until recently I thought I had all my body issues under control, but then something happened that brought up those same thoughts of not measuring up and unworthiness. My thoughts triggered intense feelings of insecurity and self-doubt, which pulled me right back into my eating disorders.
Over the holiday haze and frenzy, I gave into every attack and let food get the best of me. I know that as a recovering food addict, relapses are part of the process, but it doesn’t make the process pretty.
During this holiday season, I started to feel an immense amount of guilt and disappointment. After all, I am a self-help author who teaches people how to be happier. I wondered, Am I a fraud or am I human?
If I really wanted to grow and learn, I had to look at the situation differently. Rather than berating myself for my behavior, I could choose love and compassion. By showering the situation with love, I was able to heal much faster. I forgave myself and moved on more easily.
I had a choice to choose self-love and I learned from my experience. I realize that overcoming any addiction, whether food, alcohol, drugs, sex, or exercise can be challenging and demanding. But if we give ourselves time, patience and continue to practice self-love and forgiveness the process becomes rewarding and true healing can begin.
If you are struggling with any area of your life, these tips can help.
Step 1. Look at what you gain
After analyzing my behaviors and motivation for compulsive overeating, I saw that deep down behind it was my desire for protection. By eating more, I built up a physical layer of fat to protect me from the bullies in third grade and the harsh troubling world, not to mention my desire to be heard, seen and acknowledged. Subconsciously I was thinking that maybe if I physically weighed more, people would notice me.
Look at your own life and what you gain from your behaviors. If you do not perceive a benefit from them, you can more easily stop the behaviors.
Step 2. Face your fears
I know that I want to feel good in my body. I want to be vibrant, healthy, comfortable, and at my natural body weight.
Turns out, I'm scared of that. I've spent two thirds of my life being comfortable with being “uncomfortable” in my body. Even though I want what’s on the other side of this weight, I am scared. What if I fail? Or more profoundly, what if I succeed? What if I get everything I ever wanted?
As Marianne Williamson says "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. … Your playing small does not serve the world."
As you step into this new year, look at where you are playing small. Where in your life are you uncomfortable? Ask yourself what you're afraid of? What is really on the other side of that fear? Ultimately, fear just tries to protect us from the unknown, so get clear about your desires and the fear that stands in the way.
Step 3. The journey is the reward
Back when I consistently suffered from eating disorders, I naively believed that there was a "there" to get to. Once I reached my goal weight, I'd meet the man of my dreams, my parents would finally understand me, and my career would skyrocket.
Over the past 22 years, each time that I've met my goal weight I have still felt unworthy, unloved and ugly…and then the weight came back.
I now can see that the weight is just a manifestation of my emotional turmoil.
Look at your own situation and ask if you are waiting for something to happen before you can be happy? The real magic exists in the moment, and understanding that the entire process is the reward.