I was never the most confident of people, but I honestly believe I had no body hang ups until I was 17. Coming home from an evening out with my then-boyfriend, I suggested stopping at the local Chinese takeout.
"Are you sure?" he asked. "You're getting rather fat."
I laughed on the outside, but I was crying on the inside.
And so began many years of fad diets and self-loathing.
I became totally obsessed with my body. The simple technique of ‘weighing yourself once a week in the same conditions’ never satisfied my curiosity; I was on and off the scales so often I am sure I heard them sigh whenever I approached.
That magic number on the scales would then, ridiculously, govern my entire day: from what I wore, to what I ate, and, particularly, my mood. If I deemed myself too heavy (even by 1 pound) I would cancel any after work social plans as I felt too big to be seen.
In my mid 20s, when I started my training as a Kinesiologist and Nutritional Therapist, I completely overhauled my diet and mealtimes stopped becoming my own personal battleground. However, I still viewed every mirror with suspicion, weighed myself too regularly, and was far too self-critical.
After my car accident (I spent 3 years in a wheelchair), it finally dawned on me how incredible my body actually was. That its purpose wasn't in the way it presented itself to the world but it was to serve me. Being strong and supple and allowing me to have complete freedom.
I met a friend for dinner last night who commented on how well I looked. There was a moment, in the seconds it took the words to register in my mind, when those words would have been translated into “Louise you look fat.”
I realized that for the first time, in a long time, I have absolutely no idea what I weigh.
It has only really been since my health circumstances changed so drastically that I see what a beautiful gift the human body is.
If I have a day when I feel strong enough to stand and cook a nutritious meal for my family without too much pain, I am grateful for my extraordinary skeleton. I am thankful for all I can do, none of which is dependent on my dress size or the figure on the scale.
Aside from the physical revelations, when I got ill, I also realized that the human body is just a place we inhabit in this lifetime. It doesn’t define who we are. I call the body the "little me." Me, the actual "Big Me," is something beautifully whole, intangible and perfect.
Now I am very respectful of this physical entity I hang out in, I nourish it, love it and take the best care of it I possibly can.
Unless your weight is affecting your health, it's not really not important if you gain or lose a few pounds. Practice gratitude daily for all the incredible things your body does and self-love will naturally follow.
I am amazing, but you know what? So are you.
And if you don't believe me, write a list of all the awesome things your body does. Do it now!
Today I am thankful for fingers that can type these words and eyes that can see to read them.
What are you grateful for?
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