I don’t think I’ve ever really shown anyone these photos of me. My husband has never seen them, and it was something that I’ve put in a box and didn’t discuss. I didn’t hide them, but I certainly didn’t recognise my weight loss journey as even something worth talking about. That was me then, and this is me now. I knew I wore a different clothes size, and I knew that I didn’t like the way I looked, but I didn’t really know how I looked. And I had no idea that my weightloss journey was quite so staggering. I was just ashamed of the small, unhappy woman that I was in my 20s, despite my larger proportions.
This picture is taken about 15 years ago of me, and this was taken a couple of months ago. I look considerably different on the outside, as you can see, and I’m considerably different on the inside too. I was having an amazing experience travelling on the Trans-Siberian Railway across Russia by myself. Despite the adventure, I was a deeply unhappy and lost little girl.
What makes me sad is that I spent much of my 20s being overweight, and unconfident. I passed myself up for opportunities because of the way that I felt about myself. I avoided relationships, and opportunities and experiences. I didn’t feel good enough, and worthy enough and thin enough.
I pressed the pause button on my life, and didn’t grow mySELF although my body literally expanded. Eating for me was a comfort, and it was a shield to stay small, and not shine my light. Food was my comfort blanket, and my friend when I felt lonely.
I still eat a LOT (my husband is continually gobsmacked at the amount I eat), but these days I love healthy food, and I don’t eat diet food, and processed food. In case you’re interested, I try to eat organic, and stay away from wheat and dairy because these are difficult for the body to process, but do eat masses of sheep and goats cheese, and rye bread, and eat a varied diet. But this is not meant to be about dieting and food.
For me to change the way that I felt about myself, and in the process loose weight, I had to change my thinking. I had to transform what was on the inside before I could possibly work on the outside. I had to befriend myself, rather than using food as my friend. Now I eat because I’m hungry, I don’t eat because I’m emotional (well, on occasion), but it’s taken me a loooooong time to get there.
I had to fall in love with me. I know, you’re thinking, woo woo… but unless you love and accept yourself, eating or drugs or drink or whatever will always be your emotional security blanket that you wrap around you when things get tough. I moved to Bangkok for work about 11 years ago, and hated living there, and split up with my boyfriend, and my weight just ballooned. I literally sat at home every night watching DVDs and eating Ben and Jerry’s, and was miserable.
It was while living in Asia that I began to work on myself, and my health. I discovered a new way of thinking about my body, and began to practice meditation and yoga daily. I remember when I first started going to yoga classes, and feeling like the fat one at the back of the class, and I didn’t “deserve” to be there.
I luckily found a wonderful teacher called Anna who saw me from the inside out and she believed in my spirit. She was so much more than a “yoga teacher”. She just encouraged me to shine my light, and gradually I began to feel more confident in myself and my body.
I learned about these new thinkers like Wayne Dyer, who taught me to believe in miracles, and Louise Hay who showed me how to reprogramme my thinking. Eckhart Tolle taught me to loose these layers of loneliness and pain that I had been carrying for years since childhood. Marianne Williamson taught me to shine my light brightly, and see my soul as sacred.
I learned that you can eat the most amazing delicious healthy food, and I changed my way of eating.
And I learned that I could be good at yoga, and I began to go everyday, and before long I went from being the fat girl in the corner, to be woman at the front doing the balancing poses with ease and grace.
I learned that unless I loved myself, then any diet wasn’t going to work. I learned that unless I loved myself, I was going to go through life being miserable and playing small despite my outward appearance.
Changing your relationship with food takes time. Yes it is about learning to enjoy healthy foods, and wanting to eat good foods, but it’s also much more than that. I ate to fill the void of loneliness and pain, and unless I tackled those feelings, I was just going to plug the hole with something (food, or drink, or drugs or whatever). Learning to love yourself takes real work, and sometimes requires us to go to the places in our minds that we would rather avoid… but healing our pain can enable us to move forward.
I began by doing mirror work… standing in front of the mirror and staring at myself and repeating: “I love and accept myself” (thank you, Louise Hay). I felt a complete idiot, but you know what, it began to work.
Yes I have changed on the inside and out. I’m still the same soul, the same little girl with the same fears, but I’ve learned to love and accept ME.
Today is the perfect day to begin accepting you.
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