I love my body. I used to hate it. I love food. I used to battle with it at every meal. I said things to my body that I am completely horrified by now. For the last 18 months, I have completely changed how I think about my body. I broke a cycle that lasted 32 years of my life which involved being ungrateful for my body and taking food for granted. I am so happy to say today that I no longer ask people if I’m fat, or,“do you think I’m beautiful?” or say that I hate my thighs.
The change came so fast to friends and family that the wave of positivity seemed to give some of them whiplash. To some, it was suspiciously fast. But just because something seems to have happened overnight, doesn’t mean that it wasn’t an epic battle: A battle to love this body because I put my mind to it; a battle to strive for happiness; a battle to no longer seek control through what I put into my body. And like with any big change, it all started with a defining moment.
My stepdad Ritchie died of esophageal cancer and type 2 diabetes in April 2012. He was the most amazing dad my sister or I could have asked for. He was our “soul dad.” He was the missing piece in our family who made us feel safe and taught us about Rock and Roll and science fiction. And boy did he love my mother. He was a great dad, but he was addicted to cigarettes, processed foods and sweet & low. These choices were the factors that took him away from us.
My mother didn’t treat her body well after he died. She fed the pain with pills. I spent two months working her through her detox while taking over her position in the family. I became the cook. for my family during those two months, and I made some amazing things: corn pudding, mac and cheese, stews, soups, twice baked potatoes. Caloric, fatty and protein-filled to keep my family happy and give my mother some of the strength back that she lost while being in the hospital. I ate none of it.
Throughout my life, I have limited my food intake during times of stress as a form of control. Emptiness was a friend that I nurtured and felt proud of. This time, it caught up with me. When my mom was finally on the mend, my body made it clear that it would takeno more. I had no strength to even open a tomato jar to make my own dinner. I was also drinking way too much.
I decided that I needed to re-learn how to take care of myself. I was through with telling myself I was weak and not good enough. I was through with using emptiness as a form of control and physical weakness as a cross to bear. I was through making choices that hurt me because other people in my life had made choices that hurt them.
I signed up for a six week exercise and nutrition program at a gym that a dear friend works at. It was six weeks of workouts and nutritional accountability and it changed my life. My body was getting stronger and I had muscles! Food became something that I could no longer I started to see my body as something that could do remarkable things and deserved my respect.. I haven’t looked back since. I walked into that gym unable to open a jar of sauce, and now I can dead lift 200 pounds! I have worn short skirts with no tights for the first time ever!. My body gets powerful, and sometimes bruised with every movement I make. My body has taken me to the top of the Pyrenees mountains, through the Basque region, into the vineyards of La Rioja.
Overheated, exhilarated, blistered and fed with the local breads, cheese, wine and kindness of that place, my body hiked 120 miles of the Camino de Santiago
I am so strong now. I eat to fuel my soul and my body. To love myself like this is a daily practice and I am putting in the hard work. I apologize to my body for the way I used to treat it. When I think of the body that I used to torment, that was the body that Ritchie used to place in bed after a long car ride that I fell asleep during. The body that danced with him at my cousin’s wedding . This is the body that lay next to my mother and sister watching thunderstorms, in my mothers bed, when we were three broken, scared girls who just had each other. This is the body that walked out the door of an eight year, destructive relationship. This is the body that found some power in it to lift my mother up the stairs when she couldn’t walk. My body has always been amazing, it was me who needed to catch up. I am beyond grateful that I finally did.
And if anything is a testament to the strength of the human mind and body, it is my mother. She is doing so well and I couldn’t be prouder.