"The problem is my thighs..."
No matter how much therapy or self-growth work I did, it felt like the demons from my past were always just beneath the surface.
Driven for years by an angry inner critic's voice tearing me down, I swore it was my fat thighs that were standing between me and happiness.
My insecurities cut so deep and showed up everywhere--from my never-say-no ravenous hunger to my willingness to accept a salary far beneath my value and every other degrading and depressing situation in between. For years, I struggled with debilitating memories of sexual abuse and desperately trying to please a verbally abusive and emotionally detached father, incapable of love. It left me feeling so empty and worthless.
No boundaries: My juggling act
Juggling everyone and everything, having no sense of personal boundaries, was a recipe for disaster.
Because I couldn't say, "No", I was always overwhelmed. It seemed that no matter what I did, how much I gave and how hard I worked, I could never be good enough. I compared myself to everyone all the time and always managed to come up short. I downplayed every talent and strength that I had, always measuring my self worth by the size of my thighs. Afraid to express how I really felt, I used food to swallow down my emotions.
My thighs: The mirror of my ego
The changing size of my thighs reflected the degree to which I felt entitled to be happy. Years of trying to lose weight as a kid to gain my father's acknowledgement yielded nothing but feeling like a failure each time the scale went back up.
One day I took my daughter, Cara to the doctor who insisted that I put Cara on a strict diet. Not wanting to recreate a lifetime of childhood misery due to weight obsession, I stop dieting which enabled me to forge a whole new relationship with my body. As I learned how to stop fearing food, I taught Cara. The process of self-discovery led me to become aware of the many limiting beliefs that had driven my behavior for so many years.
As I began to rebuild my own painfully low self-image by questioning the blatant shouts of my inner critic, I was able to tease apart my father's opinions of me from the truth of who I was. Writing my book, sharing my story and discoveries to help other women, I developed a sense of self-respect and appreciation for myself I never had before.
Finding my own voice and seeing through my own eyes
After 25 years of grieving my father's absence from my life, I knew the only way I could stop being depressed was to dump my victim story and reclaim my power. Gradually I pushed harder to find my voice, and confront the situations in my life where I felt out of control. I developed a 7 step system called "The RECLAIM Method; a series of questions I used to empower myself which I added to my book. Mine was a critical message of self-empowerment to all women and girls giving them tools and guiding them to to claim their power, not in a loud and boisterous way, but in a soft, calm gentle and yet firm way done with lots of love, self-love.
Going Public: Coming out from behind my veil of safety
When I was contacted by Dana Squilla, an Assistant Editor at First for Women magazine to do an interview and photo shoot sharing my story for their August 11, 2008 upcoming issue, I was terrified. My decision to stop dieting brought an amazing gift to my then 18 year marriage. Self-love enabled me to receive and appreciate my husband's love for me. That ended years of insecurity and fear thinking he would leave me for a more beautiful, thinner woman.
Wanting to share those intimate details of my life meant that I had to come out from behind the safety of coaching on the phone and represent myself as a woman who loved her body. I wasn't so sure that I was ready.
To boost my confidence, I began searching for role models, women who were proud of their bodies no matter what size and determined to speak and be heard, spreading their message of empowerment to other women and/or kids.
I knew I had something to say but I was scared to death to come out and be who I was and say what I wanted. I knew that I had something important to offer because when I was searching and beginning my own journey to make peace with food and friends with my body, I wanted more. I wanted more from the authors I admired and respected. I wanted them to tell me what and how to do it and how they failed and how they succeeded. I wanted both sides. I wanted to receive the information that they had to offer as an expert but I also wanted to relate to them. I wanted to see how real they were and how I could relate to them. I wanted to feel that I was taking them along as my coach. As a reader who has been a lifelong dieter for nearly 33 years, I wanted to see the journey through their eyes before I committed to taking my first steps. I was terrified to give up dieting and I needed lots of handholding.
With my commitment to honesty and authenticity, I knew that I could deliver that. I wasn't going to be another talking head. I wanted to show that recovery doesn't come overnight and it's not found by following a straight line. It's a journey, not a destination. And with my flawed and imperfect self and life so full of drama, I was willing to take a chance and show a vision of what a woman's recovery and journey to empowerment looked like.
Jessica Weiner: My Role Model
A series of events occurred that ultimately brought me to Jessica Weiner’s website at http://www.jessweiner.com. As I mentioned in the previous post, Jess is a best selling author, professional speaker the Global Ambassador for Dove’s Self Esteem Fund.
Until I saw a video of her on her website, I didn’t know who she was. Once I watched that video and I saw her present herself so confidently as a body image expert on the Tyra show, I knew that I had found my role model. As a plus size woman myself, seeing Jess as a large woman standing tall and proud, gave me the courage to come out from behind the safety of coaching on the telephone into the public eye. Now with her inspiration ringing in my heart I was ready to present myself as a large and lovely woman proud and accepting of her body. That's the moment I knew that I wanted to lead other women to have confidence in themselves just like Jess inspired me.
Seeing Jessica Weiner in all her glory was what I needed to realize that the task of teaching women about self-love wasn't about me. It was about my message, the gift that I have to share with other women and girls. By sharing myself and my experience I could give kids a better start than I had. I could give them the tools and teach them how to use them to build their confidence now and not wait until they are 50 years old to begin.
Until I saw that video I was stalling and unable to finish my book thinking and believing that I wasn't 'fully baked' and that in order to call myself an expert on non-diet weight control, stress relief and body-image/self-esteem I had to first get back down to my Barbie size 8. I was overly concerned with how I would be judged. Then I saw Jess and heard the passion in her voice and I realized that I had to step aside and get the hell out of my own way because what I had to teach far exceeded the bounds of my small and fragile ego. My message was so much bigger in scope and much more powerful than my need to seem perfect or my fear of being rejected. As Jess says, "life doesn't begin 5 pounds from now."
Jess inspired me to realize that based on the wealth of my personal and professional experience I, too am a body image and self esteem expert. Now stepping into that image for myself, I give other women the same opportunity that Jess gave me. I humbly offer myself as your guide and teacher. I'm here to help.
Hey what are you doing on New Year's Day? Want to spend some time with me and I'll share my secrets with you? Let me show you how to see your body from the eyes of love. Let's have a little love party. Bring along a sip 'n snack and invite your friends. Click the link to join in the fun.