It took me most of my adult life to be able to say I love my body. In fact, I spent most of my life hating my body and obsessing over what a “good body” looked like.
From a young age, I was terrified of having a bad body. My mother, with the best intentions - but a very specific idea of what a good body is, wanted so badly for me to be happy with my body that she put me on a diet - when I was in the first grade.
I remember not being allowed to have Twinkies. This girl at school had one and I eyed it like it was, well, a twinkie. This girl knew I was on a diet so she held it in front of my face and teased, “you can’t eat this, you can’t eat this.” Then she dared me to eat it. And I did. So I became known as the fat girl that ate Twinkies on a dare. At seven years old I hated my body.
Throughout school, I was always picked last for PE. So I never asked to sign up for sports. I never thought anything physical could be fun. My relationship with exercise only started as something to do to lose weight. It began as a punishment, not a reward. During my teens I hated my body.
When I was 16, I went on a family Trip to Italy. We were in the country that I now regard as having the best food in the world, and lugged around a suitcase of nutrisystem food. Instead of housemade pappardelle, I was eating diet pasta out of a can. I have a picture of me eating gelato in Venice and I still associate that photo with feeling guilty for eating ice cream. At 16 I hated my body.
In college, I had a meltdown in a Macy’s dressing room. I was trying on pants over the Holidays. I freaked out my thighs were too big and decided I needed liposuction. I begged my parents for help, aka liposuction. They obliged and it was scheduled for over spring break. At 18 I hated my body before liposuction, and at 19 I hated my body after liposuction.
I later dabbled with acting. I had a manager that told me I wasn’t ugly enough to be the ugly girl - I could gain a hundred pounds to do that she said. Or I could get my nose done and maybe I could be the pretty girl. So I got my nose done. And I still didn’t love my body.
So, how did this girl with an eating disorder become a body relationship coach? It started with one word: Therapy.
I don’t actually remember changing my mind - but one day I looked back and realized, “I think differently than I used to.” At some point the hours and the money paid off - and it became clear that my relationship with my body starts in my head - not in my abs or my glutes or anyplace else. No amount of squats or lunges or pullups is going to make me feel whole.
Now for the first time, I started loving exercise as a means to reward my body and not punish it. But as I went to workout classes or streamed them online, I was appalled at the lack of consideration for the mind and body connection - and how the language used throughout the fitness industry might negatively affect the mental health of its customers.
It was all “harder / faster / stronger - get your beach body - get those six pack abs - sculpt that kardashian ass” - always with the implication that if you don’t have these coveted physical attributes YOU have failed. And you do not have a “good body.”
Over time, I stopped blaming my mother, and realized that she, too, was a product of such a broken fitness system. That sadly, she was trying to teach me to love myself, but didn’t know how to love herself. I wanted this cycle to stop with me.
This process of learning to love your body is not something you can turn on and off. It took me a long time to let go of the notion of good and bad. But now, I don’t have a good body. And I don’t have a bad body. I just have my body. The one and only one I’ll ever have. And I take joy in it. I feel the laughter in my abs - at least what I can after two c-sections. I feel the anxiety in my chest. And the excitement in the goosebumps on my arms.
I look back on 1st grade, 3rd grade, high school and college me. And I see that girl obsessing over every single thing she hates about herself. It was so easy to point out. The culture that surrounded me told me to look for flaws. Nobody ever asked me what I loved about myself. What’s more, I didn’t recognize that loving yourself isn’t narcissistic- it’s what makes this ride we call life enjoyable.
Now, I take joy in my body. I marvel at its mechanics. I love it’s curves, get frustrated with its dimples, and excited by its strength. And because I start from a place of love, my experience of life is enjoyable. I was lucky enough to be exposed to therapy at a young age. I was set up with a team of physical, nutritional, and psychiatric specialists, all helping me cope with the different aspects of my relationship to my body. But had I not stumbled upon my support system, I would no doubt, still be living in a sea of self loathing. What’s more, my body wouldn’t have the means to meet its full potential. I aim to be that support system for the women I work with. Because when women are living a truth that doesn’t involve good and bad bodies, they can be the best version of themselves. And we can break the cycle.