The Gift of Body Peace at Christmas
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could open the gift of Body Peace for Christmas and feel unconditional love for your body and self? I’m proof that it can happen. Well maybe not by Christmas – but the journey to this sense of contentment can start at anytime – and believe me it is so worth it. You are worth it.
My story has a dark beginning, of battling the porcelain hell of Bulimia. A battle that sadly took up most of my young adulthood from 16 to 23 years of age. I’m very lucky to have found my way to recovery, and while that recovery also meant rapidly gaining weight, I also finally felt free.
I married my high school sweet heart, and had two amazing healthy pregnancies all at an overweight size. Sounds like a happy ending right? Sadly, although my mind was finally healthy my body was struggling to literally carry all the weight I had gained. I would find myself in line at the grocery store, leaning on the cart because my feet and back hurt. This wasn’t the path I wanted as a young mother with two small children.
In May 2011, I walked into the gym, and rediscovered the athlete that had been hiding. I fell in love with moving my body again. Given my history with an eating disorder I didn’t go on a “DIE”t, and focused on the movement that made me feel so good. Those good feelings soon led to even better feeling nutrition choices. About a year and half later, I found myself down a hundred pounds and I was making dreams like running a Marathon come true.
But here’s the part that I want to share. It was at this point that I started to find myself entrenched in diet culture. I wasn’t struggling with an eating disorder like in my youth, but like virtually every woman I know I was struggling with diet culture and the cycle of guilt that goes with it. My social media was filled with “fitspo” messages that told me to eat “clean”, train harder, and that the pursuit of leaner was the ultimate goal. I was getting on the scale daily, sometimes multiple times within a day. I sadly let that number determine how I felt. I looked so forward to that weekly “cheat” meal that soon led to a cheat weekend, and then a week of getting back on the wagon and restricting to just maintain my weight. I was trapped in that cycle of good and bad food, black and white thinking. I would enter my food into My Fitness Pal while eating. Not at all present and enjoying my dinner. I found myself losing patience with my children. I wasn’t fully present enjoying social gatherings and time with my family and instead was worried about what I was allowed to eat. You see “diet culture” is really just another form of disordered eating and thinking. This was not LIVING a HEALTHY and HAPPY LIFE. I remember being at Starbucks with my young daughter where I bought a chocolate muffin and split in half and as I went to eat the other half my daughter looked shocked! “Mom you don’t eat stuff like that?” Hearing that come from my young daughter, scared me. What kind of message was I sending both my daughters? What kind of behaviour was I modeling? I want so much more then this for my girls.
It was then that I slowly started the journey to Body Peace. I cleaned up my social media feed so that the messages I was receiving were healthy ones encouraging Body Acceptance, and a Positive Body Image. I also began to read a pivotal book called “Body Peace” by Kasey Arena and Healther Waxman. I would read a chapter and need to take a break at first because it was so hard to think of trusting my body. Slowly, step by step I started to make real progress toward ditching the diet culture and finding my own Body Peace.
The other event that had a huge impact on my finding this sense of peace came when I started Power Lifting. I had run my 5th Full Marathon, where I finally broke my PR (personal record) and was feeling ready for a training change. As a personal trainer, strength training had always been part of my regimen but this was something entirely new. I started to lift HEAVY – really heavy – for me. I chose to stop worrying about the numbers on the scale and instead focused on how much weight I could get on my bar. I remember crying at the gym the day I back squatted my body weight – or the last body weight number I had seen – before ditching my scale. That number had so much more positive power on the bar then it did on the scale! I can’t tell you the wonders focusing on strength training did for my body image. I stopped worrying about trying to get lighter and leaner, and instead started to see the POWER in my body. I saw strong powerful curves and learned to love the softer parts of my body too. Those that were a part of being a mother.
It’s been 2 years this December since I last stepped on a scale. I absolutely weigh more and am larger then two years ago. But I have GAINED so much more than weight. I have GAINED a HAPPY AND HEALTHY LIFE. You see here’s the thing, the unhealthy lifestyle required for “me” personally to keep a leaner body was no longer worth it for me. I am so much more PRESENT and CONTENT in my life. I am LIVING in a blessed healthy and strong body. I ski, kayak, SUP, hike, bike and camp with my family. I also enjoy eating and celebrating with my family and friends too. I am stronger then I have ever been and so very thankful for this place I am in. My goal is to help other women to find their own unique Healthy and Happy. Because the reality is, it looks different on each and every one of us. There is no cookie cutter Happy and Healthy body. Life is full of ebbs and flows and I want to be strong and healthy to ride them all. So my wish for us all this Christmas Season is to gift ourselves with taking the first steps on the journey toward Body Peace.
Left: First Day at the gym 2011, Middle: leaner me but not so very happy, not even a smile on my face, Right: me #rightnow loving all her fluffy bits and strong muscular bits, at peace with herself and LIVING her Healthy and Happy.
Katie Squires, PTS, MRC