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We’re Far More Alike Than You Know


 In Blog, Body, Real Life

My client is a beautiful woman, inside and out. She’s strong and courageous and accomplished. She is mystical and passionate. Her heart is so big and so generous that I’ve yet to figure out how her body can contain it. She’s amazing. But, she’s tired. She is so damn tired of fighting the voices in her mind that are taunting her to do “just one last” diet, encouraging her to exercise more, suggesting that she restrict food or otherwise get control of her recovering body. She’s weary of feeling like her cellulite and softening frame disqualify her from the future she is dreaming of. She’s sick of believing the lie that her worth is in her waistline. And she’s ready to be done with the rollercoaster of a relationship she has with her appearance.

Recently, in exasperation, she spoke something along these lines: “Maybe I am not meant to heal this part of me. It’s too difficult. You and other leaders in your line of work (she named a few of my favorite colleagues) have gotten through your own issues with weight and diet. You don’t fight these battles anymore. You talk about loving yourselves and accepting your bodies and you teach others to do the same. You’re all so confident. But, for me, these body image struggles run deep. They don’t seem to be going away.”


Is that the image I’m portraying? That I’m perfectly fine now? That I no longer have bad days or body woes? 


If so, it’s due time I come clean because the truth is – I knew exactly how my client was feeling. And not because I had been there in the past but because I still go there sometimes, to those dark places in my mind where I believe that I am not enough. I’m familiar with insecurity, like the assumption that I’d have more credibility if I was a practitioner with a six pack. If my recovery from calorie restriction, over-exercise and binges brought with it noticeable weight loss and leanness I could proclaim, “See, you can have food freedom and fit into the rigid cultural beauty box too. You don’t have to choose between striving for ‘perfection’ OR having a healthy relationship with food and physique you can do both easily – JUST LIKE I DID!” I may be recovered. I may be professionally certified and I may have built a business on body image counseling and eating psychology – but honestly, my inner critic still goes a bit berserk sometimes. Like a doctor who falls ill or a football player who fumbles the play, it happens. There are yet moments when I’m sad or stressed that I crave the control of counting calories or the numbing distraction of eating chocolate by the fistful.

Really, the only things that make my story different from those of my clients (and different from yours) are the specifics and the timeline. I am now healthy in my thoughts and behaviors around food and body not because I no longer experience difficult days, but because I possess and practice tools for overcoming them. I’ve been coached and counseled. I’ve done the deep personal work of cultivating self-compassion. I’ve practiced inquiry and uprooted buried pain and toxic beliefs that once kept me in bondage. I prioritize self-care and honor my intuition. And thus, when my inner mean girl steps up to the microphone, clears her throat and busts out her finest slam poetry – I can listen. I can hear not only her venomous words but what’s beneath them, her fears, frustrations and needs.

And, after she has spoken her piece I can take the floor and speak my PEACE.

With an ever-evolving arsenal of wisdom, convictions and applications I can rebuke the thoughts and worries that no longer serve or dignify me as a woman. I can tell the scared voice in my head that we’ll be OK, that rejection isn’t the only possible outcome of our willingness to show up in the world as exactly who we are and even if it should come to that – even if we do face ridicule or abandonment, we’ll live. We always do. I can hold space for my ego to soften, to grieve with the realization that control is only an illusion. I can gently admit that the price of authenticity is never as costly as assimilation. I can remind her that fear is not the path towards freedom – only love liberates.

I can take a deep breath and move the hell on.

When my client shared her heart with me I consoled her. I told her I knew exactly how she felt. And now, I’ve told you too. Because, I want you to know that not a single coach, counselor or leader in the body positive/disordered eating recovery world has “arrived.” None of us live in the magical land of NO INSECURITY WHATSOEVER. We aren’t unicorns. We’re humans. And like you, not one of us feels amazing in her body 100% of the time. We’ve just had plenty of practice. Equipped with experience and understanding in overcoming difficult body image moments and inner mean girl tirades, we can recognize and meet the significant needs they represent instead of attempting to fix our lives by “fixing” our bodies.

And you’ll do the same, in time. You’ll get there.

Because the truth is – WE’RE FAR MORE ALIKE THAN YOU KNOW. 

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