Does my age or body size give you pause?
Is it difficult to trust that a young, thin woman could help anyone, especially older, larger people make peace with food and let go of pursuing thinness?
If so, I get it. I’ve long ago made friends with this elephant in the room.
I’ve lost track of how many times people have commented, sometimes kindly, sometimes rudely, on my body size or age.
And again I get it. Truly I do.
It makes some sense that you’d be skeptical of a thinner ‘love your body’ advocate or a young life coach. I probably would be too if I hadn’t walked my path inside of my body.
I understand if you make these assumptions. I understand if my appearance results in snap judgements.
I understand if it’s hard to trust me when I don’t look like the stereotype of someone who might relate to your experience or help you find a more peaceful way to live.
I also understand that I’m powerless over the shape of my body. I gave up trying to control, or even shape, that a long time ago. Instead I’m committed — purely devoted — to embracing whatever body is the result of my walking the path of inward listening and kindness.
And here’s the thing, my body is nearly identical to my sister and my mother (when she was my age) neither of whom ever struggled with food. My body is pretty much genetics mixed with kindness. Seriously.
And I haven’t always been this size. During the years of disconnected eating I yo-yo’d like the best of them. At one point my closet had eight different sizes in it.
I also don’t expect to always be this size. Like everything in life, our weight changes. I simply do my best to practice non-attachment, which is, by the way, much easier the less I draw my sense of worth, power, beauty or lovability from my pants size.
I share all this about my body knowing that for some people intuitive eating, the approach I teach, will result in no body size change or an increase in body size, depending on a whole host of factors including genetics, past dieting behavior, age— this is what is called a set-point weight. (Dr. Linda Bacon says that they way to find your set-point weight is “by listening to your body and eating normally.”)
It is entirely unjust and outrageous that moving through the world is easier for me because I take up less than space than someone else. Few things make me as flaming furious.
But it’s important that I don’t then turn around and feel shame for how I look.
In the end I try to pay very little attention to what others might think, especially those who are going to write me off in a split second. I also try to be as aware as possible of my immense privilege in our sizist, ageist, racist, sexist world.
What I’ve sought to do over the years is share with you who I am beyond a two-dimensional image. Through my words, through video, through the testimonials of so many who have worked with me I have tried to communicate that I am not what you (or even I) might think just by looking at me.
So why write this post now?
Recently I received an email from a woman who was truly perplexed (perhaps even suspicious of fraud) that a thin woman could claim that with Feast I wasn’t selling weight-loss.
While I believe my messaging is clear, I wondered if perhaps there might be other skeptics out there. In fact, I’m sure there are and I’m sure I won’t convince all of them that inside this form is a size-positive, eats-whatever-she-wants, deeply wise teacher and coach. That’s okay.
My intention here is actually less to have you check your assumptions about me, but rather to check the assumptions you make about everyone.
What are physical attributes that cause you to have a split second judgement?
In what ways do you make assumptions about thin people that you have no real evidence of being true?
And what about fat people? When you see them eating rich foods at a restaurant do you have critical thoughts? What if they are eating a salad, what thoughts go through your head then? If you see a fat person exercising do you think the same things as if you saw a thin person exercising?
If a fat person is struggling to be accommodated by an airplane seat, do you make assumptions about them? Do you assume they are unhealthy? Unfit? Lazy? Gluttonous?
Do you see thin women and think “I wish I could look like her” without knowing if her body is the result of peace or war?
When someone you know loses weight do you automatically think it’s a good thing? And the reverse? If someone you know gains weight do you feel badly for them? Assume they ate too much or need to exercise more?
What about age? Do you assume elderly people are less able or less quick of mind? Perhaps you assume people that are younger can’t also be wise?
I think we as a people have been rather lazy (myself included) in answering the call to wake up from our judging minds. We continue to participate through our words, purchases (ahem…US Weekly, etc.), actions, and inactions in perpetuating the idea that you can tell from what a person looks like who they are, where they come from, their worth, their intelligence, and how they live their life.
You can’t. I can’t.
We simply don’t know, even when our minds tell us we do, so let’s try just a little harder to see beyond the surface.
If I gave you an extra day a week, or an extra week a month, or an extra year each decade what would you do with it? What kind of memories would you create in those bonus moments? How would make the time count?
Would you finally get fully rested? What about dedicating yourself to a creative pursuit? How about more time laughing with your favorite humans? Or perhaps you’d be more active in your community? Or take that time to master a new skill?
In my experience, so many women are missing out on this amount of extra life simply because so much of their time, energy, and money are exhausted on the following activities:
- Criticizing yourself for something you ate
- Worrying about a future food experience
- Thinking about the ‘flaws’ in your body
- Replaying old narratives of unlovability
- Eating (or not eating) as a means to cope with anxiety
- Entanglement in an obsession-knot about what you eat and your body
- Living under a heavy grey cloud of shame about yourself or your appearance
Go ahead and grab a piece of paper and a pen.
Scan this list and write your estimate (just your best guess) for how many minutes each day, on average, you spend doing any of these things.
What did you come up with? How much does it add up to over a lifetime?
But here’s the thing, if you are spending your life in these less-than-satisfying ways, it’s important to remember that billions and billions of dollars have been spent to convince you that:
- You can’t be trusted around food.
- Your body needs improvement, if not a total surgical overhaul.
- Eating A food or B food makes you ‘bad’.
- X Diet or Y Diet is the key to your salvation.
- You’re too sensitive and emotional.
- Pleasure is fine in small doses, but needs to be controlled.
- and on and on…
And yet you can outsmart billions of dollars. How great is that?!
You can break free. You can shake off these shackles of bullsh*t sold to you and uncover the ease and fulfillment that’s been waiting for you all these years.
Your time, energy, and money are precious precious resources. They are the stuff that either makes or wastes a meaningful life.
Here are a few ways to begin this redistribution of resources:
- Make being kind and tender with yourself the goal. Nothing more. Nothing less.
- Pay attention to what in your life is actually leaving you feeling well-fed. Think about the food you eat, the people you spend time with, the ways you move or don’t move your body…what’s filling you up? what’s leaving you hungry?
- When you notice your thoughts drifting toward self-judgement, treat them like a toddler who’s just fallen down while learning to walk: compassionately and with a no-big-deal quick reset.
- Ask yourself, where am I regularly spending money out of a sense that I or my body are lacking? And where might I spend that money in a way that reflects my enoughness?
- Join Feast and be a part of a community of women reclaiming themselves.
If you ever finding yourself saying “I just wish there was an extra hour in the day” or “If only we had a three-day weekend every week” I invite you to take back your life bit by bit, and bite by bite.