This is my body.
This is her at her heaviest weight ever.
And I look at this picture and I think
I want to bury my head in between those breasts and feel the love of that woman.
I want to grab onto those arms and feel the strength of a goddess who is brave enough to stand by you in the dark, scary parts of the forest and will you to keep going.
I want to touch the softness of her belly and feel her gentleness, her quiet fragility.
I want to kiss that face and feel the sweetness that erupts from those cheeks.
I want to dive into the liquid knowledge in those mysterious eyes.
I want to put my ear to her chest and know all of her secrets.
All the ways she has been loved, all the ways she has been hurt.
All the things she keeps hidden close to her ribcage.
All the things she has seen and felt that will go to the grave with her.
I want to excavate her, plunder her, explore her, love her tenderly, pamper her, hold her.
But I didn’t always feel this way.
I remember the day this picture was taken. I was a nervous wreck.
I felt ugly. When I saw it, I was disgusted. Grossed out.
No one could ever love a body that looks like that, I heard a voice say in my head.
It was the voice of my mother. The voice of the thousands of generations of women before me who have tried so hard to be loved by molding themselves into a corset, too-small shoes, plastic surgery or a heavily painted face.
It is the voice of the biker who yelled “move, fatass!” at me on a New York City street corner when I was a size 8 and standing in his way.
It is the voice of the men who told my friends they didn’t see me as “evolved” enough as a partner or a good enough match because I’m not a lithe, twenty-something yoga instructor who goes rock climbing every weekend.
It is the voice of my grandmother telling me to put some lipstick on and “do something” about my naturally curly hair (meaning: straighten it) when I head out of the house.
It is the voice of the photographer who checked in with a “how’s your weight, honey?” before a scheduled photoshoot and seemed concerned when I showed up in form fitting clothes to have my pictures taken.
It is the voice of the friend who gave me the nickname “whale” when I was a size 10 and thought it was funny.
It is the voice of my neighbor who told me my uterus would shrivel up and that I should just give up on having children and finding a life partner because a woman of 37, with a curvaceous body and a successful career that keeps her so busy doesn’t have much going for her at this point.
It’s the voice of the assuming coach who reached out to my team, unsolicited, on Facebook to offer me his “healthy eating and nutrition services” to support me in “weight loss and eating better”, without knowing that I have a degree in integrative nutrition, healed myself of several health issues through healthy eating 15 years ago and that that week I had run a race, done 3 crossfit sessions and ate as healthily as I always do.
It is the voice of the man who left a comment on one of my favorite pictures of myself that said “how can you be so successful when you’re so chubby?”
It is the voice of my female relative who grabbed my stomach and my breasts without my consent to point out that I had gained some weight.
It is the voice of anyone reading this and feeling repelled or judging the picture above and that may include you.
Truth is, I have so many voices in me that have hurt me in the most fragile corners of my soul. Cut me to the core. That have made me think twice about being confident and feeling beautiful when I’m in the public eye. Voices that scream how dare you flaunt a body that is voluptuous!, that have caused me to mistreat my body, bury her in shame.
But the most powerful thing I have learned on a 37 year healing journey with my body is that the voices outside of me were merely reflecting back to me all the ways in which I had not loved myself.
No. That doesn’t mean it’s okay that those things were said to me. That I was somehow to blame for the things that were said and done towards my body.
Those things were mean. Those things were judgmental and they were not okay.
And unfortunately they happen to many of us, all the time.
But it was my reaction to the photo above that made me see, I was those voices too. I was saying the same things to myself too.
When I heard my internal dialogue about that photo, I realized, this is not okay.
I knew something had to shift. As far as I had come with my body, those voices were still slipping out and surprising me.
It was a hard road. I quit dieting. I gained 40 pounds because I had never known how to eat in a way that was not “on a diet”. I lost it, I gained it back. I tried different things to learn to hear the animal of my body and love her. I was not always successful at it.
The more I dug deep, the more I found all the ways in which I had bought into the culture that says youth, beauty and thinness are the ultimate gifts for a woman to attain for maximum lovability. All the ways in which I have gone against myself by starving, bingeing and punishing.
All the ways I let myself secretly believe that no one would ever be attracted to me unless I was at my thinnest, even when I fought against the person who said that to me to show them the ridiculousness of their statements.
The ways my teenage mind secretly dreamed of having surgery to get my legs broken so I could grow a few inches taller like the supermodels in my Seventeen magazine.
The way I exercised 4 hours a day and ate only 800 calories when I was 15, before I met my favorite boy band backstage because I “knew” they wouldn’t notice me if I was not thin.
The ways I’ve passed out from not eating when I was younger.
Gotten sick from eating too much.
The way I hid in the closet with a newly developed phobia of being seen eating.
That I should be human.
That I should hunger.
That I should desire for ecstasy or pleasure in my mouth,
my body or
between my legs.
The ways I have stressed out before most of my photo shoots because the camera adds 10 pounds.
The ways I allowed myself to be humiliated by a casting director wanting to meet me once more in person to make sure I was thin enough for the part.
In this body, there are many confessions.
There is pain and ecstasy.
I have not always treated her well.
I have allowed a lot of abuse in exchange for being loved.
In exchange for finally being “enough”.
A label that even when I was a size 5, never was granted to me by the ones I tried to impress (including me).
So I had to rewrite the story.
Because I realized that every time I go against my body,
every time I buy into the illusion that I am not beautiful, lovable,
enough, capable or deserving unless ___________,
I am dishonoring my Soul.
And when I dishonor my Soul I support the dishonoring of every other Soul in the Universe.
I realized that I could shine as I was and turn that pain and that messy journey back to self-love, into a powerful light for others who struggled with the same.
Because fuck it.
Who says you are not enough as you are?
No one has that authority over your body and your heart–except you.
We allow that into our world by complying with it, by turning it against us,
by making it the voice within that says “that’s disgusting” when we look at a beautiful
picture of ourselves. By continuing to chase men who can only truly “see” us when we are thin. By working with photographers that check in on our weight before our photo shoots.
Whatever we judge in others is what we judge in ourselves.
Whatever we judge in others is what we have disowned in ourselves.
A few years ago, I had a photo shoot after I began to journey to seeing myself as whole.
I noticed I was stressed out the day before the shoot because I had gotten my period, I was bloated and I was afraid I would look bad in the photos.
That I would have spent all that money and that I would still be embarrassed posting those photos online.
Instead I chose to enjoy the shoot. I chose to feel like a goddess. I chose to acknowledge that truth about who I am, who we all are. Pure, divine, gorgeous light.
And I posted those photos all over my website. I have used them over and over.
I am much thinner now than I was in those photos. But I don’t try to always replace them with photos that will prove I look different now. That will show you that I’m thinner now.
Because that would be me once again, screaming that I am not enough.
Instead, I let those photos be a beacon for those of us who are ready to be enough.
Who are ready to define our beauty on our own terms
A few months after I got an email from a woman, thanking me for those photos.
I’ve been hiding for months, avoiding putting my great work out there because I’m afraid I don’t look as thin and beautiful as all the other “coaches” I see out there succeeding. Your photos helped me and I’ve now booked a shoot to launch my new website.
There is a true, new story of my body that I choose to believe…
I may not always be successful at choosing it, but I am committed to choosing it as often as I can remember. I am committed to choosing it more and more every day:
This is my body. My one and only body for this lifetime.
She has woken up every morning and every evening in good health.
When I pushed her to the brink and almost broke her with lack of self-love,
she forgave me and helped me heal.
Those hands have massaged my grandfather’s feet as he moved on into the
next world. Those arms have held my sister’s newborn children as they slept
and held my dog with so much love and tenderness as she breathed her last breath.
That lap has held the head of a lover in his darkest hour and loved him.
Those thighs have strongly wrapped around trees as I climbed them to see
this beautiful world from greater heights, taken me on hikes around some of the most
stunning places in the world.
Those breasts have been pressed up against a lover as I looked into their eyes
and saw galaxies spinning.
That face has been here to witness people in their times of greatest need for
In that moment and in this moment, I forgive all those who did not treat her well,
who shamed her, who were not able to see her beauty. Who felt they had the right
to own her, touch her without her consent or harm her. And I forgive myself for not knowing how to love her better at the time.
I vow to never let anyone speak ill of her again and to be her greatest protector.
Because she is the vessel of my soul and she carries my purpose into the world.
You have this choice too.
In this instant you can choose to believe you are extraordinary and go for it.
You can love yourself unconditionally and forgive.
You can be the beacon for others that you always dreamed of being.
Being a beacon doesn’t mean you are perfect.
It means that you had the guts to stand up for yourself, knees trembling,
heart pounding and choose to no longer betray your Soul by believing that you need
to be fixed, lose weight or “be better” in order to do your Great Work.
You have the choice right now to choose enough for yourself, regardless of how good
you are at perfection. And that is how we flood the world with the light of soul-shifting,
life-altering, world-changing, unconditional love.
That is how we love ourselves so deeply that it changes every molecule around us.