This is an article written by Geneen Roth and reproduced with permission of The National Eating Disorder Association in honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness Month. Working as a registered dietitian and honestly being born a woman, I know and understand all she is saying below and think this message is wonderful. So often we believe, that the “number” on the scale will change our lives, but the truth is everything around us starts to change when we first start to accept who we are as a person and then change what can be changed on the inside instead of focusing on all that needs to be changed on the outside.
When you start to change on the inside by maybe being more forgiving of your loved ones, letting go of hurt and anger from the past, accepting the gifts you were born with and not comparing yourself to the rest of the world, being grateful for your life rather than envious of all you don’t have, things around you start to shift. And when that shift happens you can begin to see yourself for who you really are – a unique person with unique gifts and talents to share. This is when the real beauty of life will bloom. This is also when your battle with the scale and self hatred that comes with it will end. I believe it is OK to want to improve oneself on the outside by losing weight or toning up, but this can only really ever be accomplished by first learning to accept all that is and all that is part of you on the inside.
Because the truth is, no matter how thin or fit you appear on the outside, if you have not taken time to care for yourself on the inside then you will never be able to reach the maximum potential to achieve all you were put on this Earth to do.
In honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week I encourage you to take a moment and step back from the race of life and reflect on the beauty of you – all of it!
It’ll Be Better When I’m Thin… By Geneen Roth
For many years, I was convinced that by changing my body, I would change my life. Because I was certain that my suffering was due to my size, I believed that when the weight disappeared, it would take old wounds, hurts, and rejections with it. I thought that changing the shape on the outside would alter the feelings on the inside. Silly me.
Consider a milk carton. No matter what you do to change its shape — switch the spout to the other side, round the corners, cut off the top — you know that what’s inside is milk. Not apple juice, not vegetable soup, but milk. But somehow we don’t know that changing how we look on the outside — shedding pounds or cinching in our waists a few inches — doesn’t change what we are, either.
We mistakenly believe that altering our bodies will fix everything. That’s because we think that body size is the cause and, therefore, the healer of all wounds. Perhaps our worst mistake is believing that being thin equals being loved, being special, being cherished. We couldn’t be more wrong.
Think of the women who live in Samoa. Legend has it that a woman there is not considered attractive unless she weighs more than 200 pounds. Size is relative: Samoans might equate being fat with being cherished, and being thin with being miserable. (Forget about booking a one-way trip to Samoa. It’s too expensive.) The truth is that beauty standards vary from culture to culture, but no matter where you live or how big your body is, some things remain the same. We still have to find a way to live comfortably inside our bodies and make friends with and cherish ourselves.
A woman once came to my class after she’d lost 100 pounds on a fast and then gained back 50. “They lied to me,” she said. “They said my life would be great when I got thin. That I would be happy. That I would love myself and be loved. But that’s not what happened. Sure, I liked being thin. I liked wearing clothes in smaller sizes. I liked that my body felt lighter. But I still felt unworthy, unlovable, damaged. I was so disappointed and felt so betrayed by everyone– that I started to eat again.”
This lack of finality–the fact that our relationship with food and body size is an ongoing process, not an end point–is the most elusive insight to sustain. Even people who’ve lost weight 5, 10, or 20 times and always gained it back continue to believe that next time, it will be different. Next time, they will keep it off. Next time, being thinner will finally fulfill its alluring promise of everlasting happiness, joy, self-worth, and, of course, love.
But if it’s happiness you want, why not put your energy and attention there rather than on the size of your body? Why not look inside? Somewhere in there are the clues to what would make you happy right now.
I often get letters from people who say that when they start my program of intuitive eating and pay attention to their inner lives, they quickly discover that losing weight is not their first priority. It takes them by surprise because they’ve focused their entire lives on becoming thinner. But when they begin to take even small amounts of time for themselves, when they allow themselves to rest or do nothing for 5 minutes a day, they realize that it’s what they wanted most of all. They want permission to slow down and to live like they are special, valued, and belong here. This is what they thought being thin would give them; now they realize that it is something that they need to give to themselves.
The truth is that you deserve to be cherished and should cherish yourself no matter how much you weigh or how you look.
Being thinner will never do what you think it’s going to do. But you can have whatever you believe that being thinner will give you, and you can have it now. The only way to do it? By starting to live as though you love yourself. By making a commitment to be kind to yourself and by not letting anything stand in your way. By setting aside time for yourself daily. By being vigilant about acting on your own behalf. By beginning today.
Everybody Knows Somebody. Get involved in NEDAwareness Week 2012, February 26- March 3! Visit the NEDAwareness Week homepage under Programs & Events at www.NationalEatingDisorders.org to register today and learn more about how you can do just one thing to help raise awareness about eating disorders and become part of the solution. Helpline: 800 931-2237