Step 1: Keep a Food Journal, write down everything you eat. Step 2: Keep a…
“You’ll always have a weight problem. Don’t wait to love yourself until you reach some ideal weight. Love yourself right now, as you are.” My mother’s words to me, over 45 years ago, changed my life.
At 19 years of age, overweight with six beautiful sisters, my mother’s admonition was both painful and incredibly freeing. I remember my sisters being indignant on my behalf when I told them what mom had said. “How dare her say that to you. She can’t predict the future!” Yet, I didn’t feel angry in the least. I felt my mother “saw me”. She saw me comparing myself negatively to my thinner sisters as we all compared ourselves to the beauty standards of the early 70’s as embodied by Twiggy, the famous English teenaged model known for her thin build and androgynous appearance. My mother saw me as I was and loved me. She encouraged me to do the same!
For the past two years, I challenged myself to write regular thematic blogs. In 2021 I wrote “A Year of Hikes: 52 Weeks, 52 Women, Same Trail” and in 2022 I penned a monthly blog entitled “A Yummy Year: Cultures, Cooking & Connections.” Writing the blogs required a tremendous amount of organization as I had to recruit and schedule fifty-two hiking companions and twelve cultural chefs. I became a more disciplined listener, focusing on the words of my guests rather than thinking what I would say in reply and a better writer, finding my voice as I shared the stories of others.
To answer the many who have asked, “What will you write about in 2023?”, I’ve decided to write a very different type of blog. After a great deal of consideration, I am going to write about my 1977 experience of radical self-love, sparked by my mother’s admonition. Unlike previous blogs, this one won’t require me to schedule weekly or monthly appointments, but it will require a great deal of listening, a special kind of listening to my inner self.
As 2023 progresses, I will share how self-love, for me, was a game changer! As a kid, I was a goody two-shoes, a people pleaser. As a teen, growing up in a family of eleven with an alcoholic father, I was always looking for validation. I didn’t rock the boat. I did my homework, I behaved in the classroom, I treated others with kindness and was rewarded with lots of friends. When my mom talked about self-love, for the first time, I asked myself, “Are you treating yourself with kindness? How do you show love to yourself?” The answer to this question was not surprising in the least but was unsettling to admit. I showed love for myself by habitually eating, plain and simple. As a reward for a job well done, as a strategy for coping with stress, as a way to deal with teen angst or my father’s alcoholism, I put food in my mouth. I became acutely aware that I was eating to fill an emptiness, not in my stomach but in my heart and mind. I hated to admit it but the way I was choosing to love myself was harming me. The very first act of loving myself was to make a commitment to stop weighing myself. I reasoned, “If I truly love myself as I am, the number on the scale is irrelevant.” Gone forever was a source of great pain and shame! Once I was no longer focused on what the scale was saying, I could hear my inner voice much more clearly!
Over the next year, I developed 26 steps that helped me to love myself while enjoying food. With great intentionality, I practiced each step for two weeks before adding the next. Like climbing the steps at the Washington Monument, it’s not possible to leap to the top. There were a lot of steps and it wasn’t easy. Step by step, I had to break old habits and learn new ways of relating to food. I still use those steps today and will share them in a bi-weekly blog entitled “Don’t Weight to Love Yourself” or “Love Yourself While Enjoying Food.” I will rely on readers’ feedback to help me decide. The blog, which will be posted on the first and third Sundays of each month, will stress HOW to eat rather than WHAT to eat. All those years ago, my mother didn’t tell me what diet I should follow, suggest foods to eat and avoid, or compute my ideal weight for a woman of my height and bone structure. Her only advice was, “Love yourself, now.” And that is my advice to you!