Can you remember how old you were the first time you can remember thinking something negative about your body? The first time you felt let down by your body. I was seven, in gymnastics class. The coaches were picking girls to represent our club at a regional competition. Everyone wanted to be a part of that, because then you got to wear a beautiful shiny royal blue leotard with a gold strip around the neckline. Even at that age, I could sense the extra currency you had in gymnastics class if you were one of the girls wearing one of those leotards. The coach had to choose between myself and one other girl. I'm guessing you can figure out how things panned out. She was picked. I wasn't. The message I took from this - I'm not good enough. My body doesn't work well enough, I'm not as tall and slender as she is. I wasn't even fat! I was seven! I was just a regular kid.
I'm not sure exactly when food became connected in this war which had begun with my body. I do remember hiding tins of condensed milk from Mum's pantry under my bed and eating them in high school. The shame was well and truly entrenched by then. I still wasn't overweight - but the messages that had been reinforced repeatedly were that my body isn't good enough.
What happens, when you no longer have a little girls body, but that of one that belongs to a woman? Total confusion. Suddenly the sexual side of your nature is swithched on (I'm talking about in a completely normal developmental way), you begin to notice boys, boys begin to notice you - just the way its meant to be, right? No, what actually happens is that your parents go into panic mode - because now you could get pregnant. You know this panic is connected with your changing body. As for the boys that notice you - its comments about the size of your boobs, whether or not you're on your 'rags' yet and how far are you willing to go with a boy. For me, all of these conflicting messages resulted in me thinking the changes happening weren't good or to be celebrated or welcomed - they made people freak out; and that still, my body wasn't good enough.
This story is nothing particularly dramatic. But a book called 'A Course in Weight Loss - 21 Spiritual Lessons for Surrendering your Weight Forever' by Marianne Williamson has got me taking a really close look at my history with my body. Although I've lost most of the weight I'd like to - my struggle with my weight isn't over. Anyone who thinks everything will be sorted once they see a magic number on a scale is dreaming! In some ways the hard work is just beginning - the work in my head. Its this that keeps me coming back for another round and another round. I know if I don't get my head sorted, more than likely, I'll regain all the weight I lost. I've worked too hard to lose it, I don't want to have to start over again.
I guess my reasons for sharing this are to show that the journey to self loathing often starts early. The pathways for those messages in your brain are deep. It makes sense then that the journey out of a relationship of rejection for your body and into a relationship of self-love, self-care and respect for your body, is going to be a hard one. It is going to take conscious effort and diligence to make new pathways. I have learnt so much about nourishing my physical self through this 12wbt journey with exercise and good food. The journey continues as I learn to nourish my mind also.