Originally posted on Your Bella Life
I went on my first diet when I was twelve years old. I would write down every single thing I ate in a section of a food pyramid. I could eat 6 carbs, 5 veggies, 3 fruits, 2 dairy and 1 fat. The goal was to lose ten pounds. When I started, I thought, hey, how hard can this be? All I had to do was follow the plan, and I would lose ten pounds, feel happy, make more friends, be better at sports and maybejust maybe get a cute sixth grade boyfriend. God, I wanted a boyfriend.
There were so many reasons to lose weight, but for some reason I found myself, night after night, sneaking downstairs after my parents had gone to bed to steal a few huge spoonfuls of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream or a fistful of chocolate chips. What was wrong with me, I thought?
For the next twelve years, I struggled with the concept of if I knew how to lose weight, and there were so many good reasons to lose weight, and I wanted it so badly, then why was it so frickin’ hard? There was this invisible but impermeable wall between me and my ideal body. No matter how much I wished to be thin, or how strict I was with what I put in my mouth, I was never successful. I was so angry at my body for putting me through hell for twelve years – for the cravings, the binges, being lumpy and pudgy.
After college, when my anger became too great to ignore, I finally gave up on traditional dieting and sought refuge in the self-help section of Barnes and Nobles. I discovered this amazing concept that being overweight actually had benefits. WHAT?
I started to consider – what if being overweight was actually getting me something? What if I was subconsciously over-feeding myself because there was something deep down inside me that wanted to hold onto the extra fat? I realized that I felt safe being overweight. My thick arms, bulging tummy, lumpy thighs and pudgy cheeks were my armor. My biggest protector. My best friend.
When I came to this realization, I stopped obsessing over the calories and the carbs, and really thought about why I needed such a thick armor? What was I protecting myself from? The most profound item I came to from a long list was that that I feared that if I finally dropped the curtain, then people could actually see who I was. My weight would no longer distract people from seeing my personality, talents, fears and joys. I would be forced to succeed. Forced to be authentic. Forced to actually give it my all. That was a lot of pressure for me.
Marianne Williamson said, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” Bit by bit, I faced what I was protecting myself from head on. Through forgiving, meditating, setting goals, building confidence and getting comfortable with sharing my gifts, my armor slowly melted away.
There are also other things we hold onto for armor besides weight. What are you using for protection that may not be a healthy thing to have in your life?
A boyfriend who doesn’t treat you well?
A friend who depletes your energy?
A job that is not aligned with your passions?
A wardrobe that doesn’t reflect your personality and vibrance?
To start the process of letting down your armor, go through the following steps:
1. Identify what you use for armor
2. What are you protecting yourself from?
3. Thank your body (your boyfriend, your clothes) for protecting you
4. Forgive yourself for not losing weight or holding onto a bad habit
5. As you identify sources of pain and anxiety, shedding light on it may be enough to realize that you no longer need protection, but sometimes things run so deep that it requires more work
6. Seek help from a wise friend, a mentor, a book (Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth is a good one) or a coach
As you move towards building unstaggering inner strength, your outer armor becomes obsolete. You can now cultivate a healthy body that instead of holding you back, supports your mission and is a reflection of your light.
Simple actions to take your life back, know your worth & feel alive no matter how drained, overwhelmed and far gone you feel.