Last night I had a dream in which I was offered a free membership in a weight-loss program. This came with food, personal trainer, gym membership, everything I needed to Change My Life(TM). When the offer was made, I was so excited, I nearly jumped at it.
Then a little voice in the back of my head (the Voice of Reason) said, “It won’t work! Diets don’t work, remember?”
You’d think that would be the end of it, but no. In this dream, I actually started bargaining with the Voice of Reason, arguing that if no one knew I was on the program, it might work, and the size acceptance folks don’t have to know. Just one more try, maybe I can finally get thin…
When I first awoke, I was troubled, and was tempted to beat myself up over this; after all it’s kind of hypocritical to be writing a fitness blog about how you can be healthy at any size, while simultaneously having body image issues that stubbornly intrude even in the dream world.
But then I thought about it some more, and you know what? My focus did not shift to a health at any size approach until after my 40th birthday. This means that I spent over thirty years voluntarily carrying this ridiculously heavy burden of stigma and self-hate in the mistaken, deeply culturally embedded notion that I was an unacceptable, unworthy person simply due to my inability to permanently change my own body size.
Shifting my focus from negative self-talk and body hate to unconditional self-love is a dramatic change. It stands to reason that it would not occur once and for all, but rather as a process; and that shame and self-reproach are incompatible with unconditional self-love. I realized that the result of feeling like a failure because I am unable to instantly change my attitude is exactly the same as the result of feeling like a failure because I cannot permanently change my body size: It makes me want to give up.
So today I’m writing this blog as a reminder to treat myself with the utmost love and respect. It’s the only way to keep myself — body and soul — as healthy as I can be, in the body I have.