Body, I give you permission to change 

Hey, bod. I give you permission to change. I trust you. 

Repairing my relationship with food, with my body and with myself is an ongoing and constant process. I’m learning that loving my body is about more than accepting its current form, but trusting it to change as it needs to. 

The balance between mental/emotional health and physical health is delicate. Each is important, but it’s my belief (and experience) that physical health will never contribute to happiness (and thus, an improved quality of life) if emotional/mental health is neglected, or if physical health is achieved at the expense of mental/emotional health. For those of us facing broken relationships with food and our bodies and selves, the two are often competing. And in a culture that celebrates appearance as an indication of value and worthiness, it’s common (and often celebrated) to push mental/emotional health to the sidelines. 

Switching gears to celebrate, elevate and prioritize mental/emotional health has manifested in my life in a few ways, including completely eliminating food shame; eliminating the need to (and act of) justifying my size/shape/food choices; believing experiences, moments and being present is always more important than food choices; and choosing to focus on my heart’s ability to impact those around me vs my appearance. 

For the first time in my life, I can see my body’s direct role in supporting my mental/emotional health. It’s allowing my mind and myself the space I need to stay mentally and emotionally healthy by adapting to accommodate these new practices I’ve adopted with the goal of healing my relationship with food. (Read: I’m gaining weight.)

In the past week spent with family and loved ones celebrating my brother’s wedding, these new practices were in full motion. I couldn’t tell you what I ate at the rehearsal dinner because it didn’t matter; celebrating with my family mattered. I didn’t skip meals to prepare for restaurant outings. I didn’t beat myself up because I was too busy to exercise. I didn’t bully myself when I snacked more in light of stress. 

I rolled into the wedding a little more rolly than usual, but I reminded myself that this event wasn’t about me–and certainly not about how attractive people perceive me to be–but about celebrating my brother, his bride and our family and loved ones. I refused to miss a moment, to not enjoy myself or to not be present because I was preoccupied with my body. I poured myself into serving and celebrating them, and I loved every single moment. 

But the day following the wedding was hard, and for the first time in a while, I had a hard time feeling good in my skin. I started to feel old tendencies creeping in, including a need to isolate myself, a lack of motivation and an overall feeling of “disgust” with my body. 

That’s when I realized it’s not enough to be ok with what I see in the mirror today, but I have to trust my body’s ability to take care of me, including its need to change. 

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