Pause for a moment, take a deep breath, and notice how it feels when you think about allowing the new year to be a new beginning for you. And when I say you, I mean your whole being – your heart, your mind, and your body.
We all know 2020 was a stressful and tragic year. Many of the bariatric women who’ve contacted me tell a similar story. They tell me they have been using food to soothe themselves and they can’t seem to stop doing that.
Often they express concern about regain, and their self-judgment is intense.
Of the 1000s of bariatric women I’ve met over that last 16+ years, few are without significant self-judgment.
In my experience, self-judgment helps accomplish the exact opposite of what I want. Self-judgment usually pushes me toward the things I tell myself I can’t have or shouldn’t do.
I’m sure that’s true for many of us.
So, if self-judgment doesn’t work, how do we relate to food in a way that heals us, rather than harming us? How do we avoid rigid rules and the harsh penalties we give ourselves? How do we avoid or resolve regain?
When I was 24, I checked myself into a rehab for alcoholism. I had started drinking 10 years prior to that when my father left. The intake nurse was the most nonjudgmental and kind woman I’d ever met.
She told me it was perfectly normal to drink when one is in emotional pain. I remember asking her how I could possibly stop drinking considering the amount of pain I was in.
She told me to put myself first, immerse myself in my recovery, get enough support, practice using the tools I was given, stick with women who wanted to be sober as much as I did, and if I slip, get up and begin again.
I’ve applied those same suggestions to my bariatric life. I’ve had to. Because I didn’t undergo surgery, lose weight, and live happily ever after. It feels like my weight has gone up and down like a horse on a merry-go-round. So, my default setting has been and always will be to begin again.
I’ve gotten very good at beginning again.
I spend a lot less time judging myself now than I used to. I’m not weak or flawed or disgusting. I’m human and I’m resilient.
When I consider how hard it is to be a woman with a larger body in our culture, I am much kinder to myself. When I think about how brave I’ve been in my battle with my weight, I am much more forgiving.
When I’m being honest with myself, I see that while I’m not where my inner critic says I should be, I’m not where I was.
I am not hopeless and helpless. I know exactly what to do – and it’s not to beat myself up.
I put myself and my needs first as soon as I realize I have stopped doing that, I immerse myself in the WLS lifestyle I’ve discovered works best for me, I get enough support, I use the tools that work for me, I stick with women who never give up, and when I slip, I get up and begin again.
We can always begin again.