When I first started my life coach training the instructors talked about finding a niche. There are about a million different niches and unique ways to be a coach. One of the niches is weight loss coaching. I immediately dismissed that as a niche for me, I never had a problem with weight, I thought. I’ve never been really overweight, like most American women I’ve often wanted to lose just 5-15 lbs. I eat pretty healthfully and I get regular exercise, I’m no swimsuit model, but at 5 feet 8 and 148 pounds my BMI is normal. Sure, I have always looked in the mirror and seem to find many areas that need improvement. My friends and I always say things like, “if I could just loose 5 pounds and tighten my tummy.” Or things like, “I can’t have cookies in my house because I can’t control myself around them.” It’s almost as if we all talk about this battle with keeping in shape and compare notes and lbs the way guys talk about sports statistics.
This pattern of sharing by “who can be harder on herself” was a way of bonding that has become so common place that I really didn’t even notice how often my friends and I did it until I started to pay attention to not only to what was being said socially among women to each other, but I started to listen to my internal dialogue and the absolute war that was raging inside of me. How did I ever think I didn’t have a problem with weight? I was obsessed with it. When I started to really tune in, I was shocked at how much of my time and energy was devoted to criticism, feeling shame, and wanting to control and restrict and then alternate periods of hopelessness where I would binge.
My internal monologue would go something like this “It’s hopeless, I’m already getting old and fat and unattractive, what the f..k!” Then I would feel good for the time it took to inhale whatever I was binging on, chocolate, ice cream, cheese puffs, you name it. I’m not an extreme binger, but more of a consistent overeater-I would overeat at least a few times a week not just from shame, but also a strange angry mantra of “After this day I’ve had, I deserve it!” Afterwards I would feel uncomfortable and overfull and a deep shame. From that place of shame and guilt I can now see that I was much more likely to snap at my husband, yell at my kids, stay up too late watching tv to numb my despair.
And there was an underlying feeling of not being good enough and how everyone else knew what they were doing and I just couldn’t figure this weight thing out. I could now see how I was attributing so much of my value as a woman, mother, friend, daughter to what I looked like. When I started to pay attention I could see how much time and energy this obsession was sucking the joy out of my life. So what was wrong with me?
Thankfully I decided to take a fabulous tele-course by Master Coach Susan Hyatt which helped me put it all in perspective. I needed to learn how to value myself and start making choices about food, exercise and life that were not only more in tune with the messages my body was telling me, but that created more joy and fulfillment in things other than food. I needed to stop letting myself get burned out and substituting food for comfort. I needed a better self care program. I needed to examine my thoughts and patterns around food and start turning them around.
Susan provided many, many valuable tools and insights, but the first homework we had was the game changer for me. It helped me to put this whole struggle with food and body image into perspective and view it in a whole new and empowering way. She had us write a peace treaty to ourselves. Here is my Peace Treaty:
Kate’s Peace Treaty 6-12-11
I will watch with compassion and gently question. I choose to be a scientist instead of a mean girl. I will be kind and choose love over hate. I will end deprivation. I choose to stop the high drama swings between starving and stuffing. I will stay with the uncomfortable feelings that are sometimes in the pit of my stomach and compassionately investigate the painful thoughts around it instead of numbing the discomfort with food. I will cry if I need to. I choose to allow my feelings rather than ignore them. I will listen. I choose to be aware of my thoughts and body sensations instead of ignoring them. I will take time everyday to connect with my core of peace and BREATHE. I will rest. I choose to honor the natural rhythms of my body and respect it before I get burned out and on empty. I will play, laugh and have FUN! I choose to create joy in my life over using food for entertainment. I will say NO. I choose healthy boundaries and saying YES to me over compromising my values. I will stop resisting. I choose to go with the flow of life and choose ease over struggle. I will be me. I choose to live authentically me 100% over trying to be something I’m not. I choose to be TAO (transparent authentic and open). I choose to give myself a break and know that I am human, I will make mistakes and it’s all good. I choose to continue to remember even after I forget that no matter how old I am, how much I weigh, how many mistakes I’ve made I AM WORTHY.
Every time I read that, it is a gentle reminder to keep life in perspective. To yes, be healthy but in a kind and compassionate way, not a Army Drill Sergeant kind of way. Since writing this peace treaty I have looked for enjoyable ways to move my body like hiking, kayaking and being in nature. I’m training for a 5k with my daughter. I’m getting my head out of my plate and looking up and enjoying the people and conversations around me more. I’m listening to my body’s signals and respecting them.
Have I got it all figured out and am doing it “perfectly?” No, of course not, there is no such thing as a perfect Human Being. The difference now is when I forget, instead of beating myself up about it, I gently remind myself of my peace treaty and try again. But, it has been life changing. I have never been more content and comfortable in my own skin. I’m enjoying my life more. And that is always going to be more important than what dress size I am. I now know that I AM WORTHY exactly how I am, right now, at this age, at this size, with all of my human imperfections. You are worthy too-exactly as you are right now. I invite you to write your own peace treaty and stop the war within.