“If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.”
As a fitness instructor I am given the “fat person once over” now and again. You know what I mean. I mention to someone that I teach yoga – and then the person takes a sweeping glance from my feet to my head - and looks me in the eye with some level of disbelief.
I admit that my weight is some number north of my ideal weight – and despite keeping a 40+ weight loss off this body for over ten years – I always struggle with my weight. Even though I exercise daily, eat fairly healthy and practice yoga.
And like Oprah – despite all I have accomplished –some judge me by my weight success (or lack of it).
Oprah has accomplished so much. She overcame many obstacles including poverty, abuse and a teenage pregnancy. And despite all racial and gender odds she rose to become the most recognized and successful talk show host in history. Then she transformed her talk show into a wellness, mindful force for the greater good. She followed that success by creating her own OWN network to feature programming that helps viewers be their best selves.
Yet, based on her article in People, she still struggles with her weight. OMG – if she struggles with her food issues – how can any of us mere mortals scale it? I feel compelled to write her – to encourage her and thank her for her honesty.
You are more than your weight. Your journey to this point has been long and filled with challenges that you have surpassed swimmingly. You have been pursuing a marathon of wellness, and you are on mile 22 and yet some people might still look at you as if you didn’t get up and put your shoes on for the starting line-up!
Eating is the most basic of our bodily functions. It is a matter of life and death and our ability to control it is compromised at a visceral level. You have accomplished so much - why do we, and you, still kick ourselves when we cannot manage effectively something that most Americans fight with on some level?
Oprah’s struggle resonates so strongly with me because I was physically abused by my mother as a child and part of the accompanying mental abuse involved berating me because I was slightly overweight. Which of course only became way worse as I rebelled due to her conditional love.
With therapy, nutritional changes, exercise and yoga I have overcome the abuse, learned to thrive despite a related anxiety disorder, maintained a 40-pound weight loss, and survived a divorce from an adulterous spouse.
Yet I still struggle with my weight and am given the "once over" occasionally because I am not the thin, pony-tailed depiction of karma goodness.
As an abused child, eating became my coping mechanism. When I was with my mother I had to keep it all together - watch every word I said and every action so I wouldn’t be hit or verbally abused. When I was away from her, I would take comfort in food - sometimes gorging myself with whatever was in the house.
I realize now even though I am in control of my life, and no one is currently abusing me, I am still routinely triggered as if I was about to be abused. As a result, I seek food to comfort me. To forget the feelings…to hide from the pain.
But I don’t have to accept this triggering pattern.
By committing to daily exercise as well as breathing practices, meditation and yoga, I have been able to down regulate my nervous system enough to notice my eating triggers. Then I am able to avoid the “food as comfort” response in favor of other activities like writing or walking my dog Yogi.
And if I fall off the wagon, I just climb back up on it again – with acceptance and self-love - and try again.
So one more thing Oprah - we are impressed by your ability to navigate and excel the marathon of your life. And we believe you will surpass all expectations in your quest to achieve this last weight gauntlet.
But no matter what – we love you through thick and thin - and thank you for honestly sharing your journey with us. Namaste. Donna
How can mindfulness breathing practices and yoga help you navigate the food or other triggering responses in your life to allow lasting change"? Join us on Super Bowl Sunday February 5th at 1 PM at the Malvern REMAX office at 409 Lancaster Pike, Malvern, PA for an hour of Mindfulness and Yoga to Make Lasting Change". Hope to see you there!
“We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated.” - Maya Angelou