Here’s something you might not know about me:
I have Body Dysmorphia.
Body dysmorphia is a mental disorder in which a person is preoccupied with an imagined physical defect or a minor defect that others often cannot see. For me, it manifested in seeing certain parts of myself as fat and mal-shaped.
I’m not really sure the source of it—it’s kind of always been with me.
I was officially diagnosed in my late 20s when I couldn’t figure out why I felt so bad about parts of my body even though by this point, I was “technically thin”. It was a blessing to finally give a name to something I lived with all my life.
Struggling in Silence
Many of us struggle in silence with body dysmorphia. If you have body dysmorphia or a disordered relationship with food, you’re not alone. I’m right there with you and this is something I’m incredibly proud of to talk about, although that wasn’t always the case!
Here’s a shocker: I went to my first Weight Watchers meeting when I was eight years old.
I know how that sounds. I wasn’t taken to Weight Watchers as a way to be shamed or insulted… I was an active kid, didn’t like soda, and ate healthily at home, but I was still overweight. My mother had received great support for herself, so she thought it would be a good tool for me to learn about balancing food and knowing my body, not a diet as such.
I was a big kid. I was born big and always felt bigger than all the kids around me It never occurred to me that I was tall, so therefore it made sense that I would be somewhat bigger. I was constantly thinking about reducing food or exercising, but nothing I did changed my body. You’re not going to believe this, but when I was in college, I went to the gym five days a week for years while eating what would be considered a “healthy diet”, and never lost weight or built excess muscle mass. I was strong, plump, and squishy.
Unable to Love Myself Because I Thought I Was Wrong
I wasn’t taught about my particular body type or how chemical reactions in my body might affect my weight. I was just heavy, and that’s how I saw it. Of course, this created an internal dialogue that was full of self-judgement, shame, sadness, and embarrassment. My MO was to hide myself from the world—in elementary school, I always wore a heavy sweatshirt over my uniform even though I grew up in the blazing heat of S. Florida.
These days I can consider a tall body like mine as voluptuous or curvy, but back then all I did was associate my body type with being wrong.
Sometime in my 20’s, I discovered a book that changed my life. As I started to learn about chemical reactions in the body and how certain body types process food, I began modifying when I ate certain foods. The goal was to work with my specific, unique body chemistry.
Amazingly, I started to shrink! I was the smallest I’d ever consciously been in my adult life. I felt in control for the first time ever!
And yet. I still didn’t feel good in my own skin. My body image and physical confidence was so low, I finally went to a therapist because this just wasn’t right. And that’s when I learnt I had body dysmorphia.
You know, it’s interesting, if I were to look at a photo, I would be able to see that I’m not overweight. But, put me in front of a mirror and I see every flaw screaming for attention. That’s still the case today, only that I know it is just how my brain is wired, so I can ignore it more often. Now let’s get back to when I was just diagnosed.
An Awakening to Spirituality and Self-Love
At this time of my life, I was beginning my spiritual awakening where I started to discover myself at new levels. I was getting into acting as a side-hobby from my regular job in high-tech and finally putting myself out there.
Discovering spirituality and training in Kabbalah made me realize that I could choose my life. Suddenly I could see that I needed to decide if I truly wanted that “perfect body” to be the sole active quest of my life. Because given my physical body type, to obtain a chiseled body with no squishiness meant being fitness obsessed and restricting my relationship with food severely.
The answer was a big hell no!
I wanted a healthy lifestyle, not the “perfect body”.
I love food. To me food is conversation, preparation, relationships, a celebration and there’s no way I wanted that restricted in my life. On the contrary, I desperately wanted more of it. I wanted to share food, not eat alone in my room.
The Love I Get from Kin Relationships
Later, as I formed my connection with the plant world, I realized that all of these things are what I get from my relationships with kin, as well.
So what began as a journey triggered by food, became a journey of self love and self confidence! My body image wasn’t about my external image, but how good, healthy, and strong I felt inside.
You might be wondering why I’m choosing to write about this now.
I think, because of the time of year. I know that it’s a time when people start to think about New Year’s resolutions, and for a lot of people, those resolutions mean you’re focusing on the things that you don’t love about yourself or the things you aren’t happy with in your life.
It’s understandable, we all do it. But rather than focusing on what’s wrong, how about shifting your attention to the gain?
For me, reconnecting with the plant world is a key factor in reframing my thoughts about myself and the world around me. When I feel out of control or can’t accept a certain aspect or emotion in my life, I ask kin for advice. Honestly, plants don’t have many of these issues. Kin don’t see themselves with the same deficits we do. They do understand though what it means to be the healthiest you can be in order to ensure the continued health of the ecosystem, so kin focus my attention there. We talk about relationships, personal health, and what does it mean to feel and be nourished in a community.
Time simply spent in nature grounds me, and these conversations help me switch my mindset and tune into self acceptance and self love. If only I had had someone guide me in this connection when I was eight!
What the Natural World Shows Me About Loving Myself Unapologetically
The mirrors of the natural world help me see how I distort my own vision of reality in the human world. Reminding myself of the beauty and the wisdom of the plant kingdom allows me to focus on self development and growth that isn’t about external factors, but who I want to be inside and the impact I want to make on the world. This is what I want to teach others, so they don’t have to suffer needlessly.
Not only does nature invigorate how I feel about myself personally, it carries over into my work as an entrepreneur. As I focus on the things I love to do and how I can best show up for my clients as a nature-inspired mentor and leadership coach, the plants remind me that I am strong inside and out, with just the right amount of squishiness.
Has goal-setting been on your mind or are you planning your next steps? How’s that going for you?
If you have an element of your life that you are ready to really clarify, accept, and work through to move towards a place where you are confident and strong enough to realize your true, holistic visions and bring them to fruition. I am committed to helping you get there.
Doing This Together
Working through your journey with someone else helps you reframe, reset, and flourish into your True Nature helping you direct your energy with confidence and support.
Join me in an in-depth brainstorming session that embraces plant-inspired guidance to offer you the clarity to feel empowered, in control of your decisions, and with a crystal-clear vision so that you can move forward into 2021 with confidence.
And may this truly be a Season of Gratitude. The Plant Kingdom and I wish you all the health, happiness, and abundance imaginable. I can’t wait to support you as you flourish and grow in 2021!