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What Have I Learnt?

Dear Kelly

I remember walking into your office and hoping that this experience was going to be different. I was hoping that you weren’t just going to be another dietician giving me another eating plan and me trying to follow it and then failing after a while, feeling guilty and depressed because I couldn’t live up to your, my and the eating plan’s expectations. In the past I thought that if I could just uphold my part of the ‘you, me and the eating plan’ relationship I would succeed. I would be happier with myself, I would be lighter and brighter and it would change my life. I have such a wonderful life, I was annoyed at my weight, weighing me down. Well, this experience has left me lighter, brighter and has changed my life, but not because I am following an eating plan or because I have found the magic power of self-control, but because I have learnt (and am still learning) what it means to nourish my body, to nourish me.

I have always had this feeling that there must be more to being a healthy weight than just dieting. I mean, I have friends who don’t seem to be obsessed with food and don’t diet constantly but yet they are managing to be a healthy weight, enjoying what they eat and just getting on with life. I remember thinking ‘what is it that they have that I don’t have? Do they have better genes, more self-control, better cooking skills or even less stress than me?’, what secret am I missing out on and better yet where can I find this secret to success. To my surprise I have discovered that this secret I was searching for lied within myself, locked up in a part of me I didn’t know how to access, one that you have helped me to find the key to unlock, to be the best me I can be - to discover who I am and want to be. The me that isn’t obsessed with the dream of one day being my perfect weight, one day feeling less guilty because I am not taking care of my health, the me who isn’t judging and punishing my body for something I am doing to it, the me that can reflect, set boundaries, manage my self-talk and embrace the philosophy of self-love, the me that is learning how to nourish my body.

Nourishment, self-talk and self-love are the three concepts that you have introduced me to, that has changed the way I view myself and my relationship with food. I never thought about these concepts and how they are linked. I saw weight as a reflection of how much self-control I have and I saw self-love as how well I look after myself on the outside; self-talk was understood as motivating myself. Let me briefly say what I have learnt about each one of these and what they now mean to me. 

Self-love:

Without self-love I feel that it is difficult to manage nourishing my body and manage my self-talk. I have reflected a lot on this concept and have found that the best description of self-love is loving your body and who you are and looking after it to the best of your ability, in terms of nourishment and self-talk as well as managing your emotions. If I look at how much I love my husband, family and friends for example, the love I have for them means that I will do anything to contribute to their happiness. I will show them respect in the way that I treat and talk to them, I will give advice when I think it is needed. I will be kind and caring to them and will try not to judge them. I won’t have harsh negative thoughts of dislike about them and I will try to spoil them when I can and when I think it is necessary. When I thought of this I asked myself why is it that I am prepared to treat others this way but not myself. Self-love means that the same way you are prepared to treat those you love the most in terms of your actions and thoughts, you should treat yourself. With this goes setting my own boundaries in terms of nutrition, people, time, thoughts and actions.

I know I have come a far way when I read the following inscription in my journal:

What does it mean to LOVE myself?

I read the following quote on the KLD website and it really struck a nerve:

“And I SAID to my body. Softly. ‘I want to be your friend’. It took a long breath and replied, ‘I have been waiting my whole life for this’.

I think why I found this so meaningful is because I am now finally at that stage of being able to also say that. I want to say to my body:

“Body, I want to love you and nurture you. I want to cherish and take care of you, like you take care of me, because you are my prised possession. I want to treat you kindly and be gentle with you, because you have been my vehicle to many places and have been with me through many trails, tribulations and great adventures. You will see the future in with me, I will need you, the best of you, so I will give you the best I can: rest, relaxation, nourishment, love, kindness, gentleness, exercise, play, fun, positive thoughts, gentle reminders and treats. I will no longer neglect you, punish you, wish you were different, compare and contrast you, say you are weak, say you are ugly, over exert you and treat you like you are not part of me.

I am excited about taking care of you and the journey we are on together”

This is what self-love is, being able to say this to my body. To nourish my body is to show it love.

Nourishment:

The most important question I have learnt to ask myself is: “Will this nourish me?” Nourishing my body means looking at the food I eat:

  • Is it good of a quality food?
  • Will it keep me fuller for longer?
  • What will this mean to my body on a nutritional level?
  • Does what I am about to eat or the ingredients that I am about to use taste like they are supposed to taste, or do they taste “fake”?
  • Is it as natural as possible or has it gone through a lot of different processes to get it to be what I am seeing in front of me?

Nourishing my body also means to look at what else I put into my body in terms of how much water I drink. It means thinking about what I do to my body, how much rest I give it, do I exercise to keep it strong and fit? It means being aware of how I treat it - am I gentle with my body, do I show it respect? Do I give it what it needs to function optimally and to enjoy life?

Self-talk:

Nourishment and self-talk go hand-in-hand. I have discovered that my self-talk can be used as a powerful tool to uplift and manage my emotions, feelings and ultimately self-love. For me self-talk has to do with setting boundaries, reflecting on my emotions and nutrition, managing my time and nutrition and dealing with feelings of wanting to be comforted. I was not aware of my need for comfort and that food has become a quick fix- a way to feed this need. I have learnt that it is in my best interest not to comfort myself with food, but to address the problem by talking about it, journaling and reflecting. I have discovered the benefits of time-out, down time, even if it is just for 10 or 20 minutes. I can now identify that the need for comfort is often derived from me giving too much of myself to others, comforting them and investing so much of myself in helping them without recharging myself. Working on my concepts of self-love, self-talk and nourishment allows me to recharge and be the person I want to be to others and myself.

At the moment I feel a lot lighter and brighter although the scale doesn’t say that I have lost weight, I haven’t felt this skinny in years! I think, like with anything in life, there is no quick fix to a problem. I know I still have a few hurdles to overcome and some more growing to do but I am excited about the journey and have promised myself that I won’t give up. Ultimately I am responsible for my own happiness and I choose to be happy and healthy.

Thank you so much Kelly for showing me that there is a light and that it isn’t at the end of the tunnel but that I carry it within me.