Change Your Narrative, Change Your Life

Monday morning musings from COPE volunteer Carolyn:

As my parents prepare to downsize they have been finding “hidden treasures” in boxes unopened in the 17 years we’ve lived in this house. Our garage is an apparent gold mine. One such find was a journal I kept in 1997. I was ten years old, for those of you following along at home. The first entry discussed my weigh-in at Weight Watchers (199 lb). I wanted to lose more weight but even more so I just really hoped I didn’t gain any more. This sentiment was repeated on every single entry that followed — which admittedly was only about 10 entries because journal keeping is not one of my strengths.

My heart broke for 10 year old Carolyn, 31 year old Carolyn, and every Carolyn in between and before. The 90’s were a rough time for nutrition — I recall eating way more Snackwells and Wow chips than fruits and vegetables. It didn’t matter how processed my food was as long as it was low fat and preferably high fiber, too. But even more damaging than what I was feeding my body were the stories I was told about my body and what being fat meant for me.

A lifetime of hearing remarks like “She could be a model if only she wasn’t so fat.” “Boys would be falling over themselves to date you if you were skinny.” “You’re so beautiful…for your size.” creates a narrative that insists I’m at once way too much and not nearly enough. I fight it hard in so many ways but when I take an honest look at what holds me back in my professional life, my relationships, and day-to-day living, so much of it boils down to this toxic notion of inadequacy by obesity.

I’m in a magical place in my life where I have the time, energy, health, and inclination to prioritize fitness. As I make efforts to become my healthiest self I’m painfully aware of the importance of loving and accepting myself and others at any weight:

“Go and love someone exactly as they are. And then watch how quickly they transform into the greatest, truest version of themselves. When one feels seen and appreciated in their own essence, one is instantly empowered.” — Wes Angelozzi.

It’s so much easier and more rewarding to invest time and energy into something you love than something you hate. And that goes for people, too — even yourself. It just makes me want to cry and scream — and sometimes I do — when I think about diet culture and how it plays on insecurities derived from societal norms. We can talk about how unhealthy obesity is and of course most of us are aware of the comorbidities and health risks — and they are numerous. I just think we go about the obesity epidemic all wrong.

When I act and speak from a place of love I usually bring myself and others joy. When I act and speak from a place of pain, fear, or rejection, everything is a train wreck and everyone suffers including me. I think there are parallels here which must be explored another day…one only has so much time to muse on a Monday.

I hope today you move a little because you like how it feels. I hope you eat a vegetable because it’s delicious and colorful. I hope you drink some water because it’s refreshing. I hope you smile when you look in the mirror because you feel especially cute today or you’re just proud of yourself for getting out of bed. I’m proud of you, too.

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