Nobody said it was easy, curvy girl: the tender vulnerability of change
“It will be 30 days of hell,” he said as I snuggled on his chest.
Tears streamed down my face.
“It’s the only way to reset your system. To break old patterns. To go hardcore and basically shock your body into a new state.”
It’s against my beliefs. I believe in softness. Easing in. Gentleness. Listening to my body, not forcing her to do things. I said as much. “I’m not extreme like you. I teach my body that she can trust me. I listen to her and she opens up to me.”
“You have to go beyond your limit,” he said. “Even if it’s just a little. Otherwise nothing will ever change. It’s going to be hard. If you give me these thirty days, we are going to be irritable and hungry but I guarantee you: something will change. Even if it’s just in your mind.”
Right now, my mind is an angry crowd gripping protest signs.
“That’s the other thing. I don’t believe in being hungry. I believe in eating to where you’re satisfied—not stuffed, not even full, but content. And eating small meals more often. To be sustained.”
“How has that been working for you?” His voice was tender even as I felt the truth of it. The truth is, I know what works for me—and I don’t always do it. A day goes by without real movement of any kind. Then another. I get wrapped up in work or a creative project and before I know it, my phone shows 11 AM as I’m holding onto my desk, shaky and weak with hunger. Years of this take their toll.
“I know,” I said, voice crackly. I am so emotional when talking about my body, my weight, my food. It’s hard to hold these conversations. “I feel like I need someone to hold my hand. Like literally, take my hand, drag me out of bed. Take my hand, take me to the elliptical. Take my hand and put food in it. I’ll give you thirty days. But I’m terrified. What if I don’t even like you after that? What if I can’t handle you being mean? What if I need someone to vent to and then fall in love with them and run off?”
We’ve been together for sixteen years and married for most of that. “We’ve been through worse,” he said, and kissed me.
It’s on my calendar now, 30 days blocked out between June and July. I’m giving it my all. I’m trusting him. For thirty days. That’s it. I make no promises after that. I’m tired and scared. These bones of mine carry so much—the weight of my body, the weight of my truth, the weight of all I’ve lost and re-gained, and the fear of what I’ll lose and re-gain. For 30 days, I will be pushed and pressed far beyond my comfort zone. I already feel the tenderness of baring myself to this. The pain of being vulnerable when the unknown stretches on ahead and the known, my long history of heaviness and heartache, stretches out behind. What if it doesn’t work? What if my trust is betrayed? What if I override the wisdom of my body and it screws me? What if I go above and beyond, give it my ALL to the point of injury and it still doesn’t make a difference?
All the feelings surge. All the fears. All the hurtful words, scathing judgments, failed attempts. All the weight on my bones. All the wasps building nests in the hollows of my femur.
I've spent the last few years learning how to love and accept my curvy, hormonally-challenged body just as she is, without condition. And now I am being asked to love her as she is while making changes for her quality of life. It's so vulnerable for me. It took so long to learn to find—and find peace with—my own presence and, like a fierce mother, I'm not ready to hand her off to someone else.
Trust. It's becoming an overarching theme throughout my entire life right now.
In anticipation of my 30-day experiment, I started planning for the hard times by writing down what I can do to care for my body and bring a sense of ease. I call it my list of comforts and nourishments. I am reaching for softness; it’s my way of marking tender X’s on a menacing map. Looking ahead to those terrifying thirty days where this sweet man of mine will be transformed into a militant tyrant whose strict way of seeing only in black and white is a terrifying contrast to my own soft rivers of tenderness and grace—I mean, my personal health coach—makes my heart pound with dread. This list feels like my secret weapon. It’s my hidden tunnel through the wilderness, and I add to it all the time:
- lavender / mint body wash
- mint shampoo
- essential oils / anointing oils
- clean sheets
- fresh homemade almond milk
- driving in my car with the music up loud
- rich conversations
- unrushed hours at the bookstore
- new secret projects
- lavender everything
To these comforts and nourishments I bring my bones. My weight-bearing bones of past experiences. Of my fear. Of my lost hopes, old stories and trembling faith. I hold them tenderly. I hold them with a tender coaxing of hope. Because, what if? What if this could go better than I could ever imagine? What if this is going to be fun? What if I discover something new about myself, something new about my body? What if I heal?
And now, I am here. I am present. There is light here, somewhere. Somewhere beneath my terrified, trembling determination, hope gleams.
You can't shame your body into love.
As a plus-size woman who has been overweight most of her life, I know what it's like to live in a body you've not always loved. A body that feels challenging, broken, and uncomfortable. One that might even embarrass you. I believe that you can learn to love your body as she is right now and my self-guided course Inkstains + Alchemy will help you begin to accept and embrace yourself with love. As-is. Click here to read more → Inkstains + Alchemy: A Creative Approach to Body Love.