I spent years of my life totally disconnected from my body. Either I was at war with my body, trying to control it by dieting or I was punishing it through disordered eating, or just ignoring it altogether. I felt as if  my body was wrong and somehow had nothing to do with the “real me”. I was waiting until I lost weight to live my life. Waiting for my ideal body to show up one day and rescue me, and give me permission to live out loud. I probably don’t have to tell you that living like that is pretty miserable. I’ve been fortunate; yoga, hiking and being in nature, and learning to stay present have cracked open a whole different way of life.

Lots of us feel as if our bodies have betrayed us. They don’t do what we say. Plenty of us are postponing “living our real life” until we lose weight. I want you to stop doing that.

You look fine

How many times have you heard someone say, “Ugh, I’d kill to be the weight I was in high school,” only to be directly followed by, “… but I thought I was so fat and hideous back then, too.” They weren’t fat and hideous then. They aren’t fat and hideous now. In ten years they will probably look at pictures of themselves now and think, “Jeez, I thought I was fat and hideous, why did I waste time worrying about how I looked when my body was clearly slammin’ hot?!” All along, they looked fine. Guess what else? You look fine.

If you’re not living out loud because you think you’re going to look hideous in a bathing suit at the beach or that you’ll clear out a room if you walk in wearing a pair of shorts that actually show a bit of cellulite, then why is life worth living at all? If everyone waited until they looked perfect to go outside, the streets of your city would be more deserted than an episode of The Walking Dead.

Let me ask you – when you’ve gotten naked in front of someone new, has that person ever looked at you in disgust, gotten up, and left the room? No. Seriously, you look fine.

The past is a real jerk

Stress is caused by being ‘here’ but wanting to be ‘there’. -Eckhart Tolle

Stop and think about it – really and truly, the only reason any given sucky moment, day, or situation feels miserable or bad is because you are comparing it to a past moment, day, situation. Now I know this thinking can get a little woo-woo – of course if you’ve just been in a car accident and you are in physical pain from broken bones, or you’ve just been diagnosed with cancer – yes… clearly, that sucks.

But if some jerk on the street just called you fat or you are having a bad hair day or your skin just broke out before your big date, or you stammered a bit when you gave that speech and you’re beating yourself up over it, STOP. Get some perspective.

  • This moment is just one flash in a series of a million other moments.
  • This too shall pass.
  • No feeling is final.

Stay present

A surefire way to make yourself miserable is to live in the past or in some future fantasy in your head. You can stop making yourself miserable by coming to this moment. Being present. Staying. Yoga has taught me how to get out of the past and stay present, but over and over, thousands of times a day, I have to remind myself. I have to pull myself out of comparing today to the past, out of a fantasy conversation in my head (well if I said that, she would come back with this, then I’d have to say that) and pull myself into the present moment.

How to stop living in the past and return to the present moment: stop what you are doing. Close your eyes. Start to notice your breath. What does your body feel like? Don’t tell a story about it, don’t judge it, just notice. What sensations are there? Give them a name. Do you feel a black, deep hole in your heart? Is your stomach on fire? Are there colors? Does it hurt? Do you actually notice that your body feels fine?

Breathe. Feel the feeling in your body. This feeling is not final. It will move through you. For me, almost every time I actually let the feeling in (not the memory, or the thought about the feeling, but the actual feeling in my body), it feels awful for a moment, but then almost immediately, it dissipates. It’s kind of magical.

Please, stop postponing your life

This moment is all that I own. –Most Precious Blood

Please stop waiting for some magic moment (that may never happen) to come around. Some magic moment where you are tall, thin, have smooth skin, no cellulite, have a voice that doesn’t sound annoying when you hear yourself recorded.

Please stop waiting to go live your life, put on a swimsuit, dance at a club, give that hot guy your phone number, buy a pair of shorts, join a book club, show up for that exercise class, start practicing yoga, start lifting weights, start moving your body.

Just show up. Just go do what you love. Stop worrying about whether or not you look cool or nerdy or fat or stupid.  You look fine. Your body is fine. You are the only one judging yourself as harshly as you are.

Meet Holly Mangold

Image of Holly Mangold, a fat female athlete and olympic hopeful, snatching 110 kilos

Holley Mangold successfully snatches 110 kilograms during Sunday’s U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Women’s Weightlifting.

Holly is 5-foot-8 and weighs 374 pounds. She is a weightlifter and now will competing as a 2012 Olympian. Here she is snatching 242 pounds over her head. If you don’t know what a snatch is, it is an Olympic lifting move that takes an amazing amount of technical prowess, speed, strength, and flexibility. Holly doesn’t “look” like an athlete. I’m sure she gets harassed on the street just like every fat person has been harassed. She has to wear the stupid unflattering weightlifting outfit.

But Holly isn’t waiting until she loses weight to do what she was born to do. Holly is showing up. She’s living her life. She’s doing what she loves. She’s inspiring the heck out of me, knowing that my personal best on the snatch is a measly 45 kilos. Holly rules.

Photo credit: SIPhotos

Take the first step

Don’t get caught up in planning.

“I want to start lifting weights so first I need to get stronger. I want to be a yogi so I need to get more flexible first.” Do you know how people get strong? They lift weights. Do you know how yogis do backbends? They practice yoga.

Image of me, a fat person, in urdvha dhanurasana or Wheel pose

That’s me in urdvha dhanurasana

Stop planning and just start doing.

Please don’t wait until you’re thinner or have the perfect outfit. Don’t wait for motivation, just show up. Go outside. Start walking. Get on your bike and pedal. Go to the beginners yoga class. Call the gym and ask for a tour. Text your friend and invite her to go dancing with you. Give the hot guy your phone number. Laugh. Be loud. Louder, please.

When you’re on your deathbed, I guarantee you won’t wish that you did more situps or worried a little more about your fat thighs. Go live your life. You totally deserve it.

What’s stopping you?