Lately, I feel as though I've been talking about things like fear and courage an awful lot.
This isn't an accident. These themes are very present in my life right now.
When I walked away from the day job to pursue my Yoga Teaching dream, I had no idea how terrifying it would be. Well, actually, I take that back. I was terrified even then. The reality is that in a million (zillion?) years, I never would have thought that I would become an entrepeneur of any variety, let alone a Yoga teacher. And yet, that's what I decided to do. Talk about facing my fears head on! Since making the decision to see how far this dream can take me, though, I've had no regrets.
To be afraid, terrified even - but still know that what you're doing is exactly what you're supposed to be doing? That's heady stuff.
But something amazing keeps happening...
Just when I am most afraid or nervous or feeling the most like a big fraud, one of my students will say something to me that will completely blow me away. I had a moment like this during my last Sunday class. One of my students got into a pose that I'm sure she never thought she could or would. It made me want to cry (happy tears) to see the huge grin on her face. I know she surprised herself in the most awesome way! All I could think about was how inspiring the whole class had been - how great it had felt to lead these powerful, beautiful women in practice. It felt like such a gift. But after the class, she gave me the greatest gift of all. She told me that one of the things she loves the most is that just when things seem really hard, she just has to look at the big smile on my face and it doesn't feel so hard any more.
It wasn't the fact that she complimented me that blew me away. It was the simple truth of her words that brought home WHY doing this is so important to me, why I am so passionate about it.
I see my students the way I want to be seen. I see them for their power and their struggles and their beauty and their triumphs and even their sorrows. I see their vulnerability and their grief and I see their fear and all of it is reflected in my own life, my own journey and I like to think that the way I teach Yoga is the way I love to feel: like a big ol' genuine affectionate hug and a whisper in your ear "You can do it. I believe in you. You're amazing!"
I worry sometimes that my random squeals of delight and pride halfway through my class might put people off. That when I stop and clap my hands and excitedly say "LOOK AT YOU! This is AWESOME!" that maybe it's not quite the "yoga vibe" that people expect... But it's who I am.
And as the quote above so eloquently says... it is not my job to worry whether people like me or not. It is my job to be there for them. For you. For the people who are coming to me for whatever it is they get from the class. Whether it's physical, spiritual, emotional, more, or all of the above.
And no matter how scared I get. It is those moments that I absolutely live and breathe this Yoga for. The moments when I am reminded that somehow, in some small way, I can make a difference. I can make someone feel seen... heard... accepted.... even loved.
That is what makes it easy to face any fear that may come up, any insecurity. You. All of you. Thank you for being so freaking amazing.
See you on the mat!
Isn't it odd how one can get hit by the biggest wave of insecurity ever - just when things are actually going pretty well?
I never in a million years thought I would be a Yoga teacher one day. I also never thought I would own my own business (me? an entrepenur? no way!). Yet, here I am.
I'm living my dream! And doing that makes me so happy and grateful.
But it also is difficult beyond measure. Not only am I putting myself very much on display for the world (especially now that I'm getting ready to start filming stuff for YouTube), but I am also very aware that I could totally fail at this! And I'm sure if there's one thing all entrepreneurs, teachers, and coaches have in common it is the fear of failure.
I've struggled with insecurity a lot over the years. And no matter how confident I think I am about Yoga and teaching Yoga, this work still challenges me deeply.
When I stumbled across this Steve Furtick quote last week, it immediately became the theme of my classes. It's so true, isn't it? We do compare all the little details and mis-steps and out-takes of our own life with the stuff other people present to the world! And all the while we forget that each person has their own out-takes and bloopers and behind-the-scenes stuff that we don't get to see.
It's really not fair, is it?
This is where comparison always gets super sticky. Because comparison is never real. It's easy for me to look at other Yoga teachers and feel like I must be doing something wrong - because what I do as a Yoga teacher is SO different! There are a few other Yoga teachers in the world doing the type of work I choose to do but even among us there are many differences. There really is no road-map. And, in a way, that's exciting and glorious because I can pave my own way. But the part of me that craves security finds that kind of terrifying.
A recent example of this is my retreat planning. You see, I had it in my head that I had a rather ambitious goal to plan my first Yoga retreat for the summer/early fall of 2014. I thought that was an aggressive goal since most Yoga teachers wait several years before offering their first retreat. But, when I mentioned to my Sunday morning students, in passing, that I was hoping to do a retreat next year - one boldly inquired, "Why not this year?".
I think my jaw must have hit the floor. I'm pretty sure I sputtered. It was not a graceful moment y'all. Especially when other students chimed in excitedly about the idea of a retreat THIS year.
But it really was awesome in an epic kind of way. My students want a retreat this year, not next year. I was holding back - afraid to rush things, but they were ready. Who knew??
It's because of that conversation that I just took a major leap of faith and put down a (rather large) deposit on a property for my first ever Body Positivity Yoga Retreat for THIS September. (FYI - I'll totally be linking that to my retreat page once the details are up, hopefully later this morning).
But I digress.
The point, here, is that it really comes down to remembering that what each of us has to offer the world is so different that comparing ourselves to others is really rather futile. We each have gifts. We each have fears. We each have our own things we struggle with in our lives - and we each have our own dreams. What purpose is truly served by comparing?
For myself, this is a work in progress. But I'm learning, slowly, that being wildly and boldly myself no matter what others are doing is one of the best things I can do for my own well being. What about you?
Photo Credit: Snowflake by AMagill
One of the things that the journey towards Body Acceptance has taught me is that "later" is not my life. My life is now. My life is is a series of precious moments not meant to be wasted.
I used to make myself all kind of "later" promises, only instead of "later", I used "when I am thinner", or "when I lose another ten pounds", or "when I am more confident", or "when I can wear a size 14 or lower"... and the list goes on and on and on, forever.
Are you sensing a theme here?
I think that the reason so many of us in bigger bodies or non-conformative bodies do this to ourselves is because everywhere we look the people doing the things we want to do seem to be thinner, more confident, happier, etc. And we tell ourselves we need to get to that place before we can do them too.
But I'm about to blow your mind here: that isn't the truth. It's just that media is really fucked up. Advertising and media is completely skewed to one particular body type and so that's what we SEE in television ads, magazines, billboards, and flyers. In real life, people of all shapes and sizes do awesome things EVERY day. So why can't we?
When I started realizing that I was putting off so many things I wanted to do or try because of my size, I also realized how much of life I'd been denying myself for so long. And why? Because I thought I would enjoy the activity more when I was thinner? Probably not. In my case, once I dug deep I discovered that it was because I thought I didn't deserve it until I was thinner. And that's really the kicker, isn't it? It often comes back to our sense of self-worth. That's when it hit me that my self-image needed some serious work. And it is work, don't get me wrong. It still is work, almost every single day. I haven't reached some sort of body-image enlightenment where confidence comes super easy. It's gotten easier. But some days, it's still really rough. And that's okay. It's all part of the process.
Every time I catch myself saying that I'll do something "later", I try to stop that line of thinking right in its tracks. Then I remind myself that if I had told myself that I would become a fat Yoga teacher "later", I probably never would have done it. And becoming a Yoga teacher is, easily, the best decision I have ever made. I had never dreamed I could be so happy and so passionate, doing a job I love right down to my tippy toes. And yet, here I am doing just that. Here's the cool part: Once you start living life for right now, you realize how awesome it is and it gets easier to get brave about doing things right now!
The bottom line is that you deserve happiness right now. You deserve joy and play and love and desire and wonder right now. You deserve to live your life fully in this moment. And this moment. And this one.
So I have a challenge for you: Today I want you to eliminate at least ONE "later" from your list and do it RIGHT AWAY. Whether it is the purchase of a new pair of jeans you've been putting off until you're a certain size, or signing up for a new activity, a new tattoo, a new hairdo, or saying hello to that person you've been crushing on. Promise yourself, today, that you'll pick ONE thing (or more) from your "later" list and do it right now. And don't forget to tell me in the comments what you're committing to do to live your life NOW!
And hey, you know, if Yoga is on your "later" list, babe - I got you. I'll see you on the mat!
My life has been busy and tumultuous lately in some really wonderful and amazing ways. But, as I've mentioned before, even good things can be terrifying!
What I really find is that the more that I step into new territory in my life, and as a teacher, the more wondrous everything becomes. Of course, with the wonder comes growth, and fear.
It's easy to talk about being brave or about being excited for new things that you know will challenge you. But as those things draw nearer, the instinct is still to pull back, to withdraw, to hide, to avoid, to procrastinate, and to do whatever it takes to get back in the comfort zone where you know exactly what will happen next. At least, that's the case for me. And I know that when I find myself in that situation, those are the precise moments when it is most critical for me to hold my ground, to step forward instead of retreat.
I read somewhere that courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the actions one takes even though one is afraid. This is where the magic happens, if you ask me. I know I say that a lot - about the magic happening where things get tough, but it's so true!
So while I've been talking about the steps I'm taking to pursue my dream, my passion for Yoga - and while I've had lots of honest things to say about how excited I am for this new future I am crafting, I am also shaking in my boots.
It's been one thing to plan, to talk, to dream, to take action. Yet another as deadlines and new beginnings loom nearer and nearer. I said to my wife, recently, that it feels as though I've been talking and planning this big leap and so I've gotten used to that part. But now that I'm getting closer to it, I feel like the parachute is strapped on and I'm in the plane as we are gaining altitude and, well, there's a big difference between planning and being THIS close to jumping.
I've made a decision to move away from the familiar and toward the unfamiliar. The groundwork has been laid. Now, all that's left is to reach altitude, and jump.
Before I get there, I know that I will have made peace with my fear. No one is going to have to push me out. I'll be stepping into the unknown of my own will - and the second I do, I know that my Self will be forever changed.
At 10,000 and climbing...
Despite a few glitches in the way my morning went, I have to say that the Platform For Plus Size event went very well!
The venue, downtown Vancouver's own Vancity Theatre, was really lovely. It was intimate and very well laid out. It gave the symposium participants the opportunity to actually connect with one another, which can be hard to do at a large scale event.
As for the speakers, my favourites were Christina Bianchini, Louise Green, and of course Jennifer Livingston. These women shared their own journeys from a place of personal experience and the message from them all was body-positive and inspiring. To quote Louise Green, "Live Life Now". And to quote Jennifer Livingston, "You are more than a number on a scale."
I have to say, after Jennifer's keynote, I am pretty sure there was not a dry eye in the house. She spoke about her journey to body-acceptance from a place that was both vulnerable and raw. I'm sure that everyone in the room could relate to her story. So many of us had people who told us that we'd "be so much prettier if you were thinner" . So many of us know what it's like to be bullied because of our size, weight, or appearance. It is sad and frightening how relatable this story is. And it is why I am so fired up... so passionate about sharing this body-loving journey with other people.
While working my Body Positivity Yoga table, I had some really great conversations and connected with some great people, including other local business owners who are working toward shared body positive goals.
And I'm super excited about all the new opportunities that this experience will bring.
And here's where I say that I hate to leave you all in suspense - but there are some very exciting announcements coming soon. Make sure you're subscribed to my newsletter and liking me on Facebook so that you can be among the first to know!
I am featured in today’s edition of The Vancouver Sun – one of the biggest local newspapers in the area! It’s great news! I was super-pumped for this article to come out.
Yet here I am, admitting to all of you that what I really wanted to do when I saw the article this morning, was cry.
I had a blast during the interview, talking about my passion for body positivity and yoga. The reporter jotted notes furiously throughout our conversation and verified several quotes. It was a surprisingly positive experience. I didn’t feel led in any way and I feel like the reporter took the time to understand my position.
After the interview, she sent out a photographer to take a bunch of photos of me doing yoga so they could pick one for the article. The photographer was nice, got me to relax, and got so many really, really great pose photos. The weather had cooperated. It was a beautiful day and my feet were planted on my mat on a huge expanse of bright green grass with a gorgeous blue sky above me and sunlight just lighting me up from head to toe. I felt like a supermodel! Especially as I heard the shutter clicking away and the photographer calling out “That’s just BEAUTIFUL!”. The whole experience felt amazing from start to finish.
Knowing that the article was scheduled for today's edition of the paper, I rushed to the store this morning to pick up my copy. The article is fairly well done, all things considered. I’m not in love with the title because the term “super-size” has negative connotations and subtly perpetuates the fast-food eating fat people stereotype. But in general, all of us who were interviewed for the article shared a common goal – to create a safe, healthy, welcoming space for people of size to get healthier, regardless of any weight-loss and I think that message came across in the article, edits and all.
But when I saw the picture of me, my heart sunk and I got that tight, restricted feeling in the pit of my belly. Here I was, looking at a picture of myself in the newspaper. Something that probably thousands (or more!?) people will see. And I don’t like the picture.
The photographer took just a very few frames of me in Warrior II pose from this diagonal-to-me angle. When he showed me the photos quickly near the end I loved almost every single one. Except that one.
So seeing that particular photo in the paper set off a major internal rant. And so the monologue of negativity began: This angle is wrong! Warrior II is usually pictured from the side. I'm squinting and not smiling. It looks like I'm straining, not at all easeful in the pose, even though I was. I was squinting into the sun which was probably the reason for the scrunched not-smiling face. My belly looks all soft and relaxed in front, in spite of the fact that my core was engaged, making it look larger than it normally does, my alignment looks funny but I know I set up the pose properly. Where is all the beautiful grass and sky and trees that surrounded me? I really don't like the angle...
It seemed neverending and I was sure that I could never run out of bad things to say about the photo, which is kind of counter to the entire point - which was to show realistic images of me, a fat yogini, doing yoga. One of the things I was most excited about was the chance to be a source of some real representation in media of what is possible in a larger body. So why was I freaking out about my belly looking large when that is exactly the point of it all?
And the answer to that question is this: because I've spent many more years hating my body than I have loving it.
Self-love is hard. It’s not like you snap your fingers one day and you suddenly love your body. Body acceptance and body-love and confidence are things that have taken a great deal of work and that work isn’t finished. It probably won't ever be finished. It’s a journey. And, just like any other transformative process, some days are going to be easier and some, harder. And so, today, it's a harder day.
I have never felt so exposed or so vulnerable as I do today. But putting myself out there is exactly what I want and need to be doing. It’s what I am passionate about.
Putting myself on display, as a fat yogini and Yoga teacher is how I show the rest of the world that being fat doesn’t have to stop you from living your life or following your dreams. It is by being willing to be highly visible, by walking the talk, that I hope to inspire and motivate others to live life fully and completely, right now.
The truth is, I probably would have felt uncomfortable no matter which photo they chose to print. Because it's really not about the photo at all. It's about the fear of living my life unapologetically within a society that expects me to be embarrassed and ashamed of my size.
And so, I am going to do what I advised in the previous article. I’m going to breathe. I’m going to breathe right through the discomfort. Because I am also aware that this article represents a turning point for me and my teaching. I am on the cusp of setting up public group classes. Things are happening and momentum is building. What began, for me, as a teeny tiny baby dream is becoming a reality. And that is the magic and the joy of this process.
So I’m here. I’m breathing. I’m reminding myself that I am strong, I am confident, I am beautiful, and I am okay – exactly as I am. I’m reminding myself that I am safe and that this is just one more awesome step in the journey to living my passion.
And, once I’ve broken through the discomfort, I know that what I will feel is proud: proud of myself for doing what I love, for standing up for what I believe in, and for following my dreams – no matter how scary that path is sometimes.
This coming Wednesday is Love Your Body Day! Amazingly,, this will be its 15th year!! How awesome is that?
While I encourage you to love your body every single day of your life - it often is helpful to have a special reminder that you are perfect just the way you are., and that the advertising and representations seen in popular media are not at all a true reflection of what your body should be.
Loving your body, in a society that trains us to think of our bodies as never good enough, is hard work! It isn't usually something that you just flip the switch on and suddenly start thinking "I'm FABULOUS" every time you see your reflection in the mirror. Usually. I'm sure it happens for some people, I'm just throwing it out there that for most of us, it's a practice. And it takes commitment.
To illustrate this, I wanted to share something that I experienced recently that reminded me that this is a journey - every single day.
I recently had two new yoga experiences, both of which I had been avoiding to a certain degree for some time: hot yoga and an intermediate detox flow class that one of my favourite teachers offers several times a year. In both cases, I had been intimidated on several levels by the idea of going. On some level, I'm sure I was afraid I wouldn't be able to keep up, and on another level it is always scary going into a "new" yoga environment as I once again walk into the class as (usually) the only fat yogini in the room. I tend to be cautious, dipping my toe into new experiences a bit at a time.
The reality is, that I am almost always pleasantly surprised by my experiences. I just sometimes need a little nudge to get me there.
With the hot yoga, it was one of my Bear students who provided the nudge. He was going and offered me a free pass to check it out with him. We made arrangements to meet up for a hot yin yoga class, which felt accessible to me.
With the detox flow class, I knew it was going to be challenging, but my instructor, Ariel, was very encouraging and told me I could totally handle it. She nudged.
I was surprised by both of these experiences.
At hot yoga, I discovered that while the heat was intimidating when I first stepped into the studio, that I found it pretty soothing once we got into the poses. And, I didn't feel self concious about sweating because everyone was sweating or expected to sweat in hot yoga. I had borrowed a yoga mat towel and found that because I wans't worrying about sweat making my mat slippery (or the ick factor of dripping all over everything), that I relaxed about the sweating and actually enjoyed it. Who knew!?
I decided to try using the yoga towel when I went to the detox flow class as well, and found that, once again - I was way less "stressed" about sweating. Another thing I learned at the detox class was that I don't give myself nearly enough credit for my capabilities sometimes! Yes, I was the only fat yogini in the room. But, I also noticed that when I had to modify something it was not because I was not capable or strong or flexible, but because my body just isn't shaped the same. So, my thighs hit my belly sooner than for someone else because I have more thigh and more belly. So what? When I skipped a down dog or did knees down for plank, was I getting a less effective or less meaningful experience than my down doggin', plankin' classmates? Of course not! My abs were working hard, my arms and shoulders were working hard, and I was squeezing and twisting and getting all the same actions in my body.
In both of these experiences, though, I learned something mind-blowing.
I learned that it's okay to sweat. Maybe people don't realize this, but there is a lot of imagery and jokes out there making fun of the fat person working out that picture them just sweating buckets. I know very few bigger-bodied people that are not self-conscious about their sweat. I imagine it's for the same reason that those same people may feel self conscious wearing sweats in public or not having makeup on or eating any food in public that could possibly be construed as "unhealthy": it's because we try so hard to avoid looking like the stereotype, so that we can avoid being judged.
And really, it's bullshit. Everyone eats. Everyone sweats. Everyone likes to be comfortable. So yeah, sometimes I'm going to be kickin' it in some sweatpants, or enjoying a hot dog outside at the beach, or sweating when I work out - just like any other person. It doesn't make me a "bad fatty". But it can be hard to overcome that mental patterning.
So what if I sweated it out more than anyone else in the room? Maybe I did... maybe I didn't. I felt like I was just drenched from head to toe. So what? All that I can control is how I view myself and how I treat my body. And my body LOVED the sweating.
The more I sweated it out, the more liberated I felt. I was sweating! Buckets! In PUBLIC! And it felt great. I felt empowered.
Yeah yeah, you say. It's just sweat.
No, my friends. It's not just sweat. It's freedom! Just like it's freedom to wear what you want, dress how you want, eat based on the choices you make (not the choices made for you), and live your life with utter and complete abandon.
And this is why I practice yoga.
Every time I get on my mat, it is an opportunity for me to check in with my body, and how I feel about my body. Do I feel frustrated with my body or its abilities? Do I feel solid and supported? Do I feel embarrassed or unstable? When I begin my yoga practice, I become one with my body - with everything I am feeling physically and with my thoughts about my body as they pass by. It's an important touchstone. It helps me to be aware, and to adjust as I need to - whether that adjustment is needed in the pose I'm holding or the mental patterns I'm stuck on.
Over this past week, I realized I was stuck on my own issues and hangups and fears about sweating. I broke free from that mental pattern. Another little victory.
But the work isn't finished. It continues every moment of every day, with every breath I take and every single time I step on my mat.
It's a hard and beautiful journey to love your body. Journeys are better with good company. Travel with me. We'll do this thing - together.
So, it's official! I've been accepted into a 240 hour yoga teacher training program that I've been drooling over for the better part of this year.
While my correspondence course with Aura Wellness Center gave me the foundation, this course will springboard me forward into the future I envision for myself as a Fat Yoga Teacher.
When I first realized that what I wanted was to share with others what I have experienced from yoga, I was terrified. I was (relatively) new to the concept of Body Positivity and had experienced this major transformation through my Yoga practice. I realized that to share my passion for yoga with others would bring me so much joy. But, I wasn't sure I would feel comfortable teaching. I wasn't sure.
The correspondence course gave me an affordable way and realistic way to start down the path. I earned my certification and my yoga knowledge grew significantly, but I also found that I was lacking the benefits of in-person instruction. I began attending Yoga Teacher development workshops and found rapid growth there. The real-life interactions with other teachers and fellow yogis and yoginis helped me much more than the material from the correspondence course had.
Through the workshops, I began to experience different teacher's teacher-training "style" and found myself drawn to a particular program. Since it offers part time hours, I can keep my office job while I attend the course, which is a major benefit. It's accredited and tax-deductible (yay!), but most importantly - it is not branded.
I'd found myself really reluctant to take a teacher training program for a branded yoga methodology, such as Bikram's, Anusara, and other varieties. What I wanted was a solid foundation in Yoga instruction that was customizable. So much of what I do with Yoga is outside the box. There are not many fat yoga teachers and my 'style' of Yoga is, by necessity, very different. I needed a teacher training program that wasn't going to try to shove me in a mold. The program I'd found described the approach as "Open Source". Which is, essentially, what I need in a teacher training program.
As you can see, it's exactly the sort of program that someone like me needs! So, I applied for the program and was recently accepted.
It's going to be an interesting winter for me. I work my day job Monday through Friday 7:30-4:30. School will be Friday's 5-9pm and then all day Saturday & Sunday. I managed to work out an arrangment with the day job to take half-day Friday's during the program, but even still - it's going to be pretty darn busy! :)
Yoga Bears starts back up in September as well. I'm so excited to get back into the studio and teach the Bears. They're such a fantastic group. It's also going to be really great being able to work with them throughout my training program, where I can practically apply the things that I learn, as I learn them. Talk about win-win!
Once I complete this training program, I'll be working full-speed to get a Body Positivity Yoga class series going, hopefully at a local studio or community centre!
I can't wait!!
*Trigger warning: Some discussion of past dieting/body-shame issues*
Anna Guest-Jelley of Curvy Yoga recently published a fantastic blog post about some of her recent thoughts and experiences during her commitment to go scale-free for six months.
Her post inspired me to do some writing about my own scale-free experiences: why I chose to do it in the first place, why I continue to do it, and what I get out of it.
When I first decided to go scale-free, I think I was just tired. Not physically tired as much as emotionally tired. I had gotten into the habit of weighing myself at least twice a day, most days. It was a throwback from my old points-based dieting years. My fancy digital scale even shows me my weight to the tenth of a pound. After all, those dieting gurus always said that every little bit counts right? But, naturally, that means each little bit counts in each direction. And, given that heavier is supposedly "bad" and lighter is supposedly "good", the scale was my judge and jury and my punishment should the scale show my weight was higher than the last time was shame, a feeling of unworthiness or incapability, frustration, and self-reproach. The mental dialogue would begin: "If only I hadn't had that extra helping at dinner or that cream in my coffee". And so I would berate myself for every supposed mis-step because, every little bit counts don't ya know?
When I made the decision, with my wife's support and encouragement, to stop dieting - it was mostly because I realized that dieting had created a very unhealthy relationship with food. Food was about control. The points system that I used to sing the praises of was my downfall. I had an allotment of points to use each day and so the majority of my time was spent thinking and planning about how to get the "most" out of them. I became an expert on the foods that would give me the most "volume" of food for the least points so I wouldn't feel deprived. I did not think about hunger or fullness signals. I did not think about what my body was craving or why it might be craving it. No, what I thought about was things like - "I can have TWO baked potatoes with fat free cottage cheese or only one chocolate bar for the same amount of points!" I wasn't thinking about which my body wanted or needed or which would actually make me feel satisfied. It was all about volume. I was good at it. I felt in control. I could eat LOTS of food if I just ate the right things. I realized that this process was making me into a food-obsessor. It's all I thought about or talked about. That was when I realized I needed to take a break.
I had to accept that walking away from this lifestyle of food and points-budgeting was going to be hard if I was also obsessing over my weight. So when the points sytem went.... so did the scale.
First I cut back to weighing myself once a day. I noticed that was upsetting me because I was refusing to do the points system anymore so even the tiniest fluctuation on my fancy digital scale (that showed each tenth of a pound!) would send me into a panic.. So, I weaned myself to once a week. This went on for a while, but each trip to the scale would have me judging myself and my choices..
Then finally, about a year ago, I realized the scale had to go. I needed to trust myself and my body and just stop obsessing. So I put the scale away. In a cupboard and out of sight.
I think I have checked my weight exactly once since that day.
I can't even begin to describe the freedom this change gave me. When I first backed off the scale, I kept waiting to experience this massive weight-gain. My only way to really be aware of my body size was to notice how my clothes fit, and I kept expecting to balloon up in size. It never happened. I maybe went up one size from my lowest size ever.
But the most amazing thing is how my relationship with food changed. I think about my body more when I eat. I think about what my body is craving. I think about when I'm hungry and I notice, far more often, when I am full. I am not answering to anyone for my food choices - only how I feel. So, if I get a burger and fries and a shake and notice that my belly feels heavy and icky after, next time I crave that kind of food, I'll get a much smaller amount or split a burger and entree salad with my wife so I can have a little of what I crave without making my body feel abused in the process.
I came to a lot of these understandings about developing a healthy relationship with food - on my own. And then, I read Linda Bacon's Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight. That book validated my experiences. Until then, I'd wondered, somewhere in the back of my mind if avoiding the scale was just my way of beign "lazy". After all, society tells us that if you're fat - it's okay only IF you're trying to stop being fat. Right? Reading that book reaffirmed all the reasons why I ditched the scale in the first place.
Armed with more information, I now have no problem standing tall, looking people in the eys and saying things like:
"I have no idea what I actually weigh"
"No, I'm not trying to lose weight"
"No, I don't diet anymore - period"
"Yes, I would like a piece of cake - thank you!".
In the beginning, ditching the scale had felt like my dirty little secret; the kind of thing I should never admit to anyone. But what I have come to realize is that it was really one of my greatest accomplishments and I am damn proud of it!
Nowadays, I don't miss the scale at all. I see it, every once in a while, flipped over on its side, shoved into the corner of the cupboard, covered in dust and I don't feel tempted to pull it out. I just don't feel like I need to know how much I weigh anymore. I know how my body feels. And that is what is important to me now.
Ditching the scale gave me the freedom to recognize that a number on a scale can never define me or inform people about the type of person I am. I have so much to offer this world. I am worthy of love and affection. I am worthy of respect. I deserve to feel great about my body. And no number can or will ever change that.
I wish more of us could. see that we are not a number. We never have been and we never will be. We are each unique spirits with incredible potential.
It is so important to care for the bodies we inhabit, but sometimes that care doesn't look like we think it will. I feel like the most important thing we can do to care for our body is to first, stop judging it. Embracing body positivity, body love, body acceptance begins with recognizing that there is nothing inherantly BAD about your body or your Self. Our bodies are NOT our burdens - they are the most precious things we will ever own - and the most sacred places we will ever inhabit. And we each only ever... ever get one of them.
Learning to love your body is a journey, and there aren't any rules or maps or directions on exactly how to make that journey. Each person's path to self-acceptance is their own and will come with its own unique challenges and rewards.
As with any good journey, though, it's not about where you end up, it's about having the courage to take the first few steps with a sense of curiousity and wonder and just see where they take you. You never know where the path will lead. But the experience of walking it will transform you.
Happy New Year!
Wow, how time flies!!
I began this year, not with resolutions, but with determination to complete several goals I have set for myself. The most exciting, of course, is to complete my training and receive my Yoga Teacher 200 hour certification.
There's been a lot of studying, and I found myself getting absorbed in lots of extra materials that I acquired, which have been so helpful. But, the time has come for me to complete my first stage of training. My practical exam will be completed by Saturday and, once it and my other materials have been marked - I will be officially certified at the 200 hour level. Hooray!! This is a huge milestone and I am so excited to see it happen.
But that's not all I've been up to! Since October, I've been leading a gentle Hatha Yoga class called Yoga Bears, designed especially for a wonderful group of men from Vancouver's Gay Bear community. They are a warm and accepting group who never fails to amaze and delight me every week with their enthusiasm and growth in their practice. I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with them, and hope to continue working with them for a long time to come.
But, now that my training is coming to a close, I am finally making plans for the first Body Positivity Yoga™ Gentle Hatha Yoga Class Series (all genders). I've put a poll up on my Facebook Wall to see what days and times work best for those who are interested. Please do go there, like the page, and leave your feedback on the poll! Right now, Wednesday early evenings (6-7 or 7-8pm) are leading with Saturday mornings (10-11am or 11am-12pm) a close second. Once I have a clear idea of the most popular time slots, I'll work on nailing down the location, but it will most likely be Vancouver or Burnaby.
2011 was a big year for me. In the spring, a teeny tiny dream was born - to become a Yoga Teacher who specializes in leading classes for the OTHER people: people who have been curious or interested or even passionate about yoga but have not felt comfortable attending the classes available in their communities - either for fear of fitting in or concerns that the class material would be too intense or advanced for their level of ability. With care, I've grown that teeny, tiny dream into a reality. Launching the Body Positivity Yoga™ classes will be the result of a gigantic leap of faith in myself, and the continued determination to see my dream become a reality. And I have to tell you, it feels pretty amazing.
What I want is for my future students to see themselves mirrored in me and the other students in every class. Teaching the class as an out and proud queer fat femme Yoga Teacher, I hope to create an environment that is welcoming to all, so that no one has to fear "not fitting in". This yoga is about YOU. And YOU are beautiful and amazing - exactly as you are.
Looking forward to seeing you in all your fabulousness on the mat, very soon.