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NOTES FROM DEANNA

What my daughter taught me about body acceptance changed me forever.

img_5247My oldest daughter is 13. Some time in the last year or so, she hit a growth spurt and something really bizarre happened that I never expected in my wildest dreams:

She developed a body almost identical to mine.

It’s really crazy how the universe works, because this change happened at almost the exact moment that I finally beat my own body-hating demons that I have been fighting since I was HER AGE.

I *cringe* to think of what could have happened to her, to me, to our relationship if I had not worked those things out. It’s easy for me to see now how these issues get passed on from generation to generation.

But instead of triggering me, watching her change into her grownup body pretty much identical to mine served as a catalyst for my own body image work. I had been working so hard to love my body for what it was, and there my body appeared on someone whom I love unconditionally, and I was forced to see it differently.

The parts that I hated about myself for so long, I could look at her and see that it’s those exact parts that make her beautiful and unique. So, why shouldn’t it also make ME beautiful and unique?

When I looked at it this way, I got it. I really got it.

And what I’ve discovered lately is that this body-hating that can start so young is the beginning of our struggle with dieting and disordered eating.

It all starts the moment we decide we don’t like the way we are made. We’re usually too young to understand that this is just our DNA, the way our bones and muscles fit together. No, all we know is that we most likely look nothing like the women on tv or in magazines. There is one body type that seems to be acceptable, and no room for individuality.

When I was growing up, it was Kate Moss and Cindy Crawford type bodies: supermodels. For my daughter, it’s probably one of the Kardashians.

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And so, as young girls and young adults, once we began hating our bodies, we tried to change them. We started dieting and exercising to force them to be more “normal”.

We began to look for ways to force our body to change, so we restricted food. We obsessed over the number on the scale. We counted calories. We constantly compared ourselves to our peers and role models. This behavior probably snowballed until we were so obsessed with food, restriction, and our shape that we became completely out of touch.

And so what we have now are grown women who are so out of touch with their bodies, they are afraid to stop weighing, stop counting calories, to eat food they want. They think exercise has to suck to be effective. They don’t trust themselves.

And all of this is rooted in that hatred of our unique body.

I was born with a pear shape. My legs and hips are thick, and my upper body is small. It’s how I was born, it’s how my bones and muscles fit together, and I can’t change that.

Had I accepted this at 13, I could have saved myself 25 years of disordered eating, food obsessions, scale obsessions, body obsessions, and the feeling of constantly STRUGGLING with myself.

I recently took my 86 year old grandmother to some doctor appointments. When they asked her to weigh in, she began her own 60+ year process of getting worked up over the number she was about to see. At 86 years old, she had a number in her head that she wanted to see, and when the number was lower than that, she was so proud of herself. She’s still counting Weight Watchers points, at 86.

You guys, I don’t want to be 86 years old and still be going through the struggle, the up and down, the anxiety of the scale. Do you?

It doesn’t matter if you’ve hated your body since you were 13, you can stop right now. If I can change the way I think about myself, you most certainly can too.

This works for pregnancy also. We all carry differently, and every pregnancy is different too. Accepting this and just concentrating on being healthy and strong will give you an amazing freedom.

Step one: Hear it when you put yourself down. Just recognizing that you are doing it and becoming aware of it will make the process of stopping it possible.

Step two: Acceptance. Know and really *get* that we are all born with different bodies. It’s just science, it’s not personal. This is the body you get, and you can choose to accept and love it or fight it until you’re 86. Make that choice right now.

Step three: Tell yourself a new story. “My body is awesome. My body is beautiful. My body is unique.” You don’t have to believe it at first, but replace your negative thoughts with a positive mantra, and let that negative shit float off into the sunset.

I was lucky enough to have my gorgeous daughter show me how beautiful my body really is, because it’s so beautiful on her. It’s not just about how she looks, but how she carries herself, and how confident she is, and her beautiful energy. I have all of those things too.

Accepting my body in this way was also the first step in the big picture. When I stopped trying to change it, I was able to stop food obsessing, scale obsessing, and body obsessing. I am now back in touch with my body and the signals it sends me, and because of this I consistently sit at my healthy weight/size. I don’t overeat because my body tells me when I’m full and now I listen. I don’t undereat for the same reasons. I exercise because it makes me feel good. I don’t binge on sweets because I allow myself to have them when I want, so I actually don’t want them as often (because I’m in touch with how they make me feel).

I’m back to my pre-13 year old self where I can just eat and move the way I feel like, and it’s the freedom I’ve been seeking for so long.

We all have it in us.

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  1. Mary

    February 24th, 2017 at 12:02 am

    This is one of the most important messages for me in my life.
    Thank you for that.

    Best wishes from Poland 😉
    Mary

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