Many women consistently obsess about their bodies, food intake and personal thoughts. Sinking deep into an obsessive state that there is always something wrong with them. Guest author Rachel O’h-Uiginn shares her story on “How I learned being overweight doesn’t mean I am broken”
Written By Rachel O’h-Uiginn
Since the age of twelve, I’ve been overweight. All of my adult life I’ve been overweight. But since the age of twelve I’ve also thought something was wrong with me because I was overweight.
I was then and still am a very physically active person, eat healthy meals, and could tell you in perfect detail about the Weight Watchers program (lost 50lbs once) and how best to train for a 5K race.
Yet still, I’ve cried many times asking “what is wrong with me? Why can’t I actually lose/keep off weight?” and each time I do, I feel myself sinking more and more into a cycle of obsession around my body, my food, my thoughts — my whole essence as a person.
It’s utterly exhausting to think this way about yourself.
I recently re-read a phenomenal booked called “Women, Food & God” by Geneen Roth, which explores the mirroring relationship we have with food and our connection to the divine. I had been meaning to re-read it, but was avoiding it because I knew I wasn’t listening to the core message. I knew I needed to get real, but just wasn’t ready to face it.
But after an extensive bought of self-loathing around my weight & body image, I finally had enough. I told my now fiancÃ© one evening:
“I’m so f***ing tired of thinking about food, my body and beating myself up over everything I do and don’t do to it. I’m done dieting, done tracking points, done second guessing myself, and done believing that something is wrong with me.”
If it’s not broken, don’t fix it
I wanted to latch on to this “something is wrong with me…” belief, so I meditated and sat with it. Quickly an image came up and I identified it as The Repairer. I literally envisioned a frantic man pulling levers, tightening pipes, working around the clock, urgently addressing every single “problem” I had. My repairer was constantly plugging holes and making busy work. It was exhausting just envisioning him!
But then I asked myself…“Has my repairer actually EVER fixed anything?”
The answer came quickly – a resounding NO. None of my “problems” have ever been fixed; I still worry, still fret, still glare at my stomach sometimes, still think my bank account is pathetic, still think that a former boss screwed me over, still..still…still…..you get the idea.
I’m overweight because in my mind, it’s a problem that will always need addressing. But that idea is a trick — without my “fix-it mentality” I’m not sure what to work on or what to point a finger at to blame for my troubles. If I just work harder, then it’ll be better, right? But really, that payoff will never come. Hello Sisyphus!
Banishing my inner hunger-demon
The repairer is just a fictional character I created to make me believe I’m doing myself a huge favor by fixing problems, when really; he’s just blowing smoke over my eyes.
I told my repairer “you’re on permanent vacation” and he left – then I was totally alone. My stomach went hollow and I automatically felt hungry, but I knew it was a trick — a test to see how I would handle life without my repairer telling me to grab something to subside the “hunger.”
It’s not real hunger — it’s fear of actually letting something go unfixed, so I stayed with the sensation, felt my body tense, felt my mind fret – until eventually, I knew I was actually OK; that the feeling of hunger was just a call for greater compassion and attention to my own needs.
And then it struck me — if I removed the need to fix, then I also removed the idea that I was broken too! And if I wasn’t broken, then I wouldn’t have to feel guilt or shame when my tummy shows or feel self-conscious in sleeveless shirts.
If I’m not broken, then I’m able to accept myself for who I really am — an incredibly creative, tenacious, funny, intelligent woman who smiles at everyone she meets. Oh, and is adored by lots and lots of amazing people.
This was a lot to soak in…but I felt a great sense of peace and calm wash over me.
I then lied down with my fiancÃ© for about an hour, just hugging one another – and that feeling of warmth and love was way more delicious than any chocolate covered pretzel could produce.
What happens now?
It’s been just about six months since I let my repairer go and I’ve already noticed a big change. Food isn’t medicine; it’s just something I use to nourish without judgment. And if I have an extra piece of chocolate, that’s OK — I know the difference between wanting chocolate to sooth versus cleaning my palate.
It’s such a relief to authentically trust myself.
It may take a lifetime to fully appreciate what a broken-less life looks like, but now I have an exceptionally powerful glimpse into myself and the transformation of something that has been a source of pain for far too long.
Will I ever wear a bikini? I’m not sure — but I’m not going to beat myself up over it any longer!
Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life — Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.TM Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.
What have you accepted in your life that took time, physically or mentally?
I have accepted that it’s not necessary to ever compare myself to anyone else. I used to worry about the future a lot because I didn’t want to make a mistake. To help, I created a mantra to ground me: Whatever happens to me, perceived as good or bad in the moment, is nothing more than the telling of my life’s story.
What do you appreciate about yourself and within your life?
I love my spirit, I truly do. I devote so much time into my own personal growth and it has magnified the quality of my life so much. But it’s my go-getter drive and my thirst for wisdom & connection that makes me the most fulfilled.
What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What goals do you still have?
Overcoming my dating insecurities come to mind. I never dated until after college because I was afraid of rejection and vulnerability. I devoted time to work through my dating issue, and now I’m beyond thrilled to say that I’m planning a wedding with my soul-mate and best friend for October this year J The goal? To keep our loving relationship strong and vibrant over our lifetime!
What is your not-so-perfect way? What imperfections and quirks create your Identity?
Ha! As my fiancÃ© would say it “You’re just being YOU!” I’m a blend of a child & wise old-sage and feel at home in the skin between playfulness and rich contemplation of life’s mysteries.
How would you complete the phrase “I Love My…?”
I love my unfolding. I really am amazed at how my life is unfolding and the person I am and becoming. When I stop to think about it, I’m one lucky lady — so I try to think about that often.
Rachel O’h-Uiginn is the founder & CEO of Undercurrent Coaching, a certified life coaching business that works with women who want to improve their body image and self-confidence. A strong advocate for the “Health at Any Size” movement, Rachel’s work aims to empower plus-sized women to appreciate and care for the body they own. She also writes & presents workshops around topics of body acceptance, leadership development and holistic personal growth.