13 years ago, I was 50 pounds overweight. I had always been slim and fit, so my seemingly overnight weight gain came as a complete shock.
So much so that one sunny day I saw my image reflected in a glass door and didn’t recognize myself. Once I got over the initial shock, I moved straight into panic mode, trying one diet plan after another.
Even though I knew all about healthy eating and working out, I couldn’t seem to bring myself to do it consistently enough to lose weight and improve my health. Feeling helpless and hopeless, I turned to prayer.
I asked for help with my diet, I asked to get back in shape, I said I would do whatever it took to lose weight in a healthy and sustainable way. I was willing to change whatever needed changing and I meant it.
A few days later, I tuned in to the Oprah Show. That day, the late Louise Hay was sharing a technique called “mirror talk.” She suggested saying “I love you” to ourselves. Starkers. In front of a mirror. This, she assured viewers, would help us lose weight and improve our lives, guaranteed.
“Ok,” I thought skeptically, “how can I ‘love’ the person inside of me that has allowed this unhealthy weight gain? How can I love the way I look? How can I overcome my profound sense of self-loathing? How can saying ‘I love you’ change my lack of self-control?”
I couldn’t imagine that this woo-woo notion would make any difference at all, but desperate people do desperate things. Saying “I love you” in the mirror couldn’t be worse than the crazy diets I had tried.
I was not prepared for how powerful those three little words would turn out to be. As I said “I love you” to myself that first time, I broke into tears.
In the flood of pent up emotion, I realized I was ravenously hungry for love. I saw that I was lonely and that I was carrying the weight of a deep sadness I had never before noticed.
As I continued saying “I love you” to myself each day, I noticed that my overeating was, in part, an attempt to soothe myself and in part due to a haphazard dinner schedule that had evolved in our home.
I had always envisioned my family sitting around the dinner table enjoying the meal and each other’s company. That wasn’t what was happening, however.
My daughter came home from school looking for a snack that frequently spoiled her desire for dinner. And, it was never certain if and when my husband would be home for dinner.
Many nights he’d say he’d already eaten, while a meal I’d spent hours preparing sat in the oven. Other nights, he’d arrive hours later expecting his meal would be ready and waiting. While I hoped we would sit at the dinner table, he preferred to eat by himself in front of the television.
Contemplating the disparity between what I longed for and what was, I realized that I had unconsciously turned to food for comfort and was in complete denial about the dynamic that had developed in our home. It became clear I needed to take note and seek solutions.
I began to recognize my struggles with allowing myself to acknowledge that my marriage needed work. That part of my life was supposed to be “solid,” but it wasn’t. Recognizing we had issues to work on was pretty scary.
As I witnessed my struggles to share my feelings with my husband, I saw that my subconscious was simply trying to keep me safe. In making this revelation, I learned to be compassionate and patient with myself.
I knew, for starters, that I needed to create a more satisfying environment around dinner hour and started with cooking a special meal each night. It pained me to coax my daughter to eat, while my husband wolfed down his food, eyes glued to the TV.
Nonetheless, I began setting the table at a specific dinner time and adhered to it. No one welcomed the idea at first, but the earlier dinner hour eliminated the need for snacking for both my daughter and me. We began to enjoy dinner time chats and paid more attention to enjoying our food.
But that was not all. Eliminating the need for snacking had a profound effect on my waistline. Between dinner and early evening snack I had been consuming way too many calories. By eating only at the dinner table, I enjoyed my food more and felt satiated.
Taking positive action increased my self-confidence and self-esteem. While I was a long way from fully loving myself and losing all the weight, taking positive steps toward a better overall life made it a few ticks easier.
No matter how difficult your weight situation looks, loving yourself can bring you to a better place. Create an action plan you are willing to stick with and go for it. I’ll be here to cheer you on and keep sharing the story of my journey with weight loss.
Do you love yourself? How do you show it? Do you respect the person that you are? What ways have you tried to lose weight? Did they work? Are you willing to love those extra pounds away? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.