Monday, October 4, 2010

Self Love & Acceptance IS FOR EVERYONE.

This weekend I had the pleasure of running a “Body Love” table at the Upper Merion Fit Fest. I had kids and adults sign body love contracts and talked to folks about the importance of self-love & acceptance and its relationship to health & fitness. Each child I talked to happily agreed to love their bodies, many parents where enthusiastic about the idea and some parents even admitted they needed to work on their own body image. All was positive and inspiring, until one mother stopped by to tell me that she didn’t agree.


This woman was walking the track that the Fit Fest was on in her shape-up sneakers as her children visited the Fit Fest booths. She walked up to the table with a energy of confrontantion I could immediatly feel.  She told me that she thought it was body love was a good idea for kids, but not for adults.  She thought it wasn’t okay to accept being fat. That fat is unhealthy. She herself was on a diet.   In the moment I did my best to defend my beliefs, although its doubtful that I changed her mind. What I do know is that she isn’t alone in her way of thinking, and in fact I give her props for having the guts to say that she didn’t agree  She may have not been the only one, but the only one willing to say so.  Todays blog post is my rebuttle to her and to all those that think the same.

Point #1= Despite what the media tells us, FAT isn’t the same thing as UNHEALTHY. There are overweight folks in much better health than their thin counterparts. As a SOCIETY we are pretty damn unhealthy regardless of our size, I believe that is what needs to be addressed not obesity. We are unhealthy because we eat diets composed of mostly processed foods, dominated by simple carbs, and drastically lacking vegetables and fruits. We are unhealthy because we see fitness as a chore, exersize as something to do, instead of something to enjoy. We are unhealthy because we learn from the media and our elders to not be happy with the body that we have, that we should look different than we are, that we are not acceptable unless we meet a certain standard of thinness. What if we stopped demonizing all the FAT people (that bear the burden of visible results of a system wide issue) and actually addressed the real problems in our society?

Point #2= Diets and Exersize that are motivated by wanting to lose weight DON’T WORK. Look around you…how many people do you know that have stuck long term to a diet? Kept the weight off? How many people you know have continued to do that video exersize routine after a few months, or actually made full use of a gym contract? I’m willing to bet not many. And those that do…do they enjoy it? I don’t just mean they say “I feel good after I work out.” I mean they actually look forward to the exersize they do…just as much as they would a party! They don’t work because they are something you suffer through in order to try to get to another place than the place you are right now. Anytime you skip over the present moment, you suffer. Suffering never brings consistency in action. Us humans like pleasure not suffering! What if you enjoyed nutritious food, enjoyed moving your body….how difficult would it be too then, do it all the time, every day? It would be easy….but its not possible until you love yourself. You can’t love yourself until you accept yourself. Acceptance is the key.

Point#3= We get so caught up in the idea that we are not good enough as we are. That thinner thighs, a smaller clothing size, more muscle definition would make us happy, complete. The reality is we will never be happy with ourselves, until we learn to ACCEPT. I have looked in the mirror after losing 160lbs (post gastric bypass surgery) and cried because I didn’t like the way I looked. When I was 420lbs, I would have given my left arm (I gave ¾ of my stomach) to be 260lbs. But there I was the lowest weight of my life sobbing because every shirt I put on showed my back fat. Flash forward to today, I don’t cry in front of the mirror anymore. I accept the body I have, and I love it. My body isn’t what you would call pretty. The extra skin is quite overwhelming now, but you know what? I accept it. I love my body despite the fact that it is imperfect, that it isn’t ideally how I would choose for it to look. I believe that it is my acceptance (that I claimed more than a year ago when I still weighed 320lbs) that has allowed me to have the healthiest body I have ever had (not just in how it looks, but what it can do). It is my acceptance that has allowed me to TRULY love myself….Loving myself has allowed me to ENJOY foods and movement that my body wants and needs. I’m not going to say getting to acceptance is easy….its a process. It’s a road littered by our beliefs, beliefs long ago impressed upon us by our families, our experiences and by our culture. Know this though, LEARNING ACCEPTANCE is a worthy cause. It is the thing that may just give you freedom. Thin isn't what we really want….what we really want is FREEDOM!

Point#4= If you are a mother, an aunt, a big sister or a role model to a child, KNOW THIS it doesn’t matter what you say to those children about loving and accepting themselves. It doesn’t matter how much you want them to BE HAPPY as they are. It doesn’t matter how perfect and beautiful those children look in your eyes. THEY WILL ONLY SEE WHAT YOU MIRROR TO THEM IN YOUR OWN RELATIONSHIP WITH YOURSELF AND YOUR BODY. Truly we learn by example not words. Maybe that makes you feel guilty? STOP. Accept that you are where you are….you, given your life experiences have done your best. No matter what you do wrong, the children that you love will be OKAY.  Now that that's taken care of, CHOOSE LOVE. Commit to learning to love yourself. In turn everyone around you, especially those fresh in the mold, our children, will be able to love themselves more.

I don’t know that I could have ever convinced the woman I met otherwise, no matter what I said. However I’m going to keep talking, despite the nay sayers, in the hopes that my words plant seeds in women that are ready to hear that there is another way to be in relationship to our bodies. I'll keep talking in hopes that I can help create a visible alternative way of being, for the next generation. I'll keep talking until ACCEPTANCE & SELF-LOVE are no longer RADICAL.


The body, self-acceptance & love has given me.  My real success isn't the weight loss, but rather the joy and ease I have everyday in caring for my body that started the day i finally accepted myself. 


Link:
Sign your own BODY LOVE CONTRACT!

Quote:

"It's never been true, not anywhere at any time, that the value of a soul, of a human spirit, is dependent on a number on a scale. We are unrepeatable beings of light and space and water who need these physical vehicles to get around. When we start defining ourselves by that which can be measured or weighed, something deep within us rebels.   We don't want to EAT hot fudge sundaes as much as we want our lives to BE hot fudge sundaes. We want to come home to ourselves."
-Geneen Roth

P.S.

A big thanks to Maura Buri the organizer of the UM Fit Fest or not only inviting me to participate but for your commitment to helping children view fitness as FUN!

The next big adventures for me: The Warrior Dash this upcoming Sunday and a High Ropes Course on October 30th. Here we go………

5 comments:

primalmami said...

Great post. So true. And you look beautiful and so happy!

Stephanie Vincent said...

thanks so much Primal mami!!

Mantis said...

hey are you in upper merion as in PA mainline-ish upper merion?!? you are practically around the block from me if so... looking for like minded HAES body lovers I blog at axisoffat.com I am jenna get in touch wit' me dawningjenna at gmail

Jen S. said...

love that pic of you in your dress!!!

Stephanie Vincent said...

thanks jen...I felt extra beautiful in that dress!