There’s an obesity epidemic, and I’m part of it.
I walked into the Hematologist’s office and the first thing the nurse did was weigh me. Weigh me! I had an appointment that day to ask my Hematologist questions about my Factor V Leiden blood disorder and I wanted to get the doctor’s approval—or disapproval—for my breast explant I’m planning to have. I did not think a blood doctor would weigh me, especially right after a big lunch.
I stepped on the scale and she said, “Okaaay, so one seventy-eight,” and I thought, well, that sucks. The nurse didn’t seem to mind my weight as she carried on with other duties, getting the room set up for the doctor while I stood on the scale, a little bummed about my number, especially considering how active I am. The fact that my nurse avoided mentioning I was overweight made me feel unhealthy. I wanted her to invest several minutes and say there was a right way to get back to a normal weight, but I was too ashamed of my number to ask. And that was the crux of it, when the medical nurse avoided addressing a health concern–and how my health could be enhanced–that should have been addressed.
We are in an obesity epidemic and we are destroying our miraculous Earth Suits because we do not know how to lose weight and keep it off forever. This has been my problem. I have known how to juice cleanse my weight off, starve myself, and binge eat, but I have never known long-term weight-loss. The second big decision I’ve made because of #beprettybrave is to get back to my normal, healthy body–a thinner one–without a diet, and to keep the weight off, forever.
We live in a culture that teaches us to be afraid of our number. My experience with doctors has never, ever, included a comprehensive, health plan with a goal of a healthy body weight, probably because it’s taboo or too shameful for the majority of western women to discuss, including myself. Quite possibly, the doctors I’ve seen are just too tired from working all day long, on their feet, shuffling around meeting sick patients with new problems, in an office with no view. Maybe my weight–nineteen pounds overweight–seemed like small potatoes to the nurse whose patients before and after me each had cancer.
My body image and size have always been important to me, even when I may have ignored them or abandoned the practice of weighing myself in times when I needed the peace of mind. Many times, my body size has been so important to me, that I’d postpone or skip a doctor’s appointment or annual physical because I was ashamed of being overweight. If my doctor’s appointment was after lunchtime, I’d skip meals before going, knowing I’d get weighed. We must make health a priority and understand that our weight is just a metric, just a fluctuating number that helps us move towards a more optimal health.
We have to focus on moving towards a healthier Earth Suit and lifestyle. Saying, “I love my curves,” simply wasn’t enough for me because I knew my outer fleshy suit was built from the feeling of spiritual lack, of emptiness, of scarcity. I had to use the radical self acceptance I had for myself in a bigger size, and with the same amount of self-love, begin to make decisions to take care of my Earth suit because it’s God’s greatest gift.
We have to let go of the idea that having a big number on the scale is bad and a small number is better; there is no good or bad weight, our numbers are only bench markers for our optimal health, and knowing our number can be important in taking back our health. I never knew I was nineteen pounds overweight. Maybe a cozy ten, but never nineteen. Knowing my number made me think about how much easier my body and organs would have to work if I was just ten pounds lighter, fifteen pounds lighter, twenty pounds lighter.
I think about the freedom of having a lighter body, one that’s conscious of overeating, one that’s full-full: full of nutritionally dense food and full of joy and life and God. I think about that thinner body and I see myself wearing it. I have been hiding under a layer of comfort and protection I’ve built around my thinner body, and I am allowing my healthy body to appear, and my excess flesh to leave me. I am being vulnerable in my skin; I’m ready to share my beautiful, healthy, thinner body.
I love my body now, and I love my thinner self in the same way; the decision I’ve made to lose weight for good is a spiritual surrender and a decision made out of the purest love. I wasn’t put on Earth to diet or even obsess about my number. I’m here because I’m the greatest gift imaginable! We all are.
I have an Earth Suit because my spirit has a tool for this physical life. I’m going to love my Earth Suit because it’s the most precious gift I’ve ever received. Knowing my number, and not obsessing about it, is a tool that helps me maintain my Suit, the way I get my car inspected annually. On that point, our bodies are way more important than our cars. So let’s take the best care of them.
Let’s go to the doctor’s office when we need to, and allow ourselves to get weighed because we love ourselves and deep down, desire optimal health. We desire optimal health over crash diets, food restrictions, starving or binging, and we can have this incredible health as soon as we let go of the feeling that we’re not good enough, just the way we are. We are miracles at three hundred pounds, and miracles at eight pounds ten ounces. We never stopped being the world’s greatest miracles!
We have to be brave enough to let go of western ideas about weight–and how our culture thinks we should lose it–and body image and believe that God has made us in perfect form. Our bodies will find it’s happy place—a healthy weight—when we give it what it needs and treat it with patience and love.
Prayer: God, I accept the absolute miracle of my body. I accept my breathtaking beauty that is soul-deep, and I am allowing myself to show the world how beautiful I am. I accept my attraction because I am living your word and I choose joy, because it’s a choice you’ve given me. I accept my optimal health because you have made me in your perfect form. I am perfect, just the way I am. I am perfect in just the way you’ve made me.
When we choose to love ourselves, instead of acting out of self-sabotage, we stop acting out of fear that our bodies aren’t good enough; we stop the destructive, short-lived diet patterns, binging, disordered eating, and starving ourselves. We stop hating our Earth Suits because there is an unhealthy layer of fat covering up our miracle and slowing down our tool.
When we choose to love ourselves, we begin to mindfully eat and taste the miracle of God’s nourishing, whole foods. We might begin to cook at home because we realize that most restaurants aren’t as thoughtful as we are about the importance of nourishing our healthy bodies. When we love ourselves, we begin to see eating out as special, and we choose our meals more mindfully; we might even get dressed up to eat out and see the act as a spiritual preparation, nourishing ourselves out of self-love, the same way our ancestors prepared for ceremony and meals. When we love ourselves, we can slow down and enjoy more: enjoy the meals, enjoy our bodies and what they are capable of doing, enjoy being free and uninhibited, enjoy letting our old pain stories go and our present joy to take its place.
We are our bodies’ keepers. We must practice radical-self acceptance, and also self-responsibility and accountability. We are in charge of our health. We must take responsibility of our bodies and make our overall health a priority. We all want to live in our Earth Suits with more freedom, with little disease, less pills, and more happiness from feeling full, not just in our stomachs, but from spirituality, friendships, jobs that satisfy our calling, finances, vacations, education, hobbies, our community, and our family. We have to feel full-full; it’s our human right to feel that way. It’s not selfish to pursue a dream or make a change or to allow your body to be vulnerable again–it’s God’s intervention. Full-full is shameless. And we all deserve it.
I wanted to lose weight and I just didn’t think it was possible. I thought I was going to be the big girl, forever. I needed to hear from an M.D., “Hey, there’s a way to do this without binging or dieting or fasting or cleansing,” which is something I’d expect to hear from maybe a doctor, or even a friend, from Europe. But my nurse moved on from the scale without looking up from her chart and started to ask the routine questions, “Any family history of Diabetes? Cancers? Blood clots?” Yes, yes, yes.
I went home from my appointment and told Matt, “One seventy-eight. Can you believe it?!” I asked Matt to be my ally, to help me. I wanted to be healthy in my body more than anything, like the healthy, happy looking women I see who go out to lunch and never seem to binge, or diet. I wanted three square meals a day, lots of fresh local produce, homemade foods and some wine. I wanted all of this without giving up my joy for life and passion for great food, and I wanted to lose weight. So I gave my theory a shot.
I thought that the worst thing that could happen would be that my weight stayed on eternally, and I’d spend more time cooking from home than eating out, which I love to do anyway. Logic though, told me that if I eat and move with an immense love for my Earth Suit and spirit, slowly, the weight will fall off. I’ll stop eating the 3PM dark chocolate bar with a cappuccino. I’ll remove all the trigger foods from my pantry and fridge because I don’t eat them out of love, I eat them out of comfort from fear.
Trigger foods break our self-love cycle. On top of the tremendous self-sabotage that happens when we eat out of fear, those chocolate bars, or bag of chips, or even organic, plant-based cookies are loaded with energy—calories—that are wise for athletes but difficult on our bodies when we consume them in larger quantities and have a desk job.
Some of my trigger foods are organic dark chocolate, cappuccinos and coffee, and ice cream (especially at home). I’ve removed these things from my home and replaced them with foods and drinks I feel are much better suited for my Earth Suit: preparing my favorite Moonlight Earl Grey tea before breakfast, drinking kombucha at 3 PM instead of another cappuccino, having an apple or juicy nectarine instead of a chocolate bar, drinking chamomile tea after dinner instead of plunging into a pint of ice cream with Matt.
I have spent the last several years practicing radical self-acceptance, and I feel I needed this practice of being happy with whatever size I was, to understand that healthy weight-loss was just a commitment to love myself even more and give my body exactly what it needs; for once, my weight-loss was an act of love!
And, I lost weight simply, with a little help from technology–tracking my eating and movement–and a lot of help from the love I have for all of me, for the vulnerable, beautiful God in me. Here are some things I’ve done that have been incredibly helpful:
-I joined an app called My Fitness Pal, and plugged in my goal weight, roughly based on a BMI; I picked 155—a healthy weight for my height and age. The app helps me understand what foods serve my body, and what movement I enjoy that uses more energy, which I crave, especially when I’m working from my home office.
-I spoke to a girlfriend of mine who encouraged me to make nutritionally dense smoothies for breakfast, as a way to get a ton of vitamins and minerals early in the morning. I’ll include the smoothie recipe for you at the bottom.
-I pulled out my crockpot, which had collected dust, and started making seasonal soups again for my husband and me. The first soup I made was a Sweet Corn Summer Soup. The process of cooking, which took about thirty minutes, and then enjoying the food at the dinner table with Matt, was really rewarding. I tasted flavors I hadn’t tasted when we’d pick up to-go dinner, and the freshness was remarkable. The little investment I’ve taken in time to shop for food and cook from home has been so satisfying. We’ve also saved several hundred dollars a month in restaurant expenses. We still go out to eat, enjoying one or two nice dinners out a week, but for the most part, we enjoy eating healthy, delicious meals at home.
-I also made the decision, after hearing the suggestions on the Overeaters Anonymous podcast, to get every trigger food out of the house. I’ve been traveling all summer, so when I came back home, my pantry and fridge were so bare that even mice would be disappointed. This was a great starting place for me to begin my long-term weight-loss journey.
-I asked Matt to support me in the goal to be my highest self. I said things like, “Please, it would really help me if we only ate ice cream out at shops, not in the house. When we get it from the store downstairs—there’s a convenience store in our building!—we crush the pint over a movie and I hate to love it. It will not help me, and I need your help, your accountability.” I kept saying, to him, to my friends, to my family, “I hope this decision to lose weight, slowly and in a normal, healthy way, sticks forever this time. I pray always that healthy is a long-term decision we can make together.”
It has been five and a half weeks since I made the decision to care about my number—not obsessively—but care, about myself, and also how my body’s health reacts long term with a little less weight on it.
When I got back from Pretty Brave Adventures in Idaho, where I was hiking mountains, paddling, rafting, horseback riding and being active all day, I was weeks in to my big decision to overhaul my health in a gentle, sustainable, caring way. I found a scale in my building’s gym, and I stepped on it, five and a half weeks after my doctor’s appointment. One sixty-nine. I have lost nine pounds.
The reason I tell you this is because I want you to know that it’s possible. That we’re not forever fat, and in fact, we’re only forever love. We can do anything we put our minds to, especially when we decide out of love.
I have not skipped a meal, deprived myself, or committed to a twenty-one day juice cleanse; I’ve only decided to make this transition out of love, and kept track of my movement and the nourishing food I’ve been eating on My Fitness Pal. Every time I weigh myself, I tell Matt that I think the scale’s broken. It’s a strange feeling to lose weight without starving myself;
I feel full-full.
While I wasn’t obese, I was overweight, and I still am, and I’m working towards optimal health. Here’s what I know: We can’t be afraid of our number. We have to go to the doctor’s office, every year, at least, for a physical, for blood work. We have to go to the OBGYN. And we have to get weighed, sometimes.
Choosing to be healthy as a goal is one of the highest acts of self-love. I know it’s scary, to think we might be overweight and people might judge us for it, or we might be on different prescriptions because of our excess weight, but the only person who can help you is you. You have to be brave enough to believe that you are worth getting healthy for. That you are worth going in to the doctor’s office this year for. That you are worth going to get that physical you’ve been putting off. That you are worth moving your body every day for. Go get that breast exam, even if they weigh you before it. This is the highest act of self-love, when we can face our fears and do it anyway, and do it out of love.
Being overweight sucks, I know, but it’s not the end of the world. Think of it as the beginning of your joy journey.
We have to chose our health out of self-love. We have to reject the idea that the number of our weight is bad, even if it’s starting to look like the Powerball. Our number is only an indicator, and for me, an indicator that said, Hey, Emily, let’s get healthy. You have the tools, use them. Let’s let go of anything extra you’re carrying around that’s not of service and be just enough.
I want to ask you for your help. Will you help me on my journey? Will you continue to support me towards my highest health? I’m posting a lot on Instagram, and your encouragement would mean a lot to me. In return, I’ll continue to post honestly about my journey with body image, my breast explant, and my healthy weight loss.
Things that would help me are kind, encouraging words, inspirational quotes, links below to blogs and recipes you love, for example. It would even help me if you put a heart in the comment section below, signaling that you feel me, and that we’re on this joy journey together.
I’m a little afraid of the unknown, extremely excited, and eternally grateful for knowing God and having your support.
For 1 person
1 Cup Unsweetened Organic Soy Milk
½ Cup Organic Orange Juice
1 Cup Organic Spinach (any greens will do)
1 tsp Chia Seeds
½ Organic Frozen Banana
1 Cup Organic Frozen Blueberries
Dash of Cinnamon
Dash of Ginger
Blend liquids with spinach first, until it looks like green milk. Add the chia and blend. Add the fruits (frozen or not) and blend until smooth. Add the cinnamon and ginger and blend until smooth. Pour and top with a small handful of walnut crumbles.
Photography Mary Beth Koeth