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Nothin’ Wrong With You, Baby

June 18, 2012
By Guest Blogger
|23Comments|


The beauty industry would have us believe that we’re inherently flawed. We have poor genes, faulty willpower and –gasp! — our mothers’ thighs. The constant parade of unrealistic, Photoshopped bodies makes us look in the mirror and mentally flog ourselves for not having a similar physique.

Is it any wonder that according to the National Eating Disorder Association, 10 million women and girls are struggling with anorexia or bulimia? Millions more suffer from compulsive and binge eating disorders.

I used to be one of these women. When I was in high school, I struggled massively with a negative self image. I felt enormous, towering over most of my classmates at six feet tall. None of the cute, trendy clothes fit my curvy frame, and I just wanted to fade out of existence.

Since I couldn’t change my height, I dieted. In those days, most of the diet books espoused the low fat, high carb program, so there were days when I subsisted on bagels and skinny lattes. When I was 18, I went on a black coffee and cigarette diet for two months. I lost weight, but I felt miserable, cranky and snappish (for obvious reasons).

Aside from starving my body, I was also starving my heart and soul. My entire life was consumed with the flab on my belly and the wiggle in my thighs.

Frustrated with the yo-yo effects of restricting my food intake severely, I heard about bulimia from a PBS television special. I was so desperate to be skinny that I actually thought it sounded like a smart idea! It became my secret tool to use when “I just didn’t have enough willpower.”

In my first year of college, I fell into a deep depression which I blamed on my weight. I’d gained about 15 pounds despite rowing on the university’s crew team and doing punishing, boot-camp style workouts six days a week.

In desperation, I watched my slim, size-eight roommate dress in sleek, beautiful clothes. I thought if I could just look like that, I could be happy. And my unhappiness was killing me from the inside out.

The more I focused on my weight, the chubbier I got.

I thought that because I was chubby, I was inherently flawed with no self-control or willpower whatsoever, and I thought I couldn’t have close personal relationships because once people got to know me, they would see what a wreck I was.

I finally availed myself of the free counseling provided to students and, sitting on a beige couch in a tiny cramped office, confessed my biggest problem, “I can’t love myself; I’m just too fat; but I can’t seem to lose weight and keep it off no matter what I do.”

Incidentally, I may have been slightly chubby, but I was far from obese and even measured in the normal ranges for height, weight and body fat percentage.

My counselor looked at me quizzically and replied, “Do you realize that there are thousands of people who would be thrilled to just get down to the weight that you’re at? Can’t you just love yourself for who you are, right now?”

Nothin’ doin’. I tried a few more counseling sessions but never really made much progress. I continued to punish my body for two and a half more years before I made a startling breakthrough.

My poor, abused body had a lot of lingering pain from the grueling crew workouts. I found a bodyworker who specialized in structural integration — peeling off the layers of pain and tension and systematically realigning your posture.

One day during our sessions, he told me, “You’re never going to be a ballerina. You’re just not delicate. You’re strong. You’re built to be strong. Stop trying to be what you’re not.”

I’d heard it a million times before, but this time it hit home — There was nothing wrong with me, just the model I was trying to fit into. It was the wrong model.

When I let go of punishing my body and started focusing on my strength, my whole world shifted.

The weight slipped off. I brightened up, and my personality emerged. I was no longer focused on how terrible my body looked. All my attention was on how good it felt to be strong. With my newfound energy, I started creating art — drawing, painting, making jewelry. I discovered how good a forest can smell after it rains, how beautiful a sunset can be when you have nothing to do but watch the clouds shift colors.

My eating disorder disappeared. I no longer felt the need to binge and purge my food. Eating became a source of joy and nourishment instead of something to worry about — counting calories and carbs and fat grams. I now choose my food by how it makes me feel in my mind and body instead of what the diet books say.

I work with women every day in my bodywork practice who come in ashamed of their lumps and bumps and body, but I’m telling you, there is nothing wrong with you. I have seen bodies of every type, and they are all beautiful. Stop punishing yourself into submission. Find activities that make you feel happy, light and free. It’s your unique strengths that make you special. Find yours; focus on them, and watch your whole world change.

Sukie Baxter is an anti-aging and rejuvenation specialist, helping you love your body, live your life, and rock your bliss! You can get loads of great tips for creating a happier, healthier, more energetic you on her site.

Photo credit: photographerpandora



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23 responses to Nothin’ Wrong With You, Baby
  1. Ani said on June 18, 2012

    Thanks Sukie for a beautiful post – the work you do is so precious and so needed. I also went through an eating disorder and low self-confidence. I broke through, got a masters degree in nutritional medicine and then went on to get some counselling training and qualifications in eating disorders management. Recently I wrote an e-book about ‘self love’ and am in the process of beginning a new business. Reading your words is extra inspiration for me, thank you! Ani x (England, UK)

  2. Thank you for sharing such an inspirational story. I love the idea of staying focused on your strengths-Fabulous!

  3. Wow. What a journey… It’s sad that we so often want to be something that we’re not; and because we’re not, we think we’re nothing. The more I hear stories like this, the closer I get to peace with my own body. Thank you for sharing and bringing me one step forward.

  4. Thanks for sharing your story so openly and honestly, Sukie! Your story is a great inspiration for many women and young girls :-)

  5. What an inspiring and heart opening story. To the author, Sukie, I just want you to know that I am a size 4 and the sad truth is I have body dysmorphic issues. After having 2 babies, I was over-stretched in the abdomen, my linea alba has totally split and I now suffer people asking me every day when I am due to have a baby. It makes me want to cry every time they ask because there is little I can do about the way I look and quite honestly I don’t want any more babies!

  6. Very inspiring, thanks Sukie. We need to be reminded more often to love ourselves the way we are.

  7. Thanks to everyone for your delightful and positive feedback!

    @Ani I know many women will benefit from your skills and attention. This is a huge problem globally – and it doesn’t get the attention that something like obesity does because you can’t easily measure emotional trauma.

    @Kristen Yes, focusing on strengths is far more powerful than trying to “fix” weaknesses!

    @Laura & Edita Yay! I’m so glad to hear it :-)

    @Kristin I may know someone who can help you. Email or contact me on Facebook and I’ll get you connected.

  8. @Katya I totally agree! I think the world would be a much happier and more peaceful place.

  9. Thanks. Kanimambo Mahalo Nui Loa

  10. Thanks. Kanimambo Mahalo Nui Loa

  11. I wish we could all turn that focus onto our HEALTH and actually FEELING healthy as oppose to trying to fit into the mental mold we’ve created for ourselves based on what society deems beautiful. Health and radiance is beautiful! Thanks for the article and for sharing your story, Sukie!!

  12. @RawGuru Thank you! Yes, I agree that if we focus on HEALTH, we will be beautiful, but if we focus on beauty, we will be unhealthy (think plastic surgery, botox, face lifts, etc, which really are just masks).

  13. Hearing the story of the journey is always so inspiring. Thanks for sharing your light Sukie.

  14. Thanks Sukie! Your courage and authenticity in sharing your story in such a clear voice will touch a chord in many people!

  15. Thank you, Linnette and Maile, for reading and sharing your thoughts!

  16. Great post! It is tragic how many people are still trying to be a ballerina. Your work is needed:)

  17. @Night Wind No kidding, right? And to think, ballerinas do many unhealthy things to train for their sport. Broken dancers abound, but we don’t talk about THAT so much!

  18. Why is it that women and mostly women find the need to blog everything and anything, wheras I and majority of guys dont have much to say.. You might say that women even out guys, or that women are superior to men.. It doesnt make any sense, cuz is it not true that like 90% of women are crazy? 100% of women i’ve met so far are freaking nuts. What is the need for a women to blog or talk about every single thought they get? That would be like me blogging about the size of my slong for a freaking hour, Idk.. If anyone can answer this or help me understand, maybe I wouldn’t be so racist against women.

  19. Why is it that women and mostly women find the need to blog everything and anything, wheras I and majority of guys dont have much to say.. You might say that women even out guys, or that women are superior to men.. It doesnt make any sense, cuz is it not true that like 90% of women are crazy? 100% of women i’ve met so far are freaking nuts. What is the need for a women to blog or talk about every single thought they get? That would be like me blogging about the size of my slong for a freaking hour, Idk.. If anyone can answer this or help me understand, maybe I wouldn’t be so racist against women. For the record, I’m not trying to complain… I’m simply trying to get an honest woman’s perspective. Thanx for your time.

  20. A powerful post. “You are built to be strong.” Love it. I, too, was a young adult when I realized that I don’t have a delicate body type. I have a strong body type. My daughters are11 and 13, and this talk about strength helps them a great deal with body image.

  21. Sukie, wonderful perspective for something so many experience in different ways as we mature. After four children, my body is different than it was before. However, I try to see these changes (from my c-section scar to the stretching tummy) as positive changes. Without these changes I would not have the children I prayed for so much. When I want to walk, my body complies. When I want to run, my legs run. My body does so much for me, I try to remind myself that I should be gentle with the gift God gave me and honor it by being healthy rather than try to be an “ideal” that is airbrushed anyway.

    I have two daughters and realize that they learn from our actions. Therefore, I let go of something that doesn’t exist (perfection) and embrace health and honoring the gift I have been given, a healthy body.

  22. Sukie, wonderful perspective for something so many experience in different ways as we mature. After four children, my body is different than it was before. However, I try to see these changes (from my c-section scar to the stretching tummy) as positive changes. Without these changes I would not have the children I prayed for so much. When I want to walk, my body complies. When I want to run, my legs run. My body does so much for me, I try to remind myself that I should be gentle with the gift God gave me and honor it by being healthy rather than try to be an “ideal” that is airbrushed anyway.

    I have two daughters and realize that they learn from our actions. Therefore, I let go of something that doesn’t exist (perfection) and embrace health and honoring the gift I have been given, a healthy body.

  23. This is an important, however difficult realization to come to for most women (myself included). Thank you for this wonderful post, brightened my day :)