A few years ago, I tallied up the number of diets I’ve been on in my life. I thought I might come up with 15 or 20—30 at the way, way outset. But I was wrong. I didn’t come up with 15, 20, or 30. I came up with 65. That’s right: 65 unique diets. 1 woman. 20 or so years.
Not priceless—in the least. More like tens of thousands of dollars, not to mention inordinate amounts of time, angst, drama, and feeling like a failure. The moment I saw that 65 staring me in the face, I knew that something had to give.
Where to Turn
The problem was, I had no idea where to turn: therapy? Self-help books? Hypnosis? And what, exactly, had to give?
I was secretly—or not so secretly—hoping I just had to finally find that most elusive of creatures, the perfect 66th diet that would finally turn me into the svelte, always happy, less neurotic woman I wanted to be. Because that’s automatically true for all thin people, right?
Although I wasn’t sure where to start, I was fairly certain about what had to change: I had to stop hating myself. Because while I’m no scientist, I’m pretty sure no one has hated themselves into an answer for any problem they’re facing, much less one as intimate as how they feel about their own body.
The only thing holding me back? I didn’t know how to implement anything my therapist suggested or I read in feel-good books. I mean, I liked what they said about accepting yourself, I just thought it was probably meant for people other than me (aka people who are already thin).
Mind Body Connection
I sort of hate the phrase “mind body connection” because it makes it sounds so easy. Like, “you should connect your mind and body.” “You should eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full.” “You should do the exercise that feels best for you.”
Well, yeah. I didn’t need convincing that those are good ideas. What I needed was a way to actually make them happen—not just by sheer force of will that would burn out in two weeks (or, more realistically, two days). And that’s when I remembered yoga.
That’s right: yoga (I’m as surprised by that as you are, if not more so.). Somehow, though it was the domain of women whose bodies didn’t look anything like mine, I’d found it years before to help with my chronic migraines. And in that moment, I realized it could also help me come back to my body now.
It could help me shift from only following external guidelines like diets, to following my intuition, to what felt good for me, to what I needed on a daily basis. How?
By teaching me how to feel.
Why Yoga Helps
It was in yoga that I first learned (after years of trying) that I could feel what was going on in my body during a pose. I’d always thought when my teacher asked me to “feel what’s going on in your pinky toe in Warrior I” that it was more a cute li’l metaphor than something real people could actually do.
But lo and behold—I did it. Me: the curvy girl who often found herself the biggest person in the room by far.
As I continued increasing my capacity for awareness on the mat, I found that skill showing up off the mat. It’s like I was building a muscle and didn’t know it (which, trust me, has never happened to me before). And the more I could listen to my own body, the more I knew what it needed—less diets, more trust. Less drama, more peace.
Letting 65 be my final tally.