Yes, you read that right. And no, I am not making up my own spice names. I am spicing up this lovely August Monday with Operation Beautiful, a project by the lovely Caitlin, author of Healthy Tipping Point. She started the OB website with a mission: STOP negative self-talk. You know, that evil little voice that tells you how stupid you are when you don't do something perfectly or how fat you are when you look in the mirror. How, you may ask, did she set out to accomplish this? With Post-Its! She began writing positive messages on post-it notes and putting them in public places, like the library bulletin board and the mirror in public restrooms. Pretty genius, right?
She went on to write a book about the movement and it officially drops onto shelves everywhere tomorrow, August 3rd - go check it out! In honor of the book, she has deemed this week "Change the way you see, not the way you look" week and bloggers everywhere are posting about it...and I simply had to join in. If there was ever a cause dearer to my heart, it is this.
A couple days ago, one of our regulars walked into the coffeehouse I work at. I've known her long enough to understand that, well, all the wires aren't totally connected with her, but she means well and has a good heart. She chats with us baristas and the topic of eating came up. When asked if I "watched what I eat," I paused. I said, "well, somewhat, but I don't diet." She seemed rather shocked at that, and asked why. I began to launch into my tirade of how psychologically damaging "dieting" can be before I realized that I was about to release a good bit of personal information that she probably didn't truly need nor wish to hear. But it did get me thinking.
I don't remember when I started becoming aware of the voice in my head, constantly telling me how fat and ugly I was. When I started "dieting", it was completely self-motivated and with basically no outside help. I stopped buttering bread and eating that cookie just because it was there, but when my friends and I went out for burgers & fries or an epic 12-scoop sundae from Friendlys', I was happy to indulge right along with them. My motivation to keep on keepin' on with the new healthy lifestyle was a glance in the mirror at my progress - slowly but surely, I was looking & feeling better than ever. And then I went on a "diet." 60 pounds later, I only saw the "fat girl" in the mirror, even though people would ask how I was doing after hugging me, feeling how bony I had become. I remember one day, my freshman year in college, I was in a practice room (I'm a voice minor) and I noticed that my collar bone was protruding more than ever - and I liked it. And something about that moment, looking at my frail self in the mirror and still feeling "close, but not good enough" - I could tell something had gone horribly, horribly wrong. I started reading blogs and seeing what other people leading incredibly healthy lifestyles were eating and doing, and little by little, I started to heal. There were, of course, some ups, downs, and BIG ditches in the road, but I keep going. And I like to think I'm doing Ok.
My aunt once told me "you can choose to be anything. You can choose to be happy." That resonated with me so strongly, because it's true: you can choose to see the world however you want to. It's become a kind of mantra for me.
I'm finally at a place where I can hear that voice whispering in my ear about how fat I look and why I should starve myself for a week to make up for that cupcake - and I can tell it to stick it where the sun don't shine. I love my body, for allowing me to do everything from knead bread to hold Warrior III pose to simply inhaling and exhaling. It's a powerful feeling, trusting your body. And I know there are tons of women out there who fear that cookie or going a day without exercise. I am afraid of sounding like a know-it-all or preachy, but at the same time, I would like to scream from the rooftops to JUST LIVE.
This was a long, none-too-eloquent post to say such a simple message. But that's ok; that's how I roll.
Today, I look in the mirror and choose to see a beautiful, happy, all-around rockin' woman.
What do you see?