There’s no other person who will be loving your body in an exceptional way other than yourself. It’s yours and yours alone, and it’s up to you how you want to be seen and appreciated. In this episode, I reflect on my own weight loss journey that has taught me the importance of being genuine with my physical appearance and also the dangers of body shaming. I also share why you should have a deep love for your body, regardless of your size. There’s nothing more painful than being hard on yourself just because of your outer flaw, so let your inner goddess shine bright!
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Love Your Bod
It’s something that comes up all the time in my work. It’s something that I feel like takes up so much of our energy. When I was six, I was a size 6. When I was eight, I was a size 8. When I was twelve, I was a size 12. I thought that was how it went. Depending on your age, you went up in size. I stayed between a 14 and a 16 pretty much my whole adult life until I was in my mid-40s. There was a stint right after I graduated college when I was working as a professional actress. My agent said to me, “You’ve got to lose weight. You are not going to get cast if you don’t lose weight.” I was also instructed to grow my hair, which was very short at the time. It was after the ‘80s. Pat Benatar and I had the same haircut. I was a gym bunny for the first time in my life. It was a struggle. Whenever I’ve got into alignment with what my body wanted, it scared me.
I remember doing some weight loss program that involved a counselor. In the first session, the counselor asked me what I was afraid of. The answer left up immediately that I was afraid of being attractive, being beautiful, of what would happen if people saw me in all of my power for who I was. I’ve got off the phone call. I quit the program. I started gaining weight immediately. That was the end of that until I was in my mid-40s when I discovered 12 Steps, as in Alcoholics Anonymous turned out there are several three programs for food. The first one is in descending order of less draconic. It’s FA, which was for Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous. That’s what that stands for. There’s CEA-HOW, which is Compulsive Eaters Anonymous. The HOW stands for Honesty, Openness and Willingness. You have to be honest, open and willing to participate. The least restrictive program is OA, Overeaters Anonymous.
I was in those rooms in twelve–step for 2.5 years. I gave up flour, sugar and alcohol for that entire time. It took me about six months to release all of the weight that I wanted, which was 40 pounds. People were coming up to me and saying I was too thin. I needed to gain weight. I was looking over my shoulder like, “Who are they talking to behind me? It surely wouldn’t be me.” A little bit after that, when I moved to Miami when I’ve got there, they called me La Gringa or LA Americana, which means the white person, the non–Latin person or the American. They also called me Flaca. Flaca is Spanish for skinny. I was like, “Who were they talking to?”
It was weird for me to be the person who had no weight problems. I moved. I was outside of my regular environment. My friends had seen me go through all of these struggles for years. They saw me very differently. The new people thought I was always thin. That was the assumption. I remember at the time being on a plane and stretching. I love to stretch and do yoga on a long flight. I remember a woman came up to me and said, “Did you used to be a dancer?” I was like, “No.” The idea that I would have had a dancer’s body alone was so strange to me. It was so funny to me. Those assumptions that people make because of the way that your body looks.
I had gotten to a point when I had gained enough weight. I was about 180 pounds when I started down the path of twelve–step. Men had stopped looking at me. All of a sudden, they were looking at me again. Now, I had been through a spiritual process for myself of no longer being afraid of being too big in the world, where I no longer needed to worry about my body is too big. I could let that go. I felt like that was when I came into my own power and allowing of me to be physically fit. Twelve-step was fascinating for me. The first thing that happened after I lost the weight around that same time was that I started looking at the principles that cause addiction.
I was an FA, a Food Addict for about close to two years, then I moved into CEA-HOW, which was for compulsive eaters. I was never in OA, Overeaters Anonymous. To claim your seat in the room, you stand up and you say the equivalent of, “I’m Halle. I’m an alcoholic.” It’s food, so you say, “I’m Halle. I’m a food addict.” I learned very early on that I was not a food addict. When I went into compulsive eaters, I learned I’m not a compulsive eater too. I can eat compulsively but it’s not a principle that I live by. I simply do not have an addictive personality. I gave up cigarettes easily. You don’t give up food or anything.
What’s important is that you understand your own process. For me, it was good enough to claim my seat in the room, my right to be there. I became willing to say, “I’m Halle. I’m a food addict,” even if I wasn’t. Even if I didn’t relate to that because it allowed me to keep my seat in the room. It’s what I learned very quickly. My sponsor said this to me and it hit me like a ton of bricks. It stayed with me and it’s why I stayed in that program for so long, “I learned that control is the master addiction.” That resonated with me. I may not have an addictive personality. I love to drink and yet I will give it up regularly. I want to do cleansing. I give up flour and sugar regularly when I want to lose a few pounds. It’s not an issue for me. I can eat very clean for as long as I would like to.
That master addiction of control was a thing for me. It was my great joy to stay in the room for all those months so that I could work on giving that need to control over to my higher power which is how they talk about that. I went through spiritual processes doing that, learning to use the word surrender, being okay with the idea of surrender, and understanding that surrendering was not waving a white flag and that I was not giving something up. I was simply giving over to something bigger than me that could help me more than I could ever help myself on my own. There was the idea of getting on my knees, which is another principle that they use in twelve-step.
Scientific Approach To Prayer
The guy who wrote Alcoholics Anonymous: The Big Book by Bill W. That is what he is known as to history. It was a contemporary of Ernest Holmes who wrote the understanding the science of mind and who created the concept of science of mind which is a spiritual principle or spiritual religion. It’s the idea that there is a scientific approach to prayer. You can create your life using the scientific approach to prayer which uses the principle that we are in co-creation with our higher self. Through that co–creation process, we can experience everything that we desire as opposed to besieging a God who is on the outside of us. We are in co-creation with our higher power to allow everything that we desire that already wants to come in to happen.
Twelve-step and size of mind have so much in common. They weren’t just contemporaries. The story is that they exchanged books after they were both finished. Bill W said, “Mind’s easier to read.” They both went off. Ernest Holmes did the science of mind. Bill W did AA. The rest is history. For me, that concept of being in co-creation with my higher power came in waves. I was in the science of mind studying it at the time when I discovered AA. I read The Big Book cover to cover many times. It was beautiful to me. I thought it was a Christian program but it isn’t. It’s a spiritual program. There are atheists in AA. There’s an A for everything. There are sex addicts, drug addicts and all of it.
I found that both concepts were deeply spiritual. However, I had a hard time with the idea of getting on my knees. That was one of the things you are supposed to do. Get on your knees every day. I couldn’t, until the day that I did. There was so much surrender and grace in that that I began to crave. I’m so embarrassed. I couldn’t let my partner see me for the longest time. I had a little walk-in closet. I go into the closet and closed the door. I then would get on my knees. What I needed to do at that time is to give myself permission to stay in the principles of the program. It was the working out at the spiritual gym piece of it.
When I left, it was because I was tired of no flour, no sugar and no booze. I wanted to drink. I wanted to eat cake when I wanted to eat cake. I felt like there was something out there for me that was bigger than that. I’m still in that exploratory process. One of the things that I have discovered is my body is starting to age. I’m getting older. I see a difference between myself on camera than I did years ago. What I see is that it’s so much about how we speak to ourselves, how we sound when we speak to ourselves, how we send out these messages and how much energy is going into that story of what we are like on the outside.
Your feet carry you around beautifully. Your hands do whatever it is that is required. They pick things up. They create masterpieces of cooking, art, writing or house cleaning. Our mouths communicate our thoughts to the world. All of these body parts are working in tandem. It’s nothing of the tens of hundreds of automated processes that happen for you. Your heart is beating. We don’t focus on any of that. We should be on our knees saying thank you to our bodies for the stuff we do that we are not even aware of. Instead, we are busy saying, “My belly’s too fat. I have cellulite, double chin. I need to lose weight. I can’t have the person that I want in my life because of the way that I look. I can’t have the money, clients, job, family or whatever in my life because I’m too this or I’m not enough this.”
Most of the time, it has to do with how we look, with our beliefs in the way that we interact with our bodies. If you don’t have anybody shame, mazel tov. I’m so happy. You should have a whole series about that. Everyone that I work with, everyone almost ever that I have encountered, has so much shame around their bodies. Much of their energy is going towards telling themselves that they can’t X because of the way that they look. There are these feast and famine cycles, I mean that literally and figuratively, where, for example, you diet like crazy and then binge. You swear off of something and then you have too much of it. You tell yourself, “I will never this again.” You then find yourself doing a lot of whatever that thing is. You overwork out and then go into periods of slaughter.
We have these beliefs, stories and many of them are so old that they are legacy stories. For the most part in the twentieth century, women were, if not voluptuous, at least allowed to have curves until Twiggy. It was Helen Fielding in Bridget Jones’s Diary who talks about thin women as stick insects. Twiggy would be a stick insect because she was so thin. In the ‘80s, Kate Moss came along. She was Twiggy but a generation later. It caused a conversation around anorexia, which was an important conversation to have. It also caused a lot more women to begin to diet and ashamed of their bodies even if it was because naturally, they had taught us.
Relationship With The Body
The question is, “Where are you at in your journey with your body? How much of your time and energy are you spending with this legacy conversation of, ‘I need to look like this?’” Much money gets poured every year into the continuing story that we need to look a certain way and show up physically in a particular way. It’s changing somewhat. Wonder Woman has helped. Although then the idea that you have to be an Amazon and fight well to have that strong body. Those are other things that we probably need to work on as well. The invitation for us is to get called into a relationship with our bodies that is one that we love and to be so kind. The wonderful writer, Anne Lamott talks about the kindness of pants for the stretchy waist so that you aren’t strangling your body by putting on jeans that are too tight.
I was so struck by that metaphor when I read it. Stretchy pants are kind to our bodies. She’s right. We get to think about and choose moment to moment, day by day, what we are going to put into our mouths, which story we are going to tell about that and how the relationship that we have to our physical beings, how close that is to worship at a temple versus feeling like it’s a garbage dump and that we have less value because we are worshiping at the garbage dump instead of worshiping at the temple. I have struggled so many years with this. I finally feel like I’m in a decent amount of alignment with my body, honoring myself, honoring the way that I look.
I’m in my 50s. I like the way I look better maybe than I ever have. I’m heavier than I was when I’ve got off of that no flour, no sugar for years. I love my body because I’m honoring my body. I hope very much that as I age into my 80s, 90s and beyond that, I also can honor my body. There’s always going to be somebody thinner, younger or prettier than you. If that’s not a conversation that you need to have with yourself, that’s awesome. If it is a conversation that you need to have with yourself, have it now because it’s better now than years from now after you have been through other years of beating yourself up or shaming yourself because of the way that you look.
I was at a Chinese restaurant. A woman walked in and she was quite obese. Her midriff was very deliberately showing. She had nodded a non–midriff exposing shirt up higher above so that you could see her tummy. She sat down at the table next to me. My first reaction was of wanting to shame her. “Why does she have to look like that? Why do we need to see her fat tummy?” I have the same exact experience when I go down to a swimming pool. I see big, old belly men with their tiny little Speedos. It’s how I was raised and how I grew up believing that if you had a lot of flesh, you should keep it hidden. I never exposed my arms above the elbow as a girl, growing up or in my twenties until I lost all the weight the first time. I didn’t believe that I had the right to show my upper arms off because they were heavy and jiggly.
That’s a story. It’s a belief. It’s an untruth, whether it’s about me or the lady in the Chinese restaurant. I have been spending some time at the Hard Rock in Hollywood. People walk around the hotel wearing all kinds of costumes and with all kinds of flesh hanging out. They were celebrating, enjoying and showing their bodies off all shapes and sizes. To me, that’s a gift. It’s a gift that they are inviting me to participate in. If I don’t go, that’s my shortcoming. They were enjoying themselves and their physical body temple. That is the opportunity that we all get to have. I hope you have enjoyed this episode. I hope that you will write to me on social media, whether I know you or not. Let me know if it struck a nerve or if it was helpful for you. I want to invite you to like, follow and subscribe on whatever platform. Until next time. Blessings.
- 12 Steps
- Alcoholics Anonymous: The Big Book
- Bridget Jones’s Diary
- More episodes from the Your Goddess Awakened Show