A Weigh In on Shame

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“I look gooooood!  No seriously, I really look good!”  I look in the mirror and I truly think, “you rock this girl”  Naked, in yoga pants, jeans.  Doesn’t matter.  I like what I see.  And yet…………………………..

I feel shame for what I’ve done.  I’ve lost 50lbs.  And gained it all back.  Yep, every last pound. Okay, so I didn’t lose it overnight and I didn’t regain it overnight.  Never one to crash diet, I lost it the sensible way.  Eat less (and better) and move more.  But you know what it was – a goal. Once I lost the first 50, I thought, “I got this.  I can lose the last 10-15, but I can also cut myself a little slack.  Put more focus on other goals.  I got this.  I got this – what’s 5 lbs gained?  Must be water weight.  Hmmmm, strange, I’ve gained 10lbs.  Gotta get back at it, on Monday.  Oh crap, I’ve gained 20 – starting to hate myself, avoiding the scale.  I still look pretty good in the mirror.  I can still kill it in the gym, during a run.  I’ve got new goals – focused, loving them, I can miss this run, I can eat this (2nd) piece of cake, I can weigh in next week, next week, next week.  Hmmm…my jeans don’t fit.  Let’s put on yoga pants again today.  After all, they’re more comfy.  Okay, time for a reality check – I need to get on that scale.  What?!?!?!  I’ve re-gained 40lbs! Is this scale broken?  Must be water weight.”

Nope here I am cloaked in the shame.  How could I do this to myself?  How am I going to un-do this?  This is not guilt.  Guilt doesn’t shatter me.  This is shame.  Brene Brown defines shame as “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.”  I am flawed as a coach.  I coach people to reach for their dreams, to take chances, to do the hard work.  I am flawed as a mother – what kind of example am I being to my pre-teen beautiful daughter?

WAIT!  WAIT!  WAIT!  What kind of example am I being to allow this to define me?  What kind of example am I being to my daughter if I shame myself because of some weight gain?  Trust me, it’s the least interesting thing about me.  I am not FLAWED, I DID SOMETHING flawed.  I forgot that my decisions were life choices, not a goal.  I forgot to stay on track and reassess.  I forgot to make loving choices for my body.  But man, did I love the original journey.  I loved watching my body change into a more powerful machine.  One that slept well.  One that had new muscles popping out all over the place.  One that did triathlons, one that did ½ marathons, one that did 4 day bike trips with a pack on my back.  I just forgot how much I loved it.

I am not perfect.  I am human.  And in that I am worthy.  Worthy of love, of connection, of belonging.  I sit here with tears falling down, like pounds melting away.  Pounds that don’t matter.  Shame that is shedding.  This is the most interesting thing about me.  This real, vulnerable person who makes mistakes and learns from them.  Who loves fully and who is learning to love herself even more than yesterday.  And who picks herself up after she falls.

With Love,

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12 Responses to A Weigh In on Shame

  1. I love this post! I was worried for a second there, until you took that awesome left turn out of the crap that we sometimes tell ourselves. Brilliant stuff. Your writing is really engaging Michaella.

  2. Susan Burns says:

    Awesome post,, Michaella. You demonstrated so well the kinds of horrible things we say to ourselves and the truly terrible judgements we pass on ourselves. And then you got to the heart of the issue; that we can’t really make progress at all until we love ourselves just as we are, completely and wholeheartedly. And starting from that place of love, you can take better care of yourself. Shame is a useless, disempowering emotion. I’m glad you were able to shake it off, be vulnerable, and pick yourself back up.

  3. Kendra says:

    Excellent! Nope not one of us is perfect as we are all human. Especially true of those of us that coach others. I love your vulnerability and honesty in this post. And I think you are right on about the goal thing. So many of us just stop when the initial goal has been reached. In reality though that is exactly when we should be focusing on new goals or at least to keep the accomplished goal ongoing. Thanks for that reminder!

  4. Oh Michaella, I can so relate! I too lost a lot of weight (90lbs) and managed to gain 60 of it back over several years. Eek! The shame that goes along with that runs really deep. I’ve lost more than 30 of the re-gain by taking better care of my emotional needs and by not beating myself up about it (which it sounds like you are doing too!). You ARE worth it. And our weight does not define us, who we are or our value. As a coach, you will be more valuable to you clients (and to your daughter) for being real and owning up to your flaws. That IS what makes us human and what a great example of that you are.

    • Congratulations Andrea, not on the weight loss, but on the “why” behind it. We are all worth having the best of whatever it is we want! Big love and support on whatever that means next for you!!!

  5. Beautiful, vulnerable post. I relate so much to your shame in this area, but love the fearlessness with which you are facing that shame. With you on the journey!

  6. wendylyndroid says:

    Oh my gosh Michaella it’s like you were thinking my thoughts for me as I had gone through that same journey of losing weight and gaining it back!

    Mine wasn’t a tremendous amount of weight but I had gone from being a bit overweight to being fit and toned and confident in a bikini!

    Then going back to being overweight and where I would die in a bikini or tank tops or anything revealing.

    In some way it makes me feel better that I am not alone in this journey and not alone in how I felt. Is that selfish? Except that somehow I think human beings feel better when in company of others that have gone through the same thing!

    Thank you so much sharing, this would have been so hard for me to type myself!

    • The actual weight, doesn’t really play a role does it Wendy? 5lbs, 50. Whatever.

      Supporting each other through these trials and tribulations is what dissipates the shame. Makes it more of a mistake than a character flaw. You are definitely not alone. And by sharing your story, you make me see that I am not either. Love the companionship and camaraderie in the journey of this thing called life!

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