It was a cold, wet day in our little seaside town, and my friend and I were comfortable and warm in a cozy little coffee shop that smelled of sweets and rich espresso. We had the best seats in the house – the comfy chairs right beside the fireplace – and both of us were swathed in scarves and layered sweaters, cute toques, and oversized boots to accommodate our doubled-up socks.
She was on another diet, I don’t remember which one. Perfect Protein? Atkins? A juice cleanse, or perhaps a Master Cleanse? It may have been the vegetable soup diet, or maybe it was the smoothie diet. I couldn’t keep track of my own, let alone all the different programs my friends were on in those days.
She looked so pretty that day. Her big brown eyes were full of hope, with just a slight edge to them that said ‘no thanks, I don’t want a cookie.’.
We were talking about food and her goals, and I asked her if she would do a visualization with me and she agreed. This was around 2008 and I had just started working with my ideas around mindfulness and weight loss. Visualizing and manifesting were hot topics at the time, and I thought that if I could get my students to really see themselves living in the bodies they wanted, it would help them adhere more heart-fully to their program.
I asked her to close her eyes, right there in the coffee shop by the fireplace, and she did. Just like that. She trusted me.
I told her to imagine herself in her bedroom closet, surrounded by her clothes. As the images came, her eyelids flickered with movement. I had her imagine that she was surrounded by clothes that she loved, and that she felt completely comfortable and confident in all of them. Her lip quivered. I went on.
I told her to imagine that she absolutely loved her body, and that she was choosing her clothes not based on what would hide her stomach best that day – what would conceal her if she was feeling puffy or fat – but based on what would flatter and highlight her beautiful, healthy body.
Her face crumpled like the napkin we didn’t have to catch the tears streaming down her face.
Sitting there that day in the coffee shop, nestled in warm clothes and the company of my dear friend, I started to understand just how important it was for people to start loving their bodies.
I think that was the first time I realized just how intensely we associate weight loss with happiness, and just how powerful body transformation can be in the larger scope of life and love.