I dabble in all sorts of tools that could make my life better: law of attraction, moon theories, astrology, crystals, essential oils, and so on. I don’t take any of them too seriously, but sometimes I need an extra boost to keep me thinking positively.

I believe strongly that our thoughts impact, if not create, our reality, so staying positive is important to me in all facets of my life, especially my recovery.

One of my favorite books on the subject is Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain. It is an incredible book that explains and offers exercises for using your own intentions to create your reality. Gawain loaded the book with positive affirmations that cover nearly every area of life from money to relationships.

The other day I found a journal I kept years ago of my work through the exercises and was not all that surprised to see my intentions were focused almost solely on weight loss. In one exercise, Gawain commands readers to create a picture of what they want to look like, down to the weight and pants size. Here is an excerpt of what I wrote. I am guessing it will sound familiar to some of you:

  • I will weigh 125.
    I will wear a size 6 in jeans.
    I will be beautiful.
    People will notice me more and make fun of me less.
    I will be thin and be able to buy clothes anywhere.

Even though my declarations did not surprised me. They sure made me sad to read. Nothing in any of my statements said anything about how I wanted to feel. Nothing about being stronger. Running faster. Serving my family better. It is all on the surface. It is no wonder, though, that that was my focus. At that point in time, I thought that my problem was my excess weight. If only it was that simple.

About five years after I made that list, I made another list. By this point I had started to understand that what was happening with my body wasn’t about how I looked but how I felt inside and out. I remember the day I made it. My son was just a year old, and I felt like I needed to make changes to my diet to have a better daily life.


It’s a better list by far, but the whole looking better thing is still present.

Then, maybe a year later, I created a vision board to try and visualize my desires in a more concrete way. As you can see, I was focused on become vegan, eating more vegetables, respecting animals, moving more, and losing “100 more pounds.”


But I was getting there. Slowly, one stage at a time I was freeing myself of the bondage of the number on the scale.

Then, I entered recovery, not because I wanted to be cute in a bathing suit or look stunning at my friend’s wedding. I entered recovery because I HAD to. I felt out of control with my eating and absolutely miserable in my life. I had to get better.

My goals had turned from losing weight to…serenity, recovery, peace, love, joy, living.

The other night when I found my notebook of creative visualizations from so long ago, I sat back in my chair and tried to SEE in my mind my ideal body, and nothing at all would come. I literally could not imagine the perfect body for me. Instead, what did come was me doing things:

  • carrying my four year old up a flight of stairs with agility and grace
  • riding my bicycle on the trail for miles without needing to stop and rest
  • running with my son through the park near our house without getting out of breath
  • walking up the hill to my classes on a cold winter’s day without getting chest pains.

I am happy to say that all of those things are my reality. I am not a weight lifter or an endurance runner, but I have the strength and good health to live my life the way I want to live it.

I have more goals I want to achieve: a return to lap swimming, lifting weights twice a week, and walking 2,000 more steps each day. But those goals have nothing to do with how I look in jeans or how I hope I appear to the guy I had a crush on in college.

When I was obsessed with “fixing” my body, with literally erasing big parts of it, my health was not on my mind, no matter what I said. I wanted so badly to be thin, to be like the women in magazines, to be like the popular girls in school. Why me? Why am I fat? Why am I different?

And so until I addressed my relationship with food, which was really my relationship with myself, my weight yo-yoed up and down and up and down for decades. Once I let go, really let go of trying to mold myself into a society-approved image, then I found what I was looking for all along: my true self. And for that, I will be forever grateful.

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