Out of the Rabbit Hole: One Woman's Story of Body Image, and the Healing Power of Yoga

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It's 10AM on a Tuesday; I am getting ready for my receptionist gig I've had for about 2 years now, and I just can't bring myself to put on my pants.  I make many attempts to cease my heaving breath, slow my inhales and exhales, and ignore the bulge of fat I squeeze together to pinch my pants shut.  My accumulating tears make it difficult for me to even see straight; I dramatically fall to the ground and just let it all out.  "I'm fat!" I cry, "fat, fat , FAT!".  I obsess over the flesh I am able to hold in two handfuls, even hurt myself as I grab my belly so tightly with wide and hateful eyes.  At a whopping 127 pounds, I officially despise my body.

 

The Backstory

It wasn't always like this, there was a time I never thought of body image.  I was a super active teenager and any amount of hot pockets I would eat just turned into fuel and I stayed lanky for years.  Once I hit 19 and stopped taking dance classes and playing recreational softball I noticed a change in my body, and I didn't like it.  I immediately hit the gym with a girl friend who supported me on my "battle of the bulge."  I couldn't have been more than 110lbs but my true gal pals understood that if I just lost 5-10 more pounds, I could be CELEBRITY thin.  I could have a concaved belly with protruding hip bones and super high pointed cheeks and then wouldn't I be beautiful.  I slaved away on the treadmill every day and counted every calorie I put in my mouth; until of course "cheat day" came around!  Ahhh, cheat day; the day you pay no mind to any food you intake and spend the night lamenting over your big belly and cry yourself to sleep.  Of course, none of it seems so dramatic as it's happening and so many of your friends understand your pain!  You all want to be thin and you all commiserate over your hideous bodies together as you guiltily eat ice cream; this is what sisterhood has become.

I'd like to say that my twenties brought adulthood and clarity but unfortunately it brought less self worth and more tears.  I dated the wrong guys, ate the wrong foods, did the wrong exercises and who could be surprised that I was confused as hell.  I had no idea who I was and what I wanted.

 

Enter: IIN, The Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

IIN's teachings changed my life.  The lectures introduced me to women like Geneen Roth and Andrea Beaman; healthy women who knew what it was to have a positive relationship with food and worked HARD to get there!  These women and so many other inspirational teachers allowed me to learn the importance of respecting my body as a gift and to feed it foods it truly needs to THRIVE.

I was still terrified of gaining weight

I'd like to say this was enough, but I was so far down the rabbit hole that I needed something MORE to pull me out.  IIN offered me introspection.  Through this introspection I noticed a pattern; I was still terrified of gaining weight.  I still dragged myself to the gym and do exercises I truly hated.  The more I paid attention, the more I found myself at bootcamp classes and weight lifting classes, and every time watching the clock tick down the seconds to my freedom!

 

 Enter: Yoga.

I connected with a local studio to offer a free nutrition lecture on the detriments of sugar.  Once I had one foot in the door, I began regularly attending classes.  I had taken plenty of classes sporadically at my gym but had never been a member of a yoga community before.  I found myself getting more lost in the movement than ever, and I loved who I was when I was practicing.  I was trying so hard and having so much fun at the same time; I had never done that before!  I had worked myself to the bone and loathed every moment but THIS was a revelation!  I felt strong.  I felt graceful.  I felt BEAUTIFUL,  for the FIRST TIME IN A LONG TIME.

I kept coming back for more, not to look any certain way but to FEEL better than I ever knew was possible.  I soaked in all of the wisdom and energy I could from every yogi and yogini I met and I kept digging deeper and deeper inside of myself.  Soon, answers were pouring out of me and I started to figure out who I was and what I wanted!  I enrolled and completed 500 hours of teacher training and began sharing the gift of yoga.  I focused on what kept me peaceful and happy rather than how much I weighed.  Human relationships became easier, I didn't yell as much.  I felt patient with the people around me and more importantly with myself.  I stopped caring when I couldn't fit into an old pair of jeans and just donated them.  Yoga helped me move from my past into every present moment and love myself at every check in.

I am okay with being imperfect.

My yoga practice advances everyday.  Some days I work on my meditation and some days I am more physical.  No day is spent obsessing over being skinny.  I never count calories.  I am proud of every food I choose to consume.  I take responsibility for everything.  I am okay with being imperfect.  I think the most fun part is watching myself unfold; I am far from the person I will come to be but I like who I am now.  I am proud of my strong body that is the result of good nutrition and rigorous asana.  I respect myself when I need a break.  I honor my body more than ever before, and I have my path to thank for that.  Every moment that has lead me here is to be cherished and appreciated; and yoga taught me that.

 

I am so thankful for you, brothers and sisters. We are all on our path, and I am grateful for you reading my words and learning of my journey.  May you cultivate your own highest peace and watch it grow bigger and brighter, daily.  If you'd like any more information on working with me or my trainings at IIN or Yoga Works, contact me and I would be happy to hear from you!  Namaste.

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Alicia Somma, CHHC, RYT500, is honored to be contributing to Yoga Travel Tree!  Alicia has a true passion for living slowly, mindfully, and spiritually and strives to infuse her life and environment with these qualities.  Jarred by the fast paced life everyone is living nowadays, Alicia spends her days teaching people to slow it down and tune into what their mind+body+spirit truly needs as a Holistic Nutrition Coach and Yoga Instructor.   Alicia is currently studying herbalism and is an essential oils educator, sharing her knowledge on how to detoxify body and home with the power of the plants!  When she isn't teaching and coaching, Alicia is relaxing with her soulmates; both human and canine, and gives love to her organic veggies in her garden. To learn more about Alicia or to schedule a free one hour consultation with her, visit her website at aliciasomma.com!

 Images via: Alicia Somma Health Coaching

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