MY BODY STORY

A few months before my first summer at camp - 14 years old

The winter after my last summer at camp - 23 years old.

Fat, bold,  and happy - 35 years old.

I have always been big. I knew from a young age that there was something different about me, and that it (supposedly) wasn't good. 

​​I went to weight loss camp for five summers between the ages of 14 and 22, attending as both a camper and as staff. Each summer, I would lose a lot of weight and each school year, I would gain it back. 

Throughout my 20s, I repeated the weight loss/gain cycle with various diets, efforts, and cleanses. I was constantly evaluating my body, comparing it to former versions of itself, and frequently in tears over my struggle with it. ​ I lived, at all times, either in perpetual fear of gaining weight or abject shame and humiliation for having done so. 

When I hit 31, I  realized that I was tired. I decided that it was time to stop fighting my body, stop trying to shape it, and just let it be what it was. I knew that I had to give up dieting—but how?  The first answer I came up with was that I would  need to find other people who were pursuing the non-diet lifestyle. I knew that I wouldn't be able to make this shift on my own, so I turned to the internet. 

I stumbled upon The Body Positive and a month later, I found myself at a workshop with them in Berkeley, CA. Everything changed that day in October of 2014. I learned about what happens to our bodies when we diet, Health At Every Size, Intuitive Eating, and the fat acceptance movement. My Body Positive education had begun and neither my self-care nor the world would ever look the same again. 

Since then, I've worked hard to stay true to the Body Positive lifestyle - it's not easy! We receive SO MANY messages that tell us our lives will be better if we lose weight. But with the help of my community, I've stayed the course and I'm so so grateful. As someone who has struggled with chronic pain that's debilitating at times,  I also  know what it's like to have additional challenges that make this commitment even harder than it otherwise would be. But the payoff of sticking with it is truly so much better than anything I could have imagined. 

When I was 14 and about to go to weight loss camp for the first time, I wrote in my journal: "When I come back, I'm gonna be a completely different person, both on the inside and on the outside." I believed that once I was no longer fat, my personality would be different. I would be confident, a better friend, and I'd finally be worthy of the life I wanted so badly. 
Through my commitment to respecting my unique body and learning about and honoring its needs through trial and error, deep listening, and incredible compassion, I have begun to enjoy better wellness than I've ever known. But I'm also finally becoming the person I thought I would magically transform into over the course of one summer  20 years ago. 
It is a winding path with ups, downs, twists, and turns. But it is also full of incredible wonders that continue to reveal themselves and have only become more and more brilliant the further down the path I go. 

© 2020 by Naomi Finkelstein

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