No, it’s not that kind of post, so if you came looking for pictures, you’ll be wildly disappointed. I’ve been talking a lot about my BARE programs lately, and in my blog posts I’ve given you glimpses of what my own participation in BARE has done for me, but I’m not sure I’ve ever really laid it all out for you, really gotten BARE about this stuff myself. So here’s my Sunday confession, my BARE story, shared so you know why I believe so thoroughly in this approach and what it can actually do for real live people.
A friend of mine was completing her BARE certification and described her program to me. I said I’d love to do it, which startled her because she was not trying to get me to sign up, just describing it. She said I didn’t need BARE. I told her that she had no idea how I felt about my body or what my relationship with food was like. After a beat, she said something like: “Okay, then. Let’s do this thing.” She heard the part I didn’t say out loud, which was that regardless of what other people saw when they looked at me, I was one of the 97% of women who are dissatisfied with their bodies (97%!!). She heard me tell her that my seemingly appropriate weight was not necessarily the result of a healthy relationship with food. What I explained a little later was that the only way I maintained my weight was through a pretty strict regimen of discipline that had made me feel weary, a little beat up, and felt like it was coming from fear rather than self-love.
And so we did our work together. She brilliantly guided me through the steps of the BARE process, helping me to see the ways in which I was beating up on myself (mentally and physically), finding new ways to add pleasure to my days, reminding me of the joy of a body in motion, learning to eat in ways that enhanced my health AND my appreciation for food (what?!). We did a lot of work, and slowly things began to shift. Honestly, I didn’t even really expect them to (I never told her that). I had been having a hate affair with my body for so long that I couldn’t imagine feeling differently. I couldn’t imagine what kinds of thoughts I’d need to have to find acceptance and self-love, not just for my grand and glorious spirit, but for its wondrous home. And yet, the shift came. I finished her program finding new kernels of confidence, new ideas about how to be in the world, a new relationship with food that allowed for experimentation and joy rather than just strict discipline, a new sense of what is possible in all areas of my life. All of that from small shifts.
But here’s the cool thing. I’ve been done with BARE for quite a while now, and the shifts are still happening. As time passes and I inhabit the new space I created with my coach while I went through BARE, all of that new confidence, all of that self-love and acceptance, all of the new ideas about myself, the new relationship with food, it all just continues to grow and blossom. I have added exercise to my day in ways that I haven’t bothered with, much less enjoyed, in years. I have noticed the ways my eating was dictated by things other than hunger and experimented with change and found myself feeling physically better than I have in a long time. I wear nicer clothes and feel spectacular in them.
And you know what else? My body is changing. That body that the world and my coach thought didn’t need any changing… it’s changing anyway. There is muscle tone. There are curves and flat spaces that weren’t there before. My clothes fit better. I am stronger. I feel amazing. And it all came from learning how to love myself more, better, harder. What better lesson could there possibly be?
You are not broken. You are not ugly. You are not any of the things you think about yourself or your body. All of that stuff is all a lie that keeps us still, keeps us small, keeps us locked into patterns of shame and discipline that we wouldn’t dream of using on another human being. You can learn to change your relationship with food, with your body, and with the world by learning how to love yourself.