Travelling light: why it isn’t `anti-feminist’ to talk about weight loss
In March 1999, when I took my first short trip to Tanzania, I carried nothing with me but a tiny rucksack containing a few clothes, a toothbrush, a page of good advice and random Swahili words from my best friend who had lived there for a year, and a lot of hopes and dreams. Yet by the time I returned to the UK in 2010, after the relatively amicable ending of my seven-year marriage to Maasai warrior-turned-politician Lesikar, I was weighed down with a whole lot of heavy emotional baggage.
As I struggled with reverse culture shock and tried to work out what was left when I wasn’t `Mrs Maasai’, or the ‘Woman of Courage’ famous for saving girls from FGM, I spent all my evenings on the sofa: eating junk food, watching junk TV, and piling on the pounds. But after I consulted a spiritual counsellor, started making pilgrimages to ancient sacred sites, rediscovered my creativity, moved to the beautiful New Forest, and started my own business…the excess weight melted away again, I went down from a UK dress size 12-14 to a size 8 (US size 6), and friends started asking me what my secret was.
I wasn’t flattered: I was embarrassed. I tried to dodge the question. I hadn’t even done anything about my weight, or at least, not deliberately. I hadn’t taken up a fad diet, counted calories, cut out carbs, joined a gym, or bought the latest fitness gizmo. I felt as though I’d been caught cheating on an exam, or at least sailed through without doing any revision.
It was several years before I realised that without even trying, I’d discovered the secret of reaching and sustaining a healthy weight. That there’s a vicious circle of stress, poor sleep, overeating and weight gain, and that the root cause is feeling disconnected – from nature, from our own creative talents, from each other, from our emotions, and from all the things that light us up inside and bring us alive.
When we give priority to reconnecting, we feel less stressed. We sleep better, and give our metabolism – which has been messed up by the stress hormones – a chance to heal. We get more exercise, whether it’s going for long walks in places we love, or doing a crazy dance around the kitchen when nobody’s looking. We take the time to create healthy meals from fresh ingredients, with a sense of excitement and curiosity as we try out new blends of spices, grains and pulses; a feeling of real joy when they turn out truly delicious, as they occasionally do; and a shrug of the shoulders when they’re just about edible. We share our achievements and challenges with friends, and sigh with relief as we realise we’re not alone after all.
So why I have I been so reluctant to share my strategies with the world?
I got hung up on the idea that it was somehow ‘anti-feminist’ to talk about weight at all. That because all women are beautiful, both shape and size are (or should be) complete non-issues. That our society is messed up for implying that a woman should ever want to lose weight, or even think about it: it’s what’s inside that matters.
Yet recently, I’ve had a realisation: some people don’t just want to lose weight in order to look different, or even to `be healthier’ as such (even if they’ve been told by their doctors that they need to lose weight for the sake of their health). It’s about feeling lighter. It’s all tied up together, the emotional baggage and the feeling of being dragged down by too much weight.
Of course, people are different, and have different motivations for wanting to lose weight. For some, it really is about body image (with the hidden agenda of impressing some idiot who won’t love them if they’re `overweight’), and those are not the people I’m looking to coach. The people I can serve best are those who want to let go of their excess baggage and travel light through life – whether that means losing body weight, releasing themselves from past guilt and anger through the practice of deep forgiveness, learning to truly accept themselves as they are, or dissolving the limiting beliefs that stop them from showing up as their fabulous creative selves and manifesting their dreams.
If that’s you, drop me an e-mail or find me on Facebook, and let’s have a chat.