Growing up on the North Fork of Long Island this field use to be filled with potatoes. When I was 13 the vineyards started to take over the farm land, and I worked in this vineyard picking grapes to have extra money on top of my allowance. Every time I come home, these vineyards make me think about how far I have come and the things from the past that I have had to let go of to further my growth and move forward in my wellness journey.
Everyone has something that they hold to on to from childhood that can directly or indirectly impact our feelings of self -worth, or self -love. The thing about childhood happenings is that we are just that… children. We have no real control over the environment that we are in and therefore we find whatever coping mechanisms we can to deal with the traumas that come our way. The problem lies when as adults we continue to use those coping mechanisms even when they no longer work for us or cause us harm.
I grew up in a time when body positivity was not promoted. I also grew up in an area that was not ethnically diverse and I am mixed race, so the only examples of beauty or what a woman’s body should look like that I saw, were the models in the magazines or actresses on TV and none of them looked like me.
Over the years I have gained and lost large amounts of weight. Every time I would lose I have never managed to keep it off for very long. The First time I decided to” lose” weight on my on without my parents pushing me, I was a freshman in college. I never dated in HS but desperately wanted the attention of guys, so that first semester I hardly went to class at all. I would go to the gym and workout for hours. I would starve myself…and if I did eat something I would make myself throw up. I “lost” 60lbs that semester…I felt horrible…but I looked great! I realized pretty quickly that this was not something that I could maintain. I kept that weight off for about a year and subsequently found all of it again plus another 20.
Just before my 30th Birthday I gave it another shot. This time I decided I am going to be healthy about it, so I signed up for Weight Watcher’s, joined the gym, hired a trainer and “lost” over 100lbs. Weight Watcher’s is a great program… IF you learn to change your lifestyle. What I learned from it, was how to count points, so even though the idea was to make healthier food choices… I was still eating processed foods and busy trying to figure out how I was going to fit a bag of chips and a slice of pizza into my 36 point day. I somehow managed to maintain that weight loss for about 2 years, but the minute I stopped counting those points…I put it all back on and then some.
Cut to 6 years ago…I joined the neighborhood Y, hired another trainer, and started weight watchers again. I also became obsessed with the gym again even though I hated every single minute of it, from the smell, to the people, to the elliptical, it felt very lonely, and the only time I did enjoy it was when I was with a trainer. I really wanted no part of it but I had no other choice…. this is what it meant for me to be a certain weight and I just had to suck it up and be miserable, so I did and lost 60 lbs. Then I hurt myself and had stitches in my leg so I was out of commission for about 2 months and it all went out the window.
After that I gave up. I was just going to have to be fat and happy, and that was that. So, I put all of my focus on building my career. I work in interior designs sales on the hospitality side and it is a very social industry, so I was out 4-5 nights a week a wining and dining clients at every great new restaurant. This became my lifestyle for years, but I was the life of the party…loud, gregarious, fun. Even though I was over 300 lbs my friends and others would use me as the example of the one person they knew who had there shit together and was in control of her life. I think people thought because I had a successful career, the brownstone in Brooklyn and a great husband that I was happy. But deep down inside I wasn’t happy at all, and the weight was a clear indication that I was soooo…not in control.
I wasn’t unhappy just because I was overweight, but I was mad at myself for repeatedly losing and gaining. I had this endless chatter in my head filled with negative talk. Why did I let myself do this again, how did I get here, why didn’t I stop myself after 10, 20, 60 lbs? Don’t we all have those 2 voices we converse with? The one who tears you down and then the cheerleader? Why is it that the cheerleader never seems to show up as often? BUT, to the outside world I was living the dream! One of my friends said to me once “I want to be like you when I grow up” and I thought, wow…she has no idea.
Nobody ever talked about my weight, and neither did I, it was off limits. If we didn’t talk about it didn’t exist. My husband is the only person that I ever shared my true thoughts with,about how I felt inside. Even when I had “lost” weight in the past I never celebrated it or put it out there, and probably because even when I got down to a size 10 (which is very small for a big boned chic like me who wears a size 12 shoe) and I was is excellent shape I never thought I was good enough. I never gave myself a break, and losing the weight never really made me happy on the inside. I still longed to look like the girls in the magazines, and in my mind because they were skinny, they were happy. I put so much of my value on that number on the scale and since it never said what I wanted it to all these times I had lost the weight, I would never be enough.
By 2016 I had settled into this idea of “fat and happy” it was it was. I just happened to be at the back of the line when they were handing out the “Gene to be skinny”. Then I went for a physical and for the first time in my life my weight had become a health concern. My doctor told me I was pre-diabetic and this news really shook me. I was scared. I needed to do something and I needed to do it NOW. Things went from wanting to be skinny to wanting to be healthy. I didn’t really know what that meant because I still associated skinny with healthy…like I couldn’t have one without the other. I can’t imagine that I am the only person who has had that thought.
So here I was once again beginning the long haul of trying to lose over 100lbs. This was not my first time at the rodeo but All I could think was this has to be the LAST time… Margeaux you have GOT to figure this out. I knew I would have to do something different, to make a permanent change. I would need to examine myself honestly to get to the root of the problem, however difficult that would be. Why was it that I kept repeating this cycle? Yes genetics were involved, I’m not built like a small person, but there were clearly emotional issues that I was ignoring, and I had to get moving again in some capacity.
My husband had been practicing hot yoga for a while and was really enjoying it. He and another friend of ours kept telling me to try it, but I had tried yoga several times before, and wasn’t interested…the only way I was ever lose weight was if I was punishing myself in the gym. Also I thought Yoga is for skinny bitches in cute tiny yoga gear and I would never lose weight or be fit doing that. I changed the route I take going into the city every morning and I started to notice Sacred Studio in my neighborhood, I never even knew it was there. I must have passed it every morning for a month before I went in. Something about it just looked different than the other studios I tried before, so I figured…alright let me check it out and give Yoga one more try.
I walked into my first class on New Year’s Day, in an old baggy T-shirt and black leggings as if nobody would see my size behind this uniform. I took a spot in the back corner of the room because I couldn’t even touch my toes and I certainly didn’t want anyone to see me struggling through the class. I got myself settled and looked around the room. I felt something different from all the other places I had been and I realized it was the energy. The people were all different shapes and sizes, ages and ethnic backgrounds and the teacher (Francine Taylor) was so full of light. She started the class with “Take a look at yourself in the mirror and thank yourself for showing up for yourself today, let go of any judgment, don’t fix your hair or your clothes, just give yourself a smile and thank yourself for showing yourself self- love today”. I realized, nobody here was judging me, this was a supportive space, they were here to support each other and now me. Francine helped me with blocks and adjustments, without making me feel like I was out of place. Her energy was such the whatever she was doling out I was on board and I wanted more! I struggled through that first class and at the end I looked at myself in the mirror and cried…I thought… I think I may have found something here. I went back the next day, and the next, and the next. After a few weeks I started to venture out to other teachers, and I began to practice 5 days a week, and not because I was feeling manic as I would in the past, if I missed a day at the gym…but because I was feeling … lighter, freeer more relaxed, more in control. For the first time in my life I wasn’t focused on every little bite of food or calorie that I was putting in my mouth, and I was losing weight.
Now that I had a regular Yoga practice I figured let me mix it up a bit and add something else to my routine, so I looked at the schedule and saw a class called IntenSati. I had no idea what it was. I kind of just saw Cardio & Affirmations, but something inside said check it out. This class was a workout for your body and mind. I was being asked to shout positive affirmations at myself out loud, thing like I am STRONG, YES I CAN, or I am Enough Now… in a room full of other people doing the same thing. Immediately I thought” this is crazy, who does this?????”. Well…I do, 2 times a week for just about a year now and I love it! It has helped me to keep the negative talk at bay and have kind and positive conversations with myself both in and out of the studio…creating a new habit.
Through this journey of self -discovery I realized that I had been avoiding feelings I had from childhood about being adopted and being mixed race. Growing up there weren’t many mixed -race people out there, not in the media, and certainly not in my hometown. I had always struggled with the feelings of not identifying, and being different, and because I was adopted I felt unwanted, and not good enough. I carried with me a strong fear of abandonment. So consuming at times, that I stayed in bad relationships way longer than I should have, whether it was with friends, food, or that crappy boyfriend that I should have kicked to the curb the 1st time he cheated.
I had been searching for my birth family since the age of 18 , but it was disappointing and exhausting so in my late 30’s I decided I needed to let it go and be “OK” with who I was and not knowing where I came from, but apparently I never really was. But now, I was finally focusing on my inner self, my 3 year old self, showing her the self -care and self -love that she never got from me before. I started taking the mindfulness that I was bringing to the mat every day off the mat, retraining my mind and changing the conversation I was having with myself through IntenSati. As I did the work on my inner self, it started to show on my outer self…which is something I had never done all those other times I was dieting, exercising or just plain starving myself to be thin.
As I was starting to see weight loss results. I mentioned to a stranger that I was practicing yoga and had “lost” 25lbs . She congratulated me and said, “I want you to re-phrase that… I want you to say that you have “RELEASED” 25lbs…because when you lose something you can find it again, but when you “RELEASE” something you really let it go”. It wasn’t until a week later that I realized how profound that was. While having a massage I was sharing my weight loss goals and my life in general, with my massage therapist and he said… “You know you need to finish what you started and find your birth family, so you can let go of that baggage once and for all”. He was right, the next morning I called a PI and retained her services.
My husband was concerned about my feelings being hurt by information I may receive, but I assured him and myself that whatever I found, it would have to be the closure that I needed to move on. I went about the business of continuing to heal my spirit…through Yoga & IntenSati. Over the summer I got confirmation as to who my birth father really is. I had previously reached out to this person but was told ”you got the wrong guy”. I thought about reaching out again, but decided it would be best from me not to pursue it. I have my answer and guess what…I am “OK”. I don’t need validation from this person, that I don’t even know… I am good. For some reason though my birth mother feels more important for me to find. Unfortunately, the search for her has been more difficult because I haven’t had clear identification for her, but recently I obtained that information, so I am close to finding her and am ready for whatever that may mean.
To date I have released 118 lbs. More importantly I am healthy and fit, but this journey is far from over. I share my story not just because it is about someone who is dealing with a weight issue, but someone who is dealing with the issues behind the weight.
I hope you find this inspiring!