Whole Health Collaborative

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  • Sarah Dionne, MSW, LICSW

You Can Call Me Vain...


Some would label a woman as vain if she were to say, “my body’s amazing, I love the way it looks as it is”. For women that work arduously at the gym to sustain their form, this may be a little more acceptable. But what about those of us who do not want to live within the strict lines of exercise and diet? What about those of us that value health, but also enjoy indulgence and rest?


The latter is yours truly… but I haven’t always been that way. My inspiration for this article came after visiting my psychiatrist for a routine follow up. In a simple moment the expanse of body love and inner peace I now enjoy became curiously clear when he asked me to step onto the scale and with a strange ease, I happily obliged.


Looking back to the spring of 2017, at five feet three inches I weighed 124 pounds, thin for my body type. Having broad, dense bones and a strong pronounced muscle structure, the lean form I desired was possible but very difficult to sustain, only creating a battle between the ideal and the reality. Back then anxiety and postpartum OCD was leading to painfully obsessive thoughts about weight. Food was becoming an enemy again, my own body, it’s natural structure and its limitations, seemed to be working against me.


One of the limitations I despised was adrenal fatigue, which I developed after running a marathon in 2012. Arduous exercise became not only difficult, but a threat to my health, my body demanded rest. Adrenal fatigue does not always simply resolve, it is still part of my life, which means that I must be cautious with exercise. Continuous overexertion equals uncomfortable fevers, extreme lethargy, body aches, and very little immunity.



My rational mind knew that it was absurdity to hate my body, nothing good had ever come from fighting against it. More importantly, weighing on my heart was my very young daughter, I knew absolutely I did not want to impart to her my skewed perspective. And then there was my age, I was 38 years old. Did I really want to dive into my 40’s with that baggage? Somehow, that summer lead to an epiphany, I made the decision to let it all go, a process detailed in my series of articles, “Body Love”. Yet, calling it a process means that it is not a one-and-done kind of deal. A process takes time, it has ups and downs, twist and turns.



Over the last year I’ve allowed myself to eat as I desire, following my intuition, letting go of overbearing restrictions, listening to my hunger. I also took care of my body with regular exercise, cardiovascular and challenging Yoga, allowing my athletic build to take shape. If my body needed rest, I allowed it, if it felt strong and the urge for more vigor, I provided it. More and more days came that I felt at ease with myself. I naturally let the scale go, what would be would be.


Jumping forward again to my recent doctor’s appointment. I stepped onto the scale without reservation and watched as the needle settled on 140 pounds. For a woman that has lived with eating disorders, has been ravaged by obsession to achieve a lithe figure, one would think I would have been horrified. Instead I found my mind oddly… happy. And beyond happy, embracing of this once unacceptable number.



What’s funny is that habitual thinking questioned the stillness, it questioned a content reaction. My brain asked, wait, does this mean I’m fat? Shouldn’t I be upset about this? Shouldn’t I be thinking of everything I need to change in my diet? Am I delusional? Why am I not reacting? It felt strange to be so at ease. My conditioned brain simply wasn’t sure what to do with this new way of being. When I left that office I continued to think about the number and the way I didn’t react.


It has become clear to me that when looking in the mirror today I see a body more beautiful than when it was 15 pounds thinner. Those words are coming from the mouth of someone who has experienced a lifetime of body image struggles… it’s a profound change. Today, I am that woman who can say, “my body’s amazing, I love the way it looks as it is… all of it”. I invite all women to join me on this road to true self love. In an upcoming article I’ll share simple changes I made through this last year and a half that aided in my journey to complete Body Love.



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