There it was… A comment on my Facebook post. An unsolicited, petty cut on my generally upbeat, self-deprecating Facebook page.
“You aren’t my perception of a Sexy Fit Vegan…”
My first thought?
And this is where I earned my crown as a Sexy Fit Vegan. Now, I know that vulgarities generally don’t inspire regal images. But, here I am, nonetheless, A Sexy Fit Vegan Bad Ass Queen.
The struggle to earn this has not been easy. I have lived much of my adult life avoiding all criticism, insult, and slights. Just a short time ago, my inner response wouldn’t have been nearly so bold. I would have found myself locked in self-doubt and punishment for days upon days because that comment would have only served to validate my own beliefs about myself. I believed I wasn’t good enough to be sexy, fit, or vegan. Frankly, my daily life was an exercise in how invisible I could be.
And then, it all changed.
I was watching my daughter look at herself in the mirror, pulling at her clothes, tears in her eyes because she hated her new body and the curves that were springing in places that had been flat just months before. She had previously been filled with self-confidence…more than self-confidence…a fearlessness that is uncommon in most humans I have known. At her core , that is just who she is: Brave and bold is the way she was born.
Now I watched her and realized I was watching myself. She had learned this from me. She was putting aside her natural courage and confidence to play small, just like me.
No, I had never verbally criticized my body in front of her, but I didn’t have to. My years of striving to be invisible had spoken for me. And here it was…my legacy landed on my beautiful, fearless, bold daughter. And the younger one was watching too.
And so, that day, I decided to love my body.
And, here’s how I did it:
- I acted. I didn’t think. I didn’t feel. I acted. I invested in myself. I connected with Ella and the Plant Empowered Coaching Program. I threw away all that I thought I knew about meal plans and exercise and micros and calories. I trusted the process. I let it take me where I needed to go.
- I became relentless with the thoughts that weren’t serving me. I chipped away at that belief that I wasn’t enough with evidence that I am MORE than enough and never too much. I dug into the powerful self-coaching that Ella has so masterfully honed. I stepped back with curiosity and compassion to view these beliefs from a new perspective, and then I went to work becoming the master of my thoughts.
- I fully engaged in a vegan life. These are my values. I could no longer put junk and suffering in my body. I could no longer live in a way that didn’t fit with what I knew to be true for the sake of others’ comfort. I had to live my values in the ultimate act of self-love.
- I began treating my body as I would treat anyone I love. I made decisions about nutrition and movement out of a place of love. I wouldn’t feed my children Mountain Dew and Doritos for supper, so why would I do this to myself? I wouldn’t let my children miss a sports practice for a game that they love, so why would I miss a workout? I wouldn’t allow anyone to speak unkindly to my children, so why would I allow me to do that to myself?
Somewhere along the way, I began to realize that I wasn’t just acting or deciding. I was believing. I no longer wanted to hide. My butt is still big. I have a mommy tummy. My arms still jiggle. And I am fierce and loved. Not beautiful for a big girl. Not just a pretty face. I am fully alive and engaged and independent and strong with all my curves and every imperfection. I am a Sexy Fit Vegan who makes decisions based in love of the body I have TODAY, not the one I might have tomorrow.
When I decided to love my body, my girls decided to love theirs. Not long ago, the three of us decided to go shopping for new jeans. We were in the checkout line, and a woman approached me. She said something every mother longs to hear, “You’re doing it right.” She went on, “ You and your girls are laughing and admiring your butts in the mirror. Mine is still in the dressing room crying. You’re doing it right.”
And, you know what? I am. Now, I talk about how a banana and spinach make me feel alive in the morning. Now, I discuss what a badass I am after my kickboxing workout. Now, I look in the mirror and say out loud, “Damn, Girl!” I am the example for my girls, not just the voice that tells them they’re beautiful. I’m the example that their own voices are the most important, truly, the only ones that matter
I watched this play out in another way just after that Facebook comment. You see, I’ve taught my daughter something else through my actions. I’ve taught her to love herself enough to not engage in self-doubt because of someone else. She had her first, young love break up this week. And when this little boy decided to dump her through text without explanation, her response was to say, “Grow some balls.” Not, “What is wrong with me?” Not, “Why am i not good enough?” It was, “Grow some balls.” That’s my fearless, beautiful, bold girl!
So, forgive my sailor’s mouth when I say that one of my proudest accomplishments of this decade has been to respond to outside critics with “Fuck off”. I am a Sexy Fit Vegan. I say that without apology or caveats.
My body continues to respond to my love, and if I never lose another pound I am still a Sexy Fit Vegan. I am fit and sexy and plus size and vegan. And another’s perception of what a Sexy Fit Vegan is simply makes no difference. The fact is, no one gets to decide if I am a Sexy Fit Vegan but me.