My descent into self care started slowly. It began one afternoon, when I laid in bed depressed. I was nearing 175 lbs and for a young woman of 28, at 5’0, 175 just wasn’t healthy. I was having blood pressure issues, fertility issues, stress, and I was just unhappy. But I was mostly afraid. I was afraid of trying. Of living healthy. Of making an effort to be a better me. I was afraid of being judged, but mostly, my fear was of dying at a young age and not seeing my son grow up.
My mother always feared we were unhealthy when we were thin as kids. And I suppose that is where my confusion with love and food began. My mother makes homemade pupusas. She buys pan dulce from the panadero who honks his horn for the women in my neighborhood. And out we come 3 nights a week. Un cafecito y un pan to watch our novelas. And so stress eating came naturally. It was as natural as breathing.
Finals stressed me out, no problem have a few of your favorite doughnuts.
Fight with your husband, it’s okay he’ll get take-out as a truce.
“We need snacks for the baby. Oh, and a couple bags of chips.”
And so it had woven itself into a terrible habit. A habit that I’m now fully responsible and aware of.
It began with a small jar of coconut oil. During my bouts of depression, I would lay next to my toddler and search workout videos, inspiration to get me to finally lose the awful weight. And over and over, I had seen small snippets of the wonders of coconut oil. That afternoon I struggled to put on the only pants that fit me. I found the jar, and bought a few extra things.
As I began, I realized that I was doing more than taking care of my weight. I was shedding years of abuse, years of hatred, years of negativity.
I began with a simple detox bath. I filled my tub with very warm water, a cup of baking powder, a spoonful of Unrefined Virgin Coconut oil, two drops of lavender and I burned some sage. After about 20 minutes I was drenched in sweat. I felt lightheaded and wasn’t sure if it was the sage burning or the mixtures in the bath. But I stayed in for a full hour. Which looking back now, was probably a little too long. I remember sitting in the tub, thinking of all the things I wished to change about myself. Thinking of all the ex boyfriends I had allowed to dictate what I should and shouldn’t do. The ways my mother and father joked about my weight but I didn’t take them as jokes, and the way I buried myself in food just so I wouldn’t cry. Gently, my voice broke: “This is who I am. These are my faults. Love your skin. Love your stretchmarks, you were once somebody’s home.” It was the first time in 22 years that I had spoken to myself sweetly and sincerely.
The detox baths began to be weekly rituals. Soon, I added one cup of Coconut oil tea: simply hot water and a spoonful of unrefined virgin coconut oil. I began to change my eating habits. Small meals and no excessive eating. I went on morning walks with my parents and son. And now nearly 5 months have passed and I’m down to 145 lbs. Though at times I relapse and have the occasional bag of doughnut holes or a slice of cake with my morning coffee, I find that I no longer talk to myself negatively. I no longer judge myself by how other women look. I’m studying the arts of meditation and mindfulness. I’m getting out more and I’m simply sticking to that hour when I let my negative thoughts of myself go down the drain with the bathwater.
Photo by Naomi August