Stress eating and the pressure to be thin

Most would agree that American women feel pressured by society to be thin.

I feel it. But because I practice mindfulness and self-acceptance in yoga, and because I've done a lot of work to recover from an eating disorder, I am able to choose to disregard that pressure. Most of the time.

There are certain times in life when the pressure to be thin intensifies.

Holidays. Black-tie events. Beach vacations (BIKINI!). Your wedding day. Reunions. 

Any time I'm wearing something smaller/tighter than normal and/or will be in the spotlight, I still struggle with the pressure to be thin.

And when that stress wears on me, I eat. I'm a stress eater.

Right now is one of those times. Next week, I'm having some photos taken — my first yoga shoot. And I'm feeling the pressure to be thin. Lean and beautiful and strong like the yogis who grace the covers of magazines.

My rational mind knows (and even preaches) that yoga is for everybody and every body. But there's a fear inside of me that questions whether or not I'm good enough. 

How will people take you seriously as a teacher if you can't do the full variation of that pose? 

How will they respect you with that gut?

What's funny is that when I don't feel pressured to be thin, I tend to lose weight more easily. I don't stress eat and it's easier to practice mindfulness and self-acceptance. When I'm not "trying," my body is it's healthiest.

Over the last two weeks, I've been stress eating.

Healthy foods and junk foods have created a little extra padding on my body and I feel uncomfortable and swollen. I'm eating when I'm not hungry and I'm eating junky foods that don't make me feel good. 

I don't know if this is normal or not but it's normal for me. During the times I feel the most pressured to be thin, I'm generally at my biggest. Because when I'm under pressure, I eat. Does anyone else do this?

I'm writing about this because I need to practice what I preach.

And by sharing it with you, I'll feel accountable.

Yesterday, I had a conversation with my sister about this subject. It can be hard to take your own advice, but it's probably the advice you need most. I've conquered an eating disorder. I've found peace and learned to love myself. In my yoga classes, I try to give others tools to help them find what they need on their mat, too. And yet here I am, letting a silly photo shoot get to me. Judging myself and expecting myself to be the ideal image of a yogi — an ideal that's all in my head.

I have one week left to make this right.

And by right, I don't mean shedding a few pounds. I mean getting my mind right. Practicing what I preach and turning to the positive tools — not junk food — when feelings of fear, judgment and self-doubt enter my heart. This week, I will devote ample time to my personal yoga and meditation practice.

Old habits die hard. Even if, maybe even especially if, they are negative. I know that this isn't the last time I'll ever stress eat. But I'm recognizing the issue without judgment and putting it all out there ... which is more than I've done before. And I'm going to work hard — starting this week — to replace the habit of turning to food with the habit of turning to my mat. 

Change is hard. But staying in one place is harder.

Thank you for being here for me. Knowing that somebody is reading these thoughts helps me let them go.