Had it been that bad? Yes, yes it had.

Whoa. Whoa. Whoa.

Sunday night at my friend Amy’s Super Bowl party, we were killing time until the Usher show when we overheard her 11 year old in the basement making content on her iPad. Something she was planning to upload to YouTube.

Claire used to do the same thing at her age; so I opened Facebook in search of a video I’d captured way back when Facebook was cool and up popped a 6-year memory photo of myself.

Jesus. Let’s call this the “before” pic, the sight of which made my breath catch.

Had it been that bad?

At the time I hadn’t thought so, but: Yes, yes it had.

A good man named HP took this photo on the banks of the Ganga in 2018. He told me I was beautiful even though I looked terrible. God bless him for that.

I was in the thick of my misery, 20 (but looking 60) pounds heavier than I am now, in a completely different body which was a prison of pain, codependency and devaluing myself in the name of so many things, but primarily a little manipulative man with whom I’d been in an on again, off again relationship that took many forms for 18 years.

The night I boarded my return flight in Delhi, I knew I’d had enough: even though the stakes were high, I would reclaim myself and leave the man who’d discarded me, in so many ways, for nearly two decades. In the process of accepting this treatment, I’d been wholeheartedly discarding myself.

What a gift, this photo memory. Follow me on Instagram to see it.

2nd slide, taken today.

What’s changed:

  1. Self respect. Who the fuck do you think you are? I know my value on a cellular level and I’m not here for anything less than a yes. On so many levels: professionally, personally and romantically: anything other than alignment is an absolute no.
  2. Weight training. My body comp and hormone balance has fundamentally changed in the past 18 months by moving heavy things from one place to another 3x each week at The Y. I balance weight plates with 1) twice weekly fresh-air climbs up a 3 mile wooded hillside with the dog, rain or shine, and 2) twice weekly mobility and mindfulness work I do on my yoga mat. Yoga and walking in the woods is easy: The gym is the hardest part to talk myself into. What helps is I never miss a Monday.
  3. I changed my relationship to food. I moved to Paris, became a chef and learned to love to cook for myself. Gone are the seed oils and handful of other things that had me full of inflammation. You can do this without moving to Europe, but living in France taught me to ditch 40 years of learned American-diet food rules and enjoy only the full fat, most delicious and highest quality versions of food, wine and coffee in reasonable, small quantities. No longer do restaurants – in their cost cutting production protocols and shelf stable oils – meet my needs for connection and nourishment 4-5 dinners a week. Now, come over, I’ll cook for you. Because I love you.

The video Claire was making for YouTube in 2013 is slide number three, because OMG … she is so great, damn I’m lucky.

And also, in full disclosure, because I’m not about to gaslight anyone into thinking I have a shape that’s changed “due to giving up gluten” or some other garbage like that:

* Plastic surgery. I had two procedures in 2020, but my body still looked like this when I graduated from culinary school in 2022 (because I was only halfway toward embracing #1, above, and not yet established the discipline for #2 and #3 in any meaningful way). The most relevant in today’s picture is a breast reduction I had in October 2022, which I wish I did 10 years ago. I have a lot of loose skin on my torso currently; I’m pretty sure someday I’ll have a tummy tuck. When I do, I’ll tell you.

For sure, I have cycles where I crush it and cycles where I’m sliding back to 2018. But what I know for sure is contentment is an inside job – nothing outside ourselves: no surgery, professional you hire, achievement or strict workout, yoga or food rules will be effective if you’re stuck in self-betrayal.

I’m lucky I’m able to kick my own ass enough not to linger in the low points for long; my yoga practice helps me to see my some of my delusions (but not all) truthfully. And I return to my three fundamentals, above.

Come study with me and discover the strength to find your fundamentals; it’s not going to be comfortable or easy – I’m not at all trauma informed – and I’m happy to tell you why if you come to class – but I can help you practice being ok with discomfort on the mat so you can decrease your odds of staying stuck for decades like I did, however that means for you.

I currently teach Saturday and Wednesday mornings at Edmonds; Friday evenings at Richmond beach. Book your spot, and if you encounter a waiting list, put yourself on it… they nearly always move.

  • Jen