My (secret) skinny craving

I remember being a kid and like most kids, crossing my legs in a seated position almost all of the time.

I also remember when I first looked down at my legs and realised that when I crossed my legs, mine didn't look like others {or rather they did however I didn't notice that fact.}

Instead I did notice the girls around me at pre-school and then primary (junior) school whose crossed legs didn't bulge. I noticed a difference. And that difference is one that I assigned to being 'better.'

As a kid taking this observation in, it mattered little that what I was actually seeing was my (more) athletic calf muscle pushing against my thigh and appearing to 'bulge' in a cross-legged seated position. I know I didn't ask anyone about it. I certainly didn't register that others were just like me. Didn't clarify what I'd seen. I just went with this assumption that what others had was better and what I had was inferior. So was I inferior as I was?

Many years later, I wondered where my adult disordered eating and severe body dysmorphia stemmed from. Not recalling any phases of time throughout my childhood and adolescence where I was so negatively preoccupied with my appearance. I'd always been an active and healthy kid, I've never carried excess weight and if anything, my later teen years were spent a little underweight thanks to my cigarette smoking and severe panic disorder.

Nadia Felsch

More recently, I've realised that perhaps it all started for me way back then in pre-school. Who knows where I came up with the inferior/superior idea of leg appearance - a judgement on body size and shape. Seeing as it's 1989 I'm talking about here, social media could hardly be blamed. I doubt that I was exposed to fashion magazines by that age and my family influence is certainly not at fault here.

So what then? Are we programmed by default to prefer 'skinny?'

Right now I honestly don't know the answer to that question. And I also don't wish to open a whole can of worms that upsets and offends because this issue can be incredibly emotionally-charged.

What I do hope to do however, is as always, be real with you.

To remind you that yes I'm a decade in to my wholefoods, and health journey. That nourishing myself comes simply after all this time and that I'm fortunate to have a love affair with movement and quality sleep. To remind you that I'm still human and I'm far from having it all figured out.

Last week in Australia, my favourite radio station dedicated the week to body image. Discussing and exploring it, hearing from listeners, debating and even hosting a live TV program on the topic. (Unsure if those outside of Oz can view, though it's here if you're interested.)

Nadia Felsch

What I took away from the snippets I did hear and see throughout the week was that this issue is insidious, even amongst those without diagnosed disorders or obvious signs of concern. These ideas can live within all of us - men (here's a great article on this), women, kids - and can often be silently debilitating. A topic that's hard to bring to the forefront of regular discussion, and so I am. Here goes...

There are some moments when I crave being skinnier. Without rhyme or reason. Without evidence or purpose. Just because.

Long before my self labelled 'crazy-making' days of calorie counting, restriction, over-training, severe body dysmorphia and general body obsession; which you can read more about here, here and here; I remember experiencing these cravings too. And I call them that intentionally - they're a type of feeling that creates a sense of longing, of lacking, of inferiority and of not having or being enough.

I, like so many others, have equated skinny to mean better.

And in these moments, it matters not that I intellectually know better. That I'm healthier and more vibrant than I've ever been. That my bio-markers are incredible. That I have a great relationship with food and movement. That I'm strong, fit and glowing. Because in those moments, having a skinnier limb seems like the greatest thing on Earth.

I thought a lot about defining skinny within this post. And then I decided against it. Because, unfortunately, most (if not all) eyeballs reading this post, belong to a wonderful human who knows exactly what I mean.

A few years ago I had a lightbulb moment, the kind of thought that was far more helpful than some of the others I've talked about.

Nadia Felsch

I wondered what it would be like to not worry about skinny.

It was literally the first time in my life I'd stumbled upon such an idea. This realisation that I had control and was creating the thoughts that made up my reality, the one that was constantly in overdrive and discontent. I was actively choosing these thoughts and related obsessions. What would life look like if I no longer chose that path I wondered? If I could eat, move and breathe for joy, and because I can. Not to change myself. Not in the pursuit of some vague and useless goal? And what about all of the other amazing aspects of life that I could now embrace with this freed up time?

Today I'm proud to say that this lightbulb moment sparked a change. My pursuing ways lost their steam. I was no longer interested living in that world. Choosing instead to live in one which provided me with so much more joy, nourishment and love. And as with everything we do in this world, the more I practised, the better I got and the simpler it became to view things through this lens.

But just as I've said before on so many occasions, I'm far from perfect and 'figured out.' And those cravings still pop up. Seemingly out of nowhere and yet always when I've neglected a part of myself. It could be ignoring my innate need to spend time alone, to experience fresh air and sunshine, to laugh and have fun. Because I've come to realise it's never out of nowhere. It's a conditioned, and unfortunately very much normalised response for so many of us. The best news about that is that conditioned can be unconditioned.

We're all 'works in progress' however I now think of this being about our self development, the inner work. That which we can all hide so well.

So I'm not hiding it in the hope that you won't want to either.

If there's someone in your life who could use this message, please share it with them.

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