July 17, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

It Is Time to Forgive Yourself

Dear Coach Gila,

I am not a weekly shul goer even though I am an Orthodox woman living in Bergen County. My family attends shul weekly, while for many years (10 plus) I have opted out. This has nothing to do with my spirituality, religious level or even my relationship with God. I don’t attend shul because I’m overweight.

Ironically, I stopped going to shul at the exact time that my youngest of five children was old enough to go to youth groups. Until then, I was either pregnant or had a young child and in my mind I was able to understand and forgive myself for being overweight. Getting dressed wasn’t such a struggle. However, as my youngest child turned 3 I began to become disgusted with myself.

I could no longer attribute the weight gain to baby weight. Most if not all of my friends with children of similar ages had reclaimed their thin body many years ago. And so my self-loathing began.

Every morning when I wake up I look in the mirror and just feel anger. Anger at myself for not being thinner. Anger at my double chin, anger at the rolls I can no longer hide by buying larger tops. I’ve tried to diet. Actually, I’ve tried every diet. They work for a time and then I regain the weight.

So why now? Why am I writing to you now? Since I do go to shul every Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, September has always been my goal date. The date that I was supposed to reach my weight goal. In my mind, walking into shul on Rosh Hashanah has become synonymous with displaying my newly svelte body. Over the last 10 years, as each September has come and gone I have become more and more angry with myself. Instead of losing weight, I have steadily gained.

The thought of shopping for clothing, wearing a nice dress and heels and walking into shul has become really painful for me. It is not because anyone says anything negative to me; rather, it’s because of what I say to myself. If you heard the things that I say to myself in my head you’d be shocked at how mean I can be to myself.

I am just fed up with myself. How many times can I try and fail? I am a failure. I am writing to you in the hope that before I even get to fixing the food part of my problem you can help me fix what’s going on inside my head.

Signed,

Ready to say I’m sorry

Dear “Ready to say I’m sorry,”

I am here for you; you are no longer alone. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Now continue reading. I can feel your pain. Reading your email was heartbreaking for me especially because I have been in your shoes. For many years I too dreaded going to shul, dinners and even attending smachot.

On Yom Kippur as we stand before God we hear the word “salachti”—I have forgiven you. There is so much to learn from this one powerful word. Especially, when what you are asking me to do is help you say “salachti” to yourself.

Self-condemnation doesn’t help. Self-hate isn’t productive or healthy and it certainly doesn’t make one more productive at weight loss.

How do you forgive yourself?

  1. Change your mindset. Begin with a willingness to forgive yourself. I know that it is hard but I also know that it is possible. Say “I want to forgive myself.” Now, write it down and read it back to yourself.

Self-forgiveness involves giving yourself permission to rewrite your story. Tell yourself “It’s ok that I’ve gained weight and hated myself for it. It happened. I am making a choice today to give myself permission to be free from feelings of guilt and self-loathing.” You are allowed to change the ending of your story even if it has been on repeat for the last 10-plus years.

Whatever choices you’ve made with regard to food are in the past. The way you have been speaking to yourself is in the past. All you can do now is move forward from this point.

Think about treating yourself as you would treat a friend. How would you speak to a friend who confided in you with similar thoughts and emotions? You wouldn’t tell her she was worthless and a failure. You would hug her and wipe her tears. You would speak to her gently and with compassion. Be as kind to yourself as you would be to a friend.

  1. Take action. Replace your morning pattern of negative self-talk with positive affirmations. Look in the mirror and repeat the following:

I am worthy.

I am worthy of love.

I am worthy of my love.

I am worthy of forgiveness.

I am worthy of my forgiveness.

Taking action with positive self-talk will help you tremendously. Feelings of unworthiness fuel fear. It is fear that holds many back from reaching their goals. Limiting beliefs and fear paralyze. Affirming to yourself daily that you are worthy energizes and motivates you to do whatever is necessary to reach your goals.

When you let go of the guilt and shame you enter a place of positivity that will help you reach your health goals.

As you work on the healthy habit of self-forgiveness, you will notice significant changes in what you choose to eat, how you move your body and what you think of yourself as you progress on your journey.

Wishing you a G’mar Chatima Tova.

Coach Gila

Coach Gila C. Guzman, JD, CINHC, is excited to be leading another online kosher Whole30 group. Back by popular request. Registration is now open! We will begin right after Sukkot. For more information and to register visit her website at www.mainassethealth.com.

By Gila Guzman

 Reach out to Coach Gila at 917-647-1788 or [email protected]. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram @mainassethealth.

 

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