When the elephant in the room is you

Ganesha street art in Toronto
Toronto street art depicting Ganesh, Kensington Market area, taken by me this summer.

I’m currently at the heaviest I’ve been in my life and I know I need to lose a significant amount weight.

Putting it so plainly and in writing feels freeing on one hand, because I want people to know that I know—yes, I am aware I don’t look the same as I did in 2017, my husband never lets me forget this—but at the same time, I wonder if it will help me address the issue and get me more under control. Self-control.

It seems Ive been having trouble with self-control for a while. Maybe my whole life. Maybe any measure of success or appearance of keeping it all together on the outside is just the result of luck and whatever natural blessings of intelligence or beauty I may have possessed as a younger woman. Sure I have “worked hard” in life. Sometimes it seems like I work too hard. Other times, I see my time mismanagement, my lack of self-control, and think it only seems hard to me because I’m such a loser. (This is where the “imposter syndrome” and self-doubt can come in).

Reality is probably somewhere in the middle. I think about all these things a lot, especially in recent years, when there have been lots of challenges making it harder to stay committed to the healthy habits necessary to maintain optimal metabolic function (maybe that’s preferable to talking about the touchy issue of weight). No wonder I am so mentally tired sometimes. I’ll share more about these experiences in upcoming posts.

But yoga helps me get out of my head and appreciate my body as it is right now…

I started writing these thoughts a few weeks ago, looking ahead to my biggest yoga teaching experience yet—leading a sunrise session with nutrition industry executives offered as part of a business conference.

I was wondering how I’d be received and perceived. Many attendees there knew me when I was lighter and fitter (I’ve worked for the organization for more than 20 years and previously ran marathons).

I wondered if they would wonder what the hell happened to me. So many other women my age, especially in the wellness industry, manage to stay at a lower weight and stay fit. Why not me? Many who didn’t know me before might wonder about this overweight middle-aged woman and why she was leading yoga, I thought.

At the same time, having learned from people of all sizes and body types during my own journey, and having heard from so many leaders that yoga is for everybody, I was able to put myself at ease enough to present myself as a vibrant, capable, and engaging leader during the session.

And so my original post I had in mind about wishing I could explain why I was heavier, and my need to let them know that I know I need to be lighter—the elephant in the room, as the expression goes—has shifted.

The Hindu god of beginnings, and lord of the people, Ganesh, depicted as an elephant, is known as an overcomer of obstacles. The elephant in the room was me, but not because of my weight, but because of what I’d overcome.

While I may not be over the hump when it comes to my fitness and weight loss goals, what I have overcome so far is digging myself out of the anxious, depressive slump that led me to that physical state and longer term insecurities that had held me back in so many other ways.

And now I was the elephant that could inspire others, inspired myself by the spirit of Ganesh.

If she can do it, I can do it! I imagined people might think. Whether that be trying a chaturanga pushup, balancing in warrior three—or something off the mat, like putting in for a promotion, accepting that public speaking engagement, or trying something else that may be out of their comfort zone.