How to fall in love with you: step four

As I lay in bed last night, mind racing, I knew why I’ve been finding it so hard to write this post: this is a step that is still in progress. I haven’t got this one completely figured out yet, but I need to talk about it. Because it might help you, and it will definitely help me…

I’ve put on a lot of weight.

The triple-whammy of giving up smoking, creating an online biz from home and my fast-approaching 40s has left me with a body I do not recognise. My daily commute requires me to simply walk into the next room; I’ve been working really hard – and loving it – but things like exercise have gone out the window. And I’ve never enjoyed exercise (despite those few months in 2008 when I flirted with my inner Jane Fonda) so it wasn’t a hardship to forget to join a gym or go for daily walks. That period of exercise charged me up for the move to Bath, but since I’ve been here my life has become more and more sedentary as I’ve become more and more busy. It’s a trade-off I thought I was okay making, until yesterday morning when I tried to put on the jeans I wore the day I moved to Bath… and I couldn’t get them on. My baggy loose-fitting need-to-wear-a-belt jeans are now too small. I’ve been steadily buying bigger-sized clothing, but these jeans brought it home to me.

I know all this extra me is down to lack of movement and an excess of food; I don’t eat unheathily, but I do recognise that I eat to comfort and quell the lonelies when they surface. I eat when I’m premenstrous. I eat because – to put it bluntly – I do not have a sex life and I miss it. I’ve also realised that I’ve replaced cigarettes with snacks – didn’t even know I did that until I really looked at how I spend my day at my desk; truly my appetite has gone through the roof.

I could share more about my relationship with food and movement, but it’s my relationship with my body – in its current state – that is the problem. I am ashamed of it. I don’t like looking like I am 6-months pregnant. I don’t like that I tire quickly when I go into town, or that the majority of my wardrobe is now tight and restricting. I don’t feel comfortable like this and feel trapped in a cycle of unhealthy habits as I race from one deadline to the next.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I don’t want to be model-thin. I don’t expect my body to look like it did when I was 23. But I would like it to be a little leaner and healthier, and for it to work more efficiently. For this to happen I know I need to implement some major changes in my lifestyle; it’s not a case of blindly loving my curves – I DO love my curves! I’d just rather they weren’t obscured by the wobbly fat I’ve accumulated over 19 months of working hard and eating hard.

And last night, as I lay in bed mulling all this over for the millionth time, I knew what I needed – before the gym membership, and the daily swims, and the time off to recharge and move my body (all planned for my ‘new’ London life) – I need to forgive myself.

Forgiveness. What a lovely concept that is. It’s a word that makes me think of flowing white robes and beatific smiles and benevolence. It’s something i’ve had to cultivate in my life, trying to feel it in my heart and my head as a way to move through past hurts and let go of difficult feelings. But there is one person I always find it so difficult to forgive: ME. I don’t know where this expectation that I have to be perfect came from, but it’s woven through my being like mould through cheese. And some heart-felt forgiveness of my flaws, of my very human fears and f*ck-ups, will help me move forward with a kinder perspective; beating myself up constantly achieves nothing – I know, I’ve tried.

I sense that this is an opportunity to practice gentleness once again, another chance to show myself love. Because at the moment I am showing myself contempt and disappointment, and that really isn’t helping. It’s time to look honestly at the reasons for my changing size and know that, when I am ready, I can make different choices. I can work towards making changes; I can take each day as it comes, and if it’s a day that needs a little extra sugar sprinkled on it then so be it. And I am moving towards these changes: the London relocation will be here soon and that will help me create new routines; the weather is improving which means I feel called to go out more. Being a workaholic has been fantastic for getting fledgling dreams off the ground, but looking after my body will help me maintain the energy I’m devoting to my work life.

Because there is so much more I want to do.

How to fall in love with you: step one :: step two :: step three

85 responses
  1. Glad

    Thank you!! This is honest and will touch so many readers.

    I think every woman can relate to this post. We all have issues with body image and what we are “supposed” to look like.

    I read about the book “Women, Food and God” by Geneen Roth last night on I really loved what it says about the longing for what we think our lives will become once we lose the weight (or find the love, get the job, win the lottery, etc.)

    It’s my next purchase because I know this longing all too well.

    I decided i was ready to make changes to my life style that would improve my health about 4 months ago. I bought an Ipod and downloaded books, my favorite self help gurus, pod casts, etc. I walk an hour every day while I listen to postive, enlightening people.

    I can feel better, jeans are a bit looser and i love all the stuff I’m learning.

    Best of luck to you. xo

  2. summer

    what a wonderful post, susannah. your honesty is inspiring. i wish you much luck on a healthier you.

  3. Melissa

    my goodness, it is as if you read my mind and wrote down what is in my heart right now. let’s do this for us, yes? because we deserve it.

  4. susannah

    Glad, i’ve bought that book too and am looking forward to digging in to it. i *love* the idea of downloading inspiring books to listen to while walking – i’m going to do that too :) x

  5. susannah

    yes we do!!!! xox

  6. Sarah Ann

    I so relate to this. What did I have for breakfast this morning? Pizza. and. Ice cream. Did I really just admit that? Most of my time is spent sitting and reading or writing, painting, editing photos. You get it.

    What would happen if we photographed every thing we ate? (Think I’m going to try that. Maybe I’ll even start a blog about it.)

    I support you in loving yourself, Susannah.


  7. jane

    sometimes bodies get soft to cushion the blows that changes make as they are zooming through our lives… sounds like you are already using this opportunity for self love wisely…

  8. Debi

    This made me cry, and I’m not sure why. I cried for you and I cried for me and I cried just for how hard life can be, and yes, I am grieving my kitty right now, and I cried for her too. I was always the skinny one, 5’8″, could eat what I wanted, yada, yada, yada. Until my early 50s – hormones, maybe allergy meds, lack of movement. All played a part – my eating stayed the same, but I gained weight. I hated it, hated my body – the body that was always in a bikini now afraid to even go to the lake. Last fall my cholesterol #s prompted my dr. to write me a prescription for new meds and that was it. No way could I afford it, so I changed eating habits just a tad and have lost 10 lbs. Losing my kitty a couple of weeks ago took off another 5. I am sure they will come back.

    It has just been hard. I. too, like my curves, suddenly have boobs for the first time in my life, but healthwise another 10 lbs. need to go and that means I have to move my body. At 56, it is tougher than I thought. I am learning to be kinder to myself – I hadn’t thought to forgive myself. You touched my heart with this.

  9. Vanessa

    “I don’t know where this expectation that I have to be perfect came from, but it’s woven through my being like mould through cheese.”

    yes, yes… hell YES.

    this resonates with me, susannah. and i have a feeling its going to resonate with many other sisters out there.

    my body acceptance journey is a long and complicated one (aren’t they all?). right now, i’m in a better place in this regard than i have been for quite some time. it’s amazing how even the smallest of changes can boost the morale. so now i’m working on holding onto the positive feelings (and keeping up the healthier habits) and not letting it all slip away (again!)… a work in progress indeed.

    hugs to you, sweet su. thank you for this beautiful, sincere post.

  10. sonrie

    I agree with every sentiment in this post. So hard to write, yet so true.

  11. Serinissima

    On another note- I simply adore this image- it’s so beautiful, delicious and sublime. It has to be my fav of yours. I think I will keep an eye out in your shop for this one…

  12. Karen

    Congratulations on quitting smoking and for getting your business off of the ground!

    Those are two very worthwhile and impressive accomplishments!

    Congrats also on recognizing an area that could use a bit more attention.

    I don’t exercise for weight loss purposes, but I have found that walking and hiking provide an amazing way to connect with nature while relieving stress. I also starting practicing yoga two weeks ago and it has been providing a kind and accepting approach (for myself just as I am!) that feels so motivating.
    As a 51 year old, I am easily twice the age of most of the people in any activity I pursue so I just ignore my age!

    Thanks for sharing this honest post and I wish you the success I know that you will have as you begin to enjoy the warmer weather and your new goal. Peace!

  13. jane


  14. Ivy

    What a beautiful post. You are so inspiring, I’ve recently been following you and hope to get into your next unraveling class. Your post really is so vulnerable and so close to how I feel as well. I recently started my blog and often hesitate to share so much of me – but reading your blog gave me a different perspective on sharing myself with others. Your post really touched me and got me thinking about me and my weight and what the last 2 yrs has been like for me. Two years of fertility issues and leaving a career I worked so hard for really put me in a bad place…a place of depression and well….eating. I feel so connected to this post because I too have decided to forgive myself AND forgive biology for failing me – I am on a road of healing. And so, I walk, I hike with my pup and I allow myself to feel everything even that achy feeling after a day of “movement”. Thank you so much for sharing. Maybe I too will have the courage to share my story….good luck to you!

  15. kim klassen

    oh my susannah, thank you for this.
    this is exactly me…..

    i’ve always struggled with my weight. but 2 1/2 years ago i lost 50 lbs and damn, i looked good…. like really good… atleast i thought so. :)
    anyhow, our family went thru a truly tragic experience… one i will share some day. and thru that i did great with my weight….but when the worst was over and i realized holy crap i gotta get some work done. funny how the money stops when you quit working. :(

    basically thru the stress i just couldn’t create. … but after the almost unimaginable … the worst i had imagined came true. i seemed to explode. i just had to create again. and i’ve been working like a mad woman ever since. like total workaholic. i have been driven by my passion, but also by the need to beat the financial burden that came with the crisis.
    anyhow, basically…. i have been sitting on my butt for like 12 hours a day. wtf? up until this past winter i would walk about 6 miles a day and lift weights.
    but i’m over beating myself up. it’s okay. lots of it was not my fault.
    i am getting out there, walking again… and cutting out the carbs. it feels good.

    why must it be so hard? ‘sigh’…..

    i love this raw and honest post. it inspired me to want to share. and one day soon i will.

    love to you… and all your awesomeness…

    xxo, kim

  16. denise

    i feel you in this, deeply.
    i know you know this.

    …and because you and i are so good at creating humor around deep soul hard parts, i think of my Va-Va always saying to me when she noticed i put on some weight…”you must be happier!” ; )

    Va-Va rocks.
    but i know there are so many layers beyond just that.

    love you.

  17. Robby

    This was exactly what I need to read right now, Susannah. I’ve been struggling with my weight the fourteen years I have been alive and it’s good to know I’m not alone.
    It’s good to start forgiving.
    Thank you. This meant more to me than I can tell you.

  18. Brooke

    oh, beautiful lady, thank you for sharing. :)

  19. Laurie


    As I read your most recent post I felt like I was reading my own thoughts. I am in the same place as you. I find myself waking up in the middle of the night with my head spinning. I feel sad and disappointed in myself for letting this happen, for letting myself gain weight.

    I moved a couple years ago to start my life anew and to continue healing from a devastating heartbreak. I was so optimistic but have not found my footing in this new place and over time have gained all the weight back I so lovingly lost just prior to moving. I can blame work and stress and so many things. But in the end my life is not filled with as much daily activity (I used to live in a city that demanded I walk everywhere) and it’s caught up with me. At the root of it all is that I am very hard on myself. So I love the fact that you are committed to forgiving yourself and practicing gentleness. I want to do the same and would love to hear more about how you are incorporating this into your daily life.

    On a side note, I started your unravelling course a few months ago but honestly was not ready to look at myself through the camera lens when I look so different in photos than I do in my mind’s eye. I’m having a hard time reconciling the two.

    Thank you for your grace and honesty and bravery. It is inspiring and just what I needed to hear.

  20. Cara

    There’s a lot…too much…I could say here, but I’m going to settle for saying a very sincere – Thank You.


  21. Kitty

    Oh Lovey!

    Once again you inspire me and bring me to tears at the same time! This has been a lifelong struggle for me, and it took me until I was 30 (last year) to really be OK with myself enough to admit that I never would be “stick thin.” BUT I have lost a lot of weight, just the stress of moving, cleaning, and organizing was enough!

    Keep your head up, and your thoughts positive. The First Step is realization! The next step is Action! Sounds like you are on your way!

    Also, congrats on smoking! I KNOW how hard that is, I’m going to quit soon myself! (I hope!)

  22. Krista

    Thank you for being so honest, Susannah. I’m teary finishing your post for I’ve been struggling with and learning much the same things. This weekend I’ve been learning again to be patient, gentle and, as your post reminded me, forgiving of myself. Thank you. I wish you much strength, courage and wisdom as you decide how to flourish again. :-)

  23. vanessa joie

    I love that you remember to be thoughtful towards yourself. I’ve had similar feelings about my own weight/lifestyle changes and recently started a new eating/exercise program that is pretty restrictive but is giving some results (i think). But in reading your beautiful post I realize I approached this change as a punishment – rather than changing my lifestyle because I love myself I was changing it to get back at myself, rebuking myself for being lazy, greedy, irresponsible …

    Thanks for the change in perspective. I really do love your blog.

  24. jesse

    as I read this, I had this clear picture of a soft landing – a gentle, accepting, warm, welcoming place where it’s okay to be who we are, with all our lumps and bumps and loving hearts.

  25. Nacole

    I have never posted a comment on a blog before but this post propelled me to. It may be because I can relate to your words, or that I’ve been having the same conversation run through my head about my weight, but really it’s because you have reminded me how to stop beating myself up… forgiveness. Thank you!

  26. Rebecca

    White…forgiveness…I see it for us all. All we have to do is say yes.

    Blessings and affirmations. You’re there.

  27. Moa

    Oh, I was so touched and inspired by this post, Susannah. I’ve also been going through a stressful time these last couple of months and been putting on some weight. I felt really happy about the part where you wrote that we should show gentleness and love for ourselves, it’s so true. The sun is shining today and I’m going to take the opportunity to enjoy that by taking a walk :) Good luck with your plans! Take care. Moa xx

    PS. That photo is gorgeous!

  28. Catalina

    great post! I also put a lot of weight and not fell as confortable with my body……there are lots of reasons why we gain weight (eating is a way to confort ourselves and metabolism slow down if we don’t move a lot for example)

    But the most important is how we feel about ourselves..accept our new image is not so easy but helps to wash out stree and is easier to try to recover a healthy body. Exercise even a little give us a better feeling about our body, and it takes a little discipline. It is easer than stop eating or so…

    The movie Mamam Mia with the gorgeous Meryl Streep made me feel as a “dancing queen, always seventeen…” ;)

    “perfect” has many “nuances” . we are already in a way.

    thanks for this great post Susannah!

  29. Holly

    I printed all your “How to fall in love with yourself”‘s off for my mum, and she read them all in about an hour. She has resolved to start doing it, so that’s a triumph on your part! I love your writing, it’s so bluntly honest yet full of optimism and wisdom too.

  30. Kathy

    Susannah, what an honest post that I can certainly relate to. Firstly, wow, you gave up smoking, HUGE achievement and a wonderful gift of helath to yourself. I did the same 7 years ago and have never looked back. Secondly, you have this amazing, innovative, inspiring business that touches and changes so many people on a daily basis. I can relate to letting your busyness take priority over being active.
    I am similar to you in that formal excersise doesn’t fire my rockets, what does though is walking with friends and walking the dog. I have a black labrador and no matter how busy I get I must walk him, good for him and good for me.
    Susannah I hope that these posts from the women you inspire help you decide what excercise will be right for you so you can eat cupcakes and enjoy them without an inch of guilt. And more importantly, keep your body in a healthy and strong state and live a long healthy full life.
    We all agree what a gorgeous woman you are inside and out. By the way, the new site is great and I really enjoyed meeting you in your new video. Kxx

  31. susannah

    yay for your mum!! :-D

  32. susannah

    exercise is easier than stopping eating – YES! i eat like a person who is active.. without being active. if i GET active it will all balance out… that’s my theory, anyway ;)

  33. susannah

    yay for first comments!!! i am honoured xo

  34. susannah

    ‘change as punishment’ – yep, i get it. definitely worth trying to look with different eyes… change as a gift. This is what i’m trying too

  35. susannah

    weirdly, giving up was easy…. but i still have days when i want a cigarette so bad. oh MAN

    you can do itttttttt!!!

  36. susannah

    in that case i am so proud of you for *trying* the course, because i know it can bring up all sorts of stuff in us xoxo

  37. susannah

    i love your Va Va, she is so awesome ;-D

  38. susannah

    ‘why must it be so hard’ – i hear ya, sister xo

  39. susannah

    sharing our stories is so powerful – do it!!!! :) xo

  40. bella

    In the midst of a tough day, I sat down for a cup of coffee and a little blog reading. The day was a tough one because… my big jeans were tight on me :)

    You know, I had these thoughts about my body and my weight struggles front and present, swirling ever so loudly within me from the moment I got dressed. By the evening when I sat down with a cup of coffee and a bit of blog reading, I was so done. I just kind of looked up and asked for help in steering my thoughts to another place.

    Thank you for sharing your feelings so honestly. I can relate to you here on so many levels. As time passes, and I get deeper into my 30’s, my PMS has sort of grown with me, reaching very high peaks of nastiness. Honestly I act like a starving, wretched, emotional bag of goo for a week every month.

    And the stressed out, emotional snacking, picking, & eating (which IMO is truly another form of escape for me…) is not helping.

    But your post reminded me that I am not alone. There is no pleasure in knowing that your friend is hurting, but I took comfort in your thoughts at the end about forgiveness and being gentle to ourselves.

    Last night, I picked up a copy of The Kind Diet – and while it promotes three different steps into eating plant based (I’m really flirting with the idea) – it is so full of valuable information about the food we it and how it affects our hearts, bodies, and minds. There is a big connection between the food we eat, how our bodies feel afterward, and that all ultimately correlates with how we see and love ourselves. Deep stuff for a frustrated girl in tight jeans on a Saturday night.

    Wishing you a gentle Sunday. xo

  41. Steph

    Well, I am not surprised you are getting deluged by responses as I think that most of us can relate on a very deep level to the sentiments you’ve expressed, both from the view-point of learning to forgive oneself (if only!) and from the ‘gah, why am I so fat?’ one.

    I used to be really fat when I was younger, which is hard to believe now, not because I am some sort of sylph (I so am not!), but because sometimes people see us in a certain way and assume that’s what we have always been. I lost in excess of 60 lbs and have kept them off but I cannot claim this to be easy or second nature to me, for I will always prefer a large pizza in front of a Red Dwarf-a-thon to three hours (or minutes) at the gym.

    What has worked for me: excruciatingly expensive clothes. Odd thing to say perhaps but, believe me, throwing out an £ 800 pair of Escada pants doesn’t speak to your subconscious in the same way as a rag from GAP does. It keeps you in check like nothing else, which is the reason why, save a few pounds on the odd occasion, I can still wear the stuff I bought in 2001.

    You’re a tall woman, it will take you a little while to see (and feel) results, then go and splash out on something absurd. It will zip your mouth for you! (I am thinking of my Yves Saint Laurent dress… fucking hell, I could have replaced the front door instead… there’s nothing like it to put me off culinary excess!).

    But do you know something else? I think that working at a computer is a KILLER. When I was working in an office I remember that the boredom was such that I used to reach for food, any food, on a minute-to-minute basis. Then I went through a period working with colleagues in Hong Kong, up at 5 am and to bed at midnight, which resulted in living on 11 skinny Starbucks a day (I was thin then). Now I work at home, happy as Larry (or is it Harry? I can never remember) and I am inclined to reach for food when all is well (aaaaah, I am going to celebrate writing this sentence with a biscuit) and when all is wrong (fuck it, what’s the point, I am going to commiserate myself with a biscuit).

    Enters the Tracy Anderson Mat Workout DVD: 4 weeks in and what was starting to feel slightly tight now fits again. I cannot recommend her enough Sus; I am doing it with Galia, which is an odd thing to say as I am in Manchester, she in Sydney, and we spur each other on via email, WORK THROUGH IT! YOU’LL HAVE TEENY TINY ARMS!!!! ALL OF THESE ROTATIONS ARE REALLY IMPORTANT FOR YOUR BOTTOM! Arrrrrgggghhh, GOOO! which is sort of funny for obvious reasons but then… when you can zip the damn pants… well… it’s worth it!! Bon courage, we’re all on the same wagon!

  42. Elizabeth Scott

    What a lovely post. So glad you wrote it. I admire your courage to ‘put it out there’ as you said in one of your wallpapers.(I have kept that one on my desktop for inspiration).
    The part about eating when the lonelies hit is my fav as I too miss not having a partner in my life. Those lonelies are definetely hard to deal with. It helps to know there are others out there also dealing with them. Thanks again for such an honest post.

  43. susannah

    dude! you’ve sold it to me – i am ordering that DVD right now…. x

  44. rowena

    Great post and I certainly relate, to the confining clothes and the difficulty of forgiveness and acceptance. It’s not about starving yourself or becoming anorexic, but loving yourself and being thoughtful and joyful in how you feed yourself. And I’m not just talking food. Thanks for this.

  45. sirja

    Dear Susannah,
    yesssss, I think I know, and yessss I know you put the right words to these ever-floating and hard-to-define feelings, again! Forgive ourselves, I love it! Or as they put it, to let others love you, you need to love yourself first. But then again, we all love you. All this tribe of your trustful followers ;-)
    And you know what, you’re so much not alone.
    Take care and thanks for yet another lovely read.

  46. Christine

    Amen – kindness, gentleness, forgiveness – why is it so hard to give these to ourselves? You’re on the right path here my friend, keep up the good work.

  47. mindy

    i loved this post. this is something that i have been struggling with for the last 6 months. well, actually for the last 10 years, since my oldest son was born. i gained a lot of weight after two babies and never lost it.

    i have about 60 pounds that i could stand to lose now. my first step has been to accept myself the way i am. that has been my personal struggle for the last 6 months. i’ve learned to love myself the way i am now, stretch marks, sagging tummy and cellulite! i love it all ;)

    now my goal is to be healthy. be active. and maybe end up a size medium. i’m not going to worry so much about what the scale says. i find that the scale messes with my mind and that is never good…

    i walk every day (i have two dogs that need the exercise as much as i do and that in my inspiration) and i joined the local gym. something i’ve never done. in. my. life. and i’m loving it! something i never thought i would say :)

    love this post susannah! i find that i really love all your posts though ;)

    love yourself! you are worthy.

  48. Jay (UK)

    Ah, this speaks to my soul. I’m the same as Steph, food is both a celebration and a commiseration depending on my mood. I LOVE food, food is awesome, food is fabulous, no food is bad…it’s just the ‘dose’ of particular foods I need to regulate haha! I’ve started gardening to gently get me active before attempting the Mel B Total Fitness DVD I’ve bought – she looks fab, makes me laugh and she’s exercising in the LA sunshine…mmm, I can dream of sunny places whilst I fling myself around the living room!

    Hugs and good vibes to you and all the commenters.

  49. kath

    we are who we are, big or small, tight or floppy. it is so hard to keep all the balls in the air,perfectly balanced. it is, in fact, exhausting. christina at soulaperture always writes, slow, slow, slow … I am finding that an acceptance of things taking time and me taking my time has relieved some of the OH GOD I HAVE TO THIS RIGHT NOW stress. I am contenting myself (how do you like that for a good word) with a pound week right now. And I’m happy with that weight loss.
    sending much love to you ….

  50. margie

    i have been struggling with the body image thing for a long time now. i am 57 and quit smoking ten years ago. two months ago i started a program called couch to 5k for people who are either on the couch or kidding themselves by standing next to the couch, just in case they get tired or have to sit down and eat, which is where i was, standing beside the couch. i cannot say enough good things about this venture and every day that i didn’t want to do it, i looked at myself naked until i put on my exercise clothes. i could only put on real clothes if i was happy with everything. good luck and for heavens sakes forgive yourself. drop two or three pounds and you will feel great and be motivated. all the other things will fall into place in a more energized, gentler world. sorry this is long, i guess your post hit home.

  51. Alisa


  52. Cricket

    I’m working with a body that’s quickly approaching 40 and something a yoga teacher said recently resonated with me. She talked about opening her fridge to pack lunch for the day and wondering what fruit she might find in there. She knew she’d bought fruit at the market, but couldn’t remember which kind. She said this reminded her of waking up her her body every day; how does everything feel this morning? What might she find? I like the idea of approaching my body as I do my fridge: I’ll make due with whatever is in there, but some days I like it better than others. I have a little bit of control over the selections, but I’m somehow never completely in charge of what I’ll come up with. My mantra for this is: “you take the fruit you find.” This reminds me to smile (most important!) and practice acceptance.

  53. Ali Kati

    You’re a darling, thank you for this post. I found my loose boy-cut, low-hipped jeans tight today and was feeling rather disgusted with how big my gut is. All day, I kept breathing and telling myself not to give in to being angry and contemptuous of myself, which would probably end up with more comfort-eating. I think loving myself will come instead in the form of fresh, large green salads, yummy, healthy soups, bright, happy fruit, walking in sunshine and bouncy, shiny hair. Oh yes, and my favourite perfume of violets.

    I wish you much enjoyment of your body as the weather gets warmer and warmer.

  54. Jan's camera

    Hi Susannah,

    Great post. I’m sure it must have been difficult for you to write. I also can relate to this same exact problem. I am a petite woman with a small frame and I have always been thin, but as I am aging I have put on a lot of extra weight in the middle and it feels unnatural to me. It’s a combination of meds and menopause and I am told it is inevitable but I, too, am determined not to just ‘accept’ it. Now that the weather is finally better here in New England, I am going to start to do some kind of exercise every day. I just want to be able to wear all of my ‘regular’ size clothes again instead of the bigger sizes that I have been forced to buy lately. I work in an office and I used to enjoy dressing up for work everyday. But I haven’t been able to do that in a long time. Nothing fits correctly anymore. It is very frustrating. I don’t feel that I eat the wrong foods as much as the fact that I need to exercise twice as much now that I have hit my 50’s. Let’s try to get healthy together. Thanks for sharing this personal post with us.

  55. Amy

    You are an inspiration, girl!!! I applaud your bravery in letting that go, and frankly going there! I so get where you’re head is at…you have touched on such a universal feeling. Between recovering from relationship trauma, or being a workaholic, to facing the reality of aging, food has played a part, yet forgiveness takes the back seat! Why do we do that to ourselves?!?!?! THANK YOU! Thank you for reminding us to forgive ourselves and just be kind to ourselves instead!

  56. chantelle {fat mum slim}

    You’ve written what my mind feels, and what my heart needed to hear.

    Thank you.

    I will read this tomorrow, and again the next day, and the next, and the next… until finally I forgive myself… and believe that I deserve better. x

  57. Nathalie

    Wow. This is so honest, inspiring, it’s like clanging one of those loud church bells and finding that it’s echoed EVERYWHERE. I am thinking those thoughts, and living those words right now. Thank you for your honesty, and thank you for reminding me to stop beating myself up. I will never be happy with my body if I’m unhappy and angry with myself.

  58. Marina

    Susannah, brave and honest as usual, I can see we all relate to what you’ve written and I certainly can relate to a lot of the comments, so I’ll just add a tiny bit: having gone through a great time of self-adjustment in my creative life, I now find myself on a different level of commitment and satisfaction; suddenly, my weight and body issues seem to be kind of lagging behind me; couldn’t it just be that, in growing up as strong women, we have sort of overtaken our own bodies? Sometimes I feel this is the case, and I wonder if now that I have found myself a different viewpoint I can maybe start addressing all the unresolved body issues. Much of the problem is “I have already tried this, it doens’t work”. What if we are different women now, and can tackle the problem differently? Best of luck.

  59. creative voyage

    I find that being active for my health is a far bigger draw for me than being thin. I want to be an active 80 year old so I’m starting now. I’ve found that in the past I’ve got to fit my activity in around what I like doing ie walking and taking phtographs in the city, walking on the beach swimming with friends.

    But that aside it occurs to me that as you business has grown on line you have become ‘bigger’ in the world are you sure that being ‘bigger’ in you is just a way of coping with something which does mean being far more exposed?

  60. Kelly

    wonderful post susannah, i am just coming to realize how little forgiveness i have had for myself…my body has changed over the last 2 years and i have struggled so inside, i am realizing that caring more for myself (& forgiving me for my crushing ways) and doing things such as walking (never have been a walker, but it clears my mind and tones the bum) and yoga more regularly is helping me at least be ok with looking in that mirror when without clothes and somehow my mind and heart feel lighter.
    here is to continuing to forgive and move on to what is good for us! thank you for sharing

  61. Nicole | Blue Bicicletta

    very lovely and honest post! I also spend quite a bit of time beating up on myself—about exercise, and so many other things! Why is it so darn hard to forgive yourself? I love your revamped site and new blog location, by the way!

  62. Fiona

    Thank you for this honesty. You have such a wise outlook on life. I’m really enjoying this series :)

  63. susannah

    the bigger me is directly related to my bigger workload – more time at the computer means less time walking around. i need to learn how to put time aside for stuff *other* than work, that my biz won’t crash & burn if i take an hour out for some exercise ;)

  64. Heather

    Great post! Can you tell you touched a nerve here :-D I had to scroll forever to get to the end of the comments section, I want to take time to read them but I need to get back to work! I am having this same issue, trying to focus a bit less on weight, and I want to lose weight though but more then anything I want to gain energy , forgiveness and health.. I am the heaviest that I have been and I realized that I am in pictures less and less because I don’t like the way that I am looking. I am in an active journey of shedding hopefully weight , but more so self judgement and excuses.
    Thank you for your honesty and the reminder to forgive myself and accept where I am in order to get to where I know I am meant to go!

  65. Lisa {milkshake}

    Wow. This could not have come on a better day as I, too, put on jeans that used to be too big for me… As a self-employed artist, there are just things that are more important to me than working out. But I must fit it in somehow!

  66. Alex

    I know what you mean… Business is flourishing though, so take a breather. I know you’ll get back in shape in a flash! Loving you from San Fran. xoxx

  67. Anna

    Susannah – I think this is such a great insight to share with people b/c it’s SO true…I’ve been studying to be a personal trainer for over a year now and am embarking on my degree as a nutritionist soon…and these questions come into my mind all the time – what is at the core of our body issues? Not only will it help me with clients, but also for myself…being in the health industry makes you very body concious! Thank you for this honest and encouraging post – it’s SO true.!!!

  68. Genki

    What a wonderful post. Forgiveness is so important and I’m of the type who beats myself up over the things I’ve done “wrong” time and time again.
    I also just woke up to being uncomfortable in my own body and have started the Jillian Michael’s 30 day shred and I think it’s doing something already. So tough but only 20 minutes of toughness per day, letting me enjoy my swim for its relaxing qualities where I can let that acceptance of me just wash over me.
    Thanks so much for the words. I loved reading them as always.

  69. janet

    hugs sister, on your journey. gentle-loving-kindness starts with forgiveness, simple enough yet so easy to forget, thanks for gentle reminder.

  70. echo

    I can relate completely. I don’t recognize my body, and I’ve been carrying my extra weight for years now. I’m not able to forgive myself at all…that’s too much of a stretch for me at this point in time. But I look forward to reading more about your journey, and your words definitely inspire me!

  71. Astrid

    Very inspiring post, Susannah.
    My jeans have also become too tight lately…

  72. Christine

    I can relate to so much of this, thank you for putting it out there. I especially like the image of perfectionism being “woven through my being like mould through cheese”.
    I’m in the same boat, healthwise. I think most of what I eat is quality, I just eat more than I need to. I also do most of my work sitting down and I have to really push myself to get any exercise. It’s bloody tricky balancing everything – from studies to work to creative outlets to relationships to keeping house (apartment).
    I subscribe to the school of thought (on my good days, anyway) of small changes over time. I’ve never been a dieter, calorie counter, gym going etc kind of person and I don’t think that’s the path to feeling better about myself. I just keep inching towards choices that serve me better, and in the meantime keep chanting (as the hitchhikers guide reminds us): “Don’t Panic”

  73. susannah

    “Don’t panic” – it’s the answer to every question :)

  74. Kimberla

    I stumbled across your blog today and I’m very happy I did! It’s so inspiring! I look forward to reading more…

    Yes, why can it easy to forgive others yet close to impossible to forgive ourselves?

    I came across this “thoughtful question” and it really hit home: “If you had a friend who spoke to you in the same way you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow that person to be your friend?”

    Maybe we just have to treat and respect ourselves like we would a good friend, rather than an enemy!

  75. Ingrid

    Thanks Susannah for such a beautiful honest post and now for all the wonderful comments it has generated.
    I have gained so much by reading them and now I plan to lose some weight by walking them! I love the idea of walking while listening to podcasts – making exercise something I could love to do!
    No time like the present.

  76. tanja

    I’ve just found you (via Jen + Andrea over at mondo beyondo in a roundabout funfair ride kinda way) and your post gave me goosebumps.

    I can so relate to not moving enough and lying in bed feeling unloving of myself. I hope you find your way with walking, hiking, maybe yoga and the rest (via lots of loving kindness to yourself, of course).

    May I also add to this mix my joy of dancing, for fun, for pleasure, dancing so wildly you forget that you’re exercising and just have a blast kind of dancing?

    That’d be the dancing you can find in a NIA class (take a look at

    Women of all shapes and sizes come alive with the joy of movement in the classes, and I have learned so much here about the beginning of truly accepting my no longer lean 20-something body, sticky out wide hips, too long legs, bingo wings arms and all.

    OK, so I still have a way to go on total acceptance, but you get the idea.

    There’s a great network over in London too if you are heading out this way.

    Thanks for the brave post.
    x T

  77. karen

    You are so amazing! My first reaction to seeing the wrong numbers on the scale is to blame myself for those extra pounds. I figured out how to loose weight practically speaking but I’ve never figured out how to love myself along the way. How do you do that?!? The way you put it, it just makes so much sense. Thank you!!

    In the suggestions department… I can personally vouch for the power of Weight Watchers. I lost 45 pounds and have kept it off for 4 years and counting by using their web tools (which works brilliantly on an iphone I hear). Before I logged what I ate I really had NO concept of how much I was eating. I thought I was being pretty healthy about what I ate but my sense of portion size was way off. And my exercise of choice? Walking, plenty of walking – like an hour a day. – but that’s all. It’s great tribe time, or even better, tribe-of-one time :)
    love you,
    aka seattle.grace

  78. Devon

    This is only my second visit to your sweet blog. I cried through this whole entry. I’m working hard at learning to love myself, no matter what my reflection shows me. It’s very difficult work. Thanks for your honesty. Hugs.

  79. susannah

    ohhh, sweetheart – sending big hugs to you too x

  80. Denise @ A Bun Can Dance

    Hi Susannah
    I’ve popped over from Emma Bradshaw’s blog, and I’m so glad I did – it feels good to have discovered your open and honest blog :-)
    Size and weight changes – yes I can totally agree with how you feel about trying to put on clothes which were fine just a matter of months ago, but which now, have no chance of fitting. I changed my life 3 years ago when I gave up a full time professional role to simply be me and not work. My personal life changed too as I met my now Husband. But over the last 3 years my dress size has gone up two sizes and I have curves for the first time in my life! Like you I love my curves, and like you I have felt distraught at times when trying to put on clothes that used to fit. All this has left me in a wardrobe/clothes wilderness for the last couple of years…. now I read about you forgiving yourself – just being kind to yourself and your body – and it really clicks with where I am in my thinking too. I’ve been working on being generous towards me – showing myself that I value myself – and now reading this, I realise that forgiveness is part of this process too.
    The way I think recently is: my clothes may be bigger than they were a few years ago, but so too is my Happiness and Contentment with life. I was lost and sad and lonely then – now I’m a happier person and if a few extra pounds are on my body, so be it – I am more than my dress size!!
    I’m going to sign off in a mo – but I’m interested to see some parallels in our lives: My first husband died suddenly and I learned so much about Me through the grieving process. It’s good to have discovered your blog as I can see some similar thought patterns too!
    Happy days to you,
    Denise x

  81. Erika

    Oh Susannah – I am late in commenting here. I read this post when you first published it, and it has stayed with me. I, too, have gained weight this past year, and am experiencing many of the struggles you write of, above. My most favorite word that you wrote – the one that has kept me company over these past weeks – is forgiveness. What a beautiful thought that is. This has helped me tremendously. Thank you. :)

  82. Penelope

    Thank you. I just recently discovered your blog, and it’s
    beautiful. These “fall in love with you” posts are amazingly
    helpful and all totally relevant. I’m going to share them with
    everyone I know because I feel that, being the beginning of a new
    year, everyone needs to resolve to finding more love for

  83. MARTA

    @ Sarah Ann, I started in Dec to shoot everything I ate – and it makes a huge difference in the way you see what you are putting in your stomach! Now I shoot a few meals a week – Good luck and I would love to see your shots!

  84. MARTA

    These are great posts – thank you… and I know forgiving yourself is such a key. I need to learn this! I traveled around China alone for a month 2 years ago, and often travel around the world alone – never feeling lonely or sad but rather excited about what each day will bring — not having a friend with me to lean on helps me learn to lean on myself and I am always surprised at just how resilient we are as people when I find myself in peculiar circumstances abroad..alone. So even though being alone, traveling alone, eating alone doesn’t frighten me – so many things still do… I know I have so much to learn about loving myself.

  85. chris

    I feel for you. I have tried to forgive myself for five years. Most days I do ok but I’ve allowed my self too much beating that its hard to forgive. I don’t think I am a horrible person. I hate to use my past as an excuse to stay crippled but its so hard to forgive myself.

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