I’ve been big all my life.
I was chubby as a big-little kid. I was plump and overly developed as a teen. And through my twenties and thirties, I was definitely obese. As if being big all my life wasn’t enough, I was also unhealthy.
After suffering through food restrictions and every kind of diet to lose weight unsuccessfully so many times, I ate all the foods during my adult years. It was my way of taking control of me. It also became my path to nonstop tingling in my fingers and toes, increased blood pressure, and ultimately my highest weight ever.
I’ve talked about being fat before–and I know so many of you can relate because you’ve told me as much–but I need to tell you how it felt to be fat. I need you to know how bad it felt to truly understand how good I feel now and how much better everything is now.
I need you to know that feeling better is possible.
As a kid, I was over-sexualized by some (for being big in the “right” places) and discriminated against by others (for being big everywhere else). I was teased, bullied, cat-called, shamed, and insulted for everything that had to do with my size. All of it was very confusing; gosh, it’d be confusing for any big-little kid.
Unfortunately, I was too naive and sensitive to defend myself from strangers’s comments. I was also too shamed and hurt so I just kept taking cues from the whole lot of them. Every person in my life encouraged and, generally, pushed me to go on a diet. So I kept dieting.
I tried to get healthy about two hundred times from childhood to now. And the dieting mixed with all the insults and all the shame created an environment of self-hate. I thought about how to get smaller constantly and, since any lost weight rarely stayed off, I felt like a disappointment 24/7.
It took decades but I finally found my way to real wellness. I know “real wellness” means different things to different people. For me, it means I lost a bunch of weight (though I’m not thin), I live mostly pain-free, and I prioritize all the good-for-me foods. Most importantly, I released the shame and embraced real love for my one and only–me!
I finally got healthy when I dug deep, really deep.
When I say “dug deep,” I don’t mean, I finally stuck to a diet plan. Certainly, when I started losing weight steadily on a pretty strict elimination diet, I felt some deep motivation to keep going. But that’s not the kind of deep I’m talking about here. While I was losing weight, I was also doing two other things in tandem.
I finally got healthy when:
- I faced my demons
- I unlocked my whys
Facing my demons–hurts from the past
Facing my demons was extremely difficult. I spent the year I lost 70+ pounds also reviewing many of the hurts of my past. I obsessed over when and why I put food in my mouth, to understand the emotional moments that pushed me to eat mindlessly. I listened to my body and comforted it when it felt fake hunger pangs an hour after eating (because it was just a stomach that wanted more, more, more until it hurt). And I forgave everyone, including my parents, for not knowing how to raise or nurture a big-little kid.
I chipped away at so many of my demons bit by bit. Facing them involved a lot of talking, crying, writing, and more crying. But that’s okay because when I finally dug deep into my demons, I was able to learn, understand, and forgive. The forgiveness lessened the pain and kept my eyes straight ahead, focused on getting healthier (instead of retreating into the pain and the food like I had so many times previously).
By facing my demons, I became way more mindful and thoughtful about all of my choices, not just food choices. I became someone who was way more thoughtful about every opportunity, and that leads to unlocking my whys.
Unlocking my whys–my purpose, my life’s mission
While getting healthier, I also did a lot professionally that helped me hone in on some of my whys. My first cookbook was published and I went on a 10-city cookbook tour to share the Food Gift Love with those who make and share food gifts. I learned that I really loved writing (and connecting with people over) stories. I felt that If I got the chance, I wanted to do it all again. (My second cookbook releases in early 2019.)
When I returned home, I immediately created (as if magically out of thin air but with lots of hardcore help) one of my most popular Eat Boutique Holiday Markets. In our little space, I squeezed 20+ revolving food makers, a tiny cafe, a retail store, sold-out cooking and lifestyle classes, and a big demo space for culinary events. In 12 days, 8,000 guests walked through the space, many of them returning an average of 2.2 times. (Yes, I was blown away.)
Each morning, I ventured to the market space before everyone else to review the market’s analytics and plan for the day. Sitting alone in that beautiful space, I knew there was absolutely no other place I wanted to be. I was exhausted; my personal life was generally nonexistent; and, I was walking about 20,000 steps per day. Even with all that, it was the happiest I had ever been.
It was on those mornings, with a quiet, thoughtful mind, I decided that I had to turn my pop-up markets into a permanent venture. And I believe that figuring that out (figuring out a couple of my whys) has made the change in my health a way more permanent thing.
I knew I wanted to write another cookbook and I knew I wanted to open a permanent storefront. Starting with those two objectives, I formed a vision for my future and created a tangible vision board that could guide my life.
My vision board has opened me up to all my beautiful potential.
And when I say my beautiful potential, I mean everything like:
- All the things I can make
- All the activities I can do
- All the places I can go
- And all the health I can have–because I deserve to be healthy and good health belongs to me. Finally.
My vision board is my guide. It started as a mess of inspirational images–the sort we used to cut for magazine collages in high school–and became a thoughtful, prioritized list of objectives for my life. It includes all my professional objectives as well as personal wishes for ways to make my life way better. It covers that beautiful food space I’m working to open, how to prioritize self-love, ways to cultivate a community that inspires me, and much more. It is literally 200+ images condensed into 10 key objectives.
My vision board is my guide. It inspires me to live within my dreams instead of staring at them from a distance. It keeps me motivated to keep on keeping on. It energizes me every day.
My journey to real wellness has not happened overnight. It’s taken years. But I’m here now and I resolutely feel that if this process has worked for me, it will work for you, too. So while I keep pursuing all the good things on my vision board, I’m also here to help you make yours. I want to help you figure out your whys.
I want to help you make your vision board pronto (so it can inspire your everyday life).
Unlocking my whys and visioning my future made it possible for me to stay healthy and achieve some real objectives. And since it has kept me focused in a real way, I have decided to offer 1-on-1 vision boarding sessions to all of you.
Vision boarding may sound complicated but, with the structure I put in place, it’s way simple. Together, we’ll spend two hours dreaming for you and gathering images that represent those dreams. We split the time between two meetings. We do it all online via Google Hangout. Like I said, it’s way simple.
There’s a little work to do in advance–because there’s always work to do when it involves your life’s mission, people–but it’s the kind of work that permits you to live within your dreams for a few minutes. It’s the good kind of work. You know, the meaningful stuff.
When we work on your vision board together, you get to prioritize yourself, in a real self-care way. And, ultimately, this vision board will help organize any clutter in your mind and, even, point you in the right direction for the big and little decisions you have to make everyday.
Now, to be clear, a vision board is not about establishing a timeline for achievement of all these juicy objectives. It’s about pure imagination. This exercise is not about tasks; it’s about exploring all the possibilities for your life and realizing all your beautiful potential.
It’s time for me to cultivate my community, and to give back all that I’ve received.
As I mentioned, one of my vision board objectives is to cultivate a real community of people who get me. I want to find my tribe and love them hard. And I have this feeling that some of you reading this may be part of my tribe. If you’d like to spend some time visioning your life’s mission, then let’s do that very soon, okay? I do charge for this service–because I’ve got to pay for all that good-for-me food–and you’ll have a supporter/cheerleader/advisor on hand to help you figure stuff out.
I have been doing vision boards with clients behind the scenes for the last few months (you can read their testimonials on the next page) and, oh my goodness, the results have been amazing. I have openings in late July and early August, so please reach out to me via the next page and let’s get a session scheduled.
If, after you create your vision board, you’d like help actualizing some or all of it, I can help with that, too. I currently support a select group of women with business and life coaching. I’ll take on a few new clients for the late summer and early fall. Because if I can make my dreams happen, little by little, I know you can, too.
Eat Boutique is an award-winning shop and story-driven recipe site created by Maggie Battista. After hosting pop-up markets for 25,000+ guests, Maggie is now focused on opening her first permanent Eat Boutique–a food-retail concept space with a new way to the very best food. Her second cookbook, A New Way to Food: Recipes That Revamped My Pantry & Made Me Love Me, At Last, will be published by Roost Books/Penguin Random House in 2019. Her first cookbook, Food Gift Love, features more than 100 food gift recipes to make, wrap, and share and is available wherever you find favorite cookbooks.