On the first day of my IMPACT Core Program, in March-2010, I sat on the mat in a circle with the other women, feeling nervous, questioning my sanity, and seriously considering faking some kind of mysterious, instant onset illness, so I could just leave and never look back. What on earth was I doing there?! I felt chubby, out of shape, uncomfortable in my own skin, and—I now realize—entirely unworthy of standing up and fighting for myself.
One of the class assistants commented, “IMPACT really changed me. I learned I was capable of so much; I learned I was really strong. It’s amazing what that opened up in other areas of my life. I hope this program is part of opening something up in your lives, too.”
I smiled. I nodded. And I thought, “Yeah, riiiiiiiiiiight.” However, since completing the Core Program last March, something has opened up in me—big time.
It started slowly, this opening up, but gradually, I began to value and prioritize myself in new and different ways. Pre-IMPACT, I often thought things that amounted to: “Once I lose weight, I’ll start taking better care of myself because then I’ll deserve it.” Post-IMPACT, more and more, I found myself thinking, “Hey, I have the body I have, and I need to take good care of it because it takes such good care of me; it is strong and capable. Even if I’m carrying around extra weight, I’m worth defending, worth fighting for, and worth treating with dignity, kindness and respect.”
Baby steps—making a delicious, healthy dinner for myself (because my body deserved food that tasted good and nurtured it), taking a walk on my lunch hour to enjoy the sunshine (because my body deserved a break from hard work to take in the beauty around me)—added up, and I began uncovering a much happier, healthier, and more confident version of myself.
Since completing the Core Program, I’ve lost 80 pounds—80 pounds!—and I feel amazing. I feel amazing not just because I’ve lost the weight, but also because I have acknowledged myself as strong, as more in control of what happens to my body, and as capable. IMPACT was a huge part of this opening up, and I’m tremendously grateful. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.
Mary Reynolds, LCSW
IMPACT Chicago Graduate Relations Committee