The day I said the phrase, it was somewhat out of exasperation. With a lot of compassion and understanding, but with some exasperation. My client was an incredibly talented, capable, strong, amazing woman who kept saying, "But what if...?" and "Well, what if I...?" and "Do I have to...?". It echoed the sentiment I've heard from thousands of women, no matter what part of the world they come from. Lipedema makes them question themselves, their intelligence, their gut instincts, their ideas, their self-worth, and their own good sense. When I decided to use my education and training to coach women with lipedema, I had no idea how frustrated I would become on behalf of these ladies who are fighting every day just to try and figure out something (anything) they can do to affect positive change to their own bodies. And so, in response to several minutes of my client's doubt, I finally said, "You are a grown woman. A. grown. woman. Do whatever you want."
It was a powerful moment. A woman being told someone trusts her to do what's best for herself. A woman realizing, maybe for the first time, that she is free to make whatever decision she wants to make without judgment and with full support from someone who has her best interests at heart. A woman who can breathe without the weight of someone else's rules or expectations on her shoulders. A woman who suddenly understands that her body may continue to rebel but she can pause the world and make this one decision for herself because she is the best person to do it. I believe it's a moment that all women with lipedema should have but very few actually do.
With the realization that you are a grown woman who can choose for herself what she will or won't do there comes a different kind of responsibility. Now instead of feeling obligated to follow the advice from everyone in your circle you must decide. And then you have to own it. You may very well decide that this or that doctor, exercise regimen, nutrition plan, or therapy is perfect for you (or maybe not!), but then it becomes YOURS. You own that decision. You own that next bite of food or those extra steps and reps. Your journey, your way.
It's a subtle shift but an important one. You aren't helpless, you are in charge of your health. You are free to, and responsible to, research and try new things. You no longer need to use the words "cheat day" because each day, you are making food choices that are best for you and where you're at. Maybe enjoying a family gathering is more important than 100% adherence to a diet, and just as important for your health. You aren't obligated to confess to anyone that you opted to watch your favorite show and have a good cry instead of working out. You can let go of the guilt and shame that nag you if you take a nap or opt out of compression for half the day or don't do as much as that other lipedema lady in some Facebook group.
Daydream with me for a moment. See yourself looking in the mirror, taking a deep breath, and confidently telling that amazing creature staring back at you, "You're a grown woman. You can do what you want." What would you change? What would you stop doing and never do again because you hate it and it doesn't work for you? What would resonate with you and you would KNOW that it needs to be part of your journey? What would you dare?
You don't have to feel defeated. You don't have to give control to anyone else. You can start now and shift your thinking. Lipedema awareness month is about making the world know more about lipedema. What if it's also about remembering that you are not a clueless child with a disease? What if it's about being a woman with lipedema who is also self-aware and brave enough to take that next step on her own unique lipedema path? Remembering you're a grown woman who can make her own choices may be the most important thing you ever do for your health.