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Last week I led my first discussion group on weight & body image issues.  In addition to chiropractic care and it’s importance in our health, I have a real passion for public speaking.  The topic most dear and personal to me relates to obesity and all the other forms of food disorders.  This past Thursday I shared about my 2 decade struggle with obesity and the tipping points that finally helped me make a change.

As I looked out on the crowd, well I use the term crowd loosely, there were all different types of people.  There were those who were clearly battling obesity.  There were those who I knew to be obsessive weighers and exercise bulemics.  A wide variety of both ethnic and socio-economic groups were represented that night.  I could identify lawyers, teachers, realtors, social workers, and a whole host of other professions.  Here’s what was most striking…they were all nodding.

When I taught public speaking for middle schoolers, one of the other skills I taught was active listening, including the importance of nodding.  It demonstrated to the speaker that you were not only listening but also that you were processing and relating.  As a speaker today, I always watch for the unconscious nodding and even verbal “yes” from time to time.  It cues me that I’m on the right path, one that has a ring of authenticity for the listener.

As I looked out over this wide variety of people and saw all the “nodding”, I was struck with how similar we all are.  Did you know that if you randomly picked two individuals out of a crowd and compared their DNA structure, you would that 99.9% of it is the same.  What separates us from the person standing directly next to us at the check out line in the grocery store is one-tenth of a percent.  In other words, we are all nearly the same.

This is extremely important to remember, especially if you find yourself battling to manage your health.  Our struggles are the same.  Whether it relates to our health, our relationships, our spiritual journey, or even a career, there is someone else within arm’s length that has experienced it too.  So we must fight the inclination to hide within ourselves.

Food disorders of any kind have isolation at their very core.  We judge our behavior and lack of ability to control it as weakness.  This is something we want to hide from the people around us.  I have fought very intimately with my predisposition to shame and secretive behavior.  But every time I share my story, it becomes slightly less painful.  Every time I take a light point it at the direction of my struggles, it chases out the shadows and takes away its power.

So I’m thankful for all the amazing participants who demonstrated so clearly that no matter how deep our pain, how long our battle, someone else has lived it too.  Chances are good that if you share your fears, that you will find support is at your fingertips.