How Alignment Manifested……or how I finally lost 70 lbs. without really trying

 

the author age 20

From the earliest age I was considered pretty.  I was slim and sexy. I could eat what I wanted, when I wanted and still managed to look great.  I instinctively knew I did not have a weight problem and that was, basically, that.  

Because I was pretty, I was objectified almost constantly. I remember dancing at age 15 to “Brick House”, by the Commodores and knowing that everyone in the room was looking at me and thinking that song described me.  I felt extremely self-conscious and wanted to just disappear from the dance floor. And yet, as a young artist, I needed to express myself, and dance and dress were two ways I did it.  At home I had no support. 

Whenever I had (natural) doubts about how I looked in this vintage/designer outfit or that, my mother would resentfully and in the most disdainful tone imaginable proclaim something like “Jennifer, you’d look great in a TRASH bag, if we put it on you, for Christ’s Sake!” A back-handed compliment at best, it set the tone for what would be to follow.

When she was in her “pretending to be my friend, but was actually jealous” mode, she would pinch my bottom.  When she thought I looked good, ahead of her going up the stairs, whenever. I don’t know what she thought she was doing but it made me feel like an object.  My father, for his part, was mostly absent – through work, travel, or alcohol.  When he was there, instead of protecting me from my mother, he contributed to my feelings of objectification by constantly taking my photograph, and occasionally making stupid drunk remarks about parts of my body.

as Miss Hawaiian Tropic, 1983

So the foundation for this little “sex object” was laid.  And reinforced. The leery looks from my step-grandfather (a Church of England Reverend), the sexual innuendos from my father’s friends. I would walk down the street in my neighbourhood in Texas and construction workers would whistle from the rooftops.  Other girls probably would have been flattered.  I would cringe inside, as all I really wanted was to be seen for WHO I was, not what I looked like.  I was desperately confused by being pretty.  It afforded me clearly preferential treatment, but I felt it was completely incidental to things like intelligence and humour.  In high school I was voted most beautiful…in college, Miss Hawaiian Tropic.  And all that time feeling completely uncomfortable in my body.   I was constantly being asked to model, but my interests lie in being behind the camera.

on the Onassis Yacht, 1986

After college, I settled on a move to London. I endured a brief stint as a model with one test shoot in which I met life-long friends – but hated every minute of it! Fairly soon, however, I found my way to represent Photographers/Collections and then to become a Commercial Producer, living large and hob-knobbing with the crème-de-la-crème in 1980’s London. Within a short period, I became known as the “one who could work with the difficult Directors”. I had always had a knack for cutting to the chase that made (talented/intelligent/yet slightly-misguided-at-times) people feel strangely at-ease, plus my experience with my own NPD’d mother made it easy for me to take abuse, throw it right back in the form of talking to them like a 5-year old and keep going. Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD for short) is a common thread between these “difficult” people, I feel is systemic in our society and I would encourage you to learn more about it.  

@ 30 years old, 1992

At age 29, still thin and beautiful (but still painfully unsure of myself) a move to Los Angeles, to focus on feature films, found me at the Rose Cafe in Venice one morning.  My new friend, Oliver Stone, worked nearby and knew I was looking for a job. He happened upon my table one morning, and said to me,  “I hear Steven Seagal is looking for an assistant.”  The crowd burst out laughing…and various protests were uttered.  Yet Oliver persisted, “well if anyone could handle him, Jenny could.”   He was right. But my “tough” exterior eventually came with a cost. By age 36, after the pre-mature death of my father and yet another failed relationship, I relatively suddenly (over about 6 weeks) gained 25 lbs. of unwanted and what I now refer to as protection weight.  That’s how it all started.

At this point I’d like to note that I’d always been a picky/healthy eater. As a teen, after school my friends were eating Doritos – but I didn’t care for the somewhat metallic taste the chemicals left in my mouth so, I would snack on fresh green beans.  Having been raised between the US and Europe I was aware of the difference in the taste of fruit & veg so, as an adult, I sought out organic foods and developed what I now call my “Whole Foods Europe” diet, which is to say plenty of butter and sweets, along with “clean’ organic non-GMO food. I focus on the quality of ingredients and what feels good – emotionally and physically.  Healthy ingredients resonate differently. Just as “cheap” resonates differently than “worthwhile”.

So, I have/had always considered myself a healthy eater, however, at this point I was now approximately 30 lbs. overweight, from relatively out of nowhere.  I had never been fat, nor had anyone in my family. It was a totally foreign concept to me.  My knees started hurting, and eventually faltering with the excess weight. 

I went to doctor after doctor.  Not peri-menopause, not slowing of hormones, I unturned stone after stone as I knew deep down this was not ME! It’s so sad, but unfortunately true that our (male) doctors often don’t take our (female) instincts quite so seriously.  Over the years the weight continued to climb on. Occasionally, I would lose 10 lbs. or so from the latest fad diet or exercise routine, as I tried almost every weight loss regime known to man. Perricone, South Beach, Atkins, Pilates, Hot Yoga, Weight training, walking. I went to both Western and alternative doctors in my quest for an answer. A doctor in Paris suggested intermittent fasting, an Apple a day and a process by which my fat would be dissolved with some sort of mini-injections.  An herbalist in Hong Kong suggested some foul tasting concoction that did little to encourage weight loss except by the fact that the smell made me decidedly sick to my stomach.  And the most insightful question from a prominent Cedars Endocrinologist was, “Well…is your mother fat?”.   I even considered cosmetic surgery, but could never get my head around harming my body on purpose, in order to “do it good”.

@ approx. 50 lbs. overweight

By now it had been almost 20 years that I’d been carrying around this excess protection weight.  The “not me” weight.  It had been almost 20 years of enduring the disapproving looks; the “she must eat like a pig” looks, the “she must not be (fill-in-the-blanking)” correctly looks.  Although on some level, carrying the excess weight brought me relief from “wolf” whistles and inappropriate sexual energy (for the most part), I did miss being “noticed.”

During that 20 years men would actually look right through me.  It was the most remarkable experience.  Very rarely would they actually take time to notice ME, and that was usually when they were “forced” to deal with me somehow, like when I was a Senior Agency Producer at Burnett, and the young creatives were attracted to me, because they knew me.  In this regard, I had no shortage of lovers and admirers, especially in places like Italy where they love ALL women, just because they are women…but that’s another essay.

@ 195 lbs. with my cousin, the size I should have been

Finally, the year was 2017. I was away for work, and in the small bathroom of my NPD’d boss. I didn’t own a scale (I think they provide undue negative input) but I did like to sort of “keep track” at the horrid continued climb in the size of my clothing and what that translated to in lbs..   So, occasionally, when I came across a scale, I would check my weight.

I randomly climbed on the scale on this particular day and it read 195 lbs.  I almost fell off the scale.  It had now been nearly 20 years since I first put on that random 25 and I was now looking at the reality that I weighed, essentially, 200 pounds – 70 pounds beyond my “norm”.  That was crazy!  I’m 5’10”, so my frame could somewhat handle it…but 200 lbs!!  People would kindly say, “well, you’re big-boned…”.  I’m not.

So I was surrounded with NPD at work (as usual), and over the years I had created an NPD-free zone at home through my design. However, my own NPD’d mother continued to progress into the seemingly strongly related Frontal Temporal Lobe Dementia.  I was getting frequent and alarming calls from her landlord and it looked as though we were going to have to put her in a home that I couldn’t afford.  Narcissistic Personality Disorder was surrounding me…and, as I found out, it was physical as well as metaphorical. I could no longer ignore its effects on my body.

I had started with a new therapist about 6 months earlier. She specializes in NPD and we were working, specifically, on protection from Narcissistic Abuse. Having worked with these people for 20 years, I realized I couldn’t possibly control whether or not I was to engage with a narcissist – they’re everywhere!  However, in working with my therapist and others, I was able to develop practices that helped me feel protected and safe from further harm from those narcissists that are unavoidable.  One such practice is meditation.

I had flirted with meditation all my life and always felt like I was meditating when I was in nature. I would use prayer or try “proper” meditation when I felt low and then would forgot them once things got better. What I found was if I was able to give it just 20ish minutes a day consistently, (I do Dr. Joe Dispenza’s Morning Meditation) things in my life started lining up.  It seemed that the continued practice accumulated energetically over time and synchronicity began to appear regularly in my life.  I noticed signs again, overheard snippets of someone’s conversation that directly applied to my situation and thoughts began “occurring” to me, on which I would take action.

One such thought was to explore the research on the mind/body connection.  I’d long since been a “believer”…it’s how I survived abuse as a child.  And at 22, my cousin married an Applied Kinesiologist (AK), which is a mind/body medicine, so an AK Practitioner became my chosen form of a General Doctor.  With this good foundational understanding already in place,  it occurred to me to re-read Alice Miller’s Drama of the Gifted Child, and The Body Never Lies.  I read Christiane Northrup’s Mother Daughter Wisdom. I researched writings on Narcissism and mind/body connection. Eventually, I came to believe that the weight around my middle was a direct result of my constant defense against the NPD’d people in my life and was acting as my protection or a literal Life Saver around my middle.   It was keeping me afloat until I could learn to swim and defend myself from this Machiavellian of disorders.

…after 10 months

Once I made that connection in my mind, I allowed my body to release the weight.  I just kept allowing, every time I thought of it. I focused on only feeling good about my body. I was fortunate to be able to deeply connect to my body during meditation by floating naked in the pool, over the summer months. I began to pay attention to bits of information from the diets of my past that seemed a fit for me.  I adopted intermittent fasting and proper food combining (for the most part, which means not religiously at all).

 During meditation I would focus on the phrase “I don’t have a weight problem!”  An atypical “affirmation” of sorts, the defiant nature of the claim felt suitable whence I came.  I kept focusing on just being me, whatever weight that was.  My diet remained “Euro WF”, I ate during briefer time periods and allowed my digestion to rest longer and I combined so I didn’t bloat. And then it happened.  What I think of as the trigger or catalystic event.  My cousin and her husband arrived in Los Angeles in August 2017 for a 3-week long “tour” of Vegan Restaurants.  And they generously included me!  In meditation it felt right, so, I went Vegan.

The first thing I noticed, almost immediately, was the way in which a sort of energetic vibration which I had not recognized existed before, seemed to turn itself down in my body. It was like the volume went from 11 to 1.  I felt calmer. I felt like I fully understood the vibrations of the foods I was eating and I wanted much smaller portions.  I realized that for my body I was eating far too much food.  I had a version of this whole 3-square meals thing in my head. Anyway, the fact is I wanted less.  I still wanted brownie mix and Vegan roasted vegetable lasagna, I just wanted muchsmaller portions.  I was completely satiated with less.  Never did I deprive myself.  It was like my body had completely re-calibrated.  Over the months I simply did what my mediation and instinct guided me to do/eat.  My exercise: a fairly regular hike, dancing almost every week to live music, stretching at home with yoga, and making mad passionate love whenever and where ever possible.

…after 14 months

Over the years of my life, I’d learned to protect myself. That protection eventually took it’s toll on my body in the form of this excess weight.  And now, I’d given myself permission to release the excess weight by recognizing the emotional source of the weight and then finally, I’d come across a platform through which the body could obey. The first10 lbs. or so was welcome, but nothing new. Then came the next 15.  Within 6 months (by this time I was Pescatarian) I was buying a new (and first!) pair of Joe’s Jeans and I realized this was different.  I wasn’t keeping track of the weight, but my clothes were fitting differently and I was feeling better physically and about the choices I was making for myself.

It’s been nearly two years since my cousin arrived in town and 3 years since I started my targeted therapy and subsequent meditation. I’ve lost a total of 70 lbs – back to my original adult weight.  My cholesterol has dropped by 100 points to completely safe levels.  At about 8 months I reintroduced grass fed beef once-in-a-while and a few months after that I decided to have chicken again on occasion. Everything is “Euro WF”.

back down to ME!

After 25 years of on-and-off working on my insides, in 2 years I was finally able to transform my body and release the demons of my past that were essentially allowing me to hold onto that excess weight.  I now walk down the street in celebration.  I welcome the whistles and the horns, and know what they are really for.  I feel, literally, super human.  I feel like I’ve won the lottery.  I feel like a manifestation of mind/body connection. It is making me understand how that can and does occur in all areas of my life.  I’ve also found that – along with the peace of breathing and allowing, if I try to line up with self-worth and allow no doubt to creep in about my ability to manifest that which I desire, the stage is set for the story to unfold.

I wish for everyone who carries excess weight to feel the freedom of feeling like yourself again. It’s a mind-blowing experience and I’m filled with love and gratitude. And I also wish that we start the long road toward fully understanding Narcissistic Personality Disorder and possibly even come up with medicines that will help.  Just turn on the TV, you’ll see a severe unchecked case of it on display daily.

JL x

Jenny Brennan

Jenny Brennan

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.