“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

I spent most of my childhood in a place that cared a lot about appearances. The 'pretty' girls were thin and went to extraordinary lengths to stay that way.

I didn't want to go on 'celery diets' – I wanted to be an athlete; I wanted to be strong. So I was a contrarian. At the cafeteria, I brought a full plate of food to the table in revolt. But my silent protest backfired. I developed an emotionally charged relationship with food, and I put on weight. I felt trapped; I sabotaged myself then berated myself for that weakness.

I know the insidious voice that says, "You don't deserve this because you don't look like that." It feels as futile as fighting gravity, but I have learned to quiet that voice. Fourteen years later, I have days when it is silent. Those days are soaring freedom; the world radiates potential.

I'm not alone in feeling undeserving because of self-imposed inadequacies. Our relationship to our physical bodies deeply affects us. It's one reason I'm passionate about working in health care. If we can treat our bodies with respect, forgiveness, and generosity, we stand a better chance of accepting ourselves, accepting others, and living a life of joy and possibility. There’s real beauty in that.

— Katy Lankester