I asked a few questions on facebook about womens journeys with their bodies. These are some of the submissions I received. This is the longest post ever, so come back to read a few whenever you feel so moved. I think its moving that while we all seem so different, our struggles are much the same. Its easy for me to share my story because I know Im far from alone. I hope you find these inspiring or perhaps feel less alone in your our journey. *Trigger warning* There are some stories that involve abuse and/or self abuse. These stories deserve a voice and place to be heard. I want to thank all of you for sharing yourself with me and with the world. Your story can impact others, and I appreciate your bravery. xo, Mama
I, like so many women, remember hating my body from a very early age. I was a chubby kid, and I still have a journal from when I was 9 years old in which I traced my arm and wrote the word fat inside. When my dad pulled me aside and told me that I might want to watch the snacking (an ill-advised move, especially considering that my house was stocked with at least 6 different kinds of chips) I internalized it to the point where I convinced myself that not only was I not good enough, not only was my body repulsive, but also that I had to transform myself to please men. When I hit puberty I lost quite a bit of weight but it didnt register. What did register was that suddenly I had this weird sexual power and that men were looking and it only compounded anxieties about what they were seeing (note that this was all about THEM and their perceptions not about me, how I felt, how healthy I was). I started binging and throwing up when I was 14 and continued doing so (less and less over time, but still sporadically) until I was 24.
I did start working out in college, and enjoyed it, but there was still so much pressure attached to it. Such an all-or-nothing mentality. If I would go to the gym four times one week my first thought would not be awesome! way to kill it this week but what if you cant keep that up, and next week you have X Y and Z obligations and will be too busy, and then whats the point? And I would immediately feel defeated, even though I had made excellent choices, and thats when I would eat a whole box of macaroni and cheese and throw it all up and feel like I was back to square one and I hated myself for it.
It wasnt until the last year or two (I am 27 now) that things started to shift. I started cooking for the first time just really simple stuff and being able to connect with what I was putting in my body and how it made me feel was HUGE. When I finish all of my spinach in a week I feel so proud! But more importantly I know that it makes me feel awesome. I also started doing more strength training, and feeling what my body could DO and how capable it was is a whole new kind of confidence that is so much more gratifying than any number on a scale. I can walk all around NYC and all of its stairs and not feel exhausted. I enjoy doing plank pose because it makes me feel like a beast! I go to hip hop dance classes and spin classes and yoga classes and try all kinds of different things and I look forward to it and plan my weeks around it not because Im obsessed, but because it makes me a better person and friend and sister and daughter, etcit has become absolutely just as much about my mental health as my physical health.
Every day is not perfect, and the thing I still struggle with the most is staying in the present moment. When I have an awesome workout/eating week I feel proud (and more important, I feel GOOD physically and emotionally) but I still sometimes struggle with that inner voice that says what about next week? next month? What about when you move to a new city and have to have new routines? CAN YOU MAINTAIN?). If I could slay that can you maintain dragon I would do it twenty times its still my biggest obstacle. That being said, it is getting easier to live in the present, to be in my body, live in it, not apologize for it, walk around listening to my favorite jams with confidence and swagger and knowing that most of the time, I treat myself well and that is how I deserve to be treated. And when those destructive thought patterns come in, I try to just acknowledge them, let them go and keep on keeping on.
The most valuable lesson I have learned about my body is that it is a fucking miracle. I have ten fingers, ten toes, I am strong and can do anything I want to physically, and the cellulite and scars dont detract from that. And also, nobody else is walking around with a notepad keeping a record of those supposed flaws! Ive also learned that its OK to feel beautiful and sexy and take joy in seeing myself naked in a mirror, or seeing the eyes of a lover seeing me for the first time, because damn it I can finally understand why they would be happy to see what theyre seeing. Because its not just my body, its me, its the whole package, inner and outer beauty, and Im finally able to recognize that its a great package, and the only one Ive got, and making small choices to take care of it on a daily basis is just fine no matter what the scale says. Reading your posts and watching your videos has made a huge impact on cultivating this self-love and I cant thank you enough! I can only hope that this day-at-a-time, flexible, forgiving, playful approach will become the norm for more and more women (more people in general) because we all deserve to live our lives IN our bodies and not in spite of them.
1) How did I used to feel about my body? I feel like this should be a very easy question to answer, but every time I start to type something it doesnt feel like anything I write could possibly convey to you or anyone else the amount of hatred Ive had for myself for the past almost 20 years. The words are there, but just thinking about putting them out there is overwhelming and quite frankly terrifying to me. In middle school and high school I was 230+ pounds (my heaviest was 263lbs), and all the cool kids called me Kelly Fat Belly. Ill just throw that out there now. Ive been anorexic, there was a period of time where I was taking 30 diet pills a day (10 pills, 3 times a day), I also was briefly addicted to coke (not the beverage), and I was the queen of saying horribly mean things about myself in an almost stand up comedy type of way. I did it everyday, when I felt like someone else might say something mean about meand let me just say I ALWAYS felt like someone was about to say something mean about meI just had to get it out there before anyone else did. It hurt less coming from myself, or so I thought.
I think for you to understand how I felt about my body, you need some background informationFor starters my Dad was (and still can be) very abusive in almost every possible way a person can be abusive. I cant tell you how many times There are whores worth more than you rolled off his tongue so easily and were always aimed right at me. Those words have echoed in my mind for a long time and still haunt me to this day. It was almost as easy for him to say it as it was for him to say I love you. You see, my Dad thinks that you can say and do whatever it is you want to someone, especially if they are family, if you just say I love you a lot. and I do mean a lot. Sometimes when Id leave the house, hed say I love you 10 times before I could hit the door running (that is no exaggeration!). This is something he still does to this day. I was so fucking confused, I am still so fucking utterly confused. When I came to him and told him my grandfather, his father, had been molesting me he said that I should just get over it because everyone gets sexually abused. Those were his exact words. The first time I was molested I was laying in my grandparents bed watching a tv movie called For the Love of Nancy. It was the movie with Tracy Gold about anorexia. I will unfortunately never forget this day. I was 10 years old. I have no doubt in my mind that this is the exact moment the seed was planted in my mind that Im not worthy enough for anything good in life. My grandfather laid in bed next to me watching it, and after few minutes asked me if Id ever considered losing weight or becoming anorexic (Id never really entertained the thought that I was fat or ugly until this moment.)then before I knew itit was happening and I just layed there. I didnt know what the hell to do. There is no amount of talking about stranger danger, or someone touching you inappropriately that a parent can do that prepares you for the actual moment when someone you love and trust lays their nasty hands on you and betrays you in such a dirty horrible way. I wish I would have screamed or fought or done ANYTHINGbut I didnt. I just laid there in frozen silence and questioning is this really happening?. I let it happen. I let it happen. I let it happen. Its all my fault. (That has been my one constant mantra in life, and it never fails to leave me). So after this came out and nothing was done about itI just buried it as far down as I could which would later manifest itself into drunken fits of rage, and a series of very self-destructive behavior that all but killed me. After my grandfather died. I had long stopped talking to him and I didnt attend his funeral. My father was very upset with me about it. It was like he couldnt wrap his mind around why I wouldnt want to be there. We would fight about it sometimesand then one day told me he went to the grave and pissed on it. I will never forget how proud he sounded when he said I pissed on it for you, for what happened to you!. He said he did it to get even for what was done to me. Bewildered. Bewildered doesnt even begin to scratch the surface of how I felt when I heard those words. It still doesnt. As if pissing on the grave of dirty child molester made right my suffering, my pain, my guilt, and my fucked up sense of self. As if it were the answer Id been seeking all along He has said some really fucked up shit, but this was the icing on the cake for me. Its been over 10 years since that conversation, and there has been a lot of hurt and a lot of healing that has gone on in the years since and there is still more healing to be done. I guess long story shortHow did I feel about my body? I felt like it was the reason for every bad thing that happened to me, the reason for every bad thought I had about myself, and the reason for every bad thing I did to abuse it. And the reason I deserved all of it.
2) How do I want to feel about my body? I used to want a flat stomach, and toned arms, a cute ass, a bikini bodyas silly as it is, I thought when I had those things, that I would feel worthy of love and feel good about myself and that the hurt would stop. Time and time again though, has proven that no matter my size, I dont see it anyway. Ive been far too abusive to myself for far too long to see what is really there. Later I look at pictures, and Im likewhen did I look like that!?!? Its getting easier all the time though. I have a wonderful husband and this August weve been married 4 years and been together 7. I honestly wonder if Id be alive if Id never met my husband. Ill never forget when he walked me to the trashcan and said it was okay for me to throw away my diet pills. He didnt demand it of me, he just put them in my hands and said The choice is yours, but filling up the hole that youve had ripped in your soul with poison isnt serving you..hed only known me for a little over a week, and hell say I dont know what took me so long to tell you that. He made an impact on me the moment I saw him. Hours after we met, I said You think Im weird dont you? and he said Honey, I know youre weird. Ive been called weird my entire life, but this was the first time I felt like it was okay to be weird. To be me. Almost like I was normal. That man helped me pick up the pieces and save my life. That man helped me build the life Ive always dreamed of, though sometimes worrying about how I want to feel about my body keeps me from fully living in the present. That man, together with our amazing son, shows me my true value and worth every single day with their unwavering and unconditional love for me. If you asked him, he would say he thinks I have full blown body dysmorphic syndrome, but I think it is he that has a warped view of me. Did you know that there is such a thing as love blindness? Ha. I want to love my body the way he does, unconditionally and without apology. I want my son to see me love myself that way.
3) What steps did I take to accept and love my body?Well, Im definitely still taking steps everyday. I see a counselor every Tuesday. Along with body image issues, I have trust issues, some severe OCD tendencies, anxiety and even some sensory issues that she helps me work on. I have mantras taped up all around my house. The one on my mirror says: I accept myself unconditionally right now. I journal which has been exceptionally helpful. I meditate. I exercise everyday. The biggest thing Ive done is Ive severely limited my Dads role in my life. We have a lot of boundaries and Im not afraid anymore to tell him hes crossing them. I havent cut him out completelyhes had me brainwashed for so long: FAMILY DOESNT TURN THEIR BACKS ON ONE ANOTHER NO MATTER WHAT. That doesnt work for me anymore. Being family doesnt guarantee anyone a front row seat or even a window into my life.but I cant walk away from him either. Thats how brainwashed Ive been. BUT Im working, working, working., always a work in progress, and I think as long as Im striving to be better, then I m doing something right.
4) What is the most valuable lesson Ive learned about my body? Despite the abuse my body has endured at the hands of others and the abuse Ive inflicted on it myself, it has taught me that Im stronger than I realized.
1. How did you used to feel about your body?
My body = Anxiety. I could find something wrong with every picture ever taken of me. My face looks fat, my boobs look too big, my arms are too heavy, I wasnt sucking in and a roll was hanging over my jeans, my shirt makes me look frumpy, my legs look stalky and wobbly. . . It was stress, sadness, and made me sick. It was the reason I binged and purged, deprived myself of food and became obsessed with workout, diet pills, fad diets, you name it I tried it. . . temporarily. . .the famous rollercoaster lose a little gain it plus some back. From the outside looking in people thought I was perfect, confident, and happy, but on the inside was a shattered girl broken over an impossible body image I created in my mind.
3. What steps did you take to accept and love your body?
My life was falling apart around me. The unhappy wife and mother of two who appeared to have it all right was not actually alright at all. While on the road to divorce and realization that my life was changing and I indeed needed to become that confident woman everyone else saw, I also needed to learn to breathe and throw away the image in my head of perfect and regain the confidence of good enough for me. I took up running and eating clean. I started breathing again and finally started to see the body that was hiding underneath the unhappiness I felt. I feel great, like a strong influence and healthy example for my daughters but sometimes I get lost in the old feelings of not good enough and finding all my flaws. A time or two I have walked past a mirror and had to take a second look because I didnt recognize that body or the girl inside it. When I start to revert back to the old feelings I have to remind myself of how far I have come and no matter what I am enough! The steps I took included making the BIG, whole life changes by detoxifying my life from the people who didnt support me. The smaller steps included moving more every day, buying and wearing clothes that actually fit and didnt hide my body, and having enough confidence to say THANK YOU when someone complimented my progress instead of denying it. I started wearing shorts and tank tops in public and stopped waiting for the perfect body to put those clothes on. I even bought my first bikini and will be wearing it on vacation in October. Who knew a stretch marked momma could get strong enough and confident enough to stop caring about what others MIGHT think and live in the body I am in. I have surrounded myself with people who love me just the way I am and that is how I came to love my body.
4. The most valuable lessons I have learned about my body is that it is the only one Ive got. This body not only chases my kids from activity to activity but also puts on that little black dress and heels to feel the sexiest. The same body housed two humans inside and I have the stretch makrs to prove it but has the ability to be adored and loved from head to toe regardless. I need it to be able to sweat and works hard for results. It is the body that I need for the rest of my life and I have a lot of years so Im picking to love it and take care of it so Im still going strong when Im old and gray. Ive learned to get the hell off the destructive diet and exercise rollercoaster ride cause it isnt fun anymore and pick something that I can maintain with goals that are attainable. Ive learned that this body is mine and I am in charge. I no longer use self-hate but better awareness to bring myself up.
1) How did you used to feel about your body? I have always hated my body. No matter how thin I was, it was never good enough. Too much cellulite, not tan enough, not pretty enough, not, not, not.Now that Im 39, and have had one child and two major horse-related injuries, I would love to be as fat as I used to think I was. See, this is exactly my pointI go right to the self-deprecation! Some days I can feel pretty good about myself, right up until I catch a glimpse in the mirror, and it shatters my confidence. I look at woman who wear revealing outfits, and sometimes they are bigger woman, and I think wow, how can I get that level of confidence? Every day Im going to work on loving myself.
2) How do you want to feel about your body? I want to feel strong. Really, I dont need to feel like the hottest woman in a room (although I wouldnt complain), but what I want to feel like is the one that will kick your ass. I want to feel good in my clothes, and feel like I can tackle anything because my body is prepared.
3) What steps did you take to accept and love your body? Gym time. I try to spend at least 3 days in the gym on top of the 4 days out at the barn riding my horse (I do eventing, which is very physically taxing). The more exercise I get, the more powerful I feel. Diet of course is a factor in this, but I draw more love from physical accomplishments than anything else.
4) What is the most valuable lesson youve learned about your body? That I am one tough chick. I have had two major injuries coming off of horses as an adultone that required 6 months in a hard cast, completely non-weight bearing while having to travel around the country for my job, and my latest one, last November, which I still cant feel a large section of my back. My orthopedic surgeon was shocked that I was able to walk away from that injury. I hear these words, and I think, wow, thank you body for taking care of me. How can I help you (my body) keep healthy to continue supporting me in an insane hobby?
I grew up as an athlete, competing nationally from age 6, internationally from age 15. I wish I could say that helped me feel like a strong, healthy young girl who worked insanely hard and accomplished great achievements. Instead, I was pushed to do better, be the best, and by definition, be skinny. I hated my very capable body, the body that could run fast and lift heavy and win tournaments. I felt endlessly happier when someone complimented me on losing weight than when I brought home a gold medal from my first world cup.
The weight of having an athletic frame and a naturally German build carried into all insecurities of my life. Living with the idea that if I could only just maybe lose 15 pounds then I would finally be happy. Only recently have I realized how ridiculously fucked up that is. And how most women are living in this literal insanity.
Unfortunately, it comes as a time when my body is actually changing. Ive been losing body fat and gaining muscle consistently over the past 2 years. Between training for a marathon and developing a consistent post-athlete, real-life-adult schedule, Ive dropped some lbs that I put on in the I NEVER HAVE TO EXERCISE AGAIN hysteria of quitting my sport.
And people are complimenting me on it. And thats the problem. I feel like a jerk when I dont greet the youve lost weight! with a warm and happy thank you!. But what I wish I could say in return is AND I CAN BENCH PRESS 115 POUNDS AND RUN 26 MILES AND MAKE YOU LAUGH AND WORK REALLY HARD AND PEOPLE LIKE MEok!
The reason I wake up at 5 every morning to go the gym is not to look better, but to feel better. When people distill it down to physical changes, it makes me feel dirty and wrong. Mostly because there is still an nagging part of MY brain that works out to look better and judges myself against others and wonders if skinnier DOES feel better than ice cream tastes. Im working every day to change that mindset and be happy with the beautiful, powerful body I am living in right now.
I will not un-tag a picture because my arms look big. No one is looking at my arms but me. I was happy in that moment and I want to remember it.
I will not hate my thighs. My grandma gave me those thighs and nothing makes me happier than being more similar, more related to her hilarity and soul.
I will not allow my mom to call herself fat. Shes NOT fat, shes so BEAUTIFUL its startling. She birthed and raised FOUR children completely and totally on her own. Thats amazing, shes amazing, and I want her to stop hating herself.
I will not compare myself to other women. That is nothing that is good.
Mostly, Im realizing that I look like ME. I look like the physical representation of my 24 years. If I loose a little weight, I will still look like ME. I want to look like ME, I like ME.
1) I used to despair about my body. It was a deep feeling in the pit of my stomach that resonated throughout my whole body, this voice rooted in the depths of me that said You. Are. Ugly.
This was thanks in part to being bullied at a young age for having pale skin and red hair and then re-enforced at age 15 by my first ever boyfriend, who became progressively more abusive during the 5 years we were together. He would tell me all the time that I was fat and ugly and stupid. Picking apart every aspect of my appearance. The crazy thing was, at that time I was horse-riding and dancing and didnt have an inch of fat on me! He gradually stopped me doing all the things I loved and the weight piled on. But, looking back, I realise I still hated my body the same as when I was thinner, I just hated it differently.
2) I want to be proud of my body. I want to be able to look at myself and feel amazed at what I see, this awesome piece of engineering that can do so much! The scars, the rounder bits, the muscley bits, all of it. I want to be able to feel happy when my current partner tells me I look beautiful and not automatically think of all the things I have to work on. I want to feel at peace with myself.
3) The first little step I took was to look at myself more, something I had avoided! I wanted to try and understand where all the hate was coming from. I needed to reconnect with myself, understand who I am, what I believe in and try to get to know my own body. I keep telling myself to be patient, there were many, many years of being told in one way or another that I wasnt beautiful and it takes time to heal from that. Another step was to try to listen and accept when my partner gives me a compliment. This isnt because I need others to validate me, but because a compliment from someone who loves you should lift you up, not make you feel worse.
4) This body is mine. It is not for others to pick apart or to criticise and no matter what anyone else says, no matter what I have tried to do to it in my quest to become beautiful it has persevered. It is amazing and I need to learn to love it and look after it as it has me.
1) How did you used to feel about your body?
Terrible. I hated looking in the mirror or thinking about losing weight. I had an attitude of oh fuck it, no one else cares, why should I?.
2) How do you want to feel about your body?
I want to feel acceptance for the most part. I have some pretty major scars that Ive let hurt my self esteem, and I want that back. I want to feel strong, athletic, and comfortable in my skin.
3) What steps did you take to accept and love your body?
This is still a work in progress for me, but Im working on counteracting the oh gross voice when I look in the mirror with this is where I am right now, and thats ok. Ive learned from you to tell my body that its a good body and Im so thankful for that affirmation because this awesome body has been through double mastectomy and reconstruction surgeries followed by chemo, so it knows how to fight like a mofo! Other steps Im taking include listening to affirming meditations and reading books on self compassion and reframing negative thoughts.
4) What is the most valuable lesson youve learned about your body?
That it is STRONG and wants to be healthy and vibrant. But Ive also learned to listen and rest when it tells me to rest.
1) How did you used to feel about your body?
I used to hate my gray hair (Im only 32 and I have a lot) and my actual hair color. I hated that I gained so much weight when I was pregnant that I even have stretch marks around my knees and down my calves. I hated being overweight and having stretch marks and scars on my stomach. I hated the one black chin hair that I have to pluck every few weeks. I hated my huge pores, oily skin,and my nose. I was angry my lips were thinning. I hated being only 54 when almost everyone in my family was taller than 57. I hated having such huge boobs because everyone would either joke about them or stare. I lost some cartilage in my ear and I hated the way it was deformed. I hated the scar I got on my chin from falling off a bike when I was in 3rd
grade. I felt like the scars on my legs (at least 2 keloids) ruined my legs and no one would find me attractive. Then I started seeing some weird veins and I figured I was ruined for life. I hated my freckles and moles because they made my skin look less silky smooth. I hated my thighs so much I wouldnt go outside in the summer so I wouldnt have to wear shorts. As I lost weight, I hated my lower stomach pooch and thought it was because I had a c-section. I hated that I was allergic to gluten. I hated that I had endometriosis. There was a point where I couldnt pick out one thing I liked about my body.3) What steps did you take to love and accept your body?
First, I stopped dating men who didnt appreciate me for who I really am; the ones who seemed to delight in criticizing my appearance. I started standing up for myself and realized I was worth more than they were offering. I felt that if they didnt like my fluffy parts, my scarred stomach, or whatever else they wanted to complain about then they werent worth my time. I kept a list of things I liked about myself. Then I started keeping a list of nice things people said about me. Id read it over when I felt bad. I made sure to praise and complement other people too. I smiled at everyone because smiling makes you and the other person feel good. I started doing things I always wanted to do, because I figured there was no time like the present to start checking that list off. My motivation was that I didnt want to miss out on things in life that might make me happy because I was letting fear (fear of being judged, fear of being good enough, etc.) win. I let my sons love for me be my example for why Im loveable. Then I took better care of myself. I slept more, I ate better, and I started only doing fitness I enjoyed. I started mothering myself. I started to feel proud of my accomplishments instead of angry about my past. I started thinking about the things I hated about myself in a different light. (Oily skin? Yeah, but I dont have wrinkles and everyone says I look 25. Take that aging!) Then I started filling my internet feed from websites that talk about self-love and how we are all amazing. When I saw a friends post (or even a post from someone anonymous) that was criticizing, Id say something.
Finally, I met a guy who thinks Im more amazing than I think I am. All those other guys used to joke about upgrading when I got older. My fianc doesnt think such a woman exists. Hes dated younger women, hes dated skinnier women, and he says none of them were upgrades to me. Hes seen me at my worst, and at my best. He is my best friend and I couldnt ask for anyone better. Also, some of the things that I hated (above) are some of his favorite things about me.
I dont always feel this way, but Ive noticed I giving attention to what I dont love about myself so much. I dont obsess about things I hate about me. Im too busy thinking of other things. I strive to see myself the way my fianc and my son see me.4) What is the most valuable lesson youve learned about your body?Im strong. Im so strong I can break out of several abusive relationships and make it out better than I was before. Im so strong I was an amazing single mother and raised a well behaved and fairly well adjusted child. (Im not really a single mom anymore since my fianc is so good to my son). Im so strong I made it through a difficult work situation. But Im not only mentally strong; I can swing heavy kettlebells for an entire workout and carry in whole loads of groceries alone. I made it through military basic training. I can carry a 9lb 1.8 oz baby to term. Ive picked up a 150lb man and fireman carried him up a flight of stairs. I can carry my 95 lb kid around the house like he was a rag doll. Ive ran a mud race and finished. I helped my best friend move, and I was just as strong as the men helping. Ive helped my dad move a slate pool table (about 300 400lbs) out of a basement and into a backyard pole barn. I out leg pressed the male track team (in high school). I can still do military style pushups almost 10 years later, and I can push a car by myself (while its in neutral with a person steering). Ive ran up 328 steps without being winded. I can run in 4 heels. I can hoist 50lb bags of dog food above my head like they are nothing. I continually push myself to get stronger too. When I see myself as strong and capable, I worry less about the things I dont like about myself. I start to feel more invincible and remarkable than any superhero. Everyone loves superheroes except for the villains.
Also, I always thought how I feel about myself would rub off on a daughter (which I dont have) but I never imagined that my son would ever have self hate of his body. Some kid told him he had man boobs last year and he was so embarrassed he didnt want to go swimming in public this year. This really upset me because swimming and going to water parks is something we both really love to do. I had to give him some advice People may not think Im attractive in my swim suit, but I willneverlet that stop me from going swimming. You are 10. No 10 year old has washboard abs. What youre expecting from your body doesnt happen until after puberty is done, if ever. You are not fat. You are well proportioned and very handsome. Beyond thatno matter what your body looks like, you should never let that stop you from doing what you want to do. He didnt feel better right away, but he did go swimming.
1) I honestly didnt know dysmorphia was a thing until I read about it in an FB thread. Most of my life I have felt fat and thought I was fat. The reality is Im super fit, but sadly I could never see that. I hated my body and felt fat, ugly and disgusting.
2) I would like to be 100% in love with my body and always be able to appreciate all that it can do. Instead of wanting to look like a fitness model, I would just like to be the best version of myself I can be and unapologeticly in love with my body and the spirit that possesses it!
3) Started feeding myself (thank you gokaleo), quit weighing myself and stopped negative self talk. I also started to focus more on all of the things that I am that have nothing to do with my body. I am a mom, a teacher, chef, artist, singer, lover, friend, runnerno matter what my body looks like, I am still all of these things and my pants size has nothing at all to do with myself worth.
4) I have learned that I will only ever look like me and that I will not support an industry that wants me to believe otherwise.
Ive had a love/hate relationship with my body for as long as I can remember. I was always struggling with the same 30 lbs of weight that came off and on, mostly on my whole life. Desperately I wanted to feel good about me and thought if I could only lose the weight, Id feel better. Even when I did lose it, always in unhealthy ways, it became clear to me that something had to change and it had to change on the inside not the outside.
My journey started in earnest last April. After setting small goals for myself like committing to working out three days a week, then four, then five and meeting all those goal; it was time to shoot for something moresubstantial. Last November, I set the biggest goal to date ~ competing in a bodybuilding competition. It started this amazing transformation of viewing myself differently. No longer as concerned with the outside, I began to realize I could do anything I committed myself to. Self-confidence, self-love and self-acceptance become the goal. This past Saturday I stepped on stage for the very first time, rockin my mommy tummy and never felt more at peace with the woman I am today. This is only the beginning as I intend to continue to seek positive changes on the inside as the outside will follow.
I have been a lot of shapes and sizes. A couple of years ago, I lost a good amount of weight (about 80 lbs) and ran a marathon. I expected to feel amazing about my body, but what I noticed as I got smaller is that I seemed to hate it more. Suddenly, without all the weight, I noticed new things to hate. Had my nose always been that big? Why did that angle stick out? Why was this or that shaped so funny? Without a huge stomach to focus on, suddenly it was the love handles (the only fat I had left). I nitpicked daily. Then, something happened in my life, a personal crisis that was just big enough to knock me off track. I gained 30 lbs back, which has been just enough buffer to get comfortable with myself again. I personally would like to get back to a healthy weight. I come from a long line of heart disease and diabetes, which was why I tried to lose weight in the first place. But from my last experience, I have learned not to nitpick. I love my body as it is now, and I am going to try really hard to love it again as I lose weight. I dont know why that is so hard, but it is. Maybe it is because it is so revealing. Each pound lost revealed something I somehow wasnt ready to see.
Until 4 years ago I was ashamed and disappointed in my body. I hated my legs, my stretch marks and the flabby skin left over from getting so huge with my pregnancies. The only exception to that was when I was pregnant with my 3 children. I loved my body and what it could do during those precious few months. Once my children were born, though, the hate came back with avengeance as if to make up for lost time.
Now, I am falling in love with my body. I love its imperfections and you have taught me to be proud of the tracks that are proof that I have birthed three incredible human beings. I see my whole body as an amazing machine that I want to take care of and keep in the best shape for me.
I started 4.5 years ago by changing my diet then I added in exercise. I started taking Les Mills BodyPump and running regularly. Running is my passion, my strength and my freedom. I completed my first half-marathon in November of 2009. Since then I have run 7 more half marathons and 4 full marathons and 1 triathlon. I have also become a Certified Les Mills Instructor for BodyPump and CXWORX. I also am certified to teach Spin. Getting fit helped me see that my body is perfect just as it is. The magazines with the thin, svelte women on the front are liars. My brain telling me that I need to be thinner, more tone, more sculpted is a liar too. Once I started recognizing the lies for what they are, the acceptance has started to take over.
I have learned that my body can do whatever I ask of it. It is my brain that needs to be reconditioned. As long as I listen the negative side of my brain, my body wont perform. If I tap into the positive, the CAN of my brain, then my WILL takes over and my body follows along.
I have been overweight for as long as i can remember. I have lost 23 kilos in the past, only to gain it all back. Im currently 20 kg down from my heaviest, and for the first time in my adult life i can honestly say im happy with my body. I think that accepting and loving my body has inspired me to nourish it and keep it healthy, rather than make it as thin as possible. Anyway, on with your questions:
1) I hated my body for as long as i can remenber. Honestly, passionately deeply hated it. This hate for my body effected every aspect of my life. It was almost all I though about. I was grumpy and isolated people because of my own self loathing. Even the simple act of talking with someone would be underpinned by a niggling doubt, that little voice in my head that said they know youre fat (well of course they could see that i was overweight-but i doubt that canged how they perceived me).
2) I want to love my body. To steal your words; it is a good body, it has served me so well over the last 23 years, keeping me healthy and carrying me wherever I need to go. It is worthy of my love.
3) I have taken many cumulative steps, a lot of which are ongoing. I make a conscience effort to only speak positively of my body, and take any oppprtunity to do so. I make sure I spend at least a short time each day admiring nlmy beautiful body. I have cut any negative body talk from my life. Mantras like nothing tastes as good as skinny feels have no place in my world of body love
4) Probably the most important thing I have learnt about my body is just how beautiful, strong and powerful it is. I am truly lucky to have a healthy fantastic body that lets me do all the things i want, lift heavy things, run, have fun with friends and family or juat move in any way that inspires me.
1. How did you used to feel about your body?
Up until about age 29/30, I didnt like my body and always thought I was fat (I wasnt, I just didnt look the way I thought I was supposed to). And then my co-worker took my to this Jujujutsu gym and I started training with all of these guys and got really freaking strong. I learned how to wrestle and throw and after a few years, I learned how to compete against guys and be able to dominate them physically. Not alway, but often enough that I realized that it was more dimensional for me than fat or thin or how pretty I am. It didnt hurt that working out that hard for 6 to 8 hours a week plus doing other stuff got me into phenomenal shape, but at some point, I shifted from being concerned about being thin to being concerned about being strong. I uncovered my competitiveness and realized I liked sports more than I liked going to the gym for its own sake.
2. How do you want to feel about your body?
This is a tough question because I think it is an evolving thing. Although I learned alot about myself and my body image from doing contact sports, I also still want to feel attractive in my own skin and I realize that no matter what I do, I have ideas about what that means that are ingrained in my self image. I love being strong and I love feeling good about what my body can do. I love that I can do sets of pull-ups. After I had my son, I carried about 15 lbs of extra weight around for over 2 years. He is now 3 and I am getting closer to where I want my body to be at but what I really want is to find a new sport to love so I dont have to think about what I look like and being fit is just a positive outcome of whatever sport I do. More than anything, I like it when I feel good and have good energy to bring to my life. That is what makes me feel attractive. But I still look in the mirror and criticize. I accept that I do it and dont try too hard to change it.
3. What steps did you take to accept and love your body?
Hmmmwhen I was a kid growing up, other kids always called me fat. My mom did too, in her own way, and I remember being in late childhood and really wanting an eating disorder so I could be thin but not having the self-discipline to follow through on it (I find this oddly amusing). Anyway, at some point, I realized that listening to my mom made me angry and other people telling me that my body should look a certain way made me angry and that I was going to not try and be attractive in order to spite all of them. Baggy clothes, no interest in shopping, etc. In my very early 20s, I lost a good deal of weight on a study-abroad program and came home very thin and feeling very tiny and attractive. I was pining over this guy that I had dated who had broken up with me and my older sister said to me you know, it doesnt matter how thin you are. Guys will still break up with you if they dont like who you are. She didnt mean it in an unkind way, she was pointing out that it isnt just about looks. As I got later into my 20s I realized that although not the most beautiful woman in the world, I was attractive and had charisma and that I could get a guys attention if I wanted it. And then I got strong and realized that there was a world full of things that my body could do that I hadnt known about and that I wanted to do them. So, it wasnt about steps, it was about evolution. I like being strong and fit. I dont like being 15 lbs overweight and slow.
4. What is the most valuable lesson youve learned about your body?
That it is both incredibly capable of doing amazing things and that it has limits that it may hit while it watches other people exceeding at the same thing.Its a shell that is really useful and gave me my son and a tremendous number of amazing experiences. It also cant drink like it used to nor does it love running more than 3 miles but it will still try and do a back-walkover or a shoulder throw. It likes to be used and fed and rested. Wash rinse repeat.
I used to feel so disappointed with myself and hate my body. It was a very negative downwards spiral I was trapped in. Yoyo dieting, weight loss/weight gain, constantly thinking I will be happier when I have lost the weight and It wont be long till I can lose the weight and be happy. I didnt even like my husband seeing me naked so if I had to get dressed while he was in the room Id turn off the lights. It has only been this year in which I have been able to say I love me! I had maybe lost a couple kilos since being the negative self hating person I was. I decided this time I wanted to take a different approach as everything in the past had not worked and I also wanted to be a better role model for my kids.I decided to take a different approach and start off by loving myself. I was going to focus on what I DID like about me and go from there. I love love love my legs they are amazing! I love my eyes too. So now that I have started focusing on what I love I decided that it doesnt matter what size I am as long as I feel that I am healthy. I joined the Michelle Bridges 12 week body transformation and have lost 7.5kg so far. I have changed my nutrition which has made me feel awesome from the inside out! I have increased my exercise, my fitness levels are awesome andI have more energy for the day. After all the negative spirals I have had and finally have worked out a way to be happy and more positive and it just started by focusing on what I do love. The most valuablelesson I have learned is that no matter what this is the only body we have to live in while we are here and life is too short to spend it hating yourself!
How do I feel about my body?
Ugh. This is such a tough topic! I want so badly to feel comfortable in my own skin. Ive had 2 kids. The stretch marks have faded and I honestly dont mind them anymore, but thats not the issue.
Im fat. I was never fat until my first pregnancy. Everyone kept telling me not to worry, Id lose the weight. I never did. 10 years later, my second pregnancy, I was 15 lbs more than I weighed at the beginning of my first pregnancy. Now, that wasnt a terrible weight. I actually felt comfortable and constantly exercised and watched what I ate (mostly).
Pregnancy two took a real toll on my body. I weighed over 200 lbs when I delivered my son and hes now 9 years old.
What was more of a challenge for me wasnt losing the pregnancy weight. I was very sick during my pregnancy. I found out just 6 mos after my son was born that I had kidney disease. Id had it for years and I had issues with my health for years. They were tolerable issues and prior to my diagnosis I shrugged them off as other things.
Well with kidney disease came massive amounts of steroids which cause you to gain weight. I knew that the pills would cause hunger. I didnt realize I wouldnt ever again love a normal life. I struggled badly with my weight, my emotions, depression and really didnt know what to do. I had no control. It was unfair. It was all not good. And worse, I knew I needed to be prepared to die. I pushed people away. My mom moved away. I had no real support and felt alone and scared.
I finally got to a point that I knew my weight was out of control and I had to do something about it. My health is more important with the odds stacked against me. I started eating better and going to the gym and got back to a tolerable weight though I knew Id never see 125 lbs again.
I finally had my transplant about 2 years ago and I take about 15 pills a day to prevent my body from rejecting my new kidney and I didnt die!!
I feel in some way that I cheated death or at very least Ive borrowed time. Transplants dont last forever, and dialysis is not meant to be used long-term. Surgery, pills, pain, emotions again and I spent a lot of time in bed and on the couch. I did what was necessary at my house, but I became far less active than Id ever been. I was down to about 150 lbs after the surgery, but all the inactivity and the ability to eat things I wasnt able to before since my body couldnt process them meant major weight gain.
I went to the doctor at the beginning of May, stepped on the scale and was at 207. I just wanted to sob right there.
That was it., no more pizza, burgers, candy, chips, soda.. I was on a mission.
Since then Im down to 193. Im not at all happy with the number on the scale.
Thats 70 lbs more than I was at 20 years old.
I fully realize that the medications Im on have changed my body chemistry and make it much tougher to process carbohydrates and sugar. More than that I am thankful for this chance to live, raise my boys and immensely grateful to my friend who gave me her kidney to save my life.
So where does that put someone like me? The deck is stacked for weight loss.. Its tougher, Im older now so that makes it harder and the medicines have side effects that make everything harder.. Pain in my legs, a suppressed immune system so Ive had several bouts with shingles (horribly painful), get sick pretty frequently and that makes moving hard let alone exercise.
Im not whining and Im not at all an ingrate. Its simply fact that this is all more difficult.
Ive been walking, organizing my house, cleaning, cooking healthy, no processed foods, no soda, no sugar.. Its really helped but the scale and mirror still seem to bother me. I look at a pound of butter and know that 15 of those are significant and I keep telling myself, its just a number, earths gravitational pull on your body, youve been through so much, chin up youve been through so much more difficult things in life, youre better than the number.. But its all still so hard to take.
I want to feel comfortable in my body. I know what a gift it is to be alive and healthy and more than that I know taking care of the precious gift Ive been given is so very important. But the scale seems to stare back and laugh at me. It seems to say, keep counting pounds of butter, calories, eat more lettuce, good luck kiddo.. lol. Its so frustrating. I wont have pictures taken. I simply cant stand to look at how I look.
I dont know what the magic number is or even how i feel i need to look..just want to get there. I know my worth is not dependent on the scale.
I want to know how to love my body again. How do I do that? How do I look in the mirror and tell myself that Im ok with me when Im not. Im not sure theres a magic answer. I try like hell to be positive and tell myself to keep working at it. I love to see other peoples success and their determination and I want to be that person. Im sure I will get there and I know I have lots more work to do and Im ok working at it. I really wish I would just wake up, see the number and have the scale smile back at me.
I used to be overweight, and looking back now I think that I would have hated my body like a lot of overweight people do. I cannot remember ever feeling like I hated my body because I think that I had just excepted the fact that I was overweight. Despite the fact that I was in high school and all of my friends were so skinny, I had never felt uncomfortable in my own skin. Until one day I stepped on the scale. I agree that the number on the scale isnt everything but until that point I was delusional to my problem. I was 240 pounds at age 16, and I weighed more than my father and most guys I knew. From that point on I felt awful. I hated my body. It got to the point where I couldnt even look at myself in the mirror. I wanted to feel good about my body and be able to look at myself and like what I see. I wanted to be able to love my body, in a healthy way. I knew that my weight was unhealthy and I didnt want to love a unhealthy body.
I started feeding my body healthy foods. I stopped poisoning it. I started moving it more by doing things I love, like running and walking. I lost 70 pounds and am at a healthy weight for my body. I can look at my body and KNOW that it is healthy. That is what I wanted all along, was to be healthy. Nothing helps my body more than knowing that it is in a healthy state and that I worked DANG hard to get like this. I learned loving your body is so important. And if you dont love your body, change it, but change it for the right reasons and change it for YOU! Dont change to please society and be skinnychange for YOU and for your reasons. If youre not going to change it, then change the way you think about it, EVERYBODY deserves to love their body!