We’ve all said this to ourselves before: “I hate ___________ about my body!”
Just fill in the blank:
My stretch marks
I remember when I was in junior high and being embarrassed about my body. It was torture changing in the girls locker room for gym. I would look at the other girl’s bodies and wish mine looked like that.
Fast forward to high school and university and that’s when dieting kicked in. I would binge on junk food and then try to burn it off by not eating or running long distances on the treadmill.
In adulthood, I tried ALL the diets. Acai berry pills, cabbage soup, cayenne cleanse, etc.
Then I got pregnant, for 3 years in a row, my belly grew and my body changed..forever! I gained a LOT of weight, but I did eventually lose all the weight, and more.
But you know what?
Even though I lost all the weight and was at my lightest, I still wasn’t happy with my body.
Sure, I lost a lot of weight and it felt good to fit into a size 2 jeans. But in the end, that didn’t make me “happy.”
I still saw the flaws on my body; the stretch marks, the loose skin, the skinny arms, the lack of boobs. What you don’t see in this photo is that I had lost my period and my hormones were out of balance. What you don’t see is that I was obsessed about what I was eating and working out like crazy to maintain this weight.
You would think that after losing so much weight I would be happy!
But, I was (and still can be) just as critical of myself as when I weighed over 220 pounds.
From the outside, I looked healthy, but being fit doesn’t mean being lean. I felt like I had to maintain this body. I became a Beachbody coach and put my weight loss story in front of thousands of people. I couldn’t let myself gain any weight now…what would people think of me?
As a result, I found myself struggling with orthorexia.
Orthorexia is defined as a fixation on righteous eating. Eventually food choices become so restrictive, in both variety and calories, that health suffers – an ironic twist for a person so completely dedicated to healthy eating. Eventually, the obsession with healthy eating can crowd out other activities and interests, impair relationships, and become physically dangerous.
My body led me into isolation. I was always worried I wouldn’t look perfect in the eyes of others. I was worried that one slip-up would ruin the six-pack abs I had worked so hard for.
Is that a way to live?
You may have seen my post on Facebook or Instagram last week about my decision to give up my subscription to Oxygen magazine.
I used to read Oxygen and want to be just like the women in that magazine. I thought Oxygen was a great magazine to emulate since the women looked strong, not “skinny!” I would immediately look at the girls heights and weights and compare myself to them. If that meant more time exercising or eating less to get down to their weight, I would do it. I would read their meal plans of boiled chicken, asparagus, and brown rice and try to follow that plan.
But then I would see my stretch marks, loose skin, and lack of breasts and think, I’ll never be in a magazine like that. I’ll never be perfect. I’ll never look like those women.
I even considered plastic surgery. I thought if I got breast augmentation and a tummy tuck, I would finally be happy with my body.
But after some soul searching, I realized I wouldn’t be doing the plastic surgery for me. It would be for others, to look better in THEIR eyes, not mine.
And please don’t think I have anything against plastic surgery. If you determine that it helps you feel better about yourself and love yourself more – then do it! But for me, I knew this wasn’t the case. I had to learn to love and accept my body the way it is.
We have been brainwashed to strive for perfection. All this striving makes us miserable. We can have goals, work toward them, and become better at things, but when we identify them with who we are, it steals our joy.
I turned 40 this year. And I’m not sure if wisdom comes with age, but I have finally decided that I DON’T CARE about perfection!!! I don’t care that I’ll never look like those women in the magazine. I’m done comparing myself to them. I am who I am!
My stretch marks, my loose skin, my small boobs, my cellulite…those do NOT define me!
My character, how I treat others, my health…that is what is important…NOT what I see in a mirror.
I want happiness that doesn’t depend on my body size. I want to look in the mirror and love the body that God blessed me with.
I no longer depend on food to validate my existence. I’m not letting food guide my decisions. I use food as fuel, that’s it! I eat foods that feel good in my body. I no longer exercise to lose weight or look a certain way. I exercise because it gives me energy and promotes overall health and wellbeing.
I care for my body because I love my body. I want to be healthy because I love my body.
Am I perfect? Heck no. I still have days where I struggle with my body image. But taking that pressure of myself to look perfect has allowed me to enjoy being healthy again. It’s no longer a struggle. I enjoy my workouts again. I enjoy the food I eat again.
The world doesn’t need more people striving for perfection. The world needs more people who love themselves and know they don’t need to have the perfect body to be happy 🙂