Embracing My Body Image

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When I was in high school I was skinny, really skinny. So skinny that when the blood drive came to school, I would go to donate, and they would weigh me and say, “sorry honey, not this time.” And I would walk away with some juice and a sticker that said, “be nice to me, I tried.”

It wasn’t that I didn’t eat; I actually ate a lot, and have always been a big fan of food. I was just blessed with a crazy-fast metabolism. But that all changed when I turned 24—no I never gained the freshman 15; it was more like the post-college graduation 15, then additionally a few years ago it was  i’m-dating-an-amazing-boyfriend-that-cooks-fantastic-food 15. You can imagine I didn’t really know how to deal with my new body.

I had gone the majority of my life without having to think about what I ate, and I didn’t even need to exercise. So for the past 6 years or so, I’ve been struggling to say the least. But I’ve always been anti-dieting, I think to myself, “I don’t need to diet, I will never be able to keep up with it.” So I don’t. And I’ve found myself splurging on what I want, when I want and as much as I want, and then feeling guilty when my jeans feel tight.

I recently went on a mission to discover my relationship with food. This was one of the many items I talked about when I did my Life with Intention workshop with Jess. She recommended I read: Women, Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything by Geneen Roth, so I took her up on it. And it was an amazing book.

I also needed to figure out how I was going to bring exercise into my life for good. I have been known to do spurts of exercise in the hopes to lose weight or maintain it. But as you might suspect, it doesn’t always work, especially long term. This wishy-washy approach to being healthy and feeling sexy in my own skin has just been down right exhausting and I wanted to get to the bottom of it, so I don’t spend the rest of my life battling the inevitable weight-gain, and the guilt-ridden days where I beat myself up about my lack of commitment to being healthy and losing the weight.

Jess, and Geneen Roth helped me change my perspective on exercising, how I view my body, my eating habits and how not to listen to my inner ego.

My Body

Though this seems obvious, I have learned to look at my body for what it is and losing weight wont change it. I am learning to love and embrace the curves that I have, and know and except that my bootie will always be bigger than my belly and the rest of my body, because that is how I’m shaped.

My Ego

No matter how much my ego screams at me, “if you just lose more, your thighs will look like so-and-so’s and you will be happy.” I’ve learned that’s not true (duh!), and when I start to go down that path, I stop and try and listen to my gut. I’m usually unhappy about something else going on in my life and not the size of my thighs. So I take a few deep breaths and try and redirect my attention towards how I’m really feeling.

Exercising

I have also noticed that I feel better mentally when I move my body. So I have taken the pressure off exercise for being the only way I can LOSE the weight. Now I view it as a form of mental health. Because of exercise, I have a better relationship with my boyfriend, family and myself. I can think more clearly, I have more energy and I am overall happier. I also know exercising doesn’t have to be a huge ordeal, a simple walk after work or on the weekends, and when I’m feeling energized, a run. I also, like the class atmosphere of exercising, so I joined a Spinning and Pilates studio (close to home) and I’m loving it. And since I have changed my perspective on why I am going to exercise, I no longer feel the pressure; I go now because I enjoy it.

My Eating Habits

I rarely eat when I’m stressed (I do the opposite and starve)…I eat when I’m “treating myself,” or when I’m generally happy or bored. I am also a huge grazer, and when I get home from the office I go straight to the kitchen and find something to crunch on, because “I’m happy to be home and I deserve it.” Now, I’m trying to really slow down and notice when I’m actually hungry and eat then, and most importantly, eat until I am satisfied (even if it is just a bite or two of something). Basically, I’m trying to pay attention to how my body is actually feeling when I’m eating. This has helped me tremendously! Since I took on this approach, I’ve been able to talk myself out of a crazy snack attach or two, and though my meal was delicious, I didn’t finish it because I was satisfied and didn’t need anymore.

So that’s my story and keep in mind, I’m not a pro, I still slip up and over eat, or skip an exercise session, I’m just nicer to myself about it. My weight and body aren’t things that control my thoughts as much, and I feel closer and happier with myself because of these small changes in perspective. This is a journey and these thought patterns are starting to come easier and easier each day, but it does take practice to break a lifetime of bad habits.

 

 

Comments

  1. This resonates with me big time. I never thought about my weight or what I ate when I was heavier – now, every fluctuation freaks me out and every indulgence makes me feel like crap, even if I worked out hard that day. Now, I just focus on fueling, not stuffing myself silly.

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  2. Lori says

    Jen, thank you for sharing this story. Body image is something that I struggle with as well. Like you, I was super skinny for most of my life and never had to worry about what I ate. But after about the age of 26, then getting married and having a baby, that super skinny me is most likely never going to return – unless maybe I ate only salads all day. But I can’t do that because I love food too much!! So I’m right there with you, learning to embrace my body image. It’s a work in progress!

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  3. Shirsha says

    Oh God, reading your post is like having someone write out exactly what I feel. I’m just going through a bad patch of body image issues. I want to lose weight but have like zero control over my diet and my exercise schedule is at best, sporadic. I am tired of running out of clothes that don’t fit or make me look like an old aunt. I am trying to build a healthier approach to my body as well as my life. I have a stressful job as is, and I know that treating my body the way I am, will lead to terrible after-effects in the long-run. It also doesn’t help that I am getting married in less than 2 months. Anyway, now I am focusing on conditioning my mind to be healthier and put things to action pronto. How were you able to overcome the mental challenges that comes with getting yourself to be more active and eat healthier?

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