Week Eight: Find Balance for Feel Good February
Fasten your seatbelts for some realness. It’s time for me to get raw and it’s freaking terrifying. So here we go…
Let’s talk about BODY IMAGE…EEK.
What a funny, touchy, semi taboo subject.
We all have our inner conversations, our insecurities and idiosyncrasies. Our fears and wishes and hopes and dreams.
It’s said that one major regret people have at the end of their lives is having spent too much of their time worrying about their looks instead of actually LIVING their life. We hear this advice, process it and more often than not, move forward as if we never heard it at all.
Often, by ignoring these wise words, we hold ourselves back from the possibilities that come from being present. This focus on something as fleeting as beauty keeps us in our head, missing life as it passes us by. In turn, the vicious cycle continues.
On the flip side, it’s all about balance. Worrying about your health is EXTREMELY necessary. We only have one body and it’s important to invest in it. Without our health, our possibilities can go out the window. Again we’re back to not actually living our lives.
So where is the balance?
I think that health, beauty and body image is like walking a tightrope. You need perfect balance to stay standing. If you don’t give your health a second thought, then you’re probably going to fall off. In opposition, if you obsess about your image and spend all your life energy worrying about your looks, you probably also won’t stay standing.
This balancing act is far from easy and a struggle that most of us face at least once in our lives. For many of us, it’s a lifelong journey that takes lots of patience and practice.
This is where I am at and where week eight comes in: trying to find balance.
Remember that realness I talked about in the beginning? Here’s where that comes in.
I’m going to tell you about my body image. Gulp. [insert throwing up emoji]
As someone who’s been relatively slim their whole life, talking about body image becomes a taboo subject. In fact, unless one is quite overweight you get greeted with the same up-down look, often featuring a shake of the head and the usual “you’re beautiful the way you are” or “you don’t need to lose anything” or “don’t be silly.” Even if someone is in that unhealthy zone we still seem to make these same remarks because we don’t know what to say.
Luckily, body image wasn’t on my radar of worries until I “grew up.” As a child I was brought up in a fairly positive, accepting environment. My weight wasn’t something that was talked about unless my family was worried I was getting too skinny (I was a very picky eater). As a teenager I continued to have a fast metabolism and could basically eat whatever I wanted. On top of that I was a very active, and busy person which lead to less eating. I rarely snacked and only ate when I was hungry purely due to time.
That all being said, even though I wasn’t self conscious I did experience some pretty severe food anxiety. As I just mentioned I was an extremely picky eater. When I say this, I don’t mean I just didn’t like certain foods. I didn’t like MOST foods. I still to this day I’ve never met someone as picky as I was. It was so severe that I couldn’t force myself to eat the foods I disliked. If I tried, I would gag or sometimes even throw up a little. I just couldn’t get them down. As a young person, this was extremely embarrassing and quickly I realized it was easier just to say I wasn’t hungry. There were countless times I stayed over at friend’s houses with a secret, very empty stomach.
As I grew up, I grew out of many of my food aversions but the end of my pickiness and food anxiety came down to a realization I had while on a date to end all dates. I was high as a kite on life, feeling empowered, excited and invigorated to try new things. We were about to sit down at this awesome little restaurant and Matt (my now partner in crime) was asking what some of my favourite foods were. He then asked if there was anything I didn’t like. This was one of those moments when you say something but it’s not like it’s yourself speaking. I heard myself say something along the lines of “I’m open to trying anything.” JAW DROP. And the best part: I’ve stuck by that ever since. It’s like by manifesting that short phrase, all my food anxiety disappeared. In turn, I actually developed a ridiculous love for food.
As a young adult I was in a pretty great place. Basically no body image issues, a new found love to food and eating. Along with that I was out on my own for the first time, experiencing the joys and challenges of what it’s like to be an adult.
This blissful place was short lived as I began to experience that my new found love of eating and food gradually became new found weight gain. Over the course of 5 years I went from 115 lb. to 150 lb. NOTE: I’m personally a big believer that weight doesn’t actual equal what you look like. Everyone holds weight differently and depending on how much muscle you have your weight will vary, i.e. body fat percentage. I know I don’t look like I weigh 150 lb. but it’s still not fun to step on the scale and see that number.
However, where I did see a big change and what in turn made me self conscious was how the people around me changed. I went from being told how “skinny” and “beautiful” I was everywhere I went to nothing at all. These compliments were beautiful things in the moment but a double edged sword when they stopped coming.
Then there was working in retail which was even more eye opening than what I had experienced in my daily life. This is probably because it’s part of my job to be a live mannequin in order to help people figure out size, fit, etc. I am consistently under the public’s eye. The thing with a retail environment is guests (customers) don’t always treat you like a human being. Instead they see you as a worker and for some reason it’s like their filter of what’s appropriate to say goes away. I’ve had some of the nicest guests make comments that made my jaw drop.
On top of these situations I’ve also experienced the usual ones. Stumbling across old photos. Seeing new photos. People agreeing with you when you say you’ve gained weight. Comments from family members. Clothing not fitting. A social media driven world where beauty is defined by how many likes you get. #fit[insert self given title].
Obviously these don’t feel great.
Obviously these affect daily life.
Obviously these don’t help with balancing on that tightrope I talked about before.
And the worse part? I know I am far from alone in these experiences and feelings.
This is the reason I am sharing.
Because there are countless people out there in the same position I am that feel like they can’t talk about their insecurities. Because talking about body image shouldn’t make my stomach turn so much it’s taken me three weeks to write this post. Because I want you to know you’re far from alone. We’re all in this together.
I haven’t achieved balance yet but I am trying.
(Side note: if anyone knows where I can do this again in Victoria BC I would be LOVE to know. So much fun!)
I want to be comfortable in my own skin. I want to get back to that place where weight and looks and size didn’t matter. Where I was so comfortable with my body that it didn’t even cross my mind. The place where food anxiety was more connected to my extreme picky eating and less to should I eat that? Will I judge myself after? Will others judge me? Will I feel sick? Is it worth it? Yes it’s worth it? Fast forward 10 minutes… it wasn’t worth it.
Really it comes down to me. I am the only person holding me back from changing my perspective. My stories are exactly that: my own. If I want to reprogram my thoughts, I am the only one that can.
So here’s to setting my story free with the intention of re-framing my thoughts and to you for listening and hopefully feeling inspired enough to do the same.