Saturday Thoughts

A couple years ago I wrote a blog post for my friend, Amanda. I wrote about how I dealt with body dysmorphia and how it affected my life.

I still struggle with this everyday on some level, and I always will. It’s not something that just disappears, but something that has changed, is my acceptance of my struggles.

And something that becomes more evident with each year is that you truly need to love yourself at every stage. It’s okay to have goals for yourself, but what’s not okay is thinking less of yourself because those goals haven’t quite been reached yet.

You can be kind to everybody you come in contact with, but the most important person you need to be kind to, is yourself.

Our purpose on this earth isn’t to be perfect, or to live under a cloud or in a society that is constantly telling us we are not good enough. Our purpose is to find our calling and pursue that with a clear mind.

Sometimes when I look in the mirror and I only see the things I don’t like, I think about who I am as a person, and the qualities that make me who I am. I focus on what I can do every day to reach my goals, both physical and emotional. I often find myself so fixated on what I ate, or what I look like in my clothes, or how much I weigh but all of that energy I use being mean to myself could be used in a different, more positive way.

This post was a little off track and with no clear reason or direction. It’s just been on my mind so I wrote it down. I hope that if anybody struggles with body image issues, body dysmorphia, eating disorders, know that you are not alone. ❤

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Shan

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A Different Light

IMG_7423Most people who know me know that I LOVE exercising. It’s part of my life! I don’t eat to diet, I eat to fuel my body (ice cream is the best fuel;)

But my exercise and eating habits have changed drastically over the last few years. Just a few years ago I would only go to the gym because I felt that if I didn’t go I would reverse all of my progress. I could imagine the pounds plopping themselves on my body, which is just ridiculous. I worked out 7 days a week and ate 1200-1300 calories a day, which were meticulously logged. Going out to dinner put me into a cold sweat, and the thought of going on vacation and not having access to a gym caused extreme anxiety. People would compliment me on my weight and I would smile, but inside I truly thought that it wasn’t enough. No matter what I did I was never happy with what I weighed or how I looked.

I honestly did not see any problem with how I was treating myself back then. The only thing I could think about was being “skinny”. Important people in my life would constantly tell me that I wasn’t “fat” and that I was beautiful but their words would go in one ear and out the other. A link was sent to me once about body dysmorphia and I read through it scoffing, not wanting to believe that it sounded like a description of myself.

Fast forward to today and I am the happiest that I have ever been with my health, fitness, and body. I look in the mirror and a true smile appears on my face. I spent years consistently logging my meals and calculating what and how much I was eating. The last year I have taught myself a lot about nutrition and I see food in a completely different light. I don’t do hours of cardio a day, instead I workout for about an hour a day and don’t cry if I miss a workout. I lift weights, do HIIT, add in shorter increments of cardio and I now see myself as strong. I have gained muscle, along with confidence. A weight has been lifted off of my shoulders and energy that was spent agonizing over my body is now being spent on the relationships in my life, things that truly make me happy. I still have moments and days that are rough, but it is night and day compared to where I once was.

I am 15 pounds heavier than I was at my lowest, but I feel my lightest. IMG_7373IMG_7392

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Body Love

Recently my best friend Amanda asked me to write about my journey with my body for her wonderful blog, thelittleladybug.weebly.com. Her blog is so wonderful and she has an amazing vision and wonderful goals.

I have struggled with body dysmorphia and loving my body for quite some time and have always kept my struggles silent. I figured that if my story can help even one person, then I might as well share it on here too! I write a lot about running, eating healthy, and exercising on here because I truly do love all of those things! I do them now because I want to and I love being healthy, but here is a little window into one of my biggest struggles.

ps if you have a minute please go check out thelittleladybug.weebly.com, you won’t regret it! 🙂

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Twisting this way and that way, trying to see what I look like from every angle, disgusted with what I see. Every day, I would spend an absurd amount of time in the bathroom or in front of a mirror scrutinizing my body, pulling and squeezing bulges of skin that were squishing out of my jeans or sports bra. I would use a mirror to visually measure the width of my body every night, and depending on what I ate that day or how much I exercised, I would always see something different. I spent years looking at myself like this in the mirror every morning, afternoon, and evening. Every time I went into the bathroom I would pull up my shirt and look at my stomach, always displeased with what I saw. Every time I was out with friends and would pass by a window I would glance at my reflection and my mood would shift. This is how I looked at myself Every. Single. Day.
I don’t need to bore anybody with the intricate details of my story but I will share a few things that I remember most.

My senior year in high school, I would wake up at 4:30 in the morning to workout before school. I would also workout after school in the school weight room. During sports seasons, I continued to workout and would sometimes go for a jog as late as 8pm because I felt that if I didn’t get those two miles in I would gain 5 pounds. In my mind, what I was doing was dedication. I thought that I was passionate about being healthy and getting fit and was dedicated to my goals. But I went too far. I was losing weight and feeling really good about how I looked! People were telling me that I looked great too, which just fueled my obsession with working out and eating less. I didn’t track my food but looking back now I know that I wasn’t eating nearly enough. I would eat a Quaker granola bar for breakfast, an iceberg salad with no dressing for lunch, maybe a few bites of other people’s lunch, and a small plate of whatever my parents made for dinner. I would weigh myself every day, sometimes twice a day. I never fell under an unhealthy weight, but what I was doing to myself mentally and physically was not healthy.

My love for exercising became an obsession and I was constantly thinking about when I could workout. If a trip was coming up, I would become anxious about both my ability to fit a workout into my schedule and what food would be available for me to eat. I was chained to the treadmill, forcing myself to take each step and pump out those five miles. I needed to workout.

And don’t even get me started on the thought of taking my clothes off.

Fast forward a couple of years and I am sitting in my new apartment in a new city making an iMovie of the past four years with my boyfriend. I am sorting through photos on my laptop and it hits me like a ton of bricks. It feels like my throat is swelling and tears begin to fall down my cheeks and onto my bedspread. I have memories from almost every photo of myself being upset with how I looked. I was worried that I looked fat or ugly and looking back I could see how it ruined so many of my days. The real kicker is that while I was looking at these photos…I thought that I looked just fine, good even. And then the realization came to me that I had spent years obsessing over my body and letting my self-image determine what kind of day I had. My boyfriend had sent me a link a few months earlier that I brushed off, but then went and found that night. That article was on Body Dysmorphia. I delved into that article and as I read on I cried harder. Finally, after years and years of anxiety over my body I could see what I was doing to myself.

From that night on I made a conscious decision to love myself. Every day. I began journaling and coming to terms with myself. For the most part this journey with myself has been kept quiet. Writing out my thoughts really opened my eyes.

It’s been hard this past year to love my body. I will forever struggle with my Body Dysmorphia and I still have some old habits that creep up on me, but I am working on myself everyday and am getting there. When I begin to tell myself that I look fat or that I gained weight, I take a step back from the mirror and really look at my body. I look at my legs and feel grateful for the ability to run. I look at my arms and think of the progress that I have been making in the weight room. I really take a minute and think about what my body is capable of and push those negative thoughts out of my head.

Now I exercise and eat healthy because I want to and it makes me feel good. I have support from my boyfriend and friends who are always there for me. I have learned to utilize the people in my life, not being scared to ask for help or to share my feelings. So many people in the world struggle with some sort of eating or body image disorder and it took me a long time to come to that realization. There is nothing wrong with me, this is just something that I have to deal with and work through and that’s the same for so many other people. I only get one life and when I am 80 years old I don’t want to look back and see how many opportunities I ruined because of my distorted self-image. I am becoming happy with what my body can do and I try to look at my body for what it truly is; a gift.