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! 🙂

————————————————————————————————————————

11537811_980906105274599_1791160518600610853_n

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.

Mirror Image

Sometimes when I am out and about, whether it be grocery shopping or running, I  look at the women around me and admire them. I give people compliments all of the time…Is that weird?  I wouldn’t want any woman or man to have negative thoughts about themselves. It makes me sad to think that people are so hard on their bodies, their diet, or how their pants fit.

Do you ever look at yourself in the mirror and think, “Ugh, I don’t like that….I wish I could change (fill in the blank)….I need to lose 10 pounds.”  I know I do. And that makes me wonder how I tell other people how beautiful, strong, and wonderful they are, inside and out, but it’s hard to give myself compliments when looking in the mirror? I have struggled my whole life with self confidence, specifically with my body. I remember in grade 5 thinking that my thighs are too big and in grade 8 that I had a muffin top when I wore jeans. I wondered if my shoes were cute enough to wear to school or if my shirt was too tight. I have always thought that there is one, if not more, aspects of my body that I needed to fix. Don’t even get me started on wearing a swimsuit…I am so critical about every aspect of my body. These thoughts have followed me my entire life…I don’t think that they will ever go away, but I work at them everyday. I try to appreciate the strength that I have gained over the past year from lifting weights, the distance that I can now run (that I never imagined that I could do), and my dedication to my health. I try not to obsess over what I eat (been there, done that), and just focus on putting whole, natural foods into my body.

I do this to myself and am so critical, but it makes me so sad to think that other people do it to themselves too. How weird is that? So my dear friend and I were talking, specifically about compliments. I decided that whenever somebody gives me a compliment I am going to write it down and stick it in my purse. Generally people don’t give out compliments maliciously, they come from a good place. I believe that compliments, whether simple or extravagant, can make somebody’s day better. So while I work on myself, I will continue to try and make other’s days better, and pocket the wonderful things that people say to me to keep them as a reminder.

2014-05-18 13.08.07

Keep smiling and don’t be so hard on yourself. ❤

xoxo,

Shan 🙂