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Ten Things to Do When You’ve Got the Body Image Blues

20140511_172453B“I wish you could see yourself through my eyes.”

That’s what someone said to me the other night while I was out and comparing myself to each and every woman in the room and felt like I didn’t measure up. Did you know that often times those mirror shot selfies you see me take are because it helps me see myself a little thinner when I look at a picture of my reflection instead of my reflection itself? Tricks of the body image trade right there folks.  There is a ton of them you don’t see me post, like the ones featured in this article, because I saw some flaw in myself I didn’t want to share with the world.

When I was a teenager I used to babysit for a couple that for one reason or another in my mind were the paradigm of what life should be like. When I imagined myself in my forties they were what I envisioned life would be like. She was beautiful, not exceptionally thin; she had curves and long curly blond hair which is what to this day I still find most attractive when looking at other women.

In their home above their bed there was a photo of her that was taken on her thirty-eighth birthday. Her husband Chris had it taken by a friend of theirs that was a photographer because he knew that she was struggling with the fact that she was getting close to forty and he wanted her to see how beautiful she was and let her know that no matter where they went in life, that time of their lives was a moment he felt she was more beautiful than ever and was how he would always see her.

She was nude in the photo, positioned just right to cover anything that would be crass and allow for the portrait to be artistic, and when the print had come in, he had it framed and hung it above their bed. The first time I babysat for them and saw the photo Diane had told me the story behind and Chris, the type of guy that makes a joke out of everything said “When the print came in I framed it and hung it right away, that way every day when she gets ready she knows how beautiful she is and that way, every day when I get ready, I get to see her naked.”

20140511_172453I’ve always wanted someone to love me like that.  I’ve always wanted someone to want me like that. I always thought when I lost weight that sort of thing would come easy. I always thought that if I lost weight people would be hitting on me constantly, flirting with me all the time, and that someone would want me with sort that kind of sexual hunger.

I’ve struggled with body image issues a lot after my weight loss. I’ve gone through four rounds of serious reconstructive plastic surgery as well as one small procedure and two not so evasive procedures in an effort to get my body to a place where I’m happy with it. After all of that, to this day, setbacks in this area are an easy pitfall for me. I have to tread very carefully.

Let me share a little secret with you Slender Seekers, not feeling loved, and always feeling like I wasn’t good enough were the very issues that drove me to wanting someone to want me. Then when that didn’t work, and those I wanted to want me like that threw me away, those emotions lead me to relationships with food instead of human beings.

We all have demons that we deal with. We all have a past that we cope with. Very few of us are free from “issues” some of us just deal with them in healthier ways than others.  That is one of key’s to keeping the weight off. You have to recognize the real issues and address them before they lead you to unhealthy behaviors.

I own my body image issues every day. I know they are there, and almost every day I have to chase off that little voice inside me that taunts me with negative thoughts. I have to remind myself that I am loved, that I do good things, that I am a good person, that I help people, that I have accomplished some amazing goals. I have to stand in front of the mirror and combat those negative thoughts with positive affirmations so that I don’t let myself drag me down into those dark crevices of insecurity.

For those of you who have days like me; Day where my body image issues start to really wear on me, I have an arsenal of things I do to make myself feel better and I’m going to share some of them with you.


 

  1. Do something for yourself that makes you feel pretty. – Whether it’s a manicure and pedicure, a haircut, getting your eyebrows shaped or even a spa day at home with a mud mask and some cucumbers or that recipe for an all-natural hair conditioner, take them time to do something that makes you feel pretty.

  2. Step away from the pain. – Whatever the source, whether it’s the mirror or the scale or someone who tends to fuel your emotions; walk away.  If you’re having one of those days where you’re spending time standing in front of the mirror analyzing every little thing wrong with your body, go spend that time doing something else rather than fueling the negative emotions that you’re experiencing. Spending more time in front of the mirror or the scale isn’t going to help, nothing is going to suddenly change and make you feel better, so go find something to do that might.

  3. Recall where you came from. – Sometimes this means going back and looking at a picture of myself before I lost the weight, sometimes it’s going back and looking at photos of before my reconstructive surgeries. Sometimes it’s going back and looking at my old run times. But it helps me appreciate where I am and what I have a lot more when I go back and remind myself where I was. Sometimes I’ll snap a new photo and put together a new before and after photo to really send that message home.

  4. Think about who you are. – What do you do? What are you passionate about? What do you love? What motivates you? Think about these things and give yourself self some credit for who you are. When we think about it, most of us want to be loved for who we are, not what we look like.

  5. Work on a project. – Surely there is something you’ve wanted to do? Refocus on something you’ve been wanting, Clean off the patio to make room for some summer sunbathing, put together a scrapbook, bust out the knitting needles and get started on a new scarf with your favorite colors in it. Work on something that you’ve wanted to do for yourself and haven’t gotten around too yet.

  6. Get Moving – Whether you walk, jog, run, swim, bike, movement and momentum motivates us. Do something that moves your body and just enjoy the motion of going forward. It’s amazing how just moving in a forward direction instead of standing still and wallowing in an unpleasant place can help get you back on track.

  7. Do that thing you want someone else to do for you. – If you’re anything like me you’ve got a list of things you wish a certain someone would think about doing for you. Whether you wish they’d bring home a dozen roses or you wish they’d find a photographer to take a half-naked picture of you to hang in the bedroom, stop waiting on them and do it for yourself.

  8. Make a Bucket List, Wish List or To Do List – Don’t stand in front of the mirror making a mental list of everything you wish you could fix about yourself. Instead, go make a real list of all the things you want to do now that you’ve lost weight. Make a wish list of things you’d buy for yourself today if you had an extra $50-$100 lying around.  Make a “to do” list of things you really want to get done around the house. If you’re going to make lists, make them ones that are going to be fun and productive not depressing and self-sabotaging.  You’ll have a go to list of things that just might help improve your mood next time you end up in a bad emotional space as a bonus.

  9. Get Outdoors – I’m not sure what it is about being outside, but whenever I am having a rough day being outdoors helps. Even if I’m stuck at home waiting on the repair man to come fix the air conditioner. Making a cup of hot tea or a glass of lemonade and spending some time sitting on the deck just seems to make things better. Even a quick drive to the market for some fresh lemons with the windows down seems to help improve my state of mind.

  10. Pay it Forward – Guess what, you’re probably not the only one you know that struggles with body image issues or gets self-conscious.  If you’re having a rough day someone else might be too, so why not spend a little time helping someone else get through their rough day. Find a song that lifts you up that you can post on Facebook, pick a flower and give it to someone to remind them that they are beautiful. The things I do for others always helps me feel better.


 

Of course I wouldn’t be a very good Weight Loss or Wellness Coach if I didn’t remind you that exercise is a great stress relief, very rarely do I still feel out of shape and overweight after a good workout and even  if I do, the workout has made me feel like I am working on my goals about it.

So many women suffer from body image issues. It’s not just those of us that are effective by obesity or lost massive amounts of weight or had huge weight loss transformations, its women in general; you’d be shocked at some of the beautiful women you know who have struggled with their body image from years. I think it’s important to know that you are not alone in this struggle.

For those of you that have friends like I do, that care about what you are going through and really wish that you could see yourself through their eyes, do yourself a favor, give them a package of post it notes and a pen and ask them to write down some things about how they see you. Stick those notes on the sides of your mirror and remind yourself when you are looking into it to not to be your own worst enemy or your own worst critic. Use them as a reminder to be kind to yourself and to treat yourself the way you want others to treat you. You deserve it.

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Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is a  Cooper Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies and Motivational Speaker studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer.

Big Brother, Big Dreams, Life after my 260 lb. Weight Loss

SmileThis year I’ve been working on my bucket list. Recently, that meant sending in an audition tape for the Big Brother reality show.  This was quite a surreal experience for me. Realizing that I was actually doing something that I had dreamed of doing for years and let my struggle with obesity hold me back from was yet another non scale victory moment for me.

There was a time that a list of things I wanted to do in life included names of foods I wanted to try and restaurants I wanted to eat at. It included a few other things as well; my life didn’t totally revolve around food. But I did feel like food was all I could do.

I dreamed of things like traveling to different countries, but I knew that it wouldn’t happen because I was intimidated about not being able to fit in an airline seat or not being able to physically do all the touristy stuff you do when you travel.

I thought about things like bungee jumping, skydiving, zip lining, going to amusement parks, riding roller coasters and truth be told, ever since I watched the show in 2009 when Jeff and Jordan were on it, I dreamed of auditioning for Big Brother.

My Dad–who I lost in the middle of my weight loss journey but remains with me through my passion for exercise and my determination to live the happy healthy life he wanted for me–used to watch the show too and he’d always tell me, “You’d be really good on this show kid.” My Dad was a game show guy, he always dreamed of being on Wheel of Fortune or the Big Spin, he always wanted a chance to go on TV and win big money and when the era of reality shows that gave you a chance to do that started he always encouraged me to try.

Of course I never did. Because when it came to something like physical challenges or having to do something that required any sort of strength, dexterity or endurance, at over 400 lbs. I never felt like I was even close to a feasible casting option.  Not to put myself down, but the only show I felt I might get cast on if I tried was The Biggest Loser; and truthfully my weight stopped me from applying for that one as well. In a world where I was already self-conscious about my weight, my appearance and myself, why would I put myself out there for everyone else to talk about and shame? That was what I really felt I would be doing by auditioning for ANYTHING.

All I could think about was being a kid and having our entire class going out for PE (Physical Education) Class together. It didn’t matter what we were playing: softball, basketball, volleyball, dodge-ball. When it came time to pick teams, my name was never called. I was always the last one standing there, and whoever ended up with me was forced to take me and I stood there fearful of what they would say. Let’s face it; we all knew what they were thinking “She’s no good at this game; she’s too fat to play.”

Every single time I thought about auditioning for Big Brother that fear and that memory paralyzed me. But I am NOT that scared little girl anymore. I’m not afraid to put myself out there. If there is anything I have learned since I lost the weight it’s that I can do anything that I set my mind to. I can accomplish anything that I am determined to accomplish.

In the last year I have managed to:

  1. Go to school to pursue my desire to become a Transformation Specialist and Personal Trainer.
  2. Go to school to become a Cooper Approved Wellness Coach
  3. Met my heroes Chris and Heidi Powell
  4. Ran My First Half Marathon
  5. Gifted One of my Blog Readers with a Disney Half Marathon Adventure.
  6. Ran three more Half Marathons during my training for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon
  7. Completed the Tinker Bell Half Marathon
  8. Moved across the country to take a new job at a Ladies only Gym Facility as their Weight Loss and Wellness Coach
  9. Gifted Another of my Blog Readers with a Disney Half Marathon Adventure.

671e345ec71811e39d0724be059614f0_8And I still have another month left before a calendar year is up. I’ve accomplished amazing things in the last year.  All of these things have led me in the same direction; they enable me to make sure that I make my father proud of me, that I follow my dreams and keep myself motivated, that I pay it forward to others on a regular basis and that I help others in the fight against obesity.

It was with those four major motivations in mind that I decided; “You’re damn right. I’m going to audition for Big Brother 16!”

I am sure that thousands upon thousands of people enter. I’m NOT sure that in the few minutes I had on video that I convinced them that I would make a good addition to the house. But I am sure that just by applying I achieved something. I achieved the courage of knowing that this is something I can do. I achieve the accomplishment of knowing that if chosen, my weight won’t hold me back. I achieved the excitement of realizing that if I was selected, I would be able to share my story with millions and millions of people watching and that I wouldn’t be worried about what they said or about being ashamed of myself. In fact, I’d be hoping that if nothing else came out of being in that house, that I was able to touch the life of just one more person and motivate them. I’d be hoping that by hearing my story someone else realizes that if I can win the fight against obesity and go on to accomplish dreams like this, that they could too.

The house guests selected will enter the Big Brother House in just 62 days. I may or may not be one of them; I have no idea when house guests are selected, when they know if they are chosen or what not, but I know that if I was picked I wouldn’t be allowed to tell you. Which means you’ll just have to tune into the show on June 25th to find out for sure.

When they extended the original audition date from April 4th to April 25th there was a part of me that said “Well, I guess they haven’t found what they were looking for just yet,” and felt a smidgen of disappointment.

But then I realized that whether I get on or not, I accomplished great things and learned a great lesson just by auditioning for the show. And guess what? I was able to share that with you. So whether they pick me or not, I will know without a shadow of a doubt that I wasn’t the last one standing there and that my weight had nothing to do with it and I will walk away from this whole thing knowing that no matter what happens, when it comes to the fight against obesity, there are a lot of people out there who have already chosen me. After all, I’m the captain of #TeamSlenderSeekers!

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Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is a  Cooper Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies and Motivational Speaker studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer.

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Author: Pandora Williams

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender

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