“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.”
I’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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.