My Body Image Journey is one that probably will never end.
This is why I created my What The Forty page. I can encourage other women and I do, and I keep the page going just to remind my own self how much I need to believe what I offer up to others. I have forever seen myself as something besides what I am. I never saw myself like the other girls. They were blond: I was brown. They were straight: I was curly. They were tan: I was pale. They were skinny: I was chunky. They were pretty: I was ugly. They made sure to remind me of it every chance they got. I have learned and accepted as much as possible, through the years to tell myself to shut up that none of that stuff matters nor is any of it true. However, I had a deal with myself, my mother and father both have struggled with their weight my entire life, and I was gonna nip it in the bud, I was gonna never have to diet, I was gonna just take as good of care of myself as I possibly could. Throughout my 30’s I transformed my body working out and doing yoga 6 days a week, eating organic food, weighing my portions, and cataloging every calorie. Did it work? Absolutely! I was not doing anything extreme, and I never saw any extreme results. I was hovering between a size 8 and a 10 and stayed steady at exactly the same weight no matter what I did or didn’t do. I was exhausted.
During all of this I have had whiplash related chronic pain on the curve of my slight scoliosis, I have had many procedures: injections, prolotherapy (look it up, not for the faint of heart, hearing a needle scrape your bones is intense), chiropractic, acupuncture, many types of massage, electronic therapy devices taped to me for hours at a time, three different beds on and on the list goes. I paid $500 for a one-time treatment that was guaranteed to work until it didn’t work and he wanted to charge me again to be treated. I have very often fought through the pain, pushed past my limits, and suffered the consequences of not listening to my body. Pain followed me continuously. I was doing so much, it was hard to pinpoint any one cause.
Giving It A Rest
So a couple of years ago, I went to the chiropractor and she said, ‘why don’t you try only doing yoga for a bit see how that feels, then switch to your workout only for a bit see how that feels, then try nothing see how that feels.” By the time, I got to doing nothing at all my back felt better within a few days. Within two years, I have gained 15 pounds and a full size in jeans. I have had a nice little lecture about losing weight from my doctor who is and has always been a size 00 even two months after her pregnancy. That’s a tough prescription to swallow while you’re fat and naked on the exam table, all the while looking at her thinking “eat a cookie for Pete’s sake.” Sometimes we all just need a cookie.
Consequently, I pass that mirror and I cannot look, if I do, I start badgering myself. I eventually tell myself to shut up and I move on, but later in the day, I stand next to my dynamo CrossFit coach neighbor and think, “I’m so proud of her, and wish I could get back where I was, which is where she is today.” Or I’ll be waiting in line and looking at myself in some sort of reflective surface and I just think, “What the hell happened?”
A Body Image Mirror
I even lost a “friend” over all this. We talked one day on the phone about going 100% grain free instead of just being gluten free to see if my system would reset. I agreed that it was worth a shot. Long story short, I didn’t do it fast enough (instantly) for her. So she deemed me “asleep,” a “sheeple,” because I went two whole days after that conversation and still had grains. I had dental appointments and needed to get groceries to compensate for the soon to be missing grains. I started two days later and went two months without a single grain not even in my supplements, it didn’t do me any good at all. I didn’t lose weight, and none of my health issues disappeared. Meanwhile, she had disappeared, except that she was posting derogatory crap directed at me indirectly. I confronted her about her sudden departure from my life and the derogatory posts, and I was attacked for making excuses. That was that, she disappeared from life completely blocking me and dropping me from all communications. I might add, that this was someone who had bulimia at one point and during our friendship ate nothing but fish and brussel sprouts for three months so she could lose weight. Sometimes it just isn’t worth even trying to figure confusing and unexplainable all out. Moving on…
I knew I was fighting an endocrine battle, as well, with Hashimoto’s. I did what I do when a problem presents itself to me, I learn. I did a ton of research and found that while my numbers were significant in my blood work I was not even close to extreme problems, yet my body was telling me something else was going on. Here is what happened, I have since been diagnosed with a pituitary gland condition, it made me gain weight, it made me feel tired, it made me a lot of things that contributed to just sitting down and not wanting to move. Now, I still have the condition, I am still taking treatment, on the second one as the first didn’t work, and it is a wait and see. Through it all, I have harped on myself for not working out enough, for eating the wrong things although I still eat unprocessed foods, and all organic, and gluten free and on and on. I borderline, I believe, on orthorexia, and I know it but it isn’t affecting my weight, so I kind of don’t care, it’s just another label anyway. Being “obsessed” with eating healthy food is better than a lot of other obsessions to have. (I will say though if you truly suffer from this and your weight is being affected to the extreme seek professional care, going through life like this is not safe.) It has to of had some benefits as I used to never make my own food, I ate out almost every meal.
Accepting my Body Image for Reality
For now I wait. I wait for some sort of place that my body can be okay again, inside and out. I wait for medical treatment to do the trick. I wait for life to come around again and say, “let’s go live it, baby!” I wait for some sort of divine intervention that just says, “you are healed!” I wait for someone else to say the same thing so we can take a walk and talk together. I stop the negative talk as much as possible, and embrace the things I love about myself. I like my long legs, and I still have a curve in my hour glass. I love my curly hair and now I’m growing out the silver and it is getting more fantastic. Strangers, a lot more men than women oddly enough, approach me to tell me how awesome that silver is.
I would and I have coached another person to be kind to themselves, to forgive their body for struggling, and to thank their body for fighting hard to stay upright and alive. Yet I have to slap myself sometimes for not listening to my own body image advice. No one is perfect, no one. We all have struggles and life and pain and health issues and our own ignorance getting in the way…We all be human. Don’t Judge, Just Love!