I had a WIAW post planned for you but there’s been a change of plans. It’s been a while since I’ve done a more serious post…but you know me, once I get something on my mind, it usually doesn’t go away until after I write about it.
In the past few weeks since I’ve been back from vacation, I’ve noticed something happening. It happens in every day life as well, but I always seem to notice it more right after a vacation. So this time I’ve decided to address it.
The “it” I’m talking about is negative thoughts. It’s the nit-picking, the self-doubt, the sadness that creeps in when I start looking at pictures from a trip. I’ve finally figured out that for me, it’s the pictures that trigger it. I’m not the kind of person that enjoys being in photos. I’d much rather be the one taking them. As a result, I don’t have a ton of pictures of myself. And the pictures I do have are usually from special events or occasions when I’m dressed up and looking my best. What I don’t have is a lot of pictures of me just “living”. And that’s what I get when I go on vacation. Especially if I’m on vacation with my mom who, like me, is constantly taking photos. Except in this situation I’m the one that’s in them. And I’m not always looking my best. Sometimes it’s me in a swim suit, or sweatpants… It’s just me being me.
And those are the pictures I start picking apart when I get home.
I know a lot of bloggers have talked openly about their issues with eating disorders/negative body image/weight struggles/etc. I’m not one of them. That doesn’t mean I haven’t had struggles of my own. In fact, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a female who HASN’T, at some point, struggled with body image.
I dealt with my struggles in middle school and high school mostly, but it wasn’t until I graduated from college and started to clean up my diet that my body really found its happy place. As a result, I’ve weighed the same amount and looked pretty much the same for the past 5 years.
Do I look like I did when I was 16 and in the best shape of my life?
But i’m also not currently practicing/lifting/running for 3-4 hours a day like I was back then.
I’ve figured out what works for me now, at this stage in my life. How much I need to exercise, how much I need to eat, what kinds of foods make me feel my best. I’ve made working out a habit, I’ve brought strength training back into my life and I’ve learned to listen to my body when it needs rest.
I am strong.
I am beautiful.
I am healthy.
I am happy.
That doesn’t mean the negative thoughts I battled for so long are totally gone. It seems like I can never quite get rid of them. Like an annoying little gnat buzzing in my ear, they’re always there.
I’m just putting more effort into dealing with them
instead of letting them dictate my moods and actions.
When I look at myself in the mirror and notice the stretch marks I have on my inner thighs and think, “Those make my legs look so ugly”…I take a second to stop and think about that statement.
IN THE PAST, I would have immediately put away the shorts I was going to wear, pulled on pants and spent rest of the day finding even more things that were wrong with my legs.
NOW, I ask myself, “Is it true?”- No. The stretch marks are faded and most likely hardly noticeable to anyone but me. Next, “Is it kind.” Basically, is that a nice thing to say? Would I say it about someone else? No. Then why should I say it about myself? Finally, “Is it helpful?” No. There is no part of that statement that makes me feel good or motivates me to work harder.
NOW, instead of wallowing in self-doubt and sadness, I choose to replace that thought with a more positive one. I look in the mirror again and choose to focus on the leg muscles I’ve developed since I started lifting and working out regularly. My legs are strong enough to carry me through a crazy hard 100 workout 4 minutes faster than I’ve ever done it before, and then keep me on my feet long enough to play three volleyball matches.
When I think about my legs as being strong, it is true, it is kind and it is helpful…because it motivates me to keep them that way!
It’s the flaws and the strengths that make them mine.
And make them beautiful.
IN THE PAST, I noticed the little lines that show up around my eyes when I smile and I wished they weren’t there.
NOW, I think how lucky I am to have people in my life that make me smile every.single.day.
IN THE PAST, I thought about how big my hips were and wished that some day I could wear a size 2 like the models in the magazines.
NOW, I embrace the fact that I’ve worked my way down to a size 8 because I know it’s the right size for me. I am proportionate. I have muscle. I am balanced… I can #movemore and #enjoylife because I am healthy and strong. I am not a stick figure and there is NOTHING wrong with that.
View negative thoughts as wasted space,
and choose to replace them with positive ones.
Stop picking yourself apart.
Stop focusing on your flaws.
Start finding things that make you proud.
Start embracing who you are NOW.
It will change your life for the better.
And sometimes, especially after vacation,
I just need to remind myself of that.
PS. Big thanks to my hubby who always makes me feel beautiful 🙂