For many years I struggled with a very poor body image. From an early age I hated my body, I was an early bloomer and developed the kind of curves that made me incredibly self centered about my appearance when it came to my shape. I developed an incredibly unhealthy relationship with food, and picked up some disordered eating behaviors that would last me for most of my developing years and some of my adult life.
The thing about having this sort of relationship with your body is that it doesn’t just affect your views on food. It affects your self esteem, your relationships, and the way in which you live your life. When I was a lone woman this was one thing, but once I had kids, it became clear that I needed to get a handle on these toxic patterns in order to set a good example, and enjoy life more.
Things like going to the pool or the beach and playing with your kids pose an issue when you are preoccupied with your physical body. I used to spend so much time hating my body that I struggled very hard to enjoy those experiences and moments with my kids. I spent many excursions in the summer uncomfortable, overdressed in an attempt to “hide” those bits of me I wasn’t comfortable with, which ultimately took away from enjoying those times with my family.
I gained 50 to 60 lbs with each of my pregnancies, and to say my weight has fluctuated through the years would be a massive understatement. I am no stranger to stretch marks, cellulite, dragging and hanging bits, and a feeling of disappointment and distress when I look in the mirror. However, in the past couple of years I came to a startling conclusion.
Those negative feelings that I had towards my body were doing nothing but taking away from my life. The same way they had taken away so much from my life in all the years past. The difference is, little eyes are watching me now, and the time I have as their mother is fleeting- I was wasting it focusing on the fact that I’m not aesthetically “perfect”.
The more I have worked on accepting my body and dropping this idea of “perfection,” the more energy I’ve had for actually living my life. This includes things like running after my kids, swimming, and spending lazy days at the beach. The more I can train my thoughts away from beating myself up based on my weight or appearance, the more I can turn my attention outwards, spending time with my family and noticing all the amazing things I have going for me.
So although it may seem like hating your body doesn’t hurt anyone but you, the truth is that it can take so much away from everyone in your circle. You have less to give as a parent, partner, or friend, but most importantly you have less for YOU. We’ve all heard that saying about putting on your oxygen mask first. Learning to love yourself is as necessary as breathing, can be life changing, and truthfully you deserve it.