It has been almost 13 long years since I last remember not hating my body. Thirteen years of yo-yo dieting, obsessive exercising alternated with intense laziness, nail-biting weigh-ins followed by deep depression, constantly pulling at my shirts, hiding under “flowy” tops.
My poor husband has heard it all, sometimes in one day’s time; from “I’m never eating again” to “Screw it. My body hates me anyway so I’m eating whatever I want.” I think one day he even caught me flipping off my stomach in the mirror.
But today? Today I got ready for the gym by putting on pants I haven’t felt comfortable wearing in, well, ever. I tied my shirt so that it wasn’t so “flowy”. And I walked into the gym and blasted through my workout without looking around at all the fitter women.
At this point you may be rolling your eyes and thinking, “Well good for you, you lost a lot of weight.” or maybe you’re even waiting for a big dramatic transformation picture. But I haven’t really lost any weight and I have no fancy swimsuit picture for you.
Because that’s not the difference that has caused me to feel better about myself. In fact, some of my measurements have actually gone up instead of down, a fact that 7 weeks ago would’ve sent me crawling under my covers for another day of self-loathing. The difference is this: I daily make the choice to not worry about my weight and focus instead on getting stronger and caring for my body.
Let me emphasize the word daily. This isn’t a change that happened one day last month and it has stuck around. No, thirteen years of self-loathing doesn’t go away with the flip of a switch. It is a daily choice. Most days I have to choose it over and over again.
It seems like a silly little change, I know. But that mindset has made all the difference.
Because I’m focusing on strength and health I chose foods that will nourish and fuel. My daughter challenged me to stop eating meat with her so I decided to do that for 8 weeks. I was calling my diet Paleo, but that’s really only true if Paleo includes lots of meat and vegetables and also peanut butter cups and ice cream. I’m filling my body with fruits and veggies and plenty of plant-based protein. I’m drinking water like it’s my job.
Look. I’m 33 and I have 3 kids. Five years ago I could decide to lose weight and accomplish it in a week. But after 33 years of taking advantage of my body, my body has staged a mutiny. It’s demanding consistency and determination like it never has.
And today I benched more weight than I could’ve 7 weeks ago. I sprinted faster and at a higher incline than I could’ve even last week. I came closer to doing an unassisted pull-up than I have in my life. I push myself now because I know I’m capable of more than what I’ve been giving, that my body will not collapse. I will not die. I can go to the gym and work hard for an hour and a half and then go on with my day.
If you struggle with body image like I do, can I challenge you to decide to get stronger instead of thinner? Faster instead of skinnier?
I promise you it will make all the difference.