Trigger Warning: In this post, I discuss mental health and body image. I would love nothing more than to inspire others to love themselves and hope that this is the only outcome of sharing my story.
I’ve really been giving myself a hard time today, so I thought I would reach out to the blogging community. I didn’t mess up at work. I didn’t get a failing grade on an assignment. And I didn’t hurt someone I love. I just gained a little weight.
I know a lot of women and men out there are hard on themselves for the same thing. We get busy, lose track of what we’re eating, exercise a little less often than normal. And we gain weight. I’m not talking about a large amount of weight. I’m talking about that 10 – 15 pounds that we gain every winter or every time we have too much on our plates (literally, I suppose). We don’t have to buy new clothes, but everything is a little snug. And that’s what happened to me. I’m not going through an emotionally trying time, but I certainly have a lot going on. And with my efforts to stay focused on work and school, I completely lost sight of self care. It took a few weeks for me to realize it, and now I’m realizing it all at once and I’m not giving myself a break about it.
But this feeling I am having–one of self pity and self hate–it’s what turns into more sadness and less confidence. And that can easily turn into a downward spiral. One I feel as though I have been on before. My struggle with my weight has been a lifelong battle with my body image and self worth. I never “let myself go,” as people say, but I sure was at risk to. I may not have been identified by other people as “overweight” or “obese,” but in my mind I was. And in my mind I had no control over my body. As a size 12, I compared myself to other people and I would spend hours every day critiquing myself for a number of things–my size, my inability to stick with a workout routine, eating all the “wrong” things. I got the idea in my mind that I was “gross” or “disgusting” and I let myself believe it for the longest time.
That all changed when I went away for a summer job and I was given the incredible opportunity to take back my health–mentally and physically. With the support of some incredible co-workers and role models, I got into an excellent routine. I was really healthy. I returned home and I was determined to stick with it. And I am proud to say that I did.
But here I am, eight months later. And I have lost sight of my routine and healthy lifestyle. But not by much. Just a few small changes and I’m back on track. But my mind is in my way. My mind is telling me I can’t. My mind is telling me I won’t. My mind is telling me that I have lost everything I worked for–all because I gained ten pounds.
I am more determined than ever to regain my healthy mind.
Because without a healthy mind, there is no way I can have a healthy body.
For those of you who have suffered with any sort of mental health, you know it’s not easy to talk about it. Especially when it comes to weight and body image, it’s easier to stay silent and fake confidence whenever you can. Faking confidence and staying silent left me unstable and unable to reach my health goals once before. I cannot push past this without being open about my struggle and leaning on those who love me for all my extra belly and jiggly legs. And the more I remind myself of my beauty and worth, the more comfortable I become with all the extra and jiggle.
The solution here is not simple to achieve, but it’s easy to say: I need to love myself despite all my flaws and all my setbacks. The setbacks and flaws don’t define me. My heart and passion and brain do.
So, I open my heart up to all of you. And I hope that you will pour love and words of encouragement into it by sharing your own stories and your own accomplishments.