Hey Thrivers! – Today’s post is about body positivity, an issue that I believe hits home for a lot of us, especially myself. I have struggled with body image and body positivity for as long as I can remember. I wanted to share my journey with body positivity as maybe some of you can relate to this. Growing up, I for some reason always fought with the feeling of being the “big girl”. Even when I think back to being in middle school and high school I constantly teared myself apart for not having the ideal body even though looking back now I was not fat or living an extremely unhealthy lifestyle. Sure, I could have eaten better but again it wasn’t an extreme.
Cut through to my early 20s – I was diagnosed with PCOS. PCOS in short is a hormone imbalance and a common symptom of it that women may face is weight gain and having a harder time losing weight. This was the issue I ran into. I’m 22 yrs old, nearly 200 lbs with no logical reason to explain why I had gained so much weight rapidly. I was going to the gym everyday, eating well and having smoothies and salads, as well as getting enough sleep generally. However, stress was playing a big role in my life at the time due to financial reasons and personal relationship reasons. So you can imagine how all of this has contributed negatively to my own body image.
Now I am roughly 30 pounds lighter and closer to my goal weight but the problem still remains which is my relationship with my body. I still struggle with body image everyday even when I’m in the middle of a workout, I feel like I’m so far behind getting to a certain number and had been letting that define me. I used to tell myself “If I just lose 30 pounds I would finally feel good about myself”. But I’ve come to learn that the biggest challenge was not my physical self but my emotional and mental self. My relationship with my body is largely dependent on that aspect.
A major contributor to my negative thoughts is this constant need to compare. I found that I would obsessively watch girls online that had amazingly built bodies and would compare my body to theirs. One thing I have to remind myself often is that we are all at different stages of our healthy lifestyle. Whenever you catch yourself being critical of your body image, become aware of what triggers it because you will be able to reframe your thoughts as soon as you catch yourself. Remember, we all have a different journey and it will not match anyone else’s. The point is to keep going.
I remember a big stepping stone for me when I got started on my healthy lifestyle journey was feeling my body getting stronger. It was like a high I cannot put into words. I was recovering from a wrist injury at the time and was unable to workout properly because of it so I felt out of shape for months. Getting back on track and pushing my body progressively just made me appreciate it even more and love myself more. Make sure you are challenging your body a little bit each day progressively and acknowledge the little changes. You have to celebrate the wins, even the ones that seem small!
Another thing to remind yourself is the power within you. Things are much more easily accessible today which can lead to being consumed by the wrong perspective. It’s important to give yourself credit for the beauty within you. The characteristics that make you “you”. I heard an amazing quote which was that “Beauty is a state of mind, not a state of your body.” If all you had was the ideal body shape to offer to the world, then you’re just an empty soul. Remember that your exterior is not everything.
It’s important to break apart your current definition of what is deemed “ideal” or “beautiful”. Beauty does not have to be defined by the latest “trend”. Create your own definition of beautiful. Create your own concept of what a healthy body means and make sure it aligns with a healthy mind and soul as well.
Feed your body the right things and your body will thank you for it. Create positive affirmations of what makes you beautiful (remember mind, body, and soul) and repeat it to yourself daily if you need that daily reminder.
Having a positive relationship with my body and developing a healthy body image has been a long and hard journey for me. I think it’s something that will remain to be a journey because our bodies will continue to change overtime. We’ll have to learn to love ourselves in each phase. I made myself believe that I’ll wake up one day and have it all figured out. Remember to be aware of your own negative thoughts and eliminate them before they consume you. Remind yourself of the beauty within you. Although I think the biggest player in this is you, make sure you’re also surrounding yourself with positive people who are pushing you to be better everyday as well.
All photos courtesy of Unsplash