“It’s never been true, not anywhere at anytime, that the value of a soul, of a human spirit, is dependent on a number on a scale.” ~Geneen Roth, from Women, Food and God
On my vacation, the body image triggers came out. Big time.
Something about putting on a bathing suit, I suppose.
These triggers go way back. I think it all started in 3rd grade when someone told me I was chubby. From then on, I started writing down everything I ate and limited my list to only 5 items.
1 piece of toast…1 French fry…2 pretzel sticks…1 piece of pizza
If I went over 5 things, and as you can see they weren’t the healthiest for a growing girl, I would beat myself up, plan on doing better the next day, and starting over and over again.
This led to constant dieting pretty much all my life. South Beach, Adkins, low-carb, all carbs; diets that screwed with my mind not to mention my metabolism. I think I avoided bananas for 5 years because I never got out of Phase 1 in South Beach.
In my 20’s I hated my thighs and would slither into a pair of shorts over my bathing suit at the pool. I didn’t want people to see my butt. I guess I was what you call “skinny fat” and thought the whole world saw the jiggle.
After I had kids, I hated my stomach (and honesty time, this is still a big struggle for me). I gained 50 lbs. with both Kate and Jack and tried desperately to lose all the baby weight. Stroller Strides, running, triathlons… striving for a flat tummy. I weighed myself everyday, usually 3 times or more. I had a certain number in my head and if I weighed more than it, then my whole day was ruined.
Then I stopped eating.
Kate, being only 3 years old, noticed. “Mama, why aren’t you eating with us? Why don’t you sit down?”
Wake up call.
That’s not good when your kids start to see these things. And who knows what I was saying out loud about my body.
I knew it was time to zap the negative self-talk and get some help. It was a lot of hard work with group counseling and learning to switch my mindset; to rewire thinking that was embedded in my cells.
Instead of burying my thoughts, I learned to experience them. I constantly felt trapped and smothered with all the self-loathing thoughts that ran through my head. Slowly but surely, I began to make a switch, and now automatically when I get the “Ugh, I wish I was ________ or my _________ looks terrible,” thoughts, I stop myself immediately. I even say “STOP!” out loud.
Then tell yourself ,
“Thank you very much for letting me know. But I am amazing.”
Let it go.
That’s it, you say? I know…switching negative thoughts to positive feelings. Not easy. Nope…this is lifelong process.
I guess this tactic or trick is really giving yourself a break and embracing a new way of thinking. Being gentle with yourself. Forgiving yourself. Practicing this consistently, constantly, and with no judgement…it works.
Some days it’s tough, especially those bathing suit days. But after some time these negative thoughts will disappear as quickly as they came. I promise.
…I’m so much more than my body. I’m a soul with a body. I accept my body. I accept ME.
As for my Kate, a 9 year old, she’s starting to notice bodies….who is bigger, smaller, older, younger…
I make sure to tell her she’s beautiful every day. I make sure I tell myself, too. Really look into my eyes, deep into my soul, “Lisa, you are beautiful.”
I’m glad I shared my story with you. It helps me heal, and I am very hopeful that we can all learn to accept our bodies wholeheartedly. As I tell my clients, our bodies love us. No matter what number is on the scale.
View your body as a whole; not piece by piece. Your body pumps blood and breathes air to keep you alive. Your body keeps you safe. Your body loves you. Let’s give her love right back.
Gorgeous one, how do you show your body some love?
Share your thoughts in the comments.
*If you want to delve into this topic a little more, I recommend any book by Geneen Roth regarding body image and emotional eating.