**Written on April 22nd 2017**
When I was finally weight-restored (and proved able to maintain a healthy weight), I was cleared for exercise after a 6-month restriction.
All I could think about was how out of shape I was, obsessing over what exercises would tone my arms, define my core, lean out my legs. Every day I would come home from school, change into my workout clothes, eat a snack, and head into my basement gym to… take “pre-workout selfies”.
Yup. Every. Damn. Day. 10 to 20 pictures, me posing the mirror picking myself apart. I told myself they were progress pictures, that what I was doing wasn’t disordered but the complete opposite. I WANTED to change, I wanted to be strong and healthy and I thought recording my progress obsessively would get me there.
But we all know how the obsession storyline goes.
After each workout, I would return to the same mirror and pose again, looking for instant changes in my body’s composition. I would take picture after picture, spending at least an extra half hour after my workout to do so. Then later at night I would lay in bed editing them, playing with filters and zooming in pathetically to see what needed to be “fixed”.
Sometimes my days were even determined by the quality of my photoshoot. Did I like the way this afternoon’s pictures came out? My stomach looked better today than yesterday, right? The rest of my day would be bright, I would feel happier and more accomplished, as if I were making huge strides.
The next day, my stomach didn’t look ideal. I wasn’t happy. That night, I was miserable, angry, what had I done wrong?
This vicious cycle went on for months, until it wore me down. I was too tired to care anymore. This was so miserable. I was obsessed with how my body looked, and judging my character, my disposition, my abilities, my character, all on an outward appearance that will never be 100% in my control anyway.
I was sick and tired of obsessing over my body, over what I didn’t like about it. I knew I needed to take action. I was sick of pitying myself and decided to take some critical steps towards distancing myself from my outward appearance. Some practices that worked for me were:
– Quitting the workout selfie game. This was extremely essential for me because of how obsessive it became. Honestly, I haven’t taken a selfie of my body at the gym in…I want to say 6 or 7 months. It just doesn’t even cross my mind anymore. That’s because of the second practice I implemented, being…
– Constantly reminding myself of all my body can DO. How smart and capable and deserving it is. Every day, I took time to thank my body for allowing me to build strength, to enjoy life again, to be alive. Dispelling irrational thoughts about your appearance can be tough, but the key is to be consistent. Expose your irrational thoughts by saying them out loud. This always, ALWAYS helps me realize how silly I’m being. Personally, I’ve always had discomfort regarding my stomach. To me, it was always “tubby”, and this translated into people seeing me as “lazy” or “weak” because I didn’t work hard enough to sculpt it to toned perfection. I would take this thought, and say it out loud. In the mirror. Watching and hearing such an ignorant and outright STUPID expression made me realize that I was being irrational.
-Making choices that benefitted how my body functioned instead of working for aesthetic goals. I’ve always been an athlete. I’ve always appreciated a thorough sweat and strength building. I had to revoke that mindset. I realized that recently I was working out to look a certain way. You have to shift this focus. Workout because it makes you stronger, it benefits your body and mind. The rest will fall into place.
-Put your trust out there in the world. Don’t be afraid to make changes that you know are best. I had to trust that taking care of and loving my body from the inside out would give me my best life. And what do you know? Here I am.
My quality of life rests in how I take care of my body from the inside out, not how it appears on the outside.
It’s funny how things work, actually. Once I stopped stressing my body and mind out regarding my appearance, my body began to go through changes that I was pleased with. I wasn’t inflamed or bloated anymore, which was likely a symptom of stress and obsession. This was around the same time that I made the switch to whole/fresh foods (for my internal benefit) from my gym-rat protein laden/toxic ridden intake (for my physical “gains”). This is no coincidence.
At first, it will be hard. If you have to take more drastic measures, DO SO. In the beginning, I did have to wear baggy clothing to work out to stop myself from picking out flaws. I did purposely avoid mirrors for some time, and the like. There is no shame in doing every damn thing you can to better yourself.
You are so much more than your body can show. Your life can be SO BRIGHT, so freeing, so stop beating your body up for not living up to some insane expectations you pulled out of thin air. Instead, step back, be grateful for what your body can do and how much it cares for you.
You only get one body, but you also only get one life. You might as well love your body, because loving your body allows you to love your life. You can’t love your life and hate your body, it just doesn’t work that way.
I can’t stress it enough. Just be GRATEFUL for your body, love it from the inside out.