The Battle of Body Image
By tabbykerwin, May 16 2019 08:05AM
This week is #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek and this year the focus is on body image. I don't know about you, but I have had a constant internal battle with my body image; my perception of my own image, my desires for something different, my understanding of how people see me and my realisation of how no-one actually cares. There is only really YOU judging you.
I originally penned this blog 12 months ago and since then, I've cared for Simon with cancer, embraced grief following his death, piled on more weight, stopped focussing on me, started to lapse into being appalled by my own body, even though I was staying fit and training for the London Marathon and starting to concern myself with what others might think of my body image.
On Boxing Day 2018, just 6 weeks after Simon died, I started doing the right things again for my body. But I'll be honest, up until a few weeks ago, whilst I'd lost around 7 inches around my waist and a bit of weight, marathon training was hard and I hate the photos of me from that day. So, the day after the London Marathon, I vowed to myself to take on my biggest challenge yet; It is 'Challenge Me.' I'm putting myself, my welfare, my wellbeing, my health, my fitness ahead of everything because making myself strong makes me stronger for my son, others and my business and a few weeks in I'm seeing and feeling changes and back to being able to look in a mirror and find something positive each day.
But then I remembered what I already knew and had written about previously.... no-one actually cares and their opinions on my body image don't concern me. It just took a gentle shove and putting myseld first to remind me and for goodness sake, I ran a marathon last month so it's just another thing to be grateful tor my body for.
So, embrace your body image; it is unique and yours and marvelous and put yourself first to keep yourself mentally and physically healthy and start being grateful for all your body gets you through.
Enjoy the read...
Are you sick of lacking self-confidence?
Do you constantly worry that people are looking and judging you based on your size, shape, weight or fashion choices?
It’s crippling isn’t it? The anxiety and worry of what other people think about you or what they might be saying?
I’ve never been ‘skinny mini’ and the weight / size battle has been a constant one throughout my life. In fact, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t conscious of it and when it gets to Summer, well, that’s just a whole host of extra emotional baggage to deal with when it comes to considering wearing a swimsuit in public!
I, like many others I know have worked their way through the plethora of diets, advice and scientific surveys which tell you how to be thinner and I’ve listened to doctors babble on TV about BMIs and an early death if you don’t lose weight and had PTs shout at me daily for not losing weight, but you know what, if you weren’t sad enough about how you felt before, they all make you feel a whole lot worse due to the stress of trying to conform to the medical and social idyll. If your confidence wasn’t shot before, it sure as hell is now!
However, I had a eureka moment recently and it happened when I was in at a spa in Italy. Preparing to go, I went into the usual internal, personal meltdown of wanting to cover up because I was ashamed of my body (and not happy how I looked… ever …. wearing anything … and in honesty the end of 2017 was so flipping horrid I’d managed to pile a nice stash of weight on…FFS! Cue feeling even more miserable about myself!), but I got my sh*t together and off we went to the spa.
It was a gorgeous day and lots of people were lying around the outdoor thermal pools. I went to the changing room, got changed, felt unbearably self-conscious as ever, covered up my lower half with a sarong (jeez I hate my legs!) and headed to the poolside.
There’s something about being in Italy that always makes me feel happy, content and tranquil and the sunshine always helps with this. Maybe not just the sunshine but the gallons of water I actually drink when I’m there because it’s so warm! That’s just a healthier thing to do. Anyway, I digress. I popped in and out of pools being very self-aware and conscious of my body and size until it suddenly occurred to me that absolutely no-one was looking at me, no-one cared what size I was, there were so many people of all shapes and sizes just enjoying themselves, smiling at each other and chatting and that was it. The only person worried about what I looked like was me, that’s it, only me. No-one else had an interest at all.
This got me thinking, all this time I’ve been so hung up on what others think of me and worried they’re commenting on me, who I am and what I do and actually they’re really not that interested in me at all (apart from the actual nasty, hurtful people who are commenting and judging but they’re a whole other petty breed of people I need never to worry about because they’re still doing the same things, the same way whilst my life has moved on for the better and happier… but that’s another story for another day!).
This was a massive moment for me; the realisation the only person holding me back from being happy and healthy was me because I was so sure I was being judged by either people I know or strangers or those trying to make us conform to being the same size of skinny to tick the ‘this is what height and weight ratio you should be or you’re failing at life’ box.
The difference this realisation has made is huge. It’s made me happier because I’m not trying to compete or be something I’m not, I’m not continually feeling like a failure because I don’t lose weight and I’m not wasting time and energy worrying about something that doesn’t concern me at all ie. the opinion of others.
What it has made me do is reduce stress, take it easier on myself, make me happier and healthier because now I focus on a balance of getting fitter and eating and drinking the things I love (glass of red anyone?). It’s also made me not care about what size a label says and enjoy wearing something that makes me feel confident rather than stressing it’s not a size 10!
This has also extended to my confidence in my work too. Whilst I’ve been successful and constantly developing for a long time, I’ve been fighting demons of how other people judge me and what I do, and how they comment on it both publicly and behind my back has been both hurtful and crippling, making me suffer with stress, anxiety and worse (and yes, many of them actually were commenting…publicly… it wasn’t always in my head); but not anymore. That one small realisation that day at that spa and developing those positive thoughts has given me a whole new happier and healthier mindset to develop and flourish and most of all, have confidence in myself and what I am capable of.
Moral of the story? No one cares, other people’s opinions don’t concern you and if they are talking about you it’s usually out of jealousy or boredom. Love what you do and how you do it and most importantly, love yourself; if you can’t do that, how can anyone else?
Get your mindset right on this and you’ll be on a solid path to happiness.