When do you like your body?

As I mentioned in my last post my body image has been pretty pants the last while. I think this is a combination of things:

  • being weight restored and stable for a year now I guess I am finally realising this is my set point, the weight my body wants to be at. The reality of that kind of sucks as it’s not the weight I want to be at. It was easier when I ‘had’ to put on weight (once I got past the initial hell), but now just being at this weight seems harder- does anyone else feel like that?
  • my injury meant I couldn’t exercise for 4 weeks and then could only do gentle swims and walks for a further 6 weeks, which meant I had 2.5 months of not being as active as I would have liked. While amazingly this had no effect on my weight (don’t get me started on how that is possible) I’m now dealing with the consequences with being unfit and much slower than I was running. I know this will come back in time but for me right now unfit=fat.
  • I am now getting my period regularly which while fabulous in terms of fertility and bone health, sends me ED voice a little crazy every month
  • it’s coming into summer and I know there are clothes I’m not going to fit into. I did replace most stuff at the end of last summer but I still have some trousers which I bought at the beginning of last summer which I fear won’t ever zip up on me.

My nurse and I started talking about this at my session on Wednesday. I usually completely avoid the topic of body image as it makes me squirm. The moment we start talking about it I can feel my thighs expand, the flab under my arms start drooping and my stomach poking out for the world to see. I know this is not really happening but it doesn’t stop me awful and it inevitably ends in tears.

After resisting any kind of body image therapy stuff for years I’m starting to recognise that it’s something I need to address, and more so that it’s something I want to deal with.  I don’t want to pass on this body hatred to any future children (the way it was passed to my granny, my aunts, my mum, my cousins, my sister, me). I want to believe all I say about body positivity, and beauty coming from within and healthy at any size. I want to feel as okay about my body as I do about my person (my spirit? my soul? I don’t know what to call it!). In some ways I ooze confidence but bring it back to what I look like and I will be hateful towards myself.

My nurse suggested we start with identifying times when I do feel good about my body.She is pragmatic and realistic that the goal is not to love my body, or to like it all the time, but that I have to be able to live with it in a way that doesn’t result in me wanting to use behaviours against it, so starting with some times where I do feel okay would give us a baseline.  I thought about perhaps at the end of a marathon – but then I’m usually thinking maybe I could have been faster. At the end of a hike – but it only takes a moment in the bathroom for me to be giving out to myself about how I look in the mirror. When dressed up for a night out- there might be a minute where I think I look good, but the wrong light in the bathroom or a quick comparison to someone next to me and this will flitter away.

It struck me as very very sad that I couldn’t find an answer to ‘when do you like your body?’ She asked me what would happen if I stood in front of a mirror for long enough, and I told her honestly that this would result in self-harm. She looked at me to see if I was exaggerating and I just welled with tears and confirmed I had the scars to show this outcome. I told her I can’t ever imagine feeling any other way but this, and she said she can’t make any guarantees but will work with me to see what can change, and that we would start with me learning how to be compassionate to my body as it is right now. This is the body I got, this is the body I was blessed with, I got dealt a good healthy one, I know that. It’s time to change my relationship with my body- I don’t know what this will look like but I can only try. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes- and would love to hear any thoughts you have on ‘when do you like your body?’ (hopefully in a little while I’ll be able to add to this list!).

 

 

 

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10 thoughts on “When do you like your body?

  1. This sounds like really go work that you are doing!! This takes strength …which u have ❤️
    Btw. The period thing is hard for me too. But I found this medical article that said the reason we bloat is because our urterous expands to twice its size. So it’s. It fat. Remembering this helps me each month
    Good luck and thanks for writing

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  2. It sounds like you are ready to tackle the body image issue, which is good. I suspect that it will be hard work for you, but worth it in the end. So go for it! And good luck😊 When you do get pregnant, there will be a lot of changes to deal with during and afterwards. It’s amazing that your body can produce a separate living human being, but I haven’t had an ED and actually came through pregnancy fairly unscathed, but stretch marks and droopy boobs…… Most of my friends have described a bit of negative self image afterwards! It’s all normal and we have to accept and move on, but I think that we all have this idea in our heads of what our body ‘should’ be like and even ‘normal’ people struggle sometimes. Reading your blog I was reminded of a bit in Christie welling tons biography ‘a life without limits’. She had an ED, probably not as bad as yours,but went on to become an amazing world champion iron man. She describes how she comes to appreciate her body for what it can do. The book should come with a health warning though ‘prepare to feel seriously inadequate’ I mean iron man, works for the poor/world peace etc. It’s a good read though. Sending you my love and strength xx

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    1. Thanks so much for the comment, I have read a bit about Chrissie Wellington but not her biography so that’s a great recommendation. Doing an ironman (doing, not winning!) is also on my to-do-list-for-life so her story definitely appeals to me. And you’re right, I should be far more fascinated about the fact that I may one day produce another human than the fact that I wobble a bit!

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  3. Deeper than ‘just wobbling abit’ though isn’t it? If it were simple vanity, I’d just get lipo. But the fact is, lipo wouldn’t be good enough either because I simply don’t believe I’m good enough and I’d then reset all the markers building up a new kind of mental prison.

    The only thing I like are my eyebrows and dark hair but even that’s now with one or two strands of grey which is getting right on my t*ts!!

    However, when I run/exercise, I can connect with body and for those small times in my day, I genuinely am grateful to my anatomy and physical strength that propels me along without need of a bike or car. I find that truly gratifying and awesome. Some times I’ll look at the road ahead which may be undulating and disappearing in to the distance and I think “I’m going to run that, my legs heart and lungs are going to take me all the way over there!!” and I find that pretty cool.

    The screaming voices of body dismorphia and fat-feelings have not disappeared for me either. At this time, they are loud, intrusive and stop me engaging fully with anything but I know its subtext. And at 41, I guess I am now fluent in what this language is expressing – I’m bored, lonely, restless, listless and full of existential anxiety. But this too shall pass, or so I’m told.

    Great post xx

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    1. You’ve made a really interesting point- if it was just a bit of wobble we could get lipo but I don’t think that would be enough- obviously I know it’s not all about my body but you’ve really made that clear to me that the feeling is more than that. I got braces as an adult as I had crooked teeth- it cost me a fortune but I have no regrets- they made me feel better about myself- but I doubt the feeling of fat could be taken away so easily. This makes me wonder why I exert so much effort aiming for this ideal body when even if got it I still wouldn’t feel enough.
      I’m sorry you’re hearing the negative voices so loudly too but it’s lovely to read about you feeling good when you run! I used to feel that way until I tried getting faster – I need to find my way back to it though. And yay for liking your eyebrows!

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  4. xx so good to read your posts MQR and I really like the sound of that nurse you’re working with – compassion all the way. I remember once hearing that the Dalai Llama said something along the lines of he isn’t always able to feel that he cares about everyone but that he could say that he cares about caring – so sometimes when I’m struggling I apply this to myself too – I don’t always have the mental/emotional/physical resources to care about my body but I care about caring and that is worth something! I like my body when I’m feeling love in my heart for the people and animals I care about! I like my body when I’m laughing, singing, dancing, teaching yoga and when I’ve got some endorphins in me from exercise…

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    1. I like that -caring about caring – that’s a good place to settle when things are tough. My nurse and I have an interesting relationship – it was always going to be hard switching from the one who left (who basically saved my life) and this one has a very different style but I’m getting used to it and she is challenging me in ways I haven’t been before so I appreciate that. I was going to just stop going a while back but we seemed to have turned a corner- I think being back on my meds helped that – it’s just no fun for anyone when I’m too down. I really wish I should share out my support though- I’m so lucky here in England- when I saw someone in Ireland I paid privately and still couldn’t quite get the support I needed. I really hope things work out for you soon. x

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  5. I started liking my body again after I gave my eating disorder to Jesus. He made me — body, soul, and mind — for a very specific reason that will bring glory to the Father and advance the kingdom of heaven.

    “For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body.” — Psalm 139:13-16a — NIV

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  6. Both you and your nurse have now posed a very perplexing question. And I sense your real struggle to answer it. While I have had a few months now without restricting, binging or purging, I still don’t fell like I’m recovered. I don’t love my body now, and as you’ve mentioned, that’s a hard thing when you’re not working out. But you know, I didn’t love my body *then* either. When I had beaten and depraved it. Here’s to hoping that we may all find things to love and appreciate about our bodies because, as you noted, we have been gifted with healthy, capable ones. Bless you!

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