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!).