I’m very aware that the internet is saturated with body positivity posts these days but this isn’t your average ‘love yo self’ / ‘you’re beautiful the way you are’ post. My relationship with body positivity has been a rocky one and it’s such a prominent part of my life that I couldn’t not talk about it on this blog. Plus, there’ve been so many great articles that’ve given me advice in times of need that I’d love to be able to help someone along the way.
The past year has been pivotal in changing my mindset towards my body. Since about 14, I have struggled to accept what I see in the mirror and like so many girls (and guys – I see you too!) I
have had such an unhealthy, warped outlook on food and my size. I have tried every diet imaginable. I’ve been very overweight and very underweight. I have spent 90% of my adult life counting, pinching and measuring. Now, 10 years since it all began, I am FINALLY getting somewhere.
Don’t get me wrong, I still go through patches (especially during mother nature’s visit!) where all my positivity goes out the window. I’ve lost 12lbs since the photo above was taken and I’ll admit I feel uncomfortable posting it… but that’s why I made myself do it. Loving your body is a choice and working towards this, for me, meant facing a lot things that made – and still make – me uncomfortable. Like posting this bikini pic.
I remember feeling so conscious when that photo was taken. I was on holiday for the first time with Jack’s family and I felt huge. I was so embarrassed. I remember literally dying on the inside when the camera came out. We were in Benidorm for a week – spent drinking and eating, obviously – and I was convinced I’d put on about a stone when we got home. I felt huge all holiday – like I was getting fatter by the day – and yet I’d only put on a pound. I spent the whole week feeling crap about myself and yet now I look at this photo and think there is nothing wrong with me.
Last year, I had a moment. I was so bored of eating salads all week just to have a glass of wine (or three) at the weekend. I was bored of counting calories and counting ‘syns’ (Slimming World ruined me – more on that another day). I was bored of low calorie breakfast bars and only being ‘allowed’ 30g of cereal because obviously 31g means weight gain. I LITERALLY got to a point where I felt bad about eating ONE Malteser. I spent the whole day obsessing because of it. And that was the turning point for me. My A-HA moment if you will.
My mind went what the f? You’re going absolutely mad. Aren’t Maltesers half air anyway? I knew my mindset wasn’t normal and this was not a sustainable way to live. I was making myself and everyone else miserable. I needed help. (I promise this post takes a positive turn…keep reading!)
I went to the doctor and was signed up to Medway Talking Therapies – CBT therapy but plot twist, you complete it online. No awkward, clinical rooms but my comfort zone and a laptop. I didn’t think typing to someone over a computer could help this monster of a problem but my god, was I wrong. Through this, I was given weekly tasks and goals that, over a period of time, would arm me with techniques to beat down the negative self talk that drives us to hating our own bodies.
I’m going to share these techniques with you because lately I feel like I’m kicking this monster’s ass. It takes time and practice, but even if one tiny comment I make in this post helps one of you to feel stronger or less alone, we’re winning!
The Award Ceremony Exercise
I found this really effective. The next time you’re feeling rubbish about yourself, take a moment to visualise this… You’ve achieved something incredible and an award ceremony is being thrown in your name. 3 people you love dearly are going to make speeches about you in front of a crowd of people there to celebrate your success.
Think about your best friend. If you had to note down all the things you love about them, the unique things that make them them what would you write? I can guarantee it’d be things like their kindness, their humour, the way they always seem to buy you the perfect birthday present. Your best friend probably isn’t your best friend because she’s a size 8 or has great abs. What do you truly value about them?
Now think about what people might say about you – 3 people giving speeches about your quirks, your life and your achievements. What makes you you? What would you want people to say about you?
I found this exercise really helpful because more than anything, I want to be thought of as positive, fun and free-spirited. And yet my obsession with losing weight meant that not only did I feel terrible about myself and so less likely to want to go out, socialise and be happy – but it meant I was turning down opportunities to eat out and ‘catch up over wine’ – things that would most definitely have bought me joy and memories to treasure.
Whenever I have a little wobble, I think of my award ceremony and my values. Are my actions moving with my values or against them? How can I channel this negativity in to something that will help me be more like the person I want to be?
Similarly, when you’re 90 years old and you look back on your life what do you want to remember? Will you wish you hadn’t eaten that tub of Ben & Jerry’s with your bestie whilst watching the Notebook? Will you wish you hadn’t gone out for dinner with your boyfriend because you felt fat that day? I doubt it. You’ll wish you’d lived your best life, been your happiest self, gone on more adventures and enjoyed every precious moment.
I hope it helps – more techniques to ‘beat the monster’ coming soon.
Love, Siân x