I know I spend a great deal of time investing into my own personal body positive journey. I do this in small, sporadic bursts on social media, clad in a bikini claiming zero fucks given.
But what does body positive actually mean? And how did this journey begin?
Well, I imagine this translates into different things for different people.
Maybe it means you put on a bikini instead of a one piece, or… maybe you just put on a bathing suit for the first time altogether. Maybe you wore it to the beach and actually participated in beach-type activities like wading in the water, sitting on a beach towel basking in the sun, or building a sandcastle with the kids.
Perhaps your body positive journey involves leaving the house without makeup on. You’ve worn it every day of your life and now, you feel free enough to go bare faced into the grocery store.
For some, body positivity means posting a selfie without a filter.
Maybe you wore shorts for the first time.
Either way, everyone’s journey is going to look a little different.
For me, my body positive transformation looked a little something like this…
I was cycling through extreme dieting in order to lose weight for 8-week transformation competitions. I’d drop my calories and exercise in excess. I’d become obsessed with watching my body shrink in such a short period of time. Losing 20lbs in 8 weeks seemed realistic to me. (Narrator: it was NOT realistic, nor was it healthy…) I was weighing myself daily, and allowing that number to dictate my mood. I would take progress photos and compare them obsessively. I was weighing my foods and carefully tracking everything.
Here’s the thing: losing weight can be done in a proper way. When you do it for the right reasons, it can be done. Slowly, and without excessive restrictions… When you’re in a good mental state, and you aren’t desperate to lose weight in a short period of time – it can be achieved in a healthy manner.
I spent so many years fighting to lose 10-20lbs. I was literally killing myself over such a slight fluctuation in a scale number. Sure, during my first pregnancy I hit 205lbs as my “highest” weight, but I was also carrying a baby, and a placenta, and a significant amount of water weight. My lowest point, aside from childhood? 134lbs. That’s the lowest I’ve seen. And for some reason I spent a good part of my life trying to reach that holy grail of a number because in my mind it would validate my success.
I felt like my identity revolved around my fitness journey, and any regression in progress meant failure.
This, my friends, is what I call disordered eating. Yes, it’s similar to an eating disorder – but when you switch the two words around it has more of an impact. Eating in a disordered fashion might look like this:
1) punishing yourself for eating a “bad” food, or for eating too many calories
2) staying away from “bad” foods all together, instead of eating what you love in moderation
3) skipping meals
5) having any sort of negative emotions towards foods
This was me.
Food controlled my life. I had to step back from it all to re-set my mind and get comfortable once again. This meant eating in an un-controlled manner and accepting the changes to my body that came with it.
I started sharing my raw, unfiltered self with the world. I winced when I hit the “share” button of a selfie full of stretch marks and cellulite. It was uncomfortable, but it was honest. This was the real me. No holds barred. Just me with loose skin and curves for days.
It felt good.
I felt like I was unbuttoning my jeans and letting out my belly that I had been sucking in forever.
I started back at the bottom. I ate whatever I wanted and watched my body respond. Curves and rolls started to form, and the muscle I had developed started to fade. At first I felt lost. No one to update with my progress, no calories to track, no bikini photo comparaisons to take, or measurements to track. But then, slowly I grew more comfortable in my skin. The anxiety dissipated.
Then I started exercising again. No specific goals in mind, and no amount of weight to lose in particular. I was mindful with my eating – listening to what my body wanted. I cut dairy and gluten to help with my joint pain and skin issues. But I also ate when I was hungry – and if that meant peanut butter from a container, or coconut milk ice cream – then that’s what I ate.
After several months of lifting weights a little more consistently, I could feel changes. That’s what I looked for – a feeling. Added strength, and speed. A little less struggle with each repetition. I stopped looking to the mirror and the scale for confirmation of my progress. And it feels good not having to “check in” all the time.
My mind wanted to default to a progress picture, just for shits and giggles. But this time it felt different. I didn’t analyze, nor did I feel like it was a validation. I looked at it and thought, “Well neat. I mean, I feel better… so I guess this is just a visual reflection of the changes I feel inside. But yeah, cool!”
I didn’t feel like I needed to push harder to maintain, or change my calories. I didn’t feel anything. Just – me. I felt like me.
So here we are.
No goals, no tracking, and no specific body type that I am after. Just happy and healthy, of mind and body.
So I hope you choose to do the same, and prioritize your mental health over aesthetics. We are all ever changing beings; you just have to learn to roll with the tides. Being fit and healthy can mean so many different thing. So I hope you choose to be happy first. And that means being comfortable with where you presently are, and accepting yourself as is.
Just show up. Be awesome.
And for fucks sakes, live your life.