Happy new year folks!
The past 18 months or so have been good to me. I've regained a lot of the confidence I lost in the previous years (basically a huge chunk of my twenties), I'm happy in my job, and I still can't believe my luck when I think back on the holidays I've had exploring bits of the UK and Europe.
Part of getting my mojo back has allowed me to become a lot more content with the present and what I have, and to let go of certain toxic thoughts. A big part of this? Unfollowing people on social media whose content makes me feel bad about my body.
I get it: for some people, seeing photos and videos of gym selfies, sculpted bodies, progress shots and pithy quotes is motivating. External motivators can be useful! And I don't think it's wrong to want to look a certain way. I still have a few friends in my feed who post quotes and progress shots, and for now I'm ok with that -- it's their journey, and I'll do my best to just scroll on by. But for me, I'm over the constant comparisons to others -- I need the motivation and inspiration to come from within. I still want to shift some body fat because I don't feel like I'm at my best health. But I've become much less focused on what I look like; I'm now more focused on what my body can do.
I've never been much of an athlete, but I have always been fairly active. I think it was even what kept me going at my lowest points -- I'd always try my hardest to make it to team games, and I still get a wee bit emotional when I think about some of my yoga sessions which were, in a word, transformational.
For about four months towards the end of 2015, I worked with Tel, an amazing trainer (who's also a fitness model but since he's a massive dude I'm way less likely to compare myself to him. Guy is CUT though). As a result, I'm a lot more confident in the weights area in the gym, and I'm proud of what I've now achieved. I can deadlift more than my bodyweight! I can do actual press-ups on my feet! Although press-ups plural is maybe stretching it a bit -- I can do, like, a handful. But I couldn't do any six months ago!
And just quietly, when I was at the doctor's the other week for a worrying cough, he took my vitals and complimented me on my BP and heart rate. Is it weird that I'm proud of that? I don't care.
I think everyone deserves to be happy with the body they have, regardless of their activity levels or food intake, whether they're fat, thin, a little bit lumpy, or, you know, just NOT SHAPED LIKE A VICTORIA'S SECRET MODEL. It's funny that it's a radical thing, that fat people can be happy and healthy, or that thin people can have invisible illnesses -- I won't go into it, but I would highly recommend Everyday Feminism for discussions on body image and other issues. I particularly like this comic on judging health by appearance and their (timely) piece on 50 body acceptance resolutions.
The thing is, I've lost a load of weight before, and I was just as unhappy as I was before I lost the weight. Losing weight wasn't a magical solution to all of my problems; in fact getting to that point had me rebounding -- hey presto, all my weight's piled back on, and my head is still as fucked as ever! I've come to realise that it's important to sort my underlying issues out, unpack the complicated relationship I have with food and my body, and get into the scary parts of working on my mental well-being before I go doing other stuff.
I could definitely stand to put more nourishing things into my body -- less cake, more greens -- although sometimes cake can be a nourishing thing too. And that's the thing: it's about taking care of the body that I have and giving it what it needs, and sometimes that body needs a cupcake. I've found that the more accepting I am of what my body is, and the more content I am in myself, the better, less destructive choices I make when it comes to food. I still load up on "treats" when I feel bad, but I'm getting better at realising that eating an entire bag of chips won't necessarily make me feel happier or make my problems disappear.
I still have days when I say hateful things about my body, join in on the bullshit women say about themselves regarding their fatness, or point out my flaws before someone else can. I still constantly compare myself to other people -- my self-esteem is a work in progress, and probably always will be. Maybe one day I'll be able to look at photos of perfectly sculpted bodies and say "you do you" and scroll on by without any reflection on myself. But for now, I've unfollowed the fitspiration, "strong is the new sexy" (that's not helpful either), bikini body babe accounts, and I'm working on being my own motivation and inspiration.
I hope you don't mind me going off-piste a little bit. No makeup talk today! But my relationship with beauty products has always been about using makeup as a way of enhancing and expressing myself, rather than obscure the parts of my face that I hate, so I feel like body image talk has a place here on the blog. This has been a little scary to write, but I hope there are bits that you've maybe found useful or have identified with. Happy 2016, if you're into all that new year new start stuff! If not, as you were.