Today, I’m finally going to be sharing all the ways my views on body image, working out, and food have changed.
A lot of people have asked me to chime in on body image, but I’ve been pretty quiet about it for a long, long time…for good reason, too.
I didn’t want to go about this all willy-nilly. I wanted to speak on body image when I felt led to do it—when I felt like my thoughts were really gathered around it.
Some people may agree with me about body image. Some people may not. But I’m not going to be that person who chooses to bury how I really feel in favor of pleasing others.
Full transparency? There was a long period of time where I didn’t talk about body image because I was afraid of what people would think about what I thought.
Now, I just don’t care. I’m going to be authentic and honest.
I have seen too many people curating their online presence so carefully in order to not offend anyone, and I am not going to be one of those people saying things you don’t actually stand behind because you want to appease other people.
Not only does that not actually serve anybody…it’s manipulative. I’m just going to say it for what it is.
If you’re sharing views and perspectives that you know other people are going to like, but you don’t actually agree with it, it’s manipulative. It’s not supportive. It’s just you being able to preserve how you’re being seen in other people’s eyes by lying to them, and I don’t think that’s fair.
I was lucky enough to grow up in a household with a fairly healthy attitude around food.
I learned how to eat intuitively early on. I’ve always been an intuitive eater, meaning I eat when I’m hungry and I stop when I’m full. I’ve never been that person who had to eat snacks while watching TV or had “bad habits” with food—which, honestly, what does that even mean—but basically, food and I didn’t have much of a battle growing up.
However, when I went to college, my body image changed. I started comparing myself to other people who had nice, toned bodies, and my relationship with food started to shift…not for the better.
I quickly fell into excessive exercising and excessive, unhealthy restriction around food, to the point where I was watching every single thing I ate. If I ate a piece of dessert, it would put me into a spiral.
So, I wasn’t in a good place with my body image. Most of my relationship to food shifted from eating for enjoyment and eating according to what my body wanted to eating to make sure I looked a certain way.
My workout regimen was the same way. It wasn’t about what made my body feel good; it was about having to look a certain way, which resulted in pushing my body to extremes for the sake of body image.
There was a time when I lost so much weight, I didn’t have my period for about three months. I went to the doctor, and she explained that I’d probably been working out too hard.
That was my wake-up call that I actually had to treat my body better.
However, I swung from one side of the pendulum all the way to the other. Instead of over-restricting and over-exercising, I enabled my own stagnancy around caring about my health.
Nowadays, I’m in a place where the way I see working out, the way I see food, the way I see my body image, is all about how my body feels.
With body image, for example, I’ve shifted from working out because I want to look a certain way to moving my body in a way that makes my body feel good.
Instead of working myself to the bone in the gym, I do a lot of yoga. I take a lot of walks. And I love the way I feel after doing those things.
Another note about body image: I think it’s almost become taboo to talk about having a desire for a different body shape or having a desire to lose weight.
I actually don’t think from that perspective. I don’t think weight loss is a bad thing. Nor do I think weight gain is a bad thing. When I went on antidepressants and started getting my appetite back, I gained some weight—and it made me excited, because it meant I was healing.
To me, there’s a difference between desiring weight loss from the perspective of having to maintain the image society wants and desiring weight loss because you’re aware of how you’d like to feel, and you don’t feel that way at your current weight.
That’s what it’s become for me, and I’m actually not going to apologize for it.
You know what else? I also feel that you can be somebody who upholds body positivity and loves all bodies while still desiring to look a certain way. I believe both can exist at the same time, but for a lot of people, it’s difficult to hold that duality.
I can look at somebody else’s body no matter their shape or size and celebrate them in that. But I can also recognize how I feel in my body and how I would like to feel, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
In addition, my relationship to food has gotten to a point where I just love to feed my body the things that nourish it.
To me, food is all about nourishment. You’ll hardly catch me eating fast food because it disturbs my IBS, and I don’t like the way it makes me feel. If I’m eating a meal and I can’t even do the rest of my workday because I have to take a nap because of how heavy the meal is, I don’t like that for myself.
I’ll let myself have a brownie from Trader Joe’s, or I’ll eat whatever I desire to eat, but nine times out of ten, it’s going to be made from fresh ingredients. You wouldn’t catch me eating a lot of packaged foods. But that attitude isn’t coming from the perspective of punishing myself. It just feels better to my body.
So, I cannot eat pre-packaged foods. I don’t know what it is about my body, but I can’t do it very often.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ll eat a Dorito. I’ll eat a cookie. I’m not shitting on Doritos or cookies or whatever and saying, “These are bad foods.”
I don’t believe in bad foods or good foods. I just have a level of awareness around my body and how my body feels that now there are certain things I physically can’t eat because of how they make me feel, not because they’re “bad.”
Do you see the difference? I feel like too many of us imprison ourselves and say, “That’s the bad thing to eat. You shouldn’t eat that.” And while that’s not a healthy thing to do, there’s a difference between that and knowing the things that leave your body feeling less than ideal and avoiding them.
We all can have different ideas of how we want to approach food and working out and body image, and as long as it’s supportive to you, I don’t think that’s a problem.
I’ve shifted and changed a lot of the ways that I see things, and I think it’s way better for somebody to share what’s actually true for them than to manipulate people into thinking they think a certain way so that they can save face.
It’s okay if you don’t agree with me. But this is what’s true for me, and I can say it without my nervous system going crazy.
I know there are people that think exactly like me, but maybe they’ve been too afraid to say something. Or maybe they’re afraid to have those thoughts. I hope by sharing this, it’ll help some of you feel seen, too.
Be sure to connect with me more on Instagram @theselflovefix. I’d love to hear what you thought of this episode and what your major takeaways were.
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