Last week I said I’d talk about meal planning today but I got a heart-felt e-mail from a reader-turned-friend after last week’s post about exercise that changed my mind. So, we’re going to talk about body image – isn’t that what so many of our resolutions are about anyway?
After sharing her struggles over the years, this incredible woman ended her e-mail with this:
“So may I ask you HOW you came to accept yourself just as you are? If this is too personal I understand, but I would love to know.”
Good question. The answer is simple.
I tried all of the more complicated routes – insane dieting and workouts to make my body something it’s not, therapy (and lots of it!), that body spandex stuff I couldn’t breathe in but wore anyway, hoping to get sick enough to not be able to eat for a couple of weeks so I could finally loose some weight, and spending hours in the self-help section of the book store looking for that one book that would finally make everything alright.
None of it worked.
I finally came to a place where I was able to clearly see that I had two choices:
- Continue hating my body because it didn’t fit into society’s standards of what is beautiful, which clearly caused me to not like myself as a person
- Decide that the body I had was good enough for today
The ugly truth is that I didn’t like my body even after I was thin. I know, you’d think that loosing nearly 70 pounds and keeping it off would be enough. It wasn’t. I wanted my body to be perfect – curves in all the right places, a long waist that would look great with a wide belt wrapped around it, a flat stomach, no cellulite or spider veins, feminine hands with perfectly manicured nails, and feet that could appear in a Jimmy Choo ad.
All those years of trying to change my outside appearance were really about me feeling not good enough on the inside.
So, instead of putting on another pair of body shaping underwear in hopes that I’d look like Sandra Bullok and people would like me, I started trying to be the right person.
I made sure to smile and say hi to the greeters at Wal-Mart and let the little old lady get in line in front of me in the mile long check out lane.
When someone wasn’t behaving the way I wanted them to, I chose not to tell them about it. And, when I slipped up and thoughtlessly said something anyway, I apologized and did my best to be kind moving forward.
I showed up to work on time and worked while I was there.
When a friend had a problem on a morning when my to-do list was a mile long, I found time to listen and be supportive.
I paid all my bills before buying stuff I wanted, even my library fines.
If Joe was having a rough week at work, I did my best to keep things quiet and peaceful at home. Instead of trying to get him to do what I thought he should, I tried (and still do!) to get out of his way and let him be who he needed to be.
And, instead of running around trying to do what I thought everyone else wanted me to do, I started choosing to do what I knew in my heart was right. If I screwed up, it was my mistake and I owned it.
It didn’t happen overnight but eventually I could say to myself that I liked how I chose to show up in the world.
Once that happened, I could finally look in the mirror and say, “Though it’s not perfect, I like what I see and, more importantly, I like who I am.”
Yes – I still have my daily struggles with relationships, my purpose in life, and even just trying to get the grocery shopping and laundry done. And I don’t do any of this perfectly. But no longer do I try to fix my shortcomings by trying to look perfect on the outside.
Instead, I make being the right person a constantly evolving, perfectly imperfect, daily practice.
It works for me. What works for you?
Next Friday – Meal Planning and why it’s vital to living resolution free.