Hello, lovely people!!!! Hoping you’re all having a fabulous start to your week, and have thoroughly enjoyed the August Bank holiday, which ever so kindly provided us with what may well be, the least few glorious days of Summer ’17.
Over the course of the weekend, I’ve been doing some soul searching, and venturing deep into my inner most thoughts and feelings to lay bare to you, in my first proper blog post. I decided to give you guys a say on what you wanted me to talk about, over on my Twitter, and with over 50% of your votes, the topic of mental health was a clear winner. I’m really putting myself out there for this one, as the topic I’m about to delve into, in respect to my own mental health, is very much a work in progress, and something I have battled with, for as long as I can remember. It is something that I struggle with on a personal level, and something I have to confront on a daily basis with SO much mindfulness, so as not to create a negative mindset and self sabotage myself. – So easily done.. It’s also something I have never really opened up about fully, in fear of making myself vulnerable and appearing weak. However, the older I get, the more I understand that being honest, and sharing our struggles doesn’t make us weak, and may even be a beacon of hope for others going through a similar time. I was recently, having a heart to heart with my husband about how I felt about myself; how my perception of my self could change from one extreme to the other from one day to the next, and I generally found the whole thing quite ridiculous. I infuriate myself. I was having one of my very logical days and was painfully aware of how irrational I can be towards myself, but I still could not quite make sense of it. On this particular day I felt great, and very comfortable in my own skin, but the previous day, I had been in a fowl mood, and far from pleasant to be around. I felt frustrated with myself for telling myself unkind things about myself, that were total and utter nonsense, and allowing myself to believe it, and wallow on it for the vast majority of the previous day. I needed to vent, and as is the case a lot of the time, my sorting husband sat back, nodded, offered his two cense every now and then, and let me spill out my frustrations, leading to the question that he put to me, “do you think it’s some sort of body dysmorphia?”.. So, incase you hadn’t already worked it out, (title may just have given it away) I am going to be addressing the topic of Body image. If this resonates with you, if you too have struggled with positive body image, or looked in the mirror and felt a total disconnect to the person staring back at you, or felt pressure to look a certain way, I hope that you can take a positive message away from my personal experience that I am about to share with you; that it does not have to be like this, your body is SO worthy of your love, and if nothing else, you are not alone. So, here it is- My relationship with my body; the good, the bad, and the ugly, and my mission to actively pursue a healthier mindset, with more of a positive body image, to enable me to finally learn to love the woman in the mirror.
This journey has by far been the hardest. Harder than any diet (not that I ‘diet’ at all these days), harder than any physical training I’ve put my body through, and harder than any physical challenge I have endured. Self love is hard. It’s really really hard. I mean, some days it’s a walk in the park. But most days it is HARD. Self love is a war I have battled in my head, almost every single day of my life. I talk about the importance of self love a lot on my social media accounts, as I’m extremely passionate about it. I am only too aware of why it is so important to love ourselves. My goal is to implement as much self love into my life as possible, whilst inspiring you guys to do the same, and acknowledge that you deserve your own love and kindness. But the fact of the matter is, it’s not as simple as just snapping our fingers and suddenly loving our bodies. It’s not that easy. It takes discipline, and courage, and strength to rebel against a lifetime of negative thought processes, and constant due care and attention to the thoughts we allow to fill our minds. I for one, find my body a whole lot easier to control, than what goes on in my head.
My name is Alicia, and I am a chronic over-thinker. I have been known to get trapped in my own distructive thoughts for hours, even days, at a time. I am my own worst enemy at times. So, at the risk of making myself sound like a fraud, despite what you may have seen on my Instagram feed over the years, I am not an advocate of self love 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In fact, for someone who preaches about self love so much, I’m embarrassingly far from it.. You could probably pick through my Instagram feed and find several photos with inspiring captions that completely contradict this blog, and seem like nonsense after reading this, but the thing is, I do post honesty in everything I share online. However, some days my truth is different to other days. And I can guarantee that I posted those empowering, confident captions on the days that I truly felt I goddess. On the days I didn’t, well, as I said, this is something that until now, I’ve not really opened up about. I guess I didn’t think people would want to read about the hard days. Even writing these words down, and letting these emotions out, I feel like a weight is being lifted. Each day I am getting closer to making peace with me body, and I am making progress. I absolutely understand why I should love myself, and a lot of the time, I do. I really do. But more often than I’d care to admit, but less often than I have done I the past, I’ll look in the mirror, and not even like my reflection, let alone love it..
Some days I’ll look in the mirror and think, ‘damn girl, you look good.’ I’ll feel like I can take on the world, and I’ll feel sexy, sassy, and confident. I am my own motivation, and on these days I’ll feel like a super hero. These days are the best. They bring out the very best version of me. The positive, smiley, happy, fun to be around, infector of good vibes, Lisi. Then there are the doubt days. The days when I’m only too aware of my flaws, and the wobbly bits that certainly weren’t there in the spring when I was on a strict diet and training for 10+ hours a week. The days where I scrutanise every little thing, and my confidence is at rock bottom. These are the days that bring out the worst version of me. The Lisi who doesn’t feel good enough, who puts herself down, wants to shut the world out and make a impenetrable cacoon in her duvet and stay there all day. I’m lucky. I married the type of guy who tells me that I am beautiful, every single day. And on the good days, his words give me butterflies every single time. But on the bad days, those words are like poison, and the compliment can feel worse than an insult. Maybe that sounds crazy, but I’m sure I’m not the only one. Am I?! Maybe it’s a case of, when you get something really stuck in your head that you genuinely believe to be true, there’s no telling you otherwise. Us female are a stubborn breed.
Here’s the thing, I do actually know that I am not fat, nor ugly. I know that my weight is actually considered on the lower side of the healthy range for my height. (I also know that the BMI scale is a little irrelevant when you are building muscle mass.) But then I also know that I should expect myself to be on the higher end of the BMI healthy range, considering the amount of time I have spent weight training. And this sparks off a wave of thoughts that really throw a spanner in the works and mess with my head. These are the days when I’ve looked in the mirror and in my eyes, all I see is skin and bones. My reflection looks small, and weak, pale, and tired. I feel shapeless and ugly. I can’t see any of the hours I’ve put in at the gym over the years, and the positive changes in my nutrition haven’t made an impact, or so I’ll let my myself momentarily believe. So then I feel angry with myself for not making the right food choices to support a great deal of muscle growth in the early years of my training, due to a lack on understanding and knowledge. These days are probably worse than the ‘fat days’ , because these are the days where I feel disappointed in myself. As we all know, there’s not much worse than that gut wrenching feeling of disappointment; I know I’ve let myself down, and instead of leaving my mistakes of the past in the past, I pull them to the surface, and let them consume my mind, punishing myself for my own naivety.
Taking all the above into consideration leads me to question, does my significant other have a point? Is this perhaps some sort of body dysmorphia? Or is this perhaps more normal than I think it is? Will there always be that voice of doubt, trying to knock me down a few pegs? Or one day will something click into place, where I’ll wake up every single day, loving myself, and accepting all my flaws? I’d like to think so, but in truth, I just don’t know… I do know that I am a work in progress, and progress is being made. My bad days are getting less common, but every now and then, they do still creep up on me, and take me by surprise. All in all, my perspective of myself often leaves me feeling more than a little bewildered and confused.
I am on the road to recovery. Recovering from all the nasty, untruths I told myself, and unlearning all the unnecessary expectations and idealisations of what I believed a beautiful body was. Being body beautiful has nothing to do with your shape. It’s in your health. Do you feel physically able? Is your body able to facilitate you living a happy, healthy life? So, does it even matter if you’re a size 6, 12, or 20?! HELL. NO.
I am immensely proud of what my body has done for me. It grew and sustained a life for 9 months, and when the time came, it birthed my darling little girl. It provided me with the singularly most precious thing in my world. How could I not be proud of it?! I can pinpoint the moment of realisation that it hit me just how unkind I had been to myself, and it is with thanks to my daughter that I’ve finally been able to admit to myself that I have a problem, and give myself thhe opportunity to address it. I was awake at 4am on our first night back at home after giving birth, doing the night time feed with Rory. The world was quiet, and I was looking down at this helpless, perfect, little bundle, and my heart was SO full of love. I felt an overwhelming sense of pride like nothing I’d ever felt before, followed by a sudden rush of sadness, as I realised just how cruel I had been to my body over the years. I desperately willed and prayed that my daughter would never inflict such torment on herself. Ever since that moment, I’ve made a conscious effort to keep a close check on my thoughts, and reign them in when I see negative patterns creeping in. I need to be a positive role model for my little girl. It isn’t just about me anymore. I have a daughter who looks up to me, for guidance, and as an example. She is the ultimate motivation for me to take the control back, and be a positive influence in all aspects of her life..
That’s certainly not to say that I have it all sussed. Nor that from that day I feel love towards myself every time I am confronted by my reflection. My relationship with my body is a complicated one, and it’s one that I still struggle to understand. I know my body deserves love, and I want to wake up each and every day, celebrating her for all that she is.
I hope that my ramblings have made sense to you. Even if they haven’t, it’s certainly made me feel a lot better, opening up about my experiences.. Maybe for those of you who have followed me on my Instagram over the years, it sheds a little light. But I hope you can perhaps take away something positive from this. And if nothing else, just remember this; Losing weight does not cure negative body image. Gaining weight does not cure negative body image. The only cure for negative body image, is to learn to love yourself in all forms. It’s not going to be an easy process. But if we take it one day at a time, I believe we can get there. Some days we will win. Some days we will LEARN. On the not so good days, don’t take it as a loss, but instead as a lesson. Where did it go wrong? Why did I allow the negativity to spiral? What can I do differently next time? .. and together, we can do this.
Thanks for reading.
Lots of love