Sometimes, Things Just Get Real

I’m feeling especially honest today, so I’m going to go ahead and do what I do best: say the thing you’re not supposed to say.

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Last week, Lindsay wrote about some of her struggles with body image and not wanting to look like a little girl. I can certainly relate to this. When I was injured this past winter and couldn’t run for 6 weeks, I was miserable, and my body image was miserably low. I tend to be incredibly hard on myself as it is, but when it comes to my body, I’m especially harsh. If I’m not living up to the (probably very) unrealistic ideal I’ve set for myself, I feel like a failure. And my self-confidence is basically non-existent. 

In Lindsay’s post, she talked about how her mom asked her if she wanted to look like a little girl, i.e., do you want to be skinny and flat-chested and have no curves??? In theory, no. Women are supposed to have curves!

But when I really think about it, a tiny voice in the back of my head looks down at her feet and wrings her hands and says . . . yes. Somewhere along the way, I went from someone who worked out to be fit and healthy and ate when she was hungry to nourish her body to someone who tied her self worth to being thin. 

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Somehow, I’ve gotten my body confused with my identity. Let me explain what I mean. Rather than my body image being a secondary element to who I am, it somehow shifted into being all-consuming. Every bit of self-worth or self-loathing has become attached to whether or not my thighs touch or my stomach looks bloated or my triceps jiggle. The way I feel about myself has somehow gotten attached to whether or not I’ve worked out, how hard I feel I’ve worked, and how much or how little I’ve eaten. Not an easy thing to admit to myself, but sometimes you have moments in your life where things just get real. This is one of those moments.

Logically, I know that I’m so much more than the size of my jeans, but the negative thoughts are so pervasive that I’m having trouble escaping them. Rather than resetting my body clock with regular, reasonable workouts and healthy, moderate portions, I’ve been comforting myself with unhealthy food and overexercising to try to compensate. It’s a horrible, vicious cycle–one that I desperately need and want to break out of. 

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I’m not saying this to get sympathy or even to make some pledge that I’m going to immediately turn things around. But I guess I just wanted to put this out there because I don’t think I’m the only one. It seems like there’s so much pressure to accept your body and be healthy and happy and fit and confident and sometimes, no matter how great the rest of your life may seem, you just don’t feel it. These struggles are real, so why not be honest about them? 

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Now, of course, I’m saying all of this a little tongue in cheek, peppering this post with self-deprecating ecards to lighten it up a little. But really, it’s something I want to fix. I might talk about it again. I might not. But in the meantime, I appreciate my lovely readers who are willing to listen. XO

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44 thoughts on “Sometimes, Things Just Get Real

  1. xxxooo. It happens to all of us. And sometimes talking about it is what you need to start turning it around. I know you can get back to your routine, you’re just so clobered with life changes right now, it’s hard. Love you!

    • That is some truth–life changes seem to compound everything, don’t they? Love you back! Thanks for being such a great support system!! XOXO

  2. i think just about everyone can identify to this in some way/shape/form. i know i definitely have body issues, and i definitely eat like crap and then overexercise to compensate instead of just eating healthy and moderately working out. you’ll get where you need to be. and when you need support, i’m just a text or phone call away. xoxo love you!

  3. It’s SO easy to get caught up in this vicious circle.

    I really had serious body issues in my 20s (I really don’t know how Dan put up with me!) and it wasn’t until I had kids (i.e. – when I realized that my body could do MUCH more than I ever imagined) that something clicked and realized that people DON’T value me for what size I am, how healthy I eat, and how much I workout. Nope. They like me just as I am! How Bridget Jones of me.

    I’d love to say I don’t feel that way any more – but like you said, every now and then it creeps in (especially when you go on 4 vacations in 6 months and eat/drink more than you think possible!) and I have smack myself.

    This is a long-winded way of saying – I am always here for you! If you ever need a self-esteem boost let me know because you are one awesome, good lookin’ lady 🙂

    • That is very Bridget Jones of you!!! 😉 I think it happens to the best of us–and I’m surprised even that it happens to you because you have such a healthy attitude! But thanks for the kind words and for being a fantastic friend. You’re right–I don’t value you for your body (that sounds weird!) but for who you are as a person and the friendship you bring to my life! Good to remember! XO

  4. I’ve been struggling with this as well for sometime. I’m always equating my self-worth to my body. Lately I’ve been reading some books to help me learn to reframe it and think of it differently. If my body was “perfect”, and I wasn’t me, I wouldn’t magically have everything else I have or everything else I wanted… But for some reason, that irrational belief prevails.
    It makes me so sad that this problem is so common in our society. And it’s amazing how much we have all internalized the equation of self-worth = body image. By amazing, I mean, amazingly unfortunate.
    Great post. Really honest, open and it didn’t sound like you were reaching for sympathy at all. It did however, make me feel less alone in this process and struggle. THANK YOU.

    • Sorry to hear you’ve been feeling the same thing. It’s the worst, isn’t it??? And I agree, it is amazing/sad/ridiculous that so many of us feel this way. Sometimes I wonder if everyone else is just really well-adjusted and I’m the only one??? I know that can’t be totally true, but no one ever talks about this stuff!

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      • Absolutely!!
        The first one was “The Rules of Normal Eating” by Karen Koenig. I’ve read similar books before and they didn’t click for me the same way this one did. I actually put it down the first time and came back. So glad I did!!
        The other one is “When You Eat at the Refridgerator, Pull Up a Chair”. by Geenen Roth. A different book of hers had been suggested to me, but this was the one the library had available, so I just went for it. 🙂 It’s really good as well. I will be purchasing it!
        Hopefully these help you as well!

  5. ok, this post could not come at a more appropriate time! I have dealt with food/body image my whole life. finally, now when im at my healthiest, this injury happens. im scared to dealth about losing all my running strenth, gaining weight, losing muscle..but i remind myself that i need to eat healthy to grow bones, repair ligaments and keep my mind happy. i have reduced my caloric intake considerably but im also not running 27 miles a week!

    My trainer in Houston convinced me that in order to get faster, build muscles and have energy – I needed to eat properly and have rest days.

    i want you to be happy, healthy and planning your visit to come see me soon girlie!

    xoxo from Trinidad

  6. katiemoves says:

    Oh so glad you wrote this! This is such a vicious cycle that I get into too… I hate it. Ill say things like you better go run 5 miles and lift because you ate that now… And it’s sick! Sometimes just refocusing myself.. And writing helps mento remember its not the end of the world!!!!!! Body image can suck but focusing on what you love can help. And do the exercises you enjoy- not cause its the one that will just make you skinny! Thanks for writing this post 🙂

  7. I think everyone’s been where you’re at now. There’s a difference between feeling a little guilty about eating something not so good for you and feeling like it’s a reflection on your self worth. It’s a hard cycle to break, but sometimes just reminding yourself that you’re so much more than your outward appearance (even if you don’t believe it) can help you feel a bit better.

  8. You nailed this. This whole post is a lot of my ED voice, a lot of it. It told me to be thin and I just accepted I would never be that full figured womanly type. I think it made me believe that. Gosh, there is so much I want to say to this but I guess the only thing that can come out is I relate. I know a lot of my recovery has been to accept my body how it wants to be. Even if that is not what my ED wants it to be. Great post, absolutely love it. You are so strong and that strength shines through this post.

  9. I so appreciate your honesty in this post, Melissa! It’s tough to talk about body image in a world where we’re all ‘supposed’ to be effortlessly perfect and self-confident young women (!), but it isn’t an effortless process. My recommendation is to limit weighing to once a day or every other day and look at some pictures of yourself at various weights and times in your life — you might be surprised to see that you’ve ALWAYS been yourself at every point in your life. Sounds funny, but you know what I mean? We aren’t just a body — we’re soooo much more! Transitions also tend to be a time when we scrutinize ourselves even more because it gives us a sense of control. Anywho, it’s a process. Thanks for sharing!! ❤

    • What’s funny is I DON’T weigh myself–ever. It’s makes things exponentially worse for me. But you’re right–I’m still me, at any size. And I tend to look especially horrible when I’m in these phases of beating myself up. Great idea to look at pics! XOXO

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      • Very interesting that you don’t weigh yourself. ! I wonder if it might be comforting to just stay within a certain range and weigh yourself once in a while to make sure you’re staying around-ish the range? Just an idea, but if the scale makes it worse then by all means forget what I said, ha! 🙂 xoxo

  10. It’s amazing how many people struggle with this. Myself (definitely) included. Sometimes I feel so alone in these thoughts, and I wonder why women aren’t more authentic. I also know that my worth is not tied to the scale..but I can’t escape the scale something, or the self punishment that I feel driven to inflict on myself, especially when the scale does not cooperate. This post (and your previous post) are SO honest and SO appreciated!! The more we talk about these things, the better I feel about my own thoughts and then my head doesn’t seem like such a scary place anymore (if that makes sense!) you rock.

  11. Thanks for sharing such an honest and personal post, I appreciate that as much as all the someecards 😉 But seriously, this is an issue I’m becoming very aware I struggle with so it’s interesting to see your story and your readers responses. We’re clearly not alone.

  12. thank you so much for sharing this! i can absolutely relate to more ways than one, and i know it’s not an easy thing. even though i knew it about myself, i didn’t change much up until a couple months ago when it came to realizing i wouldn’t be able to have children if i didn’t get my act together. email me if you want/need to chat! hugs to you! xoxo

  13. This is a really great and honest post.

    It is really sad that we women (maybe even all women?) always have the issue of weight at the back of our minds. Like whatever we put into our mouths we have to think, oh wait…how many calories are in this? It’s really effing annoying, but you’re right, I don’t know one single person who doesn’t struggle with it.
    I think I have a pretty good body image, have accepted that I will NEVER be thin (and I really am happy with that – I do like my body, for the most part), and I think I have a pretty good relationship with food… but these thoughts still creep up on me. My last post was about how terrible I have been eating lately, and how sporadic my workouts have been, and how I am probably going to be 400lbs soon if I don’t cut it out.

    Anyway, I don’t know where I’m going with this, but I admire you for writing this, and I hope you can break free of the skinny thoughts, and at least keep them at the BACK of your mind and not the front. There are so many more productive things to be concerned with.

    • SO right, but easier said than done, no? I think it helps to talk about it, though, instead of being all la-di-da looking at the birdies and all that, ya know??

  14. Of course you’re not the only one thinking this way. But, at times, it can seem that way.

    I went through a vicious, awful cycle of eating/overexercising/calorie counting in college. I never let myself enjoy food. Even when I did overdo it on a box of Pop-Tarts, I hated every minute of it. It’s something I’d like to talk more about one day, but for now, I’ll live vicariously through your post.

    Kudos for putting it all out there today.

  15. LOVE you Melissa! Thank you so much for opening up about your struggles with this. Trust me, I know where you are coming from! I’m always here, even just to lend an email account to vent to haha. You are a beautiful woman and I really hope that we will be able to see ourselves how others see us and truly appreciate the bodies that we have!

  16. Jessica says:

    long time reader, first time commenter. both this post and Lindsay’s really hit close to home, but I think in a different way than most readers.

    I am one of those girl (women, I should say now that I am a mere month away from 22) who IS built like a ‘little girl’. At a hair under 5’9, I never considered myself a ‘small woman’, but recently I have come to terms that I am small framed. I weigh 120 lbs on a heavy day (lots of water/ steak, heavy foods & minimal sweating), have a 31 A (perhaps even smaller, thank god for padding) bust, and i like some room even in my skinny jeans. I do have a muscular (for my frame) butt and thighs, yet I am still size 25/26 jeans (read 0/2).

    But, as I graduate from college, am I surrounded by women both my age and older (ranging from 24-60’s) in the workplace, my gym, my running trails, etc. who have DEMANDED why I am so small. I run half marathons because I like the freedom running gives me, I eat healthy (80% of the time) because it makes me feel good, my hair shiny, my nails less brittle. I am not vegan, vegetarian, gluten free or any other restrictive diet. I still get my period (not sure if naturally, since I am on birth control) and my doctors concur that I am healthy and athletic… my small frame is NATURAL.

    I have increasingly been the recipient of comments about my weight, my eating habits, my exercise habits and am constantly accused of restricting, being neurotic, type A, and ‘refusing to admit that women should have curves’. I would do almost ANYTHING to have a larger bust and to feel like I have a ‘womanly’ shape, I have broken down sobbing in my car after these comments, searching for plastic surgeons to fix my ‘unwomanly-ness’. I feel as if strangers feel like it is acceptable to tell me that I do not stand up to their view of femininity. Thank god I have elfish, feminine facial features or I would be constantly in tears. Please stop the hatred/ disproval of ANY body type. I think reverse discrimination is just as rampant. It hurts us ‘little girls’ just as much.

    • I’m so sorry you took offense to this post! I don’t get upset with anyone for their body type and certainly would never criticize another person’s body. In fact, quite the opposite! I am much harder on myself than anyone else.

      Anyway, I hate to hear that you are struggling and hope you find peace within yourself. That’s what counts most, my friend! XO

      Connected by DROID on Verizon Wireless

  17. Sandra says:

    I can completely relate to this post. After getting out of a long-term relationship, I got way more physically active as a way to cope with stress and generally feel better about myself. I also became somewhat obsessive about my diet, also as a way to cope with all the changes I guess (I got a new job at the time of the break up). However, the thing that was really enjoyable at first, suddenly became stressful when after 6 months I realized I had dropped from a size 12-14 to a size 2-4. It was INSANE the amount of comments I would get from people at work who never really talked to me before and would come up and tell me I looked amazing and how did I do it and was I starving myself (ha! ha!, *wink*), and yada yada yada… It felt like sooo much pressure. Not only to try and maintain the weight loss for me, but for everyone else in my unexpected/unlikely cheering squad. It has been a rather bizarre experience to say the least.

    I know however, that I have some serious emotional eating issues to deal with because I have started eating more and exercising a bit less after realizing that it was gettin’ a lil’ unhealthy up in here, if ya know what I mean. I am trying now to find a balance and focus on strong not skinny but I have to admit that once the jeans start feeling a little tighter I freak out and want to go exercise like a maniac. Sheesh, I hate that I have succumbed to all the pressure. And for what really in the end?… I can’t figure out now if I am doing it for myself or for others, so that I don’t somehow look like a failure.

  18. There was a time when my self-worth and image of myself was at its lowest point, that I had to combat those feeling by making lists of why I did indeed have “worth” and was truly awesome. Those personal bullet lists overshadowed the negativity until I was able to break out of the negative cycles. Try it. It wasn’t a magical thing with overnight success, but it did work for me. xo

    • You must be inside of my brain! I was thinking this exact thing last night. My life is passing me by because of these stupid thoughts, and it’s ridiculous! I am working on that list right now! 🙂

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  19. Oh Melissa, I have been there and still battle with this on a day-to-day basis. I want you to know that you’re a beautiful person inside and out. Please don’t be so hard on yourself…life is too short!

    Love ya, girl!

  20. Megan @ Fiterature says:

    I read this post the day it went up and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. I struggle with this same issue – have for years. Right now what I am struggling with is that I work out 5 days a week and eat healthy 85-90% of the time. And I don’t have the body that I feel that much work should produce. I don’t have defined biceps, a flat tummy, or rock hard calves. And it BUGS me. A lot.
    But on the flip side, I LOVE how being healthy and working out makes me feel ASIDE from the vanity. I feel strong, free, and capable of taking over the world most days! But then that little voice creeps in…”She’s thinner than you and she only runs twice a week. Look at her eat those Cheez-Its like it’s her job, and she is has arms like Kate from Lost.” UGH – I thought I would some day grow out of it….guess it might battle me forever.
    And like you, I know the pep talks and I know the words of encouragement I would tell a friend with this issue – and those words work some times. And some times they don’t. And I think that is why we have each other – to listen, to relate, and to pick us up when we are down.

    Thanks for your honesty. Virtual high five!

    • Thanks for this, Megan. It really does help to know we’re not alone! But I think an awareness of it can bring us closer to the possibility of making peace with it, ya know? Just keep giving yourself those positive messages and trying to tell the bad voices to shut the hell up!!! I know that’s what I’m doing. It’s not easy, but I guess I figure if you don’t try, you’re never going to get there. XOXO

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  21. i know this is an older post, but i appreciate it; body image is a tough one that does wax and wane, and can balloon to way-too-important without your even realizing it’s taken over. it definitely does for me sometimes! probably easier to just be a man, and never give a flibbertygibbet how you look.

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