Personally, I think I have an interesting perspective on body image. But, maybe I should let you make that decision at the end of this post, so let us start from the beginning, shall we? In high school, I danced a lot, and although I always wanted to lose weight, I wouldn’t really say that I had bad body image. As a dancer, I was used to performing for an audience in skimpy clothing, and I was proud that my body was strong and athletic. My leg muscles were awesome, just saying. When I dressed up for homecoming, I thought I was hot shit. When I gained weight in college, I was really unhappy with my body, but again, I wouldn’t say that I suffered serious body image issues. I wanted to lose weight, and I was unsatisfied with my body in way that pervaded my entire life, but the number of the scale didn’t dictate the tone of my day.
Although it seems counterintuitive, as I have lost weight, my body image issues have become more and more pronounced. When I was heavier, I always wanted to be thinner. Now that I’m thinner, there are so many other things I worry about: abs, arms, inner thighs, outer thighs, love handles, derriere. Additionally, I feel since I’ve lost weight my weight fluctuations are a lot more noticeable. When I weighed 170 pounds, if I gained five pounds my jeans still fit. Now, if I gain five pounds, my jeans don’t even button. On one side, I firmly believe that attempting to improve your body is okay. My physique is something that is ever evolving, and I’m trying to become more comfortable with the fact that, like many things in life, my body and exercise habits are cyclical. However, I went through a stage where I become pretty obsessive about the scale. Law school has also brought out an innate need to seek control over everything, including my weight.
Coming from a history of weight loss, my ability to maintain a consistent body weight is really important to me. And, bottom-line, I like to look a certain way. I’m really proud of my body because I’ve worked really hard for years to achieve the body I have, and I’m really uncomfortable when I gain weight, and I won’t apologize for that. However, I also think this is different for all people. I know that I am a lot happier looking in the mirror when I’m more toned and actively working towards a fitness goal. One of the things I love about strength training is that I can see results. I’ve see major improvements in my body from strength training, but I also find it really hard to draw the line between obsession and healthy goals. Even stranger is that, I’m not really sure what do about my weight loss mentality. I still want to lose weight. Although I could still stand to lose a few pounds, I know that I don’t need to lose weight, but I have no recollection of being at a “happy” weight, ever; I have been a bigger girl since kindergarten. I have no idea what it is like to be considered a normal weight. I know I’m relatively thin, but it is something that is really easy to forget. Last year, I went to a wedding where no one recognized me because I’d lost so much weight; it was weird. The concept of weight loss has dictated my life since early childhood, and I honestly don’t know how to be completely happy with my body.
This is kind of an open-ended post. I obviously can’t change these thoughts or behaviors overnight, but I’m in this weird place where I’m still getting used to being a smaller person, literally. I try to remind myself daily that my body is a work in process. I want to be at a place where I’m happy, and I think I’ll get there eventually. I realize this is just another phase in my weight loss journey, and I wanted to acknowledge that even though I am at a healthy weight, my journey is far from over. However, every day I get closer and closer to fully accepting my body just as it is, and it gives me hope. Because healthy is more than a number on a scale, and in my opinion, being healthy also entails being happy with your body, and I am ready to embark on this phase of my journey.
Hope that wasn’t too much for a weeknight. I promise I will talk about more upbeat things tomorrow!