Like many other 20 something girls, I am a huge fan of Sex and the City. I love the stories of camaraderie, the pace of the city, and the quest for the perfect pair of shoes (not to mention the perfect man). But most of all I love how the women support one another through everything: friends, jobs, relationships, etc. One of my favorite episodes is the one where Carrie is selected to be a "real person" in a fashion show. At first she is too self conscious to be in the fashion show but her friends encourage her, saying that Carrie can't see herself the way they see her.
I've been thinking a lot about this and I think a lot of us don't see ourselves as we really are. We definitely don't see ourselves the way our friends and loved ones see us. I think it's unfortunate that I am often my hardest critic.
Take the Golden Rule for example. We've all heard that we should treat others the way we want to be treated; we learned to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. However I think a lot of us do a better job of loving others than we do of loving ourselves. I know I wouldn't dream of walking up to my best friend Emily and telling her she looks really bloated today, or that her shirt makes her look pregnant. Aside from the fact that these things aren't true, I would never think to criticize my friends like that. It makes me feel sad to even think of hurting her that way. And even if Emily were to gain a pound or two I most likely either wouldn't notice or wouldn't say anything about it. If I gain a pound or two on the other hand, I rip myself to shreds. If Emily came to me and said she'd gained a few pounds and felt bad about it, I would support and encourage her. It's only been recently that I've been trying to do the same with myself.
My friend Kelsey is working on this issue as well. She and I were talking the other day about trying to love our bodies more. She brought up the point that we are our bodies. It sounds obvious, but sometimes I forget this. It's easy to pick myself to pieces and let the hatred of certain areas of my body roll through me. My problem area is my stomach. When I lose weight, I still have a tummy pooch, and when I gain weight I look a few months pregnant. No joke - I've been asked when I'm due before. Recently though I've been trying to think of ways to love my tummy. I've been doing a lot of ab exercises and can feel my stomach muscles getting stronger and tighter, and I am grateful for this.
Kelsey also brought up the idea of negative self talk, and how that can effect how our bodies function. Think about it: if we are our bodies and we are constantly telling certain areas of our bodies how much we hate them, why would they perform for us the way we want them to? Maybe if I love and appreciate my strengthening body it will encourage it to continue to grow stronger. It's easy to love the parts of ourselves that get complimented a lot. I was lucky to born with dark hair and blue eyes, and my eyes get commented on a lot. They are my favorite feature for obvious reasons, and even when I'm fat my eyes are still pretty.
I'm sick of being described as "the girl with the pretty face" though. And as much as I love my eyes, I don't want them to be the only pretty thing about me. I'd like to just be pretty, as simple as that. I think maybe not being so harsh on myself with the parts of me that aren't so pretty might be a good first step. I'm also taking steps to change my lifestyle to support this goal.
Like Carrie, I've been blessed with a great circle of friends who love and support me. They see me for me, and remind me of how far I've come. In the end of the Sex and the City episode Carrie does do the fashion show. She looks amazing, but partway down the runway she trips and falls flat on her face. However, she picks herself up and keeps strutting, earning a High 5 from Heidi Klum. Carrie says that "little act of bravery" inspired her friends to be brave and face fears of their own.
So world, here is my little act of bravery:
I currently weigh 165. In December of last year I weighed over 200 pounds. My weight has fluctuated a lot over the course of my life (more on that to come in a future blog), but every time I've lost weight I've given up on maintenance because it's too hard. Every time I gained the weight back I would hate myself a little more. I am finally committed to changing my life for good. This means eating healthy most if not all of the time. It means exercising in some form every day, even if it's just a long walk. And it means loving and appreciating all of me, not just my eyes.
Here's me in December:
Here's me now:
I still have a little ways to go but I'm proud of my progress.
Kelsey's goal is to try and think of a different thing to love about herself each day. I am trying to do this as well. I hope I've inspired you to think of yourself in a new light, and to think of ways to love yourself.