The only way to improve my life or self image is to be skinny…

How many times have you thought this either to or *about* yourself? Let’s be honest with each other… if you’ve ever struggled with weight or routine exercise, no matter how much or how little, it’s factored into your opinion about yourself like “I’m disgusting” “I’m a failure” “the first thing people see is that I’m fat so no one will want to be friends with me” “I’m not smart enough to navigate nutrition” “there’s no way I’m attractive” “until I lose weight/ tone up, my life is on hold”. Add in the fun little ingredient that some of us deal with and that is constantly trying a new diet program or workout regime (often a combination of both) and we’re *STILL* failing therefore exasperating and amplifying those feelings. I know I ask this a lot in my blog but- Is it just me? So how do we become successful without becoming insane gym rats or obsessing over nutrition every moment of the day? And BTW- what are we considering successful anyway?

Well I’ll be very honest once again. My biggest brain hurdle in my life has been self image. I have always hated every aspect of myself and not just my weight. I didn’t realize how deep it ran either until early last year. I was debilitated and put living life at all on the back burner. I would not develop friendships because I felt inadequate, I would never pursue deep relationships because I thought no one would take me seriously and that their first thought was about how overweight I was. I thought my husband would avoid me or wouldn’t want to take me on dates looking like I did. I couldn’t do basic things like hang out at a party/ event or enjoy going to dinner with others. I also started to realize how much I hated my face. No seriously- I’ve had cystic acne since I was 14 and here I am almost 29 and I still have intense breakouts and pain despite going to a dermatologist, changing my diet, drinking more, working out, different home skin care treatments/ regimens, the list goes on. It gets even more nit picky. I thought my voice was awful and not feminine, I hated that I have thick shins and wide feet, I thought there was no way people would think I was anything more than obnoxious and loud and a bother, and I also thought with only having one child no other moms would take me seriously and that one child made me less of a “real mom”. (I go into more depth about these feelings in my blog post about Miscarriage and Losing Purpose.) Deep down I thought all of these feelings would improve if I was skinny and routinely worked out, became a fitness advocate, or that having another child would validate me to the world and people would finally take me seriously. Oh honey. I was so wrong!

How am I adjusting my mindset? Do I still think this about myself? Honestly, I don’t think these feelings will ever go away. A lot of them stem from what most peoples’ issues stem from and that is experiences during our formative years. I was told no one would want to marry me if I was fat, I was made fun of by girls at church because I wasn’t allowed to wear make up, there was sexual abuse that lasted over 4 years when I was a teenager and by the time it was uncovered, I had convinced myself that it was ultimately my fault and I deserved it happening to me because I was so worthless anyway. To add to that, I struggled with weight since I was 12/ 13ish and have tried low carb, ketogenic, counting calories/ portion control, strict workout routines, clinic monitored diets, etc. and each time never successfully losing weight and making me feel like a completely worthless failure. So yes- my view of myself runs deep and has been such a strong pattern in my life that there will always be part of me that feels this way. What finally clicked for me is that I realized how my view of myself not only created intense depression but kept me from basic life- like I mentioned earlier, building friendships, pursuing a healthy church life, and being a wife and mother. BASICS. Once I realized how much life I could live if I put what other people *might* think about me on the back burner, I came up with a plan… first up was find my people. I had isolated myself so much that the only actual friend I had lived two doors down and was about to deploy 26 hours away. If you’re feeling and in the same position I have been in, I’d encourage you to ask yourself the following questions to get you on track to thinking about yourself and your life in a positive way:

One: What is my current season of life? For me, it was being a young, toddler mom. I had a hard time maintaining or making friends with others women in general and especially if they didn’t have kids or did have kids but were out of those toddler years when it’s particularly demanding and exhausting. So I started searching the internet for local mom groups (ideally toddler mom groups) and pretty quickly found MOPs. Ya’ll! A little side step here- if you need a community and don’t know where to start, please look for a local MOPs group! MOPs stands for Moms of Preschoolers (although they do have a division for moms with kids beyond preschool) and it has been one of the top influential ingredients for me changing my mindset. Because of how it’s run and how it’s focused, each meeting you get to see that you’re not alone and there’s literally at least one woman there dealing with the exact same toddler issue about which you are despairing. Ok- spiel over lol. So yes! What season of life are you in? Are you single and needing a group that gets together for hiking? Are you a newlywed and feel alone because you aren’t aloud to have growing pains when everyone views you as perfectly in love and in the most amazing season of life? Are you a mom drowning in the everyday madness and inability to maintain control of the chaos? Are you starting to deal with empty nest syndrome and don’t have grandkids to spoil and obsess over yet? There is a group for everyone so do some digging! Visit a few until you find “the one”. I truly believe that the very first step is to keep trying to find a community specifically geared towards your season of life and struggles within that season. Plugging into the right Sunday school class at church or other church projects/ ministries can fill this same exact need and you’re guaranteed to be around brothers and sisters in Christ which right there is an added bonus!

Two: Find your person! Yes- I know it is so hard to find one person you feel like you can be completely honest and vulnerable with without feeling judged or less than. But you know what? Most people feel that way about themselves. Most of us feel like we’re being judged while the other person is sitting there feeling self conscious and inadequate themselves. So start pursing someone you clicked with in your group or in the Walmart check out. If you start showing your true colors and they can’t handle it, it just isn’t meant to be and won’t help either of you in the long run. Move on to another person. It can take a while and shoot! This relationship might even be long distance but it is so important to find that person. And as a little side perk- being deliberate about the pursuit of that person will keep you focused and motivated and when the Lord brings them into your path, it will be that much more rewarding! Make sure you communicate with this person as well and let them know what kind of friend you need and give them an out if they don’t feel up for it. I have assumed and others have assumed upon me and it can be an awkward situation when one person feels more or less than you. So without downplaying yourself or being negative, just be honest- “Hey I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you and feel like we could become even better friends. Do you feel the same or would you be interested in hanging out more? I don’t want to impose.” You don’t have to say you’re needy or that you know most people don’t tend to like you. Just be honest without being negative about yourself. You’re a catch, sweetheart! Just because you’re a cuppa tea and the other is a coffee person doesn’t mean you can’t find your cuppa tea match. Keep trying!

Three: Set aside time once a day, once a week, once a month, whenever you can to pursue one thing you love. For me it is accomplishing some sort of project like refinishing furniture, redecorating a room, sewing, or scrapbooking. This is definitely the hardest for me to accomplish but it’s a big one. It reminds me who I am deep down apart from my season of life as well as directs my mind towards something that’s been a consistent aspect of myself no matter how crazy and all over I get. And then of course, the benefit and mental high you get off of accomplishing something. So maybe for you it isn’t a craft or project but it’s meeting a friend for coffee, or baking something elaborate, or helping with one ministry at church, or learning a new dance move or workout technic. Just try to make it something outside of your normal, every day routine. Take a picture of it every time because you know what? Every accomplishment is worth celebrating! No matter how basic it might seem to others. You don’t have to misplace priorities to enjoy a little bit of a passion that God gave you. Don’t let it consume your life but definitely don’t let that passion get buried. I don’t think God would love that either.

If you want to know how this line of thinking has improved my life even though I still have weight struggles and can’t magically change who I really am, stay tuned! More positive thinking coming up in a later installment! In the meantime, feel free to follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and/ or subscribe to my blog through email down below. I would LOVE to hear from you and talk with you if you have any tips, tricks, or questions. Stay you, my friend!

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