Tuesday, September 11, 2018
When Self-Love Gets Tested
So, I've started my next self-love book. It's about deepening your self-love, especially when it gets tested.
My self-love has been tested this week, specifically in the area of body acceptance. Phew, this one is hard for me to work on. Most of my life, growing up, I was skinny. I was blessed with a super-efficient metabolism. I could eat whatever I liked and not put on an ounce of weight. Then I had three kids. I still managed to lose most of my baby weight after breastfeeding them each for a year, and running after active toddlers, but when I hit my late thirties, I developed thyroid problems. I was no longer what society would deem attractive i.e. thin. My metabolism hit a big snag. I managed to go on thyroid hormones, which thankfully made me feel a lot healthier, but it didn't make the weight drop off.
Society had told me my whole life that if I wanted to be attractive to my husband, I had to be thin. And if I wanted to just plain-old be attractive and considered worthy of respect from society, I had to have a certain figure. So, when I heard about the low-carb paleo diet, I was hooked. I got brainwashed into thinking this was the magic pill. Yes, I did lose weight. I looked "acceptable" again, but it came at a great cost. My thyroid levels dipped to an all-time low and I developed several other health problems. After two and a half years of trying to make this "magic pill" diet work, and after I stumbled upon some material against low-carb dieting, I broke the diet. I felt so much better, almost immediately. It took a while for the deeper problems to heal. One of them never healed - I developed allergies while on the diet. I still struggle with them today.
After I broke the diet and started eating enough again to feel healthy and energetic, I put back all my weight and a lot more - the perils of compromising your metabolism on an unhealthy diet. My husband at the time started criticising me for how I looked. I allowed his words to get to me. (I wasn't aware of self-love at the time.) I developed deep insecurities about myself as a person, but...at the same time I read a lot of material by Summer Innanen and other advocates for health at every size. I researched on health and the stigma that's attached to weight, and how it's more a social problem than anything else. That there is very little proof that being overweight is necessarily the cause of illnesses. Yes, it's often caused by illnesses, but inherently, in itself, is not always harmful. (It's more harmful to hate yourself and compromise your health.) I began to learn the importance of accepting myself as I am. How hating on my body was not going to help me be happy, healthy, and peaceful as a person. I read up on how dieting actually makes us fat. Every time we diet, we may lose weight temporarily, but then we can't maintain it long-term, so we put the weight back on. And many times, more. Any time we restrict calories, we compromise many systems in our bodies. I'd rather not live like that. I can't afford to because of my particular health dynamic.
So, I'm not skinny anymore. I'm actually overweight. It's hard to put your photo on a dating profile. It's hard to feel good about yourself sometimes.
Yesterday, I went to dance class and one of the ladies there was videoing us practising a dance. I asked her to send me a copy so I could show my kids that I am actually dancing every Monday night and not going on a mysterious date. I watched the video and my heart sank. I was so huge compared to the other slim ladies in the class. I felt like an elephant. It was so hard to comprehend.
I realised that I'm having a self-love test here. If I can't appreciate and love the body vessel that I've got for my time on this earth, then I'm in serious trouble. I'm so grateful for my body and all it can do. It gives me the strength to do those dance steps, which are such fun. Sure, I don't look amazing doing them, but I'm growing as a person, by learning these difficult steps. I also know that women have hormones, and at a particular time of month, the hormones go really low and during that time, they really don't like the way they look. Any self-dislike gets magnified tenfold. So, I'm not letting this experience, that my hormones gives me, plunge me into a depression and another diet cycle. I mean, today, I even considered going on a diet again. I thought, "How will I find a man looking like this? People must find me disgusting." But those thoughts are from the ego mind - the lower mind, which comes from the messages we've been given all our lives, that our worth as women is attached to how thin we are.
So, instead of hating on myself, I'm going to slay this dragon and love on myself even more. I'm going to be kind to my body and nourish it and give it the rest it needs. I'm going to love the wiggly bits because they're what makes up me. I'm going to choose to believe that I am beautiful, and wait for the hormonal dip to pass before I take any of my thoughts seriously. Self-depreciation be gone.
So, how do we love ourselves when we don't fit into society's norms?
1. Eat, sleep, have fun.
2. Be the biggest advocate for your inner child. Yes, your inner child was told that if you became fat, or if you were already fat, it was serious and you would be ugly and useless. That's a lie. Being fat does not mean being unfit, incapable, stupid, or unhealthy. There are many thin people who struggle with feelings of lack of self-worth. I struggled with it all those years when I was thin. Being thin did not help me feel better about myself. I was so afraid of getting fat. It petrified me. Give your inner child a good hug and tell her that she is lovable just the way she is and that if someone insults her, they WILL pay the consequences. (You can certainly stand up for yourself in your mind. Not a soul can stop you from doing that.)
3. Buy yourself that outfit you'd love (if your bank balance allows) even if it's not slimming, just because you damn-well love the colours, or the cut, or the stripes.
4. Accept compliments. When people say your Facebook profile pic looks good, believe them. When they say, "You look lovely today," believe them. And thank them without starting the long description of your faults.
5. Accept that sometimes you won't like what you see in the mirror. We all have those days. But choose to not let that make you come down hard on yourself. Keep up your self-care, and show compassion to yourself. Trust that those feelings will pass.
6. Look into the mirror and say something like, "You're amazing, you're beautiful, and you're so unique."
7. Think of all the things your body can do and thank it.
8. Think of all the wonderful things in your life that you do and are. Realise that how you look is such a small part of your life experiences. There is so much fun to be had, no matter what size you are.
Any other suggestions? I'd love to hear them.