When Body Image Turns Ugly

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while, and it’s for all those who have struggled with body image, negative self talk, and weight loss, especially after 40.

Beware of Yoga Pants…

For my role as Wellness Champion I get to wear athletic/yoga wear everyday to work. I live in spandex during the week, and most weekends, I live in sweats (I do actually manage to go out in regular clothes at least once a week for date night).  I’ve also been sitting at a desk for the better part of three years for the first time in many years. This year in particular, I put on my fall pants and some old (non stretch) jeans – and boy were they tight.

Sure, I’ve noticed that I put on some weight, but when I got on the scale, wowsa, I hadn’t been seen that number in a decade! When I began personal training in 2005, within months, my body had begun to transform into what would be come a shredded and muscular physique without much effort on my part (it was a natural byproduct of hauling weights around for clients and being on my feet all day). I got into some high intensity aerobics and cycling classes, but I wasn’t obsessive about it. I had this sustainable svelte and muscular physique I had only known briefly in college when I was bodybuilding. So, at 40 I was in the best shape of my life.

Boy did things change when I moved out of personal training in a managerial role! I did end up competing in a bodybuilding show a couple of years after, but maintaining that type of physique is unrealistic in “normal person” standards due to the strict dieting. After the show, I put on some weight and then some more when I began my foray into corporate life. My physical activity was also limited due to my hamstring injury. Alas, my love of food certainly plays a big part of this too.

The negative chatter returned…

One of the great things about my personal trainer physique was that all the negative body image issues disappeared. The awful conversations I used to have with myself when I didn’t like the way I looked in the mirror. Now, and especially now, they seem to have flooded back with a force. I was no longer on the body pedestal. I am still being hard on myself, I am not that heavy, just in relation to that body, I feel miles away. I feel stuck (and so does my metabolism, which feels like a slow train to China at the moment). That can also be attributed to the fact that I am 47, and let me tell you, as I believe those who are my age can attest, our bodies really do change.

Love what you are going to leave behind…

When I was a personal trainer I had a few rules for my clients to create a more positive experience (being negative can actually make you weaker). One of my rules was that for the one hour that we were together, my client was not allowed to say anything negative about themselves. No more “my thighs are disgusting” or “look at this hideous my muffin top.”  I would tell them “You gotta love what you are going to leave behind.” “Try self-love instead of self hate,” I would implore. I also mentioned that at some point you may miss a bigger butt and bigger boobs, love your curves no matter what size you are.

Let’s fast forward to my job as the Wellness Champion for dressbarn where I often speak about positive body image (and where the conversation is grounded) – alas, it’s like the pot calling the kettle black. I’ve gotta start believing myself what I am dishing out.

Inspiring women to look and feel beautiful…

That’s the dressbarn mission! Let me tell you, the women (and men) live it. But there is also a lot of conversation about feeling good about yourself at any point in your health and wellness journey, whether if it’s losing 5 lbs. or 50. Just check out #labelmeconfident movement we’ve got going on.

So here I am, coming clean about my own negative self talk and let me tell you it’s not very nice. I would never in a million years talk to a friend the way I talk to myself or to those that I coach!

Maybe if I pay more attention to the way I feel over the way I look, I may begin to feel better about taking the steps I need to take to live in a body that I love? Not a body I had in the past, but a new body in the present moment. When I put the emphasis on how I feel over how I look, I can make better and healthier choices, not skip a workout, work harder, and inspire others. Then the rest will follow. I can already hear to positive conversations going on in my head.

I may never achieve that same personal trainer body I had, but I can be kind to the body I have right now, send her lots of love, nurture her, and let her know that I’ll love her no matter what. We wrap up so much of our self-worth in our body image. It’s a hard habit to break, but one I am sincerely willing to try.

P.S. – Wow, in researching photos to post for the blog, I came across a great blog bennegativeselftalk.com written by Judith C. Tingley, PhD.Check out her post on the effects of negative self talk on the brain.

 

 

 

 

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