Written by: Sarah MacDonald, founding member of The Motherhood Bozeman
Is it just me, or is body image something everyone struggles with?
As a child I was so confident about how I felt about my body. When I think back to when this confidence disappeared, it must have been some time around puberty. It was around that time that things started to drastically change for me. I was self conscious about every part of my body. I no longer felt confident in my own skin. Internally I felt judged by my peers and I felt my body image correlated with my self worth.
Fast forward 20 years and I have my confidence back! I had always hoped my confidence would naturally return with age or after bearing children, but it didn’t. It was something I had to work on.
One day after binge eating a Dominos pizza and some lava brownie cakes (2 of them to myself) late at night while my husband was out of town, I thought enough was enough. My eating habits, although vegetarian and mostly organic, had also contained my dirty little secret. A day here and there of binge eating chocolate bars and cookies and pizza. Late night snack while everyone else slept. I felt tired a lot of the time. I mean managing life with multiple kids ages 4 and under, multiple dogs, and multiple jobs, all while being a full time mum and having multiple responsibilities to local groups and organizations, that life would make anyone tired! Not to mention the lack of sleep sometimes with my infant teething and hitting other milestones. I wasn’t happy with the way I felt about myself. I hated the way I felt in my own skin. I felt very negative most of the time. Something had to change.
First I had to find my why. Why did I need a change? I quickly realized that for me, there were multiple whys. First being for my happiness. Now, don’t get me wrong. I was happy with my children, but not with myself or the way I felt about myself. I felt like I was in a rut. I missed feeling happy. I was stuck in a negative place where I was always the victim. Another reason was for my overall health. I had put on over 40 lbs since I became pregnant in 2011 and that had never gone away. And that was 40lbs of pure fat, nothing healthy about that. Finally was for my children. What role model was I going to be for them? They are watching me eat junk while I preach health to them. Talk about a double standard and not leading by example. Also, I want to have energy to run around with them and feel more positive about myself so that internal energy can shine bright around me and rub off on them.
So what did I do? I reached out to a good friend and told her what I was going through. She said she could help! First I had to commit to me and spend at least 30 minutes a day on me.
Wait, what?!? Commit to me? No way! There was no way I could find 30 minutes for myself. Sometimes showering alone was a struggle, let alone doing something for me.
Alas, she assured me it could be done! I looked at it from the perspective that it was on 2% of my day. So I took her advice and for one week I planned out my meals would look like going forward and how I was going to implement a new exercise regime. She added me to her online support and accountability group to keep me on point and she literally messaged me every day to check in on me.
After implementing my new workout and eating plan I started to work on my mind. I was seeing a physical change because of my diet and exercise, but I wasn’t feeling it in my head. I knew I was shedding weight and fitting into my old clothes, but there were deeper issues I had to face. I started talking about these issues with close friends, I started finally facing things that were all bottled up inside me. I started reading more (even if it was just a few pages a night), I started researching new topics, and I even started watching inspirational documentaries on Netflix.
Slowly, but surely, when I committed to myself and my wellness, things started to change. Because of my physical transformation I now feel confident in my clothing. Because of my mental transformation I now feel confident in my own skin. And because of this new network of friends I have surrounded myself with, I feel confident that I can continue to grow and have support around me. Because I am reading and learning more each day and sharing and working through my struggles, I am transforming the way I think and my outlook on life.
This is my body. It grew and birthed three human beings. This is my body. No one was forcing me to fill it with junk and not take care of it. That was on me. Now I fill it with health and wellness and love. This is my life and my body. I only live once and I am not wasting any more time being self conscious about my body image. I am leading by example for my children and am surrounding myself with loving and supportive friends. Luckily, I am already so blessed to already have a very loving and supportive family. In my experience if you find your why (your reason to never give up), commit to you (your health, wellness, and mind), and you surround yourself with love and support, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to! At least, that's what I did and I have never felt better.