I was reflecting recently as I looked at myself in the mirror. At this point in time I was looking in the mirror and feeling pretty confident and good about myself. It’s a new feeling. I got thinking about all of the times I have looked in the mirror in the past and been cruel to myself. I thought about all the hateful, red, hurtful feelings I felt in those moments. And I couldn’t help remembering all of the horrible things I have said to myself. My body image has never been great, that’s no secret. But my experience has been quite unique. My body has gone on quite a journey and so too has my relationship with it.
In my short life I have been classified as under weight, normal weight and over weight. In my teens I lived with Anorexia Nervosa. I don’t like talking in numbers but let’s just say that for my weight and height I was far too small. I then went through recovery and lived within a ‘normal’, healthy weight range for a couple of years. During these years, I still hated my body and I struggled to adjust to my new found curves. I was then diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and put on mood stabilisers and anti-psychotics; two medication groups associated with the side effect of weight gain. I ballooned out. I didn’t just gain a lot of weight but I gained it exceptionally quickly. I didn’t recognise myself when I looked in the mirror. I felt powerless and out of control. I weighed the most that I had ever weighed in my life.
The whole process was extremely distressing. My body image has always been distorted. I’ve always feared ‘fat’ to the point that I made myself sickly thin. So the fact that being ‘fat’ was now part of my reality was hard to take. It honestly messed with my sense of identity for a while. I thought being overweight made me a failure. But to be honest with you, I had always felt like a failure when I looked at my body. I’ve never failed to find flaws in myself, regardless of my size. And what I have learned is that there is no goal weight that will magically make me or anybody else happy within themselves. As corny as it may sound, there is no weight that will make you love yourself. If you don’t love yourself at your heaviest you have no hope of loving yourself at your lowest weight. That last five kilos so many of us desperately want to lose isn’t the difference between happiness and misery. The truth is that you can choose to be happy at any size. And then you have to work on it.
I’m now the happiest I have ever been in my body. You know why? Because I have stopped thinking about my weight. I avoid weighing myself. I got rid of all my clothes that don’t fit me anymore and make me feel bad. I avoid overthinking about what I eat. I celebrate my bodies strengths and abilities. I appreciate my body for what it is: my body is the vessel that carries me from place to place, it is my safe space that I ground myself within, my body is my inner sanctum that I trust, my body is my home.
Loving your body doesn’t happen over night. I wont even claim to be an expert. I’m still learning. But trust me on this, no number on the scale will make you happy. So I recommend throwing out the scale and starting to look within for the love you deserve.