Thursday, September 19, 2013

A numbers game

I know that weight and body image is something that is discussed pretty regularly on this blog, but it just seems to be something that is really focused at my age group, and something I seem to be exposed to every day. Whether I'm simply chatting to my girlfriends about their gym routines or whether I'm out shopping looking up at giant images of perceived perfection, I feel as though women in general are really negative about their bodies.
It seems to me that everyone has an ideal body that they feel would make them happy if only they could achieve it, and that every one's ideal body seems to be different. Perhaps it was just the way my mother raised me but I have always tried to keep in mind that being happy and healthy would make me more happy than weighing a certain number of kilos, or fitting in a particular size of dress.
Despite this, I've battled with weight issues for most of my life having dealt with obesity with a family member since I can remember, I've always had it in the back of my mind how much of a struggle life can be when you're at an unhealthy weight. 
However, when I was younger, being overweight wasn't just a concern of health but a concern of physical appearance too. During my high school years I struggled to accept my body and my shape, as we all matured at different rates and the school ground became a pit of negative body image discussions. Each girl would openly admit to the group what she hated about herself. Each member would feed off the last comment made and it wasn't even a matter of one person judging another, it was more a discussion of who hated what about themselves.
(I'm sure we've all been here before).
Start this at 1:20, you'll understand what I mean...
This is honestly the most ridiculous thing about females, but we still do it and I'm sure men are not immune to this either.
In my final year of school I found myself obsessed with image and was constantly judging myself in comparison to other girls and began to exercise excessively, and I became very conscious of what I ate. For absolutely no reason at all I was paranoid of being over weight (even though I wasn't overweight, a little porky sure, but never to the point of it being a huge health issue).
I look back at photos of myself from my high school formal and think Oh My God I look so thin, and I remember how many hours I would slave away on my parents old exercise bike in the peak of Summer, in the garage in the vein attempt to lose weight. Or how I limited my food intake during the day because I knew I couldn't get away with not eating dinner at home (that was a huge deal in my house). It all seems so crazy, especially knowing that I still fit in that same dress today and I'm not on any insane diet or exercise regime now.
I remember after braking up with my high school sweetheart (I got dumped for another woman) how badly I treated my body. I was a gym junkie, I smoked and lived off diet pills and very little else, I was soooo unhealthy, but I didn't care, because I was thin (that's what I thought anyway). Then I met my next partner, he was lovely to me and thought it was super great that I loved going to the gym because he thought I was just really committed to being healthy (if you read my very first posts this is that guy) what he didn't realise was how destructive I was to my body and how much I hated myself. Joe really helped me to heal my heart and start to love myself again, but due to him not knowing how awful I was to myself in the first place, eventually my healing became good health and consequently I put weight on. Bad move. He told me I needed to lose the weight I'd put on since we had begun dating, and that if I didn't, I would be back to being a single lady. Harsh? Sure, but he wasn't to know what I'd been through and why I was the way I was. Needless to say, this conversation sparked my body hating self back up again, and with it came several months of secret smoking, diet pills and a serious gym routine, after all, I didn't want to lose my boyfriend. I lost the weight eventually, but I wasn't any happier for it.
Eventually we parted ways and I met a man who loved me for me. My last boyfriend taught me to love myself unconditionally and that it didn't matter what size I was, my weight on the scale was simply a number, and the tag on the back of my dress was just a piece of fabric with a number that simply told you which one would fit. The number became irrelevant, and thanks to this boy, I haven't weighed myself since. I'm sad to say that due to other reasons I'm no longer with this guy, but I owe him so much because he taught me to love myself. We would go to the gym together, but if I asked for ice cream after our workout, he would never deny me, he always helped me to stay motivated because I knew that I wanted to be healthy for me and that it wasn't for him that I was eating well and exercising.
Now I'm on my own, I have no one to impress and I'm not sinking myself into a pool of self doubt and pity because I'm back out on my own again.
I'm just me, and I eat for me and I exercise for me, but not everyone has this luxury of self love and self appreciation, and I'll be totally honest, it took me a long time to get to this place.
I have a beautiful friend that I have known for over 10 years and I've watched her struggle to love herself the entire time I've known her. Over the past year I've watched her transform herself physically into what she feels is her idea of beauty. Personally I've always found her stunning, there is something about her face and personality that just sucks you into her and attracts people like a magnet. Her laugh is infectious and she's honestly one of the smartest girls I know. I've always had people comment to me about how beautiful she is (yes physically and personality wise) but unfortunately it's taken weight loss for her to realise this fact.
I just wish that it didn't take a number of kilos to leave her body for the veil of self hate to be removed from her beautiful brown eyes.
 But we are all victims of this, I always thought I would be happier thinner but I've recently discovered this to be untrue.
As some of you may know I've had a bit of a rough time with my health this year, having contracted swine flue in January, a kidney infection mid year and the flue just recently (the last two bouts of sickness saw me hospitalised) and consequently I have lost a bit of weight. I always thought I'd love my body more if only I could lose just a few more kilos, but I never really had too much concern of this, and not enough motivation to actually do it. Mind you, thanks to my recent sickness' I now have, and do you know what? I'm no happier with my body. My ribs stick out just under my bra now and my stomach is now smaller and I've lost several centimetres off my bust, but it hasn't made me love myself any more, or any less. Instead, I now think my hips look so much bigger because they are no longer the same size as my top half, and I'm constantly having to belt everything in my wardrobe as nothing fits the way it use to. But it's ok, I don't mind that my body is different, but what I do know now is that losing weight isn't going to make me love myself anymore. I'm a female and even if I had someone else's ideal body, I would probably still find something about it that I don't like, it's unfortunate, but it's the way we seem to be built, but it's not the end of the world.
I still wake up every day and I'm grateful for the body I have, I'm grateful to have my health, I'm grateful I earn enough money to feed myself nutritious food and I'm grateful that my body works and moves so that I can go for a run and enjoy the wind whipping past my ears when it suits me.
Every one's ideal body is different, and truth be told, I'm sure even Jen Hawkins has days where she thinks she's fat, but she's a beautiful, kind human being, with a loving family and good friends. Her smile isn't radiant because she's a certain size, it's because she loves herself and you should too!
Your body is a vessel for life, treat it with respect so it can make the journey! xx