I started my first diet when I was twelve years old. I considered plastic surgery at seventeen. In my mid-twenties, I was battling (and defeating) bulimia. And in my early thirties, I was at my personal slimmest when I started to hate my nose.
Ever since I can remember, people have complimented me on my self-confidence. However, I myself was not too pleased with and often hated my body. Sadly enough, I am probably no exception here. Many people (often women) can relate to how I have felt during the course of my life.
So, what did I do to eventually make myself feel better about myself?
Find positive inspiration on social media
When I joined Instagram, I was overwhelmed by the stunning pictures, the hordes of influencers and the perfect-looking bodies people would post. I accidentally stumbled across plus-size models such as Ashley Graham, who’s been a body positivity advocate for years. Under her hashtag #beautybeyondsize, I found more and more curvy people posing in fancy clothes, in lingerie (or even nude) while working out or just simply going about their everyday lives.
And thanks to some wonderful algorithm magic, suddenly my feed was full of proud, confident and beautiful curvy women. Hourglasses, apples, pears, size 6, size 20 — you name it, I found them. And looking at (what the fashion industry calls) plus-sized people for thirty minutes a day completely changed how I see myself and my idea of beauty. Now, when I look at the fashion ads around our office (we are located in a mall), I am not jealous of the thigh gaps anymore. I like how my thighs fill out my skinny jeans (which I would have never dared to wear a year ago).
And, I would have never thought that my favorite outfit would contain a crop top!
We all look up to someone. We could be that someone for somebody else.
There’s so much advice on how to live a happier life, and it feels like it all boils down to this: Don’t care about what others think and do your own thing. I admire people who are actually able to stop comparing themselves to others… but I can’t.
While knowing and accepting this about myself, I also believe that I do a few things quite okay. Maybe there is somebody who likes my style? Maybe another person is impressed by how I raise my kids? Or maybe someone admires my ability to entertain an audience with fun anecdotes (or at least anecdotes I find funny).
I recognize when a colleague compliments me (thank you, I take it), when a friend asks me for advice or when I hear laughter when I tell a story. I know just being me brings value to other people’s lives and that is enough to keep me going.
Put things into perspective.
My weight has been going up and down within a range of 15 kilos (30 pounds) over the last two decades. Now that I am currently at an all-time weight (and size) high, I regularly look at the pictures of me when I was slimmer and remember how I felt: obsessed over my diet, concerned about what my dress would look like and taking myself way too seriously. Even though I may have looked better according to our society’s standards, I felt worse.
I will always be a work in progress.
Due to knee surgery, I was not able to work out for six months… and now I do not feel fit at all. Therefore, I re-started the Results app training plan, not because I hate my body, but because I love it. I am also truly excited to start running again soon, just because it makes me feel good. I don’t necessarily care whether I will lose weight, but I will feel stronger, fitter and more energized when I am back to my fitness routine.
As I have always struggled with diets (chances are that I have tried them all), which eventually turned into an eating disorder, my eating habits will probably never be completely normal. I chose the “Healthy Balance” plan in the Balance app, just to make sure that I don’t overdo it on sugar too often and feel even more positive throughout the day. I also decided to try intermittent fasting for a few weeks to see if it makes me feel better.
I know I am not perfect, and I never will be. But I think that I am doing pretty well. And to me, this is currently all that matters.