Seriously hilary

Learning to love my self(ie)

I don’t know what I look like. I can’t visualise the shape and size of my body. I look at women and try to figure out if they have a similar shape to me. Catching my reflection in shop windows I wonder how other people see me. I’m often surprised by how I look in photos. Sometimes in a good way, sometimes not.

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Motivated by a particularly unflattering holiday photo, I threw myself head first into a diet that left me 13kg lighter and tired as hell.

People told me I looked great. “They always thought you were too fat,” said the liar in my head. I bought new clothes. It felt good to be able to choose from everything in the shop, and not just the clothes that hid my belly. A muffin top sounds cute, but getting rid of mine meant being able to wear t-shirts again.

Self image is more about what is between your ears than between your hips, but I felt good about my body for the first time in years.

CFO6dTJVEAApO3IConfident in the knowledge that it was possible to lose weight if I put my mind to it, I quit my diet and treated myself to the food I had missed in the months previous. Most of the kilos have crept back to their comfy nest between my hips, but something has changed between my ears. During those non-chubby months I learned to love my body. Surprisingly this feeling did not wear off as the weight returned. The happiness I felt when I was at my lightest was too good to let go. So I decided to hold onto it. I decided not to focus my energy on making myself feel bad. I decided to evict the liar. We have so much power if we take control of our minds. Inspirational speaker Mel Robbins did a wonderful Ted talk called “Stop screwing yourself over”, it is well worth a watch.

I feel OK with my body. Its roundness no longer bothers me. I used to gaze at fierce-looking chubby ladies and admire their beauty. I wondered how their chub looked so much prettier than mine. I was envious of how great they looked in clothes that I believed I couldn’t wear. I wrote about body acceptance movements, praising them and urging everyone to love themselves. I desperately wanted to feel the words I wrote. I believe them to be true. But the liar in my head told me that I wasn’t the attractive type of chubby. The liar in my head told me that body acceptance did not apply me.

Losing weight made me believe that I was allowed to love my body. Gaining it back again made me realise that loving my body has nothing to do with some chub. There are better things to focus your energy on than hating on yourself in the mirror. Life is easier if you don’t listen to the liar telling you everyone is looking at your muffin top. My mornings are a lot more carefree. I choose what I feel like wearing, and I wear it. No more beating myself up trying on several outfits trying to find the one that hides the most.

IMG_20150814_094812One day recently, standing in front of the mirror I suddenly thought; “hey, I look alright”. It’s not big love, but it’s a hell of a lot easier to carry than hate. I took a photo of that moment to show to the liar any time he rears his ugly head.

There really are more important things in life. I’ve decided to put my energy to better use. Those photos, the ones that surprise me in a positive way, I collect them in my cloud. They are always close to hand when I need a reminder. I challenge you to do the same. Go through your photos from the last few years. Choose the ones you feel beautiful in and save them together in a box, a folder, Dropbox, Pinterest. It doesn’t matter where. Do this experiment with me. The next time you think something negative about yourself, STOP, take a breath and think of your lovely photo collection. We need to re-program ourselves and reject the media telling us to hate our bodies.

The more we love ourselves, the better we can take care of ourselves.

The better we take care of ourselves, the healthier and stronger we can become.

Chin up buttercup.

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Previously published on Charlie Magazine.
Poster photo: Caroline Caldwell via Twitter