Happy February, babes! We escaped a chilly and rainy San Diego by taking a few days in tropical Ixtapa, Mexico with family. It was a lovely and relaxing week even with two children in tow, so I’m grateful for these blessings as we kick off 2019. This week’s travel and time by the beach also had me pondering body image a great deal, since I was basically living in a swim suit.
If you’ve followed along with me on my journey for a while, you’ll know that I am now at my heaviest. As is true for so many women, however, that fact doesn’t come close to telling the entire story.
My Body Image Fight
I spent most of my 20’s feeling quite heavy and also dieting desperately, from WW to Paleo to Atkins to cleanses and weight loss clinics. I took drugs, hired trainers and coaches, and remember one particularly memorable consultation with an “expert” who told me I could never get to where I wanted to be without going on a broiled-chicken-and-vegetables diet. Yes, you read that correctly. He wanted me to eat just chicken and vegetables for every single meal.
Huh, I wonder why that didn’t work out?
By the time I got pregnant with my first child, I was a size 16, working at one of many high-stress desk jobs and reporting in before dawn. When my 10-week maternity leave was over, I was back on 3AM shifts and trying desperately to hold it all together.
We moved back to San Diego, and I changed careers from journalism to marketing, which meant better hours and much less stress. I began weightlifting in earnest, a practice I continue today. My second pregnancy was also, luckily, easy to manage, and we were blessed with our second healthy little one.
Following that second birth, I was in a great place physically and mentally. Size 16, perfect health, strong and capable. But I was still suffering from an eating disorder and I wanted to tackle it once and for all.
In 2019, I began working with both a dietician and a therapist to deal with my ongoing issues with food. That is a story for another day, but these women have been my personal saviors and I hope to work with them for a long time to come. Both work remotely, so if you need a reference for either, please drop a comment below and I will get you their information.
This all leads up to how I felt putting on a swimsuit every day and heading out to the pool and the beach surrounded by other parents and sunbathers.
My Body Image Today
Today, I am a size 18. I’m still very active. I am still (thank goodness) in perfect health. I focus on these things as I do stuff like go on vacation . . . and live in a bathing suit for a week. Want to know something crazy? The pictures you are seeing in this post of me in a bathing suit are the first ones I’ve taken in OVER A DECADE.
The proof is in the photo above. That is me with friends in 2005, snorkeling in Mexico. It is also the only picture I have ever taken in a bikini, and only the second full-body shot I know of of me in a bathing suit before this year!!
That’s insane, isn’t it? I thought I looked huge in this photo. Fat and unattractive. Now I look back at it and I know dieting and negative body image had truly gotten the best of me.
One afternoon at sunset last week, I handed my husband’s phone to him and told him I needed a few photos. It was time. I really had no idea what to expect as I walked along the beach and looked out at the red and gold shimmering above the water. I won’t lie — when I first saw the photos, I winced. This isn’t necessarily what I look like in my head.
But within a day or two, I gained perspective and appreciation for these shots. They show contentment. Personal internal strength. They show the body of a woman who has seen some shit and come out the other side better for it.
No matter where I end up falling on the scale, I will love these pictures even more ten years and 20 years down the road. It’s not about the weight. It was never about the weight. It took me a long time to get to that realization, but there is no stopping me now.
The Body Image Challenge
Here is my challenge to you—sometime in the next week, take a photo that scares you. Without makeup, full body, etc. You don’t need to share it! I just want to hear from you about what that experience was like, and how you felt looking at that photo. Snap away, lovelies!