confession #2: my body image

My next confession: I’m not happy with my appearance.

I actually had to think about how I wanted to phrase that.  I thought “I don’t like the way I look”, “I hate my body”, “I don’t think I’m pretty”.  Those all seemed so harsh.  It’s not that I am completely displeased with how I look, but I am not completely pleased either.

Most of us have things about our physical self that we’d like to change and would change if we could.  I’ve always struggled with self body-image.  I understand that I am not fat.  I would never say that I’m fat.  There are definitely parts of my body that are larger than I want them to be, but most people looking at me wouldn’t think there is anything wrong or fat about me.

I have a love/hate relationship with food.  I love food, but hate what it does to my body.  Easy enough to understand.

Going through this break-up, I lost about 7 pounds.  In the initial week and a half, I dropped almost 10 pounds from starving myself (not on purpose).  Since I’ve resumed eating, I’ve gained 2-3 pounds back (depends on the day).  While my intention before the break-up was to lose 10 pounds, it certainly wasn’t the way I wanted it to happen.

That said, I am happy to have lost the weight.  I mean, given the option, I’d rather be at that same heavier weight and still in my relationship.  But I digress.

Here’s where I admit that my head is completely messed up when it comes to food/weight/appearance.  I am going to apologize ahead of time for what is going to be a rambling, bumbling post of my insane thoughts.

After I lost the weight, I could see my ribcage.  And liked it.  Liked it a lot.  Maybe too much.  Seeing ribs is not necessarily an attractive sight.  But to me, seeing ribs meant that I was thin enough to appear bony and bony equals skinny in my warped mind.  I want to see ribs.  I want to have a concave stomach.  The slightest little belly bulge (on myself) makes me frown.  I look at my arms and just see fat.  I believe my self-image is much harsher than the average person.

While I am super critical of how my body looks, I am not in the least critical of other people and how they look.  I can look at other people and think they look perfectly fine the way they are.  But myself?  Never.  I never think I look good (thin) enough.

I’ve even had the effed up thought of being afraid of ever getting pregnant, because what would happen if I gained too much weight?  This is from someone who wants to have kids.  But gaining weight (the 25-30 pounds that is normal and healthy with pregnancy) scares the hell out of me.  And I am completely aware that you can exercise and watch what you eat while pregnant.

Here’s another example of my messed up way of thinking.  In the past, I thought about controlling my food intake to the extreme – as in eating disorder.  I could have never been anorexic.  In general, I love food too much.  I love to eat.  BUT, I could totally see myself having been bulimic.  The only reason I’m not a full-fledged raging bulimic?  I can’t make myself vomit.  I’ve tried.  Multiple times at various points of my late teens/early 20’s.  How sick is it that I tried to become a bulimic, even when I know how horrible it is for your body (not to mention mind)?  There’s no need to worry about me becoming bulimic.  I won’t ever.

I don’t think I suffer from body dysmorphia.  It’s not like I see my ribs and flat belly and still think I look fat.  I recognize the areas that look thinner or smaller, but seeing them feeds into my need to see the ribs stick out a little more, to see my belly suck in a little more, to see my hip stick out more prominently.  It’s a little like a drug.  And that drug sticks in my mind and makes me not want to eat.  Please don’t think that I don’t eat.  I do eat, because I get hungry.  But only because I get hungry, not because I want to.  I believe the reason I’ve kept most of the weight off is because I only eat when I have to.

I think a big reason I yield such control over how/when I eat is because it’s something I do have control over (and that kind of stems from an eating disorder mind-set).  Right now, I’ve lost control over my love life.  But I do have control over how much food I consume.  Eating disorders most of the time stem from needing to control something – one aspect of your life.  While I am probably what most would consider a prime candidate for developing an eating disorder, I assure you all that I am way too rational and logical to.  I promise you don’t have to worry about that.

I just need to work on accepting my body for what it is.  It’s a vessel that has served me well so far, and probably will for years to come.  I love my body for how it serves me.  But I hate they way I think about it.  😦

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7 Comments

  1. prettylittlereckless

    I could’ve totally written this post myself. It’s easy to control the food when the rest of life is crazy. I still struggle with issues. In college though, there were days I could barely function. :-/ The only thing that helped me was the acceptance part and talking about it with friends.

    • Controlling the food thing is easy. And it’s a control that is tangible. But I am so lucky that it is something that I have control over (as opposed to the starving people in the world). And that realization (starving people without control over their food intake) just made me super depressed. Crap 😦

  2. firecracker3

    Okay, first, you are writing too much for me to keep up now. I am now quitting my job and reading this full time. Anyway…I have had anorexia. I have spent 4+ hours a day being active. I had body fat so low I didn’t get my period for over a year. I also was fat. I also have yo-yo’d on the weight. It is always a struggle, the control isn’t about the food, it is about controlling the emotions behind it. Forming a routine and step by step thought process each day and re-focusing when things get off balance. I got off balance mid-week this week and there are not to less boxes of Mike-n-Ikes in my house 🙂 I can relate to this post a great deal and can tell you I am actually cranky this morning b/c I missed my morning cardio due to sleeping in and now feel guilt for that plus the candy I did have this week. Like I said, it is always a struggle. It isn’t about fixing it 100% like so many trainers or drs will say, it is about taking it a day at a time and knowing it will never be 100% perfect.

  3. Wow. Could have written parts of this myself…but not all of it. The ribcage stuff? notsomuch for me…and it worries me about you! I hope you are okay, and realize that you look great and are strong and can get through this. Hugs.

    • Thanks, Jobo! I hope I don’t have you all worried that I am doing harm to my body. I know I have a distorted view of my self, as far as body image. But I also know that my body is the only one I’ll have and it has to last me a long, long time, so I won’t do anything to harm it. Accepting it for what it is and what it can do for me is one of my top priorities.

      And don’t be misled by the ribcage comment. I’m far from looking like a skeleton. There may be ribs, but there is still a small layer of “padding” on top 🙂

  4. So much of this resonated with me. I’m not totally comfortable with talking about it in a public forum, but I’ve had many issues with food/weight throughout my entire adult life. I know you aren’t asking for advice, but if you find yourself having some “red flag” thoughts like you have mentioned here, it wouldn’t hurt to talk to someone who specializes in this. They can teach you some affirmations and ways to stop such destructive thinking. I can tell you this, because several times in my life this kind of thinking has gotten me into unhealthy situations. You are beautiful and special, and don’t let anyone, especially YOU, tell yourself otherwise.

    • Thanks, Catherine. I appreciate these words. I know I won’t ever do anything that would harm my body long-term. The whole not eating thing was just due to circumstances. It was never going to be long-term. In fact, I am back to eating regularly (just trying to keep it healthier). xoxo

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