The “After” Myth

This is…so wonderful. It’s a profound sentiment and I know so many who stuggle with this problem. “I lost the weight, but now what? or ever, “I feel worse about myself”. Truth is, we buy into a lie when we think that changing our body alone will be enough to change the thoughts and feelings we have about ourselves. That’s the easy, quick, to-good-to-be-true mix. That’s the “I’ll change the outside but avoid the inside” mix that screws us over in the end. We are never, ever, able to ignore the inside. Nor does the inside sync with the outside. When we avoid confront our deep, true selves, and our deep, true issues, they linger. They fester, and grow. And then we’re in a position where we are what we wanted to be physically, but mentally, spiritually, we are angrier than before. We are still lost. We are unhappy, unsatisfied. We thought we hated ourselves for what we looked like- but don’t you still treat yourself as a monster when you refuse to look inside? We get so scared to confront ourselves, we believe that we are, deep down, unworthy as we are. And no amount of physical transformation changes that, not really-not for the better. Because we are more than bodies. And the more we expect the outside to cover up/fix what’s inside, the worse we are. Don’t be afraid to turn in- you’re no monster, no matter what you’ve believed or been told about yourself. Sit down. Be with yourself. Be quite and still and present. Stop running from yourself. Stop trying to constantly manipulate and change yourself- what is so bad about you? What are you running from? What are you covering up? What are you yearning for? I’ll give you a hint- it’s not a body. Nor can it be achieved by one. Be gentle with yourself. Be kind and patient. And- be present. It’s easier said than done, but maybe reading this blog post will help you the way it helped me tonight.

Can Anybody Hear Me?

DURING

After.

It’s here.

In my first post, Before, 3 years ago, I said “I’m not to After yet, but I’m closer to After than to Before.”

I now weigh 117 – 120 pounds (depending on the day), and standing at 5-foot 6-inches, that measurement means that After is very, very here. But, before you congratulate me, dear readers…if I have any…and dear friends and family who I know follow this blog… I have to come clean with you: I don’t feel like I’m at After. I’m terrified of being at After. And, I don’t like that After is here.

After5 2

The tagline of my blog is “uncovering myself one pound at a time.” For most of this blog, I’ve spoken strongly about how my relationship with food and myself was what caused my weight struggles. I stand by that. The thing is, the symptoms have resolved faster than I’ve been able to…

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10 Body Image Building Tips

Hello everyone, and happy Thursday! And Happy National Blond Brownie Day, and National Ask Your Cat a Question Day!! [http://www.checkiday.com/]

Today’s post was inspired by a recent conversation with an old acquaintance. The other day I (quite literally) bumped into a girl who I went to high school with. As we were waiting in line for our coffees, we started up the whole “what’s new since high school” thing. I told her my plans for grad school, for helping girls with eating disorders, and about the body positive work I have been doing. She knew that I had struggled with an eating disorder in high school, and she just seemed taken aback by this 180 I made in terms of self-image. We started to talk about body image and eating disorders, and she tells me a little about her own struggle. As our coffees come up, she asks me, “So, how did you do it? How did you learn to like your body?”

Now, I’m still not perfect when it comes to being body positive- no one is. However, I thought I’d share some of my favorite tips for developing positive body image. These are all things I have practiced and have found incredibly helpful. If you have any body positive practices not on the list, but that have helped you, please let me know in a comment!

10 Body Image Building Tips

1.) Cut the shit talk and the body bashing. This is the golden rule. No bashing yourself, and no bashing other people. If you hear your friends bashing themselves, try jumping in. If you’re in a group and body-bashing talk comes up, try changing the subject, or removing yourself from the situation.

2.)Write yourself an apology letter. Seriously, we all owe ourselves one. What you’d like to include in your apology letter is up to you. You might choose to focus on your body, certain body parts you’ve struggled with, memories and choices you have trouble moving past, or forgiving yourself for. Make out a hand written apology letter to yourself and keep it close by. I’ll give you a line out of my first apology letter, “Dear stomach, I’m sorry that I was always embarrassed of you. I’m sorry I pinched you, starved you, hit you, and hated you. I am thankful for a stomach that allows my body to function and allows me to eat my favorite foods. You are perfect just they way you are.”

3.) Talk to yourself in the mirror. This sounds a little weird, but I’ve found it to be a great way to reconnect with myself. I have also found that I am more reluctant to criticize myself when I have to look into my own eyes. Sometimes, when I’m having a really bad day, or really bad thoughts I feel like I can’t get over, I’ll talk to myself in the mirror, I’ll tell myself I’m in control, and sometimes I’m even able to rationalize a few things. In my own experience, this exercise also helped to lower my anxiety about seeing my reflection in the mirror.

4.) Compliment yourself. At least once a day. Compliment yourself on finishing a great project, making a funny joke, making a delicious meal, going out of your comfort zone, a good hair day- whatever it may be. Start acknowledging the good things you do and the things you enjoy about yourself.

5.) Make a list of positive affirmations, and make them visible! Affirmations like “I am enough just the way I am”, “I am worthy of love and happiness” “I am [beautiful][strong][capable][in control].” Make some affirmations to put up in your room, in your car, in your wallet, or in your planner. Positive affirmations can really boost your mood.

6.) Don’t wait for a weight

You know those plans you made for when you’re 20 lbs thinner? Screw them, throw them out, and do them now. Do not punish yourself by holding back until you achieve a certain look. Don’t miss out on opportunities to have fun, make memories, and go on adventures- do what you want to do now. It’s completely fine to want to change the way you look- your body belongs to you. But just remember- you are no more worthy at one body type than you are at another.

8.) Make some time for hobbies. Expressive hobbies like writing, painting, and journaling are great ways to reconnect with yourself. I personally love journaling because I can express my thoughts without a filter. Lately, I have been trying to embrace projects that challenge me. For example, I have recently started to sketch drawings of my stomach, and someday soon, I hope to paint it. I am starting to draw myself, exactly as I see it in the mirror. And guess what- I really like it. I’m no good as an artist, but I hope to paint one of these sketches someday.

9.) Surround yourself with people who make you feel good. Spend time with people who recognize your beauty, talents, and potential- and who aren’t afraid to let you know it!

10.) Surround yourself with media that uplifts you, and makes you feel good just has you are. The media we consume has a powerful influence on how we feel about ourselves. Try surrounding yourself with body positive books and blogs. You may consider cutting back on media that focuses on appearances’, gossip, violence, or degrading people.

Recovering from a ‘bad body’ day

Welcome to my brand new (and over due) personal blog! I’ve never had a blog, so I’m not quite sure how to begin this. I suppose I’ll start with a quick introduction- my name is Haeley and I am a body image activist, eating disorder advocate, feminist killjoy, and pug aficionado. I also enjoy eating any combination of peanut butter and chocolate, and sniffing old books.

Let’s move on.

This blog will be a special place for my passion-fueled ramblings, focusing mainly on the promotion of body positivity, but also about anything else I feel like writing about, semi-coherently, at any given time. Now, this is my first blog, and I hope to get better at this as I go, so bear with me in my progress here.

The title of my very first blog post shall be: Tips on Recovering from a ‘Bad Body’ Day.

I wanted to reflect on an experience I had the other day that encouraged me to begin this blog. I was having a bad body day- the first one in a long time. You know, one of those days when you think you suck, your appearance sucks, everything sucks, and the world can go eat worms- that kind of day. Woah Haeley, aren’t you supposed to be a body positive activist? Yeah, I totally am, but I’m not perfect, and even though I usually feel good about myself, everybody has those times when we feel less than awesome about the way we look.

I was in Target when my inner-critic decided to throw a beauty bitch-fit. I was wearing sweat pants, had no make up on, and was tired and sweaty from helping my grandma take down Christmas stuff. I was just crabby and felt gross. As we were waiting in line at the pharmacy, my mind began to wonder. “What if people are thinking about how gross I look? I’ll bet they’re all thinking, “damn that girl is nasty!”

I just felt gross in my body. I felt like it was too jiggily, too fatty, not toned enough- just plain nasty. Worse, I felt like my body was so weird- not like any other body I’ve ever seen, and certainly not like most 22-year-old bodies. I have struggled with these sorts of body-hate-battles for a long time. Although I am a recovered anorexic, and no longer struggle with eating disordered behaviors and thoughts (4 years symptom free, Woohoo!!) I still have some days when I feel less-than-fierce. However, these sorts of moods rarely last the whole day, because I am now able to get myself into a better place. Here are some things that I do to pick myself up from a bad body day:

1.) Listen to the people you love when they tell you that you are beautiful

No really-believe them. They believe the space you take up is precious, the sight and presence of you gives them joy. Believe them when they tell you that they love you as you are, and that you are good enough.

I was with my mom and my grandma when this bad-body day reared it’s ugly head. I opened up to them about how I was feeling, and they immediately refuted it, telling me all of these positive things about myself. And you know what my first reflex was? “Well it doesn’t count because you’re my mom”. “You have to say that, you’re my grandma”.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I fall into this crap-trap where I think, “well the people close to me don’t count”. But if not them, who? Why should I base my measure of self worth off of the judgment of strangers? Why should I be so preoccupied with being an attractive ornament, made up of the perfect bits and pieces? I realized a while ago that the best thing I could do was to listen to the people who see me as a whole, and who genuinely care about me. Next time you’re feeling down, try reaching out to the people you love for support and encouragement.

2.) Think about what your body does for you- and what you have been able to do in your body.

My body possesses amazing strength, no matter how much it jiggles. This is the body of a warrior. This is a body that has overcome so much adversity, and that helps me in everything that I do. When I get in bad moods, I like to think about all the things that my body allows me to do, like go to school, drink vodka, eat Chipotle burritos, watch my favorite T.V. shows, read my favorite books, laugh so hard that I snort, go for walks with my dog, provide a space for tattoos ect. What are some of your favorite things to do, and how does your body help you to do them?

3.) Remember that your body is a treasure, by virtue of being yours

Your body is your home, and since it is yours, it is something sacred. It exists to hold your, not to please other people. Sometimes I get disappointed with my body- it’s not flat, it’s not very lean or toned, and it has stretch marks and cellulite. My body is not perfect. I have scars that I don’t like to talk about; I have body parts that I don’t like to show people. But I have another way of looking at my body too. I have realized that my body bears the scars of change, growth, and renewal. Each imperfection is a story, each flaw is a marker that makes me, me. My body is not perfect, but it is mine, and that makes it special.

This isn’t all just Romanized bullshit. I’m serious. This is the body you were born in, the legs you learned to walk on, the arms that hold loved ones, the hands you write with, the lips you kiss with- you are a remarkable little shit, when you think about it. Isn’t that worth something more than constant self-ridicule?

4.) Maybe, just maybe, it’s not as bad as you think it is….

I wore a swimsuit last summer. Nobody died.

Nobody has ever become violently ill at the sight of my stomach.

Now, I’ve heard some criticisms about my body, for sure. But my body has never caused a catastrophe.

^^^This has literally never happened to me, even when I convinced myself it would.

I have found that nobody is a bigger asshole to me than me. In my experience, the saying “we are our worst critics” is very true. I seriously doubt anyone cares about my stomach has much as I do. I used to be mortally afraid that people would make mean comments about my body if I was wearing a swimsuit, shorts, a tank top, ect., but I realized that nobody could come up with something nastier than I had already thought myself. That may be true for you, too.

So give yourself some slack, dear reader. You are not Josie Grossy anymore. You are worthy of love, acceptance, and adoration exactly has you are now- NO EXCEPTIONS.