On Body Image and Radical Self Love

Lies I Tell Myself

In the past, whenever I’ve talked about weight loss on this blog, I’ve always avoided discussing the appearance of my body. Consciously, that was to avoid falling into the trap that the beauty/fashion/tv/movie industry sets for all women in defining beauty in an unattainable way.

Notice how I phrased it though. It wasn’t that I didn’t BELIEVE it was about appearance, it was that I didn’t want to SAY it was about appearance.

I liked to talk about losing weight for various “good” reasons all the time: “Because it’s harder to run in a heavier body!” But the truth of the matter is, all of that was a lie. I would tell myself I was dieting for “good” reasons like HEALTH! and RUNNING! and STRENGTH! but the more I live on this side of it all…the more I see those were all lies. The truth was I always hated my body at every size that wasn’t “6-pack abs and no muffin top” size. And part of moving past that unhealthy cycle of weight loss/gain and building a healthy relationship with food and my body, requires me to be really honest with myself.

I wanted to be skinny. I wanted to wear just a sports bra to run in and I wanted to look like the magazine covers when I did it. I wanted to ditch the muffin top. I wanted to lose the fat rolls. And I hate myself for the truth in all of that.

In order to reprogram my mind and to learn to love my body, I have to really face the truth behind the lies I tell myself.

Even now, I’ve been talking about how my weight doesn’t matter. That once my weight stabilizes with this new relationship with food, then I’ll go out and buy clothes for this body. But the truth is? When I step on a scale and see no weight loss? I get depressed.

“Why are you still stepping on a scale, Kim?”

BECAUSE – I’ve never fed my body in the “right” way and I know 100% that counting calories is bad for my mental health, but I want to monitor to make sure I’m not A) losing weight too fast or B) still gaining weight regularly because then it means my understanding of what my body needs in terms of fuel is off.

Or at least that’s another lie I’ve been telling myself. But if I really sit and go back and re-read that paragraph I just typed? The truth is…I wouldn’t be worried if I “lost weight too fast” – there’s no part of me that would think, Oh, Kim! You don’t know how your body works! You need more help! Nope. I’d be happy. So the excuse I’m giving myself for keeping stepping on the scale is a lie.

I’ve been telling myself that I love my body now and if this is where it stays then I’ll be fine! But when I stepped on my scale and nothing had changed I realized that was ANOTHER lie I had been telling myself. Because I got REALLY sad and upset and had to fight the pull towards a downward spiral. And when I see myself in just a sports bra? I still hate my body. I’m still suffering from body dysmorphia and it’s very difficult for me to admit that.

I’ve spent the last few days thinking about that response to the scale and that dysmorphia. Why? Why was I so upset? I’ve been doing SO WELL with my casual and relaxed relationship with food. I’ve been looking at what my mind actually needs when it asks for food. I’ve not been stressing out about good foods and bad foods. I’m eating ice cream and candy and lentils and sweet potatoes. I’ve cut back a LOT on alcohol and I’m fueling my body for hunger and energy. WHY DID I GET SO UPSET THAT I HAD NOT LOST WEIGHT?

Because I’m still fighting against the terrible programming all around us. The “beauty” standards that are in every damn commercial and billboard and TV show and Movie. It’s not easy to undo that programming.

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But I do love this body more than I used to. I have been dressing it better and I often look in the mirror and like what I see. Honestly, if the scale had said I had lost another pound I’d be FINE. It was all about that stupid number. Because no matter how much I work on retraining my brain…IT ALL STILL MATTERS.

Here’s the truth: I’ve never A) avoided the scale AND B) avoided counting calories before. That’s giving up two HUGE metrics and I keep telling myself I don’t know how to monitor my progress without at least ONE of those metrics.

So I sit back and ask myself: What is progress? WHAT IS REAL PROGRESS?

Well. If I keep telling the lies to myself…the lies that I DESPERATELY WANT TO BE THRUTH, I’ve been making ALL of the progress. I’ve not had a binge episode in weeks. I’ve cut back drinking and am eating better overall. I’m not stressing out as much about good foods and bad foods. I’m trying to be active 45 minutes a day – minimum. I’m doing 2+ hour long runs on the weekends.

The unfortunate truth is I still care about that stupid scale. I still care that under the outfit there is a body far from the one on the cover of the magazines. I still feel like I can’t wear just a sports bra to run in. When it’s dressed in the right clothes I like what I see in the mirror, but I think – if I’m being really honest – that’s because I knew I was still losing weight and that the clothes I’m holding onto that I used to wear are in my closet taunting me…reminding me I’m not as small as I used to be.

I still care about it all.

And I think my reaction this weekend to not having lost more weight is proof and I think that upsets me most of all because I DO NOT WANT TO CARE. I want to be happy with finally working on a healthy relationship with food, of finally breaking my addictive self-harm cycles of binging, of finally exercising in moderation and enjoying it, of finally breaking the good food/bad food mental spirals. I WANT TO BE PROUD OF ALL OF THAT STUFF and I want it to matter more than what the scale says or what my body looks like in just my sports bra.

And I guess I just want it all NOT to be lies anymore. I want to TRULY BELIEVE that the beauty standards set before us on every screen are unachievable and I want to TRULY BELIEVE that they create body dysmorphia in all of us and that they don’t measure worth or real beauty.

I guess I’m just mad that it is all lies and that I’m still letting stupid metrics that mean nothing something determine my value and my success.

So, yeah. I’ve really got to ditch that scale, don’t I? I really need to try to have faith that what I’m doing is enough and that the scale doesn’t tell me anything important. Because no matter how many times I tell myself the scale is not what matters, it obviously still does.

And that’s the most disappointing part of it all.