I have a confession to make, I will be turning 30 next month and am just now really understanding why body image is so important.
Little did I know, I was struggling with my body because of my thoughts, not because of what I was doing with my body or what happened to my body. My body wasn’t okay because my brain wasn’t okay. In my undergrad program I learned how self-esteem and self-efficacy effect health. I learned mindfulness techniques that had me focus on the here and now; not the body I once had, and not the body I still wanted to have, but the body I was in at that moment. With a lot of practice, I very slowly and gradually shifted my focus to more positive thoughts about myself. It first started with small victories like lifting x amount of weight or passing a really hard class.
My body wasn’t okay because my brain wasn’t okay.
Amazing things happen when you start adding up your victories; you start gaining momentum. You focus less on all the many, many failures you might have and start living for the good moments. Counting victories turn into gratitude. And gratitude smothers doubt, negativity, and even guilt.
And when I say it’s slow moving and the change is slight, it really is. I didn’t just wake up and love who I was. The shift was almost undetectable for a while. But the growth and change were there and were gaining dominance in my mind. As my personal body image became more and more positive, I realized what a ripple effect it had on so many other aspects of my life.
Another main reason I become more in tune to my inner thoughts about myself and my outer actions and words was that I had a daughter. I didn’t want my insecurities effect how she saw herself. I wanted so badly to be a positive role model for her. And having a reason bigger than myself gave me an even bigger drive to see myself in a more positive way. I found myself diving deeper into body image in school and for an assignment, I was to give a workshop to adult women on body image. This one tiny assignment became a catalyst for my future direction and ignited my drive to continue teaching women about how they see themselves.
I’ve now given a version of this positive body image workshop to over 100 women. I gain more momentum with each person I see that leaves the class standing taller than when she came in. I feel as though I gain more than anyone else. I learn so much from other women. I hear how we all struggle with certain things, but I also hear how someone got over their insecurities and that has been a fantastic example for myself and given me even more drive to strive to love who I am, flaws and all!