Body Image

My Body Image Journey

Up until this past year I saw my body as an object that needed to be constantly improved. Problem is…..when is it good enough? Because I couldn’t define the end goal, it was unobtainable and so the vicious cycle goes. While I did and still am working on my health and wellness I have realised my body is NOT an object.Do you or have you lacked confidence because of how you see (or have seen) yourself OR how the social norms have tried to shape your opinion of yourself? If so, maybe this blog post which is a snippet of the work I have been doing on my own personal growth in this area, can open your mind to a different idea of how to see your body – which is in essence your vehicle for you to live your life.  
My body image and self esteem around my body have been something I have been working on for the past 5yrs. When my journey first started I had to order my clothes online from overseas, as size 38 wasn’t available here in Australia. Walking into a Clothes Shop here was not possible and when I tried, I had been humiliated. So for me, I knew this was a goal that needed to be worked on.

One of my main personal goals over the past year has been to accept – me – that is how the goal was written initially, however that goal has been redefined. 3mths ago I had a photo shoot with Sarah from Starshots Central Coast as I needed photos for my websites. The fact that it has taken THREE months to complete this blog post is not lost on me. Honestly I was LOATHING the thought of having these photos taken and put it off for months. Sarah is a friend and a gifted photographer and she soon realised that this was not something I was looking forward to. She assured me I would have fun and might even grow to like and then love what I see! This was my aim, so I thought OK its time to get them done. Imagine LOVING what I saw…

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Health Implications

There is also a Medical reason why this is an important goal to work on. There is my Mental Health and as I have suffered from Clinical Depression for over 2 decades I needed to ensure I didn’t run myself down that dark deep rabbit hole again.

HOWEVER, during my studies I learnt of the Brain-Gut-Microbiome Axis and how it affects your mental health. There is a blood axis that connects your Gut to your Brain in others words your Gut health, your Microbiome crosses the blood brain barrier into my brain. What goes one way with your blood also goes the other way which means it not only crosses back into your Gut it means it effects your Gut Health as well as your Mental Health. This is now a Medical Fact.

It makes sense when you think that we are an organic being made up of trillions of  organism’s. The body responds to stress which can be mental or physical via the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. The HPA is a complex structure. The hypothalamus responds to stress by secreting corticotropin-releasing hormones into the blood stream one of them is Cortisol. Elevated Cortisol is not good – that is a fact.

Bring this into how we feel about our own Body, we are out and about and all of a sudden we see someone OR something happens to create a loathing self hate feeling. We are stressed by this feeling… BOOM the cycle has begun. Now I have not even gone into how it effects your Gut Microbiome, I believe that is another Blog post all together, as our Microbiome is essential for WAY too many things to list in a short paragraph.
Body Image is the core of your self esteem, it is how you view and see yourself in the world. If you have a poor body image you may also be lacking in self confidence and have poor self esteem. These are feelings which inevitably will affect your mental health and even cellular health. If you see yourself a certain way, you treat yourself a certain way which can open the door for others to do the same. . . You see where I am going here and why this was one of my main personal goals for quite some time. 

I wrote a blog post called Me, Myself and I and have been working on it ever since. During the process of this photo shoot I must say I became comfortable with having my photo taken and when I received the photo’s, I was surprised. I really didn’t see myself that way > I am actually not sure how I saw myself really…. had I allowed the current social opinion to somehow cloud my idea of what I see as normal? This then lead to the question of what IS normal?

This past year I decided that I was going to complete this goal and end the year on me LOVING me, not accepting me or my body, not liking but LOVING me and my body! WHY??? I mean WHY NOT! My body is actually seriously AMAZING what it has done in overcoming the several diseases I had due to being 260+kg, it has literally overwritten itself – I no longer have these diseases. I no longer am classified ‘morbidly obese’ a term which I had always loathed, wait can you see the how easy it is to be and feel LOATHING of ones self ? You are classified morbidly obese and it creates a loathing feeling of YOU.  hmmm it is interesting how we can let negative creep in isn’t it? However I turned that classification and more importantly my health around. I did this because I cared enough about ME so learning to love ME actually shouldn’t be as difficult as I have lead myself to believe.

Over the past year I have had some very interesting conversations with people in regards to their body image, how they see themselves and how they think the world sees them. I also learnt a lot about others in regards to Body Image and I was STUNNED at how deep this went in our Society STILL. I didn’t realise it was STILL so ingrained. Interestingly it isn’t only something females feel, it is also something males do as well.
There have been some KEY moments for me which have really assisted or more jolted me forward.
  1.  As I started to define my goals I realised I had been aiming for a general norm for ‘The’ body type yet in reality what I love about every person including myself was how unique and individual we all are. This helped me change my view which lead to working on what MY body type should be.
  2. Short story long: I had been working out WHAT I feel more comfortable training in, booty shorts and a singlet, 7/8’s and a singlet/sports bra and I had ended up realising that comfort in training wise I like tights and a sports bra when I am hot. So during a WOD I took off my singlet and kept WODing.As I walked past a guy in my Gym I apologised for taking my shirt off ( he was actually just in shorts as it was a hot day). That one comment made him stop, look, realise and then feel compelled to make ME feel better. Truth is he hadn’t even noticed AND now I was stopping someone from working out to make me feel better. MAJOR JOLT FORWARD to not allow this to impact another.
  3. I started to work on my Weightlifting Goals, something I had been wanting to do for years and I am surprising myself with what my body is actually capable of. I am stronger now than I have ever been!
  4. I had this photo shoot, since then I have started to really LOOK at myself flaws and all.
  5. Actually seeing my flaws as apart of my life and my journey has been empowering, I have scars, I have spare skin from my weightloss and even though I have had operations to remove some of it I choose not to have the cosmetic side of skin removal. I just feel like my body has been through enough surgeries.
  6. THIS IS THE BIGGEST ONE… I opened my eyes and saw, accepted, appreciated and realised I LOVE what my body can now do. I want to be strong, capable, functional and able to move, train and follow my goals. I LOVE what my body can do which now overrules what I have believed my body should be.

Now I need to pause for a moment here and say I am human and I have days, especially around the two times every month that my hormones spike (ovulation and menstrual) as even though I no longer have PCOS. I still experience Endometriosis the pain, inflammation and belly it produces. I also have bad hair days so don’t think I walk around feeling amazeballs about my body every minute of every day. I am also a work in progress. I have just learnt to love those parts as well, even to the point that I am sharing them with friends and those around me.  The most fascinating thing that I have seen is in developing a love for my body, my vehicle for this life, my confidence to push my body has also developed. I am trying things I never thought I would, my goals have grown and I am enjoying my journey even more.
If you have read this post in its entirety, Thank-You:) This has been a great year for how I see myself and I am happy to say that I love my body and more importantly what my body can do. I am SUCH a capable strong person. I hope this has opened a different possibility up for you? I don’t believe this ends the topic, however, during my own personal growth, I have spoken to many people and I think this topic needs further discussion, especially with the current trend of Social Influence-rs and how Social Media floods out feeds with bodies as objects.
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