By Michelle Nollsch
My Struggle with Body Image
I would be lying if I told you I don’t struggle with maintaining a healthy body image. I am taking steps in the right direction to prevent this from becoming severe, as I know it can. I’m growing older & the weight doesn’t come off as easy as it used. Then hormones play a big part in it since I’m 51 yrs old and heading into menopause. What woman doesn’t struggle with this?
I recently went on vacation and had to wear a bathing suit for part of it. I was so self-conscious that I had to do a lot of positive self-talk and refrain from comparing myself with others. We were in good company as we all were a little fluffier from the last two years of being cooped up-good ole’ covid! My mind still wanted to go there, though. It comes down to accepting yourself just the way you are for this moment.
Internal Messages Affecting Body Image
I know men and women of all kinds struggle with their body image. It is important to be aware of how far your thoughts run. Fortunately I apply my self-care tools and turn my negative thoughts into positive, healthy thoughts. I work at caring for my body daily, whether it be exercise, eating right, or personal hygiene. I remind myself that it’s progress, NOT perfection.
In my teen years, I very much could have become bulimic. My brother used to say to me “Oh! You’re just big-boned.” Why that message stuck with me becoming detrimental to my well-being is beyond me. It’s funny how internal messages get stuck and become a driving force positively or negatively. Today, it’s more important for me to exercise for fitness purposes -staying strong and healthy instead of weight loss. Losing weight would be a bonus but not the end goal.
Before I became sober I hated myself entirely. It wasn’t just the poor choices I made in my life. Self-loathing ruled me and controlled my decisions for a long time. I believe this stemmed back from my mom giving me up for adoption. The internal message of being “unlovable” followed me into my friendships and love relationships. I am grateful for the 12-Step program and my sponsors who took me through the “steps” to address these deeper issues.
Positive Body Image
Positively viewing my body image requires me to apply my self-care tools. There are days when I feel inadequate and wish I were skinnier, prettier, or younger. Here are some I refer to when feeling low about myself:
- Practice positive self-talk
- Accepting and appreciating all my body does for me
- Write a letter of gratitude to my body
- Speak positive affirmations over my body
- Do something nice for my body like a new haircut or a massage
- Self-care for my body and appearance in ways that feel healthy and fulfilling like exercise and healthy food
- Remind myself that beauty is not just about appearance
- Refrain from comparing myself to others
In conclusion, I like the person I am becoming. I’ve come a long way! My husband adores me and accepts me for who I am. That is just as important as my accepting me entirely. I love and accept myself and others just as they are. I am a firm believer in self-care and being kind to myself in thought and deed. This allows me to extend the same to you.
If you are not able to maintain a healthy body image and are beginning to obsess over certain body parts or your body as a whole-please seek help with a professional such as a therapist or support group. you should not have to bear this alone. If you missed my previous blog “Maintaining A Healthy Lifestyle” I share more tips with you on self care and good eating habits.