I couldn’t tell you how many blog posts, Instagram posts and stories I’ve shared about my struggles with body image.
And not just body image. I mean, the entire journey that is dealing with the body: fitness, my relationship with food, confidence, fitness challenges, “clean eating” … not to mention everything that comes under mental, emotional and spiritual health as well. Let’s just focus on the physical fitness stuff in this one (for the sake of everyone reading).
One minute I’m a part-time personal trainer who’s addicted to training and clean eating, next minute I’ve mentally and physically checked out of exercise and am eating everything in sight. Then I’m back exercising with my mental health being my priority, to suddenly being too anxious and overwhelmed to even leave the house and walk into the gym, try a new class or even return to a safe stomping ground.
It’s a cycle that changes constantly, but a cycle nonetheless.
Sometimes I beat myself up for it, other times I get in this awesome zen headspace and know within myself that I’m doing the best I can. As someone who likes routine, sometimes I get SO SICK of the same pattern each day and each week: eat, train, work, sleep. Some days I crave it and other days I lash out, refusing to go to the gym, or treating myself to something “bad” out of rebellion. It’s stupid because a) the only person I’m rebelling against is myself really and b) it only ends up triggering the cycle of self-loathing.
Recently I got a spray tan at my regular haunt in preparation for my friend’s wedding.
Standard practice for a Gold Coast girl really. I’ve had about a bajillion of them and to assist in settling a debate that I constantly find myself in – yes, I go in my birthday suit (I’m not paying $35.00 to have that stupid g-string line, especially in summer. And the women working there do not care). The girl that did my tan was lovely and chatty and after she finished she left me to dry off. It was at that point I decided to peak at myself in the mirror.
I hesitate to say what my reaction was, because I feel like I’m a part of society that is trying to steer clear from negative self-talk. On many occasions lately, I have been a huge believer and advocate of self-love and acceptance, to be grateful for what you’ve got and to remember that there is no “perfect” way to be. But I’ll be damned if I said I was happy with what I saw.
I felt so disheartened.
I mean, I know I’ve gained weight (my copious amounts of beer-drinking and eating around the world have definitely played a huge part) and that is ALL ON ME. After I returned from Cambodia I was making a conscious effort to not overindulge (I mean, I went 13 days in a row with no beer so props to me #hero #howdoesshedoit). But as it’s gotten closer to Christmas, my attitude of “fuck it, it’s Christmas” has come back in full force. And I tell ya, seeing myself under the lighting of that tanning room, in a full-length mirror and from nearly all angles, made me think: shit. 22-year-old Hannah with her size 8 wardrobe is long gone and I can no longer eat and drink everything in sight with no consequences.
I was very aware of my emotional and mental state in that moment.
I actually debated on how I should react, how it would effect the rest of my afternoon. I mentally took myself back to my ever-changing cycle; the way I shift from extremes – becoming a fitness fanatic to lashing out at myself by eating an entire pizza by myself (I actually did this recently NBD). The way I love myself one minute and then scold myself the next. The way I’m focused and then I’m not. The way I think I really need to lose some weight and then switch to having a feminist rant thinking “fuck society!” It’s all a part of the cycle.
I’m happy to say I took the high road and shut off the mental berating quickly.
In no way can I say I’m someone who’s 100% happy within themselves. I can pick myself a part like you wouldn’t believe. I’ve got cellulite, a lot of it. I hold a lot of weight on my thighs, bum, hips and belly. I feel self-conscious in shorts or swimwear. And no amount of spray tan can make those insecurities go away.
BUT being 30 years old and having been through the ringer with body image shit, I am definitely better at coping with my own thoughts.
I’ve written about it before and said it a million times before: when it gets tough like this – remember the good things about your body.
Your health, legs that help you run, skip, jump, train, surf, skate, dance – whatever it is. A nice smile, good skin, healthy hair, nice nails, good knees (might sound left-field, but mine crackle and pop and also don’t look the greatest ¯_(ツ)_/¯ ) … focus on the positives where you can. Easier said than done yes, but if you keep practicing this habit, it will hopefully become second nature and assist you in flipping around any negative self-talk into positive.
These sort of moments are important. They may feel upsetting sometimes, but they’re also a good opportunity to check in with ourselves and can make us assess where we need to start making some changes. I know I need to and yes, I plan on getting my life in order very soon … once all of my Christmas shenanigans are all done and dusted.
Irresponsible yes, but realistic. ¯_(ツ)_/¯