Have you ever had Skinny Cow ice cream? Never has made sense to me until this morning at 4am. And that seemed like the perfect title to change this blog too. It's the perfect way to describe the thoughts of many who suffer from body issues. When they look in the mirror and see a morphed version of themselves.
I share my stories for one simple reason. To show that I am real. I am not devoid of flaws in this business. Being real is what helps me relate to clients. I don’t know it all. But I do have my experiences and know what works. Many times, knowledge is established through experience. Through trial and error. Being in the health and fitness field is no different.
People that know me from high school know that I was incredibly skinny. My parents actually tried to fatten me up with daily, high fat milk shakes. Nothing worked. I just couldn’t gain weight. I know. I know. Poor me! But at that time of my life, it really did feel awful. I couldn’t shop for clothes that weren’t in the children’s section because anything bigger would fall off. Girls made fun of me knowing that my clothes were for kids. I was incredibly self-conscious of my body. I hated it. I had no boobs, no hips, and sticks for legs. Everyone said that one day I would appreciate it…
Upon reaching my senior year of high school I was done with the skinny legs. I began power walking every day and every night. People noticed my legs were beefing up and I was finally able to wear clothes from the junior department! It was exciting! By the time, I had graduated I wanted to see what else my body was capable of so I used the money I had been given and hired a personal trainer. I was addicted to the gym. Moving to LA I began working out at least 2 hours a day. It was a true addiction. And not going really made me paranoid that I would get fat. Ironic.
Many don’t realize the body issues I faced when I was younger and the body issues that I still deal with today. It has only been recently that I have had to stop working out three hours a day because my back will not tolerate it. Finally, I have been forced to slow down. And I don’t like it. It’s incredibly hard for me. But until my back is healed, this is the way it has to be.
I look back remembering when I wanted to gain weight as that skinny, Senior in high school, to the girl that worked out three hours a day to keep a tight and toned body, to now the girl who feels incredibly bloated and flabby. I have gone from all over the board on bad body image. I have never been comfortable in my own skin. I have felt the stress of being called too skinny, fighting to look healthier. Now I don’t even know what a healthy body image feels like. It’s a horrible battle.
And I know that I am not the only one. Those of us that look in the mirror and wish that we had the figure of the girls in the magazines that have been completely filtered. Those of us who have the friend that has the body we consider perfect. Those of us that spend hours working out sometimes, but never find satisfaction. No matter what our body looks like to the outside world, we always need to change it. We are never ok within ourselves.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a real and horrible thing. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America describes it as this:
“BDD is a body-image disorder characterized by persistent and intrusive preoccupations with an imagined or slight defect in one's appearance.
People with BDD can dislike any part of their body, although they often find fault with their hair, skin, nose, chest, or stomach. In reality, a perceived defect may be only a slight imperfection or nonexistent. But for someone with BDD, the flaw is significant and prominent, often causing severe emotional distress and difficulties in daily functioning.”
My body issues are minor compared to some. But after my best friend gave birth to her own beautiful baby girl, who we know will be a tall girl, I knew it was time to get my issues into check. Kids are sponges. Whatever we say about ourselves they will at some point acknowledge and reflect upon. I didn’t want our little girl to look at me, who will be shorter than her, bashing my body, and learning to do the same to herself. No. I must begin looking at myself and feel secure in what I was given. Not just secure, but proud. I am living a healthy life for the most part in my diet and exercise regime. But mentally in regard to how I see my body? I have a lot of work to do.
I would never consider myself to have a serious body disorder. However, many women do suffer from real struggles with this, suffering from anorexia, bulimia or both. They put their lives in jeopardy to reach perfection. I can say that I don’t do this but I do see it happening all around me. This is just one more reason that we as woman need to begin to work together to build each other up instead of tear one another down. We are the worst. First off. We are awful with ourselves. We look at magazines, many where women on the covers agree to model their perfectly air brushed bodies to millions of women, and we compare ourselves to what’s on that cover. Women compare themselves to a perfection, which cannot be attained. There will always be someone who finds certain features perfect while another considers someone else’s features perfect. Example? Some cultures find a large be-danka-danck (excuse spelling) super sexy! Others? Others idolize the pancake tush. The fact of the matter is this: There will always be someone skinnier than us, heavier than us, younger than us and older than us. There will always be someone with hair we wish we had, a nose that fits what we think is perfect, the color of eyes we yearn for, and the list goes on, and on, and on. It’s an incredibly unhealthy cycle. So how do we put a stop to it?
I think the first thing is to be kind and encouraging of other women. Remember that they are most likely struggling with something that they don’t like about themselves just like us. We need to uplift other women especially when we notice their insecurities. Insecurities are like flashing red lights that everyone can see. So, we have two options. Either help them dwell in their insecurities or help them move past the concentration on that one area onto something amazing about themselves! Are they amazing moms, business women, role models? Why not help them to see those areas of their lives. Having a woman see my positive accomplishments in life and then acknowledge them means the world to me! It’s different than a man telling me. I think it has to do with knowing women are our hardest critics at times. So, hearing them affirm me? It feels super good! If a woman tells me I have awesome legs, I feel like a rock star for decades!
So here’s a secret about me…shhhhh don’t tell. I hate my eyes. They are squinty when I smile. I’ve hated them forever. And I’m super self-conscious of them. I have learned how to smile for photos so they don’t look as squinty but I want big eyes! Four years ago, a young lady I had only met once stopped me out of the blue. “Your eyes are absolutely amazing! Like intense. What color are they?” I probably looked all around the area trying to figure out who she was talking to. Surely it couldn’t be me? My eyes suck! Nobody can see skin to skin! I told her I had hazel eyes, thanked her and went on my way. She forever changed my perception. Now I think of my eyes as intense. They’re still squinty at times but it’s all good now! Just one woman changed my thinking. And she didn’t even know it.
I think this would be a great start to helping others either heal from body dysmorphia or better yet, help prevent it. I think we will always compare ourselves to others. It can create a healthy competition if in the right doses. But when we begin starving our bodies or exhausting them at the gym, engaging in endless amounts of plastic surgery and putting chemicals into our body, we begin to create a very unhealthy lifestyle. When our thoughts are so focused on changes that we need to make that we lose focus on important areas of our lives, we again begin developing a problem.
There is so much beauty that surrounds us every day. I am one of those that has put a lot of importance on my body image and looks. It really is no secret. I am one of those that has worried about aging. I am someone who has focused upon my imperfections striving to make sure that I always look perfect. It is funny though. With age, those struggles are becoming less and less. Things I really don’t care about. My hair isn’t always going to look perfect. My eyes squint because they are my dad’s eyes. And that makes me a part of him. So, I love my eyes! There is a lot more that I continue to work on.
Aches and pains have caused me to actually have to slow down and recognize the body issues that I have. I honestly had no idea. It’s funny what injuries do to us and bring up in us. And I know I am not alone. And I definitely do not want others to feel alone if they are in a battle. Internal battles are hard for anyone to admit to. They are what cause intense pain, addiction, unhappiness and unending battles within. We do not need to battle them alone. And we shouldn’t have too. If you know of someone’s battle, be there, support them, and help them acquire the help that they need.
We all are battling something. This is the most important thing that we as humans, and women, need to constantly remember. Be kind today. You never know another’s battles and what your kindness might do to change their day.