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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Body Image Breakthrough!

I wore shorts this weekend - all weekend - in public. For those of you who know me, this is shocking!

I have covered up my legs since around my third or fourth year of college. I started gaining a little weight. I got pretty heavy in my early twenties and started completely covering everything. I lost the weight within a year, but never got over my body image issues. When I gained weight, my legs became really thick. I hated it. I still have issues with my legs. However, the past couple of years I have learned so much about my body. I can do a lot with the legs that I have. A lot! My legs are very strong and they can carry me a long way. I am proud of what they can do even if they do not compare (aesthetically) to a supermodel or one of my college kids (duh).

I began realizing lately that your body image is relative to where you are in your life. When I was a teenager, I was heavier than many of my friends. I am not saying I was heavy, just heavier. Sadly, some of my friends suffered from eating disorders and I was comparing myself to an image that was neither healthy nor ideal.

I continued comparing myself to my thinner friends through my early thirties. It has only been the past couple of years that I have begun to get over this mentality. Very sad. I also realized that many of my friends have gained a little weight and look healthier than ever before. I don't look so big compared to them anymore. It's time to get over it!

I have also realized the past couple of years just how much my self image impacts my daughter's self image. It really struck me this weekend when we were out at a picnic at my husband's work. I had taken two of my daughter's friends with us and I was in line for the restroom with one of them. Another woman said she had seen me come in with three girls and that one of them was shaped exactly like me. Of course she meant my daughter who has my frame. It is surprising that an actual lightbulb did not appear above my head and flash brightly. Here I had been loathing my body over the years and my daughter looks exactly like me. Does this mean I loathe her little body also? She is gorgeous. She has a very strong body with an athletic build. I love her and want her to be happy and secure. I was not doing her any justice by being concerned about my own flaws. I need to embrace them and love myself for the way that I am so I can be a good role model for her self-esteem.

What also occurred to me at that moment was that I was not feeding our bodies the way they need to be fed to be healthier and stronger. Over the past few months, I have not been very diligent about eating great. I have been trying to cut back on our grocery bill and had inadvertenly started overloading us with carbs. This weekend I was very conscious about what I purchased. I still focused on buying less pre-packaged and overly processed food. I also loaded up more on fruits and veggies. My uncle also brought me some veggies from his garden and asked if I would tend for his garden in exchange for all the fresh vegetables I could handle while he is away on business. That will certainly help me decrease my grocery bill while eating MUCH healthier.

I am so glad I have had this realization before I do any damage to my child's self-image. I hope to keep this in check by continuing with healthier behaviors and focusing on all of my good qualities. I need to remember to always be thankful for all of the things for which I have been blessed. I hope this gives you a chance to think about how you are projecting yourself to the world and especially to your loved ones.

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