Self Perception Obsession
I have found myself obsessing with an image
I don't see myself as. I took on fitness training in a functional fitness gym this last year. As a trainer, I gradually became more and more focused on changes I saw and those that I didn’t see fast enough, in my body. I know trying to come back from complete lack of movement and likely total body atrophy to a more athletic, strong physique isn’t an overnight process, and I get that.
That doesn’t change the obsessive, negative mantra my brain tells me, “it's possible for me to have the fitness trainer body and I must be doing something wrong to not have it yet.”
I eat clean. As clean as I can considering my autoimmune conditions force me into a very specific dietary regimen.
I work out most days, at least 30 minutes of functional movement.
I put in all the gym time effort for over a year, though truthfully I’ve only been focused on daily movement for the past 4-6 months. So why do I still have a tummy? A little extra around the edges?
Exactly 6 years ago I was well over 200 lbs and wearing a size 16 dress. I’ve now spent the last 2 years in a size 4 dress. I have seen multiple, wonderful changes in my body through all my efforts. (Less IC Flares, Less digestive flares, toning in my arms, stronger legs etc…)
Two questions linger
Why do I still hold all my weight in my midsection? And why do I still obsess about it?
I’m working on changing the conversation I have with myself surrounding this topic. I know I need to give my body and my mind the time it takes to heal. But dammit if I’m not so impatient! I want to get there. I want to believe it’s possible, an aesthetic goal I’ve always wished for and never believed was “genetically” for me. Does some part of me believe I deserve to be ugly and fat?
I know I’m working through healing. I spent years inflamed and fueling it before I stopped the process in its tracks and started the long road towards healthy. I know there’s still a raging war internally and it’s why I flare. I have moments where I experience unpleasant symptoms and it’s difficult not to fall apart in the, hopefully, temporary backslide. Frequent whole body pain, headaches, terrible menstrual cycles and the ever looming interstitial cystitis monster, Frank linger, but they come and go. I believe I have more good days than bad days and all of this progress is amazing.
Why can’t it be cookie cutter easy to come back from the brink of the most toxic unhealthy body you've ever encountered? Can I give myself a break?
There’s more thoughts that stick and plague me: How can I train other people looking bloated, or pregnant, or swollen, or fat? Is there some body dysmorphia? Do I really see what others see? My therapist says she’s never noticed a tummy in body rolling classes but, I can’t unsee the negative perception I holdin my mind.
I think I have a funky shape and maybe that’s everyone. My perception of me is skewed by my history of staring at myself in the mirror. I have been 100 lbs heavier. I have been 20 LB lighter.
I sit around 140 at 5’6” with an active job and lifestyle I had to claw my way into. All of it’s received criticism from myself and others. What I haven't been, is happy with where I'm at.
What do I want to focus on next?
Being okay with where I'm at in my journey, wherever that currently is. Knowing that I might be working hard on any number of perceptions I see, or physical things I’d like to change about myself, as long as I’m working towards my goals. I want to be content with where I am.
Whether that be in my IC and gut healing journey. With strengthening my core and how I perceive this part of my body. I want to find a more helpful, optimistic and positive way to look at my progress and my body. I want to be viewed as strong, capable and knowledgeable. Other aesthetics shouldn’t matter. I don’t want my step-daughter to see me obsessing about my figure in a way that makes others insecure or me insecure. I want her to see me as strong. I want her to see me is capable. I want her to see me as determined. But mostly, I want to see myself as these things.
Recognizing that I am at the place where I am mentally is the first step. I know I am capable of doing so much more than I was this time last year. I’m working on a daily gratitude journal that includes one strength I’ve progressed and one weakness. One person in my life I’m grateful for and one event.
I will track with pictures and measurements, but only so I’m not obsessing about a scale. I did track my weight daily for a month to get a feel for where I really sit throughout my hormonal cycle, but I won’t weigh in except for the first of every month going forward. I might still be obsessing, but I’m trying to track health and not so much focus on the aesthetics. I think it’s a great place to start.
I have been telling people this is the best I've felt in a long time, which is true, but I am still fighting for survival here.
I so have a love/hate mental and digestive struggle with food. What I can and can't eat are still very restrictive and sometimes maddening. I have flares of my interstitial cystitis which leaves me crippled and anxious and desperate feeling. However, I am growing, and have grown. I am changing, and have changed. I see light in the tunnel; maybe no end, but at least it’s not dark.