Negative Body Image
When I was 8 years old, I started my first diet as I started to look at my body image. Ironically, it wasn’t because I thought I was overweight but it appeared the children around me did. I was simply called Fat Nat.
The first time I heard this I ignored it like most confident little 8 year olds. It wasn’t until the name calling turning into a frenzy of children all chanting these words, did I actually absorb their words. Was I fat? Should I have a negative body image? Did I need to lose weight to fit in with everyone else?
I don’t remember much about my first diet and what I actually did but I know this is where the foundations were laid for the next 20 years of my life. I struggled with my body image for years and I could never understand why I was being punished. I believed that if I lost more weight, I would love what I saw in the mirror and my self-esteem would improve.
I read this recently by Dr Rick Kausman and it resonated with:
My mid teens were some of the hardest years with my body image and this is when I struggled with bulimia. I wrote about this briefly a while back – Bulimia, my dirty little secret. Every day was the same – negative thoughts about my body and constantly thinking about ways I could lose weight. I kept a pen in my school uniform pocket so I could sneak off to the toilets at lunchtime to throw up and not make a mess. (Funnily enough I keep about 4-5 pens in every handbag now but not for the same reason). This went on for a few years until I met a boy who loved me just the way I was.
This boy taught me how to enjoy food and even when my weight fluctuated up, his love for me never altered. I never told him what I was going through until many years later (yes he is now my husband).
I believed that by losing weight I would feel better about myself. This didn’t happen as I could never see the Natalie in the mirror I thought I would see if I was skinnier. I was striving for something that was not realistic and was never going to change what was happening in my mind.
My weight ruled my life. What I didn’t understand was if I lost 5 kilos, I still needed to lose another couple to feel like my body image would improve. If I actually lost another couple of kilos, I still didn’t like what I saw in the mirror. Losing weight was not going to improve my body image, I needed to improve my body image by looking beyond my weight.
The first step to take to get off the roller coaster of body image and weight and to begin focusing on eating for health, not eating for weight. The more you focus on food and losing weight, the greater control it has on your life. A healthy body does not equate to a skinny body and by taking the pressure away from losing weight to be skinner and replacing it by ‘I will eat for my health’, slowly the control shifts back into your hands.
Take each day, one at a time and be proud of your size, shape and weight. If you become a healthier you, both in body and mind, the rest begins to take care of itself.
Linking up with Essentially Jess.