I feel very uncomfortable being called inspiring when it comes to my body. My mind, my faith, my writing, even my family…they can be inspiring, but not my body.
Why is that? Because I have a horrible self image. I believe myself to be a fat girl. I have always been the biggest of my three sisters. I have been teased as a child, adolescent, and adult because of my weight.
So I got a message from a friend the other day. She has been following me on facebook. She knows I started running again and she wanted me to know that I am her hero and that I am inspiring. It makes me cringe to write those words in reference to my body, even though I have read her encouragement at least ten times.
She wants to know how to start. She is sick of being over-weight. I feel 176% unqualified to answer her. In fact, I don’t really know what her answer is. I don’t even have full confidence that I can keep helping myself in this regard. Every day is a battle for me. I truly believe I have a less severe form of food addiction and every day I am still battling it. I don’t have all the answers for me yet, how in the world can I help someone else?
I have been on a self-discovery journey for a few years now. It started with just getting to know my past and my emotions and has advanced to making changes. My body is a place that I needed to change. I don’t know if anyone can heal physically without first the emotional healing.
I can’t even describe my whole journey. I am inadequate to express the process. So, I don’t know what to tell you. I wish I had the magic words to motivate you. I wish I had the magic words to make Oreos less appealing also. That would help me out a lot.
However, I do have three tips.
Number one. Get real. What is really going on with you? Why do you loathe yourself? I promise you that inward there is some self hatred. That was what made the final decision for me to start exercising. I really made it a matter of prayer about how I could change. My answer wasn’t anything I expected. My answer from God was a question. “Alice, why can’t you love yourself like I love you?” When I started really pondering that question I felt empowered. The master of the Universe loves me. He loves me even when I don’t love me. Shouldn’t I love myself as well as he loves me? And isn’t the way that I am treating the temple he gave me a huge indication of how poorly I am doing in the love department? If you really don’t know how to do this for yourself, I highly recommend using the 12 steps in your own life. The LDS church puts out a great manual, and the steps can be used by anyone to apply the atonement in their life and make lasting changes. The fourth step is a really great tool at getting to know yourself. Years ago, I became acquainted with the 12 steps for my codependency, but I truly believe that the principles I have learned there have been greatly beneficial with my body image also.
Number two. Just start. One step at a time. After I had my spiritual awakening (which I am still in the middle of – still figuring out) I made a promise to myself that I would get started. I’ve done all the calorie counting many times in my life, so this time I wanted to focus more on getting strong. I decided to go back to where I was when I felt strongest. It was back when I was 17 and running every day. I decided that I would once again run…no matter how hard it was to get there. I set a goal. I could barely run a lap. I decided that in two months time I could at LEAST do a 5k, even if I had to walk it. I would try my hardest to run it, but I would walk it if I had to. No matter what, I was going to do it. And I did it. I ran the whole thing. It only took me two months to get in shape enough to run a 5k. I surprised myself. I was way stronger than I thought I was. In the process, I got to see the me that God loves. All along the only thing keeping me from doing it was myself.
Three. Get real again. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Everyone says that a person should exercise first thing in the morning. I would always fail because I am NOT a morning person. Figure out how to make exercise doable for you. It has truly become a break for me. I like exercising in the afternoon. I decided my older kids could watch their baby sister after school two times a week for an hour. It’s the least they could do for me when I do so much for them. (Again I had to love myself enough to believe this to really be true – all part of the journey) A lot of the time the baby is napping and it isn’t a big deal. I only run three times a week. On Saturday my husband does baby duty. It has been working just fine for me for 6 months. 6 months. Wow, I didn’t realize it had been that long. I kind of feel proud of myself. See! See, how I just wrote “kind of: ?Downplaying! That is what I do when it comes to my body. So excuse me while I say, “I am damn proud of myself.” I hope the Lord will forgive me for taking up the d word for a bit. It helps me get through to myself.
So I guess my answer is this. It’s a journey. An old Latin saying is “know thyself.” Knowing thyself is a journey that everyone should take. It’s scary. It’s actually totally debilitating for a lot of us, but it is so worth it. Because really, you are amazing. You are loved by the Supreme Creator, the Father of all. He wants you to love yourself like he loves you. The only way you can love yourself is to figure out how you don’t love yourself and change. The change starts in your mind.
So, I like to sing to myself when I get unmotivated. You’re gonna love me. Sometimes I just have to fake myself out. I have to tell myself that I am going to love me on the days that I know I don’t. Here’s your soundtrack. Get started. You won’t regret it.
The best thing about being at the bottom is that it gives you more reason to be pleased with yourself. Other people are worried about getting to that 8 minute mile mark. I am fighting against nobody but the couch. If I get off the couch I win. When you have neglected yourself for so long, the only way to go is up and out. Every time you get on the treadmill you feel like a rockstar. It’s totally awesome. I want that feeling for you. I have only lost 20 pounds. I mean I have lost 20 pounds!!! Amazing. See how that works. It’s all in the mind.