I struggled through my teens and twenties to be happy with my body. It was always about losing those last 2-3 kilos and fitting into a dress that was just a bit too small. I donít know why it never crossed my mind to just buy a dress that actually fit! In my mind, the size of the dress was what mattered more than how I felt in it. Needless to say, I spent many events stuffed into an uncomfortable dress that I could not wait to get out of when I got home. Itís hard to enjoy yourself when youíre too busy making sure you donít bust a zipper.
Iíd spend hours staring in the mirror, pinching and pulling at places I wanted to change. Iíd devour celebrity magazine, imaging myself looking just like one of them. The amount of time I spent on the latest fad diets or exercise was overwhelming. But it was never enough, there was always another goal to reach or vision to achieve.
I reached a point where I had had enough. I couldnít take the excessive amount of time and energy my obsession was consuming. I wanted my life back and I wanted to love who I was. I decided to enter therapy and nutrition counselling to learn how to be a healthy version of myself. I stopped listening to the outside voices and started listening to my body. What foods and activities made it feel good and healthy? What things made it feel tired and sick?
Eventually I started to hear things that my body was trying to tell me all along. It liked exercise, but only when it was enjoyable, not when it was forced through extreme measures. It needed sweets, but only in moderation or it didnít react well. And it performed at its best when it was provided with a decent amount of sleep. They all sound pretty basic now but when you arenít used to listening to your body, these discoveries are monumental. And I found, that when I listened and responded to my bodyís needs, it responded in kind. When my body felt good, I felt good. I looked in the mirror and didnít mind what I saw.
Itís not as though the perception of my body image changed overnight. Even still I find times when I look in the mirror and am frustrated with what I see. But itís most often because Iíve not listened to my body or had an off day. It actually has nothing to do with what my body really looks like but whatís going on in my mind at the time. My acceptance of my body as is remains a work in progress but when I look back at what I put it through, I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to be a version of someone elseís perfect when I should have been just trying to be the perfect version of myself.