Lose weight! Earn you bikini body! Don’t eat that, it will make you FAT!
Wow. It is no wonder that so many people deal with self-esteem issues. This is a serious issue in our society today. I think people realize this, but no one really knows how to deal with it. It is unfortunate that so many women (and men!) live by comparing themselves to others and basing their self-worth on how others view them. As a recovering self-hater that grew up believing that my self-worth was based on the size of my jeans, I can completely relate. Of course, this does not only refer to people who think they are too fat. This is for everyone. The teenage girl who thinks her ears are too big. The young boy who thinks he doesn’t measure up to his older brother. The middle-aged woman who constantly stresses over her weight. The examples are endless.
I wish I had a cure for this disease in our culture. I have a recommendation, but it is much easier said than done: Learn to love yourself.
Like I said, easier said than done. But I can attest, with my entire being, that I have found nothing to be truer than this: You will never better yourself if you are trying to change the way you look. You have to change the way you feel. Mindset is everything.
Since middle school, I have dieted. Isn’t that sad? At the age of fourteen, I believed I was fat and had to diet and lose weight. I completely cut out carbs. I refused to eat lunch. If I ate a candy bar, I would hate myself for days. AT THE AGE OF FOURTEEN. And it only went downhill from there.
Growing up, I played sports year round, so I never thought about exercising. In high school, I was incredibly shy and insecure because I was “bigger” than others. Of course, I probably thought I was bigger than I actually was. I was by far my own worst critic. Once I started college, I got even bigger (and unhealthier).
And that is the point I am trying to make. I wasn’t fat. I was incredibly unhealthy – both physically and mentally. Sure, I would run sometimes and lose some weight. I would skip breakfast thinking I could save those calories for another meal. But my habits were not sustainable, and I would always gain back the weight (and then some), which led to more self-hate. I had no idea how to take care of myself.
About a year ago, my life started to truly change. I was first introduced to the Whole30, and it completely changed my life. It taught me that dieting does not, and will never, work. The only way to change your body composition, is to change your mindset about food. I now eat to nourish my body, rather than diet to change it. From there, I began to apply this philosophy to every aspect of my life.
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. – Eleanor Roosevelt
This is my new mantra. (And yes, I originally heard it on The Princess Diaries.)
EVERY. TIME. I start to stress about how others will view me, or what they might say about me, I play this on repeat in my mind. When others are unkind to you or judge you or say cruel things, this is not a reflection of you. It is a reflection of THEM. Our happiness stems from how we treat ourselves.
Going back to health and nutrition: I refuse to own a scale. I have learned that true health is so much more than a number. I love my body and am thankful that God blessed me with it, so I take care of it. I do not look for things to change – I eat and exercise to sustain my health.
The co-creator of Whole30, Dallas Hartwig, sums up what I am trying to say perfectly:
A lot of times, people confuse being healthy with looking a certain way.
By getting enough sleep, having strong, real relationships with others, eating to nourish your body, and moving to strengthen your body, you will become unstoppable. No matter how you look, you have to love how you look now. Only then will you produce real, lasting change – for your body and your mind.
I am not going to lie. This was an incredibly hard post for me to write. I stared at my screen for about two hours before finally hitting publish. I am still on a journey to loving myself and being confident in who I am. We all have our struggles! If you have anything you need to talk about, or maybe just want some encouragement, please send me an email at jordansheapage (@) gmail (.) com.
Photo credit: www.unsplash.com