Updated: May 22, 2019
It's mental health awareness week and this years theme is body image. The impact body image has on mental health is significant. I am always writing about my perception of body image so you have heard what I say so now I want to share with you some other amazing women's stories. I also want to note that when I asked for stories to be shared only women were willing to get back to me. So ladies, start a conversation with the men in their life, ask them if they are OK.
And whilst reading the below experiences remember that you are as unique and wonderful as them.
As a child I was trained to think and act a certain way. Being a gymnast and a dancer I was
always pressured by my coaches to stick to “diet” - to look a certain way - to weigh a certain
amount and not a pound more.
Tack that on to a whole whirlwind of abusive relationships - a broken engagement - never being
good enough in the eyes of anyone - a miscarriage - and more I was heading down a slippery
slope, and fast.
Food was no longer my friend. If I couldn’t be happy with anything in my life - I was at least
going to damn well make sure I looked the way I wanted to. I was going to be perfect.
I was in control.
BUT I was in the wrong kind of control. I was using my eating disorders to cover the fact that I
was not happy with the rest of my life. All of the negativity that was inside of me was manifesting
itself to show on the outside as well.
So I decided that I need to make a change. I needed to face my internal demons and start to
live a happy & healthy life. I have been able to do this with 4 simple practices of gratitude.
Simply being grateful. Every morning as part of my journaling I write “I am grateful for the body
and the life I’ve been given.” This allows me to truly start the day off on a positive note.
Before every meal I will say to myself “I am grateful for this food and how it will help nourish my
body” always reminding myself that without food - I would not be alive today.
Daily Affirmations. Every morning I take the time to look at myself in the mirror and I say to
myself “I am beautiful” - “I am strong” - I am love!” I repeat this three times outloud with so much
power and conviction.
Education. At least once a day I set aside time to research one food item and its nutritional
value. What does it do for my body? How can I benefit from this food? This allows me to make a
connection on a deeper level with the food I decide to eat.
I eat as healthy as I can (with a few exceptions) and this helps me understand the importance of
food for the body.
Self-Awareness. Through the practice of being self-aware I have learned ways to really connect
with my body on a level I never thought imaginable.
This practice shows me how to listen to what my body needs & how to know when something is
off. By simply being aware of how a food item makes me feel physically - I can in turn figure out
what food makes me feel good & healthy.
When we are able to implement daily practices of gratitude we radiate love and positivity. Look
in the mirror and know that you are truly beautiful inside and out!
Angelina Anzalone is the owner and creator of Coffee With A Splash of Gratitude - a blog about all things motivation, love, positivity, and the practices of gratitude.
Find out more about her:
I was once one person against many in the comments section of an article on fashion where the conversation was about whether or not clothes "suited" some of the plus sized models used in the pictures. I tried my hardest to explain that the whole concept of clothes "suiting" someone is subjective but none of the other commentators could understand it, it was baffling. One of them even called me a "special kind of evil" when I said that if I was shopping with a friend and she tried something on that I thought didn't suit her, I wouldn't say so if she loved it and felt happy and confident in it. (although in my honest opinion, if someone is happy and confident in something, then it absolutely suits them!) Utterly baffled me and I was on my own in my opinion!
Apparently if your friend is happy and confident, it is your duty as a good friend to tear her down and tell her how bad she looks lest she be judged by others on her appearance.
My body has only known extremes. Activity levels, diets, pregnancies - it has seemingly been through one change after another.
As a child and a teenager, I was a dancer. I never stopped moving. Then I entered my first pregnancy. I was fifteen, scared, and nowhere near ready for the toll a teenage pregnancy would take on my body. After the pregnancy, getting ready for dance practice in the locker room became my worst. nightmare. ever. Why? Let’s just say there are a few differences between a three-week postpartum body and the body of a typical 16-year old dancer.
Between that experience, an abusive relationship (“Really Elsa? You’re eating that much again?”), weightlifting twice a day six days a week, becoming a runner, continual diet changes with binging in between, and three more pregnancies, my body has seen it all.
I spent years focusing on all the “flaws” I saw about my body. This body that has gifted me with children and allowed me to continue dancing. This incredible body that deserves every compliment I receive from my loving husband. This stretched out, sagging, soft, gorgeous body that does its best to keep up with three boys.
My body deserves more love and more credit than I formerly gave it, and your body does, too. So ask yourself this:
Would you speak to your friends the way you speak to yourself? I shouldn’t make assumptions, but you would probably tell your friends they are deserving of love and are so incredibly beautiful. Those are the words we need to start saying to ourselves. To speak kindly to our bodies that give us so, so much.
Elsa McGuire is a wife, mother of boys, student, and a registered nurse with a passion for food, swing dancing, true crime podcasts, and finding the humor in everyday motherhood .
Find out more about her:
" I Just want to say... I love this woman...I have never hated her and I think she is just great. I have never lied to myself and I have ignored others if they have lied to me. I have always expected to be treated with respect and when I haven’t been I have challenged it. I have raised my girl to be proud of who she is and of her achievements. It’s worked. If you know my daughter you will understand. 💕 Negativity has no part in my life. This is the total opposite of a post that is being shared. Here Endeth the lesson of Jackie! Don’t let others determine who you are. Tell them their opinion will be asked for if and when you want it! It’s not wanted. Love all my girlfriends. You are all just great. Don’t post negative things about yourselves because you are all amazing. 💕💕💕💕"
Dr Hannah's message
"We live in a society that places huge amounts of pressure to look a certain way and be a certain size. This often causes us to forget how amazing our bodies actually are and what they enable us to do every second of every day"
If you are struggling to foster a positive body image you are not on your own and it not easy. I have outlined some practical things that you can do here. If you can''t do it on your own get in touch with me or have a look at resources on how to be compassionate.
Sarah is an Occupational Therapist and personal trainer who is passionate about helping people flourish @MoodLifterPT She is always happy to be contacted if you want to find out more.