"And I said to my body. Softly. 'I want to be your friend.' It took a long breath. And replied, 'I have been waiting my whole life for this.'"
I struggled with perfectionism and control for a long time, always taking it out on my body. Throughout high school and college, I struggled with disordered eating in many different forms. I liked myself when I felt thin, and hated myself when I felt big. It was exhausting, frustrating and confusing, but I was addicted to the sense of control I felt over my body, and I was absolutely terrified of recovery. Growing up, I felt that there was always a big emphasis on appearance and looking a certain way. I felt like if I was thin people would like me, desire me, and respect me. Starvation, over exercise, extreme food rules, guilt and shame surrounding food choices were a daily occurrence. But that's not who I am today. Over the years, I've learned to break free of this vicious cycle, relax, and make peace with food, exercise and my body. I eat and move my body in a way that feels good for me. But I still don't always LOVE the way my body looks, and that's okay.
Today, I'm sharing a recent letter I wrote to my body.
Damn... We've been through a lot together. I'm sorry that I've caused you so much pain. I'm sorry that I've spent decades of my life hating you, criticizing you, and wanting to change you. I took the things you've allowed me to do for granted. You allowed me to succeed at a sport that granted me a free college education, and the best friendship I've ever had.
To my uniquely shaped stomach, I'm thankful for you. I'm sorry for never thinking you were toned enough. I'm sorry for squeezing you all those times and wanting to make you disappear. I'm sorry for comparing you to other women I saw on TV and Instagram. To my arms, I'm sorry for thinking you were too big and never appreciating you for how strong you were. To my legs, i'm sorry for all those hours I tortured you on the treadmill and tried to make you smaller. To my body, my feelings towards you are no longer dependent on how much I ate today, or how much I exercised.
Thank you for not giving up on me, and continuing to fight for me when I wasn't giving you what you needed to thrive. You are everything to me, and you deserve more. Please forgive me for all those times I looked at you in utter disgust in dressing room mirrors. For all those nights I went to sleep hungry and deprived you of dinner. I am eternally grateful for your strength, energy, and everything you've allowed me to do. You are literally everything to me. I promise to take care of you, honor you, and trust you. I can't promise that I will love you every day, but I am ready to be your friend.
Of course, I do NOT have it all figured out. I can only do my best. If I expected to love myself 100% of the time, I would end up feeling like a failure whenever I have an off day. So I focus on a mindset shift and small victories. One thing that has helped me when I start to regress back into old thinking patterns is replacing negative self-talk with positive words. So talk to yourself the way you'd talk to someone you adore (your best friend, your sister, your mother). I think my best friend is the most gorgeous person alive. When she talks badly about herself I always immediately affirm her that she is beautiful. So why don't you tell yourself how good you look! When you manifest something, you start to become it. When you tell yourself your ugly all the time, of course you will become uncomfortable in your own skin. So start complimenting yourself. Not just on your appearance, but just make a list of things you love about yourself!
I believe there's nothing wrong with wanting to look and feel good (I still love feeling pretty, strong, and fit) but it becomes a problem when your self-worth depends on your physical appearance. For me, it’s about progress, not perfection. The bad body image days are the days its the easiest to fall back into old patterns. You may think to yourself, “I hate my body. I should go to the gym every day this week, and cut out carbs, sugar, and dairy. It will work and then I will finally lose weight, and be happy.” News flash... If that is your mentality, losing weight won't bring you happiness. It will only bring you more anxiety about your body, because guess what? At my lightest weight I was still unhappy with my body. What does help is finding foods and activities that nourish your body, mind and soul. For me, that is taking care of my body. It is creating recipes in the kitchen. It is helping others nourish their body. It is exercising to move and feel good emotionally. It is spending time with my family. It is being outside in the sun. It is listening to a podcast I love. Fill up the space in your mind with positive thoughts, and there will be less space for the negative ones.
I used to be afraid of recovery because I thought my eating disorder gave me control. In reality, my eating disorder controlled me. I promise you, FREEDOM feels a lot better.
This insight has come from my own experience and my own journey. I hope that it inspires and guides you in your own journey. I plan to share more of my own story in the future, but that is all for now!