Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Jump Into July: Love My Body Project

While at the beach this weekend, I asked my husband to take some "pretty pictures" of me in my sundress because I was feeling cute and the sunrise was doing great things to my skin. I told him to take a picture of me that *I* would like, so get those angles right, buddy!

Here's what I got. 

Waveland, MS, June 2020

After seeing this and a dozen other photos that looked roughly the same, I couldn't believe how ugly I looked. I asked for a PRETTY picture, man! His response was that these pictures were gorgeous and he loved this and that about them. All I could see was my fat arms, my protruding belly, my chubby cheeks, my flabby shoulders and my saggy boobs. What on earth was HE seeing? The pink clouds and the calm ocean in the background?

I've had a lifelong problem with my body image. (Surprise! I must be the only human on earth with this issue, right?) I've also had a lifelong issue with food. (Again, 100 points to me for being so unique, right?) I am either starving myself for days on end or gorging myself with goodies. Sometimes I eat healthy and sometimes (most times) I eat garbage. But delicious, tasty, mood-satisfying garbage!

Then I stare at my naked body in the mirror and loathe what I see. My husband can come behind me and see something totally opposite from what I see, and sometimes I believe him, sometimes I don't. I tell him he's biased. I tell him he's looking at me with rose-colored glasses because he loves me. Sometimes I can tell by the hunger in his eyes that he really DOES think I'm a legit snack, but honestly, what is wrong with his eyeballs?

More importantly - what is wrong with ME?

Why am I so obsessed with thinness? Why do I still, after all these years, have this belief that I'm supposed to be bone-thin and stretch-mark free to be beautiful? Indeed, there are beautiful women who are bone-thin and stretch-mark free. But there are also beautiful woman who are full-bodied and soft all around. In fact, I myself am really attracted to women with those sexy curves, just as much as to women who could model for Vogue. If I can see the beauty of others in a variety of bodies, why am I so mean to myself?

Let me also say for the record, that I'm not fishing for compliments here. I'm also not knocking any other body types. There will be people thinner than me that I don't want to insult and there will be people bigger than me that I don't want to insult. I genuinely look at other people and think how beautiful they all are, in every shape and size. I see beauty in so many other bodies. I just can't seem to apply the same principles to my own body. Again, I'm not unique in this; I'm willing to bet 90% or more of you readers (all 6 of you!) have the same issue. Please don't get mad at me if you are bigger or smaller than me for anything I say. Body image is such a sticky subject. It's hard to hit the right tone! I'm just speaking from my own perspective.

A few years ago, I started the Love My Body Project. Along with some very practical disciplines like getting more exercise and eating better, every day I would stand in front of the mirror and tell myself  "I am beautiful." I'd find some feature to praise, however small. And I'd repeat it over and over until I believed it. 

This year has been, well, it's been 2020. What else can I say? I've been working from home for three and a half months. I started out wearing work clothes to keep myself in work mode but soon resorted to jeans and t-shirts. If I have a video conference, I might where a nicer shirt. Today, as I prepare for a day-long virtual meeting, I've put on a dressy blouse paired with shorts. Who's going to see my lower half anyway? 

And makeup? What's makeup? Hair? Why, a dirty bun looks fine through a pixelated screen.

Plus, this working five steps from the kitchen hasn't been good either. I have LEGITIMATELY gained the COVID 15. Like, I weigh exactly 15 lbs more than I did in March when I left the office for the last time. When we do return to office life, I am afraid none of my work clothes will fit anymore. I've been reticent to try them on because the longer I don't know, the longer I can keep eating Spaghettios With Meatballs (mmm) for lunch without guilt. 

So here's where I'm going with all of this.

It's time to kickstart the Love My Body Project again. It's time to take some practical steps to care for the body I'm in but also to love the body I'm in. I'm starting with a small goal of waking up early enough every day this week to walk at least a mile. Maybe I'll even run! But baby steps. Along with that goal, I would like to watch what I eat. I'm still working on what a food plan would look like, but the baby step is being more aware and deliberate about what and when I eat. The third part of that goal is to look at myself every day in the mirror and say "I am beautiful." And repeat it over and over. Not "my husband thinks I'm beautiful" or "my mom thinks I'm beautiful" but "I AM beautiful." 

And in typical Lori fashion, every project I start has to have a name, so the Love My Body Project is just one step in my Jump Into July Project which also includes working on my financial health and my mental health, which I'll dive further into in the next couple of days.

(Getting back into writing, by the way, is part of my mental health improvement. I have missed writing so, so much.)

To kickstart July (though it's technically still June), I woke up this morning and took a walk. I walked 1.8 miles while listening to an audiobook. Granted, when I got home, I was really hungry and did NOT think deliberately before heating up a slice of leftover pizza for my breakfast. Baby steps, y'all! I'll do better at lunch. 

Or maybe since it's still June, I'll finish off that last can of Spaghettios so it's not tempting me tomorrow on July 1st.