The Story Our Bodies Tell

The Story Our Bodies Tell

Since my last post in January, LOTS has changed & is changing.

I got into a graduate school program to work on getting an M.Ed. in School Counseling (and I couldn’t be more excited to get started!!!), I got a new position on the academic team at the treatment center I’ve been working at, my husband and I moved back to our hometown, and I’ve been training for my first marathon!!

To keep things real like I try to do here… there’s one thing that hasn’t completely changed, and that’s my back & forth struggle with body image and eating habits. Some days I don’t spend more than five minutes thinking about how my body looks or what foods I eat. Other days, it seems like my entire day is consumed with hatred of my belly rolls & soft thighs, as well as guilt & shame surrounding my food choices. The “good” days definitely outnumber the “bad”, however, I’d like to get to the point where the “bad” days don’t affect me as much as they do currently.

Because of this desire, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about WHY I even care about my physique. Why is this whole body acceptance thing so difficult for me? What’s the reason for the fear?

I’ve come to realize that I’ve been holding onto a toxic belief; that my body tells my story.

I’ve been afraid that someone would look at me and not see all the hard work, dedication, and miles upon miles of running I’ve put into marathon training because my legs have gotten thicker than they used to be and have cellulite in places that used to be muscle.

I’ve been afraid that someone would look at my soft, jiggly tummy & think, she let herself go.

It’s not just other people’s thoughts that I fear… but I begin to believe that because my legs are not as defined as they used to be, that means I’m not working hard enough on my marathon training plan. Because my stomach is soft & oftentimes spills over my jeans, I did let myself go.

My biggest fear, & the most irrational one, happens when I question my past battles with anorexia. Was I really in that bad of a place, if now my body has rolls and dimples? How could someone who used to care so much about eating “perfectly clean” & having the fittest body possible get to a place where she looks like this? Sometimes, I miss my eating disorder.

I’ve spent my whole life with the internalized belief that our bodies “tell our story”. That by looking at someone, we can see how they eat & how they move. This belief has been reinforced by listening to others joking about how “so and so” needs to “get off their lazy butt” because they carry extra weight around their waist. By movies & TV shows showing fat people stuffing their faces & dreading any type exercise. By visual aids used in school lessons showing that fruits, veggies, whole grains & lean meats = “thin and healthy” while sugar, fat, treats & salty snacks = “fat & unhealthy”.
The truth is… bodies aren’t good story tellers. Someone can be fat & eat mainly fruits, veggies, whole grains & lean meats just as someone who is thin can mainly eat sugar, fat, treats & salty snacks. Someone can carry extra weight around their waist & go to group fitness classes multiple times a week while someone who is thin hasn’t completed intentional movement in years. Again, bodies aren’t good story tellers. This is because they aren’t meant to tell stories… they are meant to be the vehicle that allows us to live out our own stories.

That being said, even *if* our bodies were perfect at telling our stories & my body “shows” that I’m a person who likes to run and can easily smash a medium sized bag of almond M&Ms, that doesn’t make my body any less worthy than someone whose body “shows” they drink celery juice & do cross fit & haven’t eaten a M&M in years.

It’s gonna take me some time to fully let go of my toxic beliefs. Though I find it helpful to have a better idea of my destructive thoughts stem from. When thoughts of shame & disappointment begin to flood my mind when looking at my body, I remind myself: I am living my story & don’t want to waste pages of that story focused on what others may think. My body doesn’t show what makes me worthy.