Last year, I sat down and wrote about body image… and it made me so happy to see it become one of my most popular posts. It felt good to honestly talk about something that so many of us think about all the time. Since then, I’ve had a few ups and downs with my own body image… and I’ve found myself going back to that post for a little positive boost. The reality is, the way I feel about this topic comes and goes in waves – and after a crazy busy and stressful 2017, there were a lot of waves!
To give you a little context, I was a part of a team at work that launched our first multi-day user conference in June. And yes, that was smack dab in the middle of Adam and I traveling to 8 weddings over the summer. I also had lots of work to do following our June event, other industry conferences to plan, and 2 people on our marketing team quit. Plus I had 3 other press trips and tons of collaborations for Lake Shore Lady. I was aware (and thankful!) that it was going to be a busy year and require a lot of hustle, but being aware doesn’t necessarily make it easier to manage!
Okay, but how does any of that relate to body image?
Well, friends – stress affects me a lot. It affects my thoughts, my ability to get a good night’s sleep, my carb intake (?)… all of it! And the less time I have for me, the harder it is to keep things in perspective. Or fit a good workout in. Or cook healthy meals for myself. Not to mention, after a long week in the summer, if I have the choice between cocktails and tacos on a patio in perfect weather or a work out… guess which one I’m going to choose? Yeah, you get the picture.
So, when it was time for one of my best friend’s weddings, it’s no surprise that I was feeling overworked and worn out. I knew that some of my dresses weren’t fitting quite as nicely as I wanted them to, but I could still zip! It was all good! And the weekend was most definitely NOT about me. But when I saw photos afterwards, I didn’t like what I saw at all. So… in the spirit of being real, let’s take a look:
These photos were obviously taken on the same day. Yet the photos on the right sent me into a spiral of judgement while the one on the left was my Facebook profile picture! Two of the angles made me think “Oh my gosh, I’ve gained weight and look terrible.” And the other made me think “I’m so lucky I’ve had such a great wedding date this summer.” Three very different photos, two very different thought patterns. (Although Adam looks like a pretty killer date in that bottom right picture too, huh? ?)
The thing is, this is just as much as mental hurdle as it was a physical one. Was it all in my head? No, I knew I wasn’t looking my best, because I wasn’t FEELING my best. So, realizing I should do something instead of just complain, I started my Monthly Fitness Recap and began tracking my workouts. I decided I needed to challenge myself more, so I started going to Orangetheory. I also finally reverted back to my plant-based ways, and (mostly) cut out the foods that I’m intolerant to according to the Pinnertest.
But beyond those physical changes, I needed to recognize that I’m way harsher on myself when I’m overwhelmed. Why can’t I do it all? Why do my arms look big when my friend who just had a BABY looks amazing? How is it fair that I gain a few pounds when I only work out twice a week instead of 4 times… but that girl who rarely works out never gains a pound? How is it that I’m constantly go-go-going and other people can just slide on by?
Quite honestly, it got to the point when Adam said to me “Will you stop saying such mean things about my girlfriend?” And he was right. I was being downright mean to myself, when in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter. I was doing the best I can. And I needed to remember that, plain and simply, I am more than a bad photo of myself. Let me repeat that for you:
YOU ARE MORE THAN A BAD PHOTO OF YOURSELF.
And you are more than your physical appearance.
I think we all go through phases of being really confident and phases of being really not. No matter what your size, everyone still has moments of insecurity. It happens to the best of us. If you find yourself being mean to yourself like I was, figure out what you can work to change, and try to let go of the rest. That’s the real work.
And try to remember that life is about SO much more than looking perfect. There are so many #TransformationTuesdays nowadays, and supposedly motivating quotes about excuses that can leave you feeling completely useless if you can’t get it all done. But in the grand scheme of things, if I solely cared about how I looked this past year, I wouldn’t have been as good at my job. I wouldn’t have been as present with my friends and family. And I wouldn’t have grown Lake Shore Lady into the successful business it is! Yes, it’s incredibly important to take care of yourself and your health, but you really are more than just your physical appearance. Don’t discount your other accomplishments just because your jeans are fitting a little tight this month, ok?
Now that my crazy year of hustling is over, I’m trying to adjust to a less stressful version of myself. I’m only working 20 hours for my day job so I can focus more on Lake Shore Lady during normal work hours. (Bye working late every night and every weekend!) I recognize how lucky I am to be able to take this step back, so I really want to take it seriously and slow down. It’s time to really re-focus on my health, both mentally and physically, instead of allowing it to take the backseat as often as I was.
So as I sit here finishing this post on Day 3 of a horrible cold, I’m not going to freak out about not getting exercise. Instead, I’m going to get as much work done as I can, treat my body well, let it rest, and start fresh when I feel better. This new year is all about being a little nicer to myself… and I invite you to do the same ❤️