My struggle with my body image

July 2, 2018





Last week I took a small family vacation with about 42 family members😌 for my husband's niece's wedding (that was a mouthful).  It was a Carnival cruise out of Tampa, Florida with four stops in the West Caribbean including, Mexico, Belize, Honduras and Grand Cayman.  I wanted to share my dirty little shameful truth that causes a ton of anxiety ESPECIALLY when I travel.  It is my need to control and restrict what I put in my mouth.  Now in my everyday life I eat well, I make healthy choices with the occasional slip up, no biggie right?  But on vacation my "obsession" with food is at a maximum.  I am sharing this with you because it is something I still struggle with and I didn't realize exactly how much until this trip.  If you have ever been on any vacation, specifically an all-inclusive vacation then you know what I am talking about.  There is an endless amount of food, all of it is free and most of it is nutritious but in that hot sun when you are sun bathing and swimming and going on excursions your body or maybe just mine, craves all of the "bad stuff".  I am talking sugary cocktails, french fries, ice cream, PIZZA, the kind of stuff I NEVER reach for at home is all I want! On the first two days my husband and I vowed to work out and eat healthy and we stayed on track but by that third day I "slipped" and had a helping of deliciously crispy, salted fries!  They were sooo good.  That night while getting ready to head to dinner I had a small meltdown.  I felt like a failure, I had let myself down and would pay for my weakness.  I looked at myself in the mirror and saw a fat woman.  I said unkind things to myself and about myself to my husband.  I remember saying that I was a fry away from looking like a sack of potatoes.  My husband assured me I was not seeing myself clearly.  He loves my body and all of its imperfections, I on the other hand, at that moment, DID NOT!

I have always had a terrible relationship with food.  When I was a teen I was hungry a lot and I needed twice the serving to feel full.  I remember being shamed for it.  I was bigger than anyone else in my family or at least I felt that way.  I definitely had more heft to me than my older sister, she was shorter and more petite than I was.  Both of my parents were in good shape, my mother never worked out and had a sweet tooth but she never had to worry about gaining weight because of her late night snack attacks.  I on the other hand was different.  I could pack the pounds and during my first relationship before I got pregnant I had put on a lot of weight.  I was young, had very little money (fast food was my friend) knew nothing about nutrition and was in a dark place.  When I became pregnant I was about a size 12 or 14.  (I realize that is the average women's size, but remember I came from a very "petite" family, no one was overweight and the women in my family didn't wear anything over a size 6).  When I became pregnant I gained over 60 pounds, at the time of my delivery I was 218 lbs and wearing a size 18 in jeans.  A lot happened over the next few years, some of it I have shared here and others you don't know about, but all I had no control over.  Sure I made my choices and that I had control over but what happened as a result of those choices, I had no control over.  Restriction became my form of control.  I would starve myself, abuse pills to suppress my appetite and to increase the passage of what I did allow myself to eat.  I was in a scary place and in a way that I can't fully explain, it gave me comfort.  This restriction, this pill popping all of it was satisfying.  I never sought professional help, I just started opening up to a few people I trusted and taught myself about proper nutrition, began to include exercise into my lifestyle, fell in love and married a wonderful man but the root of my issues are something I STILL deal with.  Not as often and not for as long but when triggered they can be intense.



At the moment of my breakdown, I revisited a dark place that had nearly consumed me 15 years ago. I bounce back a lot faster and I am able to "snap" out of it, but it is always there lurking in the background.  After a night of sweetness and patience from my husband and a stern talking to myself this image I had created that I swore I could see in the mirror faded away.  I saw me again and decided that I would let myself eat whatever I wanted to eat without the guilt.  Did I loose my mind and eat everything in sight?  No! I didn't need to, I just had to allow myself permission to release the control. I have gotten a lot better in my everyday life with my self image.  Actually just before I went away I had gone shopping and had an idea to write a post about why what size you wear at different clothing stores DONT matter.  I was at H&M picking up a few last minute items for my trip and I found myself with three different dresses ALL different sizes!  All of them fit me perfectly but I was in a 6, an 8 AND a 10 and it didn't bother me at all.  I thought, I should share with my readers this "revelation" here I am at my healthiest weight buying three different dresses in three different sizes from the same store knowing that 15 years ago I would have left in tears refusing to buy a dress in a size 10.

On my best days I admire my body for all that it allows me to do and be.  I also allow myself the right to not be perfect or measure my worth and value by what I look like even though everything we see and read tells women differently.  We are constantly told we should be a certain weight, wear a certain size, not allow ourselves to wrinkle, or have stretch marks, or cellulite or grey hair, hairy legs or saggy boobs, a belly pooch, unmanicured nails, flat, lifeless hair or anything else that resembles a REAL HUMAN BODY, it wears a girl down.  I remind myself that my value and my happiness rests in my relationships with others, my ability to positively impact another person's life and my ability to love and care for people.  That is what matters.  Our bodies will wrinkle, will fluctuate in weight and cellulite and eventually they will fail us and we will wither away and die and you know what?  I bet you have never heard anyone say, "She had the tightest abs I have ever seen" after someone has passed away.  That might be a bad joke but my point is we are MORE than what we look like.



I am no expert in this arena and I don't pretend to be.  I was able to get through my more severe and self abusive behavior on my own with support and love from friends and family but if you are suffering with an eating disorder or body dysmorphia and it is disrupting your life and affecting your health you should seek professional help.  I have said this so many times before and you might be tired of hearing it but you are beautiful and deserve a happy and fulfilling life, whatever that means to you.  There is a national hotline you can call 24 hours a day that can direct you to help in your area, the number is 1-866-523-7834.  You aren't alone and it isn't insurmountable.

About this look: I thrifted this beautiful watercolor dress from H&M's The Garden Collection at thredup.com a few weeks ago.  I have linked a few high end and low end dresses below. 


Thank you for reading.

With love,

LifeStyledbyErica

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