For the past 4 months I’ve been on my most recent journey with food. On and off I’ve followed a strict food plan trying to break my addiction to Diet Pepsi, carbs and sugar. Going into details about the food plan isn’t even important to write this blog post so I’ll skip the real specifics of the diet and just share that I’ve done this in 30 day increments. Sometimes I was successful for the whole 30 days and other times I wasn’t.
What has stood out to me the most about the entire process is how I view myself mentally when I’m only putting healthy foods into my body. As time went on and I felt more confident in my choices and I was seeing success on the scale I started feeling empowered. I could feel and see changes in my body inside and out, but most importantly I could feel a shift happening mentally with my self-worth. Now, when I finished my 30 days both times I wanted to continue eating in the same fashion, but allow some leniency for going out and special occasions. That did not happen and as the weeks have gone by, that confidence I gained from “doing healthy” started wavering too. The more “bad food” started entering my mouth, the more “bad thoughts” entered my brain. In any given moment I can find myself having an internal conversation with myself and the negative side winning. How I looked 24 hours ago may not have changed, yet the confidence I had the day before is gone and the mental game I’m playing tug o war with has me convinced I’m a failure.
Let me share an experience from a hike I did this week with a friend. I start of the day debating what I want to wear and end up putting on a pair of athletic leggings and an athletic top that I bought with hopes of wearing after I lost a “few pounds”. Everything was snug, but fit and I felt great. I put on my hiking sneakers, pack my back pack and head to the mountains. As we progressed on the trail, the terrain got rockier and at one point I contemplated turning around, but I kept telling myself 5 more minutes and the next thing I know we were at the top of the rough terrain. Time was running out, so we stopped, had lunch and headed back down. For me, the biggest accomplishment of the whole day was being able to do that hike with minimum pain afterwards. I kept waiting for the normal pain to hit that evening in my hips and back and it never did.
After she dropped me off, I text my friend and ask her to send me the photos she took of me on the trail because I was excited to share them. As I’m waiting for the photos I think about the positives. I give myself kudos for actually getting out on the trail. I give myself kudos for “fitting” into my clothes. I give myself kudos for doing the hike relatively pain free. Then the photos came through and within seconds my heart sunk and the negative messages poured in. The shirt I had chosen confidently was the most unflattering shirt I’d ever seen. I thought it was comfortably snug, but it showed every crease and roll of my belly and I immediately wanted to go bury myself in a hole. How could I have worn that all day for people to see? How could I have been so stupid and blind in the mirror? Every success I was celebrating from that day was immediately overshadowed by how I looked. Needless to say, only the close up photos or photos of my backside were shown on social media.
I’ve had a few days to recover and if I’m honest it’s not been easy. Yesterday was my birthday so the whole week has been full of fun and food. Food that normally isn’t a big deal, expect in times like this when I’m trying to analyze the mental game that’s already been going on in my head for a month. This blog post doesn’t end with a fairy tale ending or one magical quote to fix it all, but it does end with me telling myself I’m worth being healthy. Even when I feel like I’m failing and I look “like a fatty” I’ll keep trying and moving forward. So here I am spilling the truth and posting the photo for all to see. I’m 49 sparklers and I’m not giving up. Like that trail this self-esteem journey is full of obstacles and I’m just thankful I have something like the Shimmer, Sparkle, Shine Project in my life to help give me the reminders I constantly need along the way. Michelle