Dear Sarah, I struggle with body image. A lot. I truly can’t seem to get out of my own way. Help!
Dear body image,
Man can I relate. I wrote an essay once called “Twins and Tuna Salad.” The day after I gave birth to my twins I was in the hospital, fully postpartum, recovering from a C-section, all hopped up on drugs.
My twins were in the level two nursery because they were preemie and were getting strong in there.
So, here I am laid up in the hospital bed, in my gown, hadn’t even walked on my own yet. My two girlfriends wanted to come see me, bring me lunch, see the babies. In my haze I asked for a tuna salad.
What I wanted was seared tuna on greens because it is low in fat and calories — what I got was a mayonnaise-based tuna salad on greens with cheese. I was one-day postpartum and I was already giving myself shit to lose the weight.
That is some screwed-up-head stuff.
So yes, dear body image, I can relate.
Here’s where I am now versus where I was then: I still notice my body when I gain weight and lose weight. However, I do not let it control me anymore (easier than it sounds, I know). For me, it all came to a head after I had my twins. I basically worked out post-C-section starting week two (you’re not supposed to until at least week six) and food-restricted away 60 pounds in three months.
I was obsessed with the scale and finally one day I’d really had enough.
Elizabeth Gilbert said it best: “I’ve never seen any life transformation that didn’t begin with the person in question finally getting tired of their own bullshit.”
I was tired of dreading the number on the scale only to be happy if it dropped. If it was up, my day was ruined. And I know better than that.
I am in an industry that constantly tells people to “love themselves” and here I was abusing my body on the most basic level. When I decided to ditch the scale it wasn’t easy. As any addiction, I got really good at feeding the story in my head that I had to be a certain number to be happy. So, I started to find other ways to make me happy.
Instead of jumping on the scale first thing in the morning and hoping that I was dehydrated enough to be down a half pound, I woke up and ran straight to make a delicious cup of coffee and walked outside. I would inhale and exhale and feel the need to control and go step on the scale — resist it, and then carry on.
The act of resisting the addiction made me feel strong and in that repetition of strength I created new patterns, new normals and it started to allow other areas of my life to shine brighter and have more meaning than any scale could ever offer me.
Remember you are whole as you are. You are. And you are beautiful and loved and perfectly imperfect all in one. Your jeans do not define that, you do. xoxo, Sarah