My Struggles with Body Image

Body image is how you see yourself in the mirror and the way you perceive yourself in your mind.

I am currently sitting here staring at my computer screen because I am finding it difficult to put into words what I actually want to say.  This is a first because I always have something to say LOLOL.

Growing up, I was always so confident in myself and nothing could make me feel otherwise.  Now that times have changed and social media rules everything, my mindset is a lot different now.  I would be lying to you and myself if I said that I was confident about my body. In reality, I actually dislike it very much.  That may seem a bit harsh to say about myself but it’s the unfortunate truth! People see me and say, “Alex you look so good!” and “You are in such great shape”, etc. I don’t see it and I don’t know why can’t I make myself believe those things too?

Since I started competing, I have fallen victim to this negative mindset post-show.  I am so used to being so tiny and lean during my prep and show day, that when post show comes, and I gain 10-15 (sometimes 20) pounds, I mentally freak out. I work so extremely hard for this one day to be on stage, and within two days it completely goes away. All my hard work and progress just disappears and I am back to my normal and sub-par self, or so I feel.  Everyone follows a reverse diet, but that IS SO HARD TO FOLLOW.  I mean, I just prepped for 6 months. I do not want to follow another diet…OKAY???? (Following the reverse diet is the right thing to do, and the PROPER thing to do.)

I get embarrassed to go into the gym because people at the gym know what I look like stage lean for such a long period of time, that for them to see me gain HEALTHY weight, is nerve-wracking.  I emphasized “healthy” because I need to make it clear that gaining weight after a competition is healthy and necessary. (It is healthy, Alex. It is healthy, Alex. *Repeats to self in head over and over and over)

Everyone is so used to seeing me eat chicken, rice, and green beans every single day of my life, so when I eat anything else or I actually indulge in something yummy, I feel SO embarrassed.  I think that when people see me eat a slice of pizza or have a donut they think it’s gross or are disturbed by the way that I am eating.  I will often get comments like: “Oh my god, Alex, you are really eating that?! Aren’t you some health freak and only eat chicken and green beans?” or they will make a shocked face.  Although they are only trying to be funny, it gets to me and makes me self-conscious.

I walk by the mirror and truly do not like what I see.  I pick apart each square inch of my body that I hate and think to myself what I could be doing differently to love my body again.  I am trying my best to enjoy my non-competition life and eat good food with my friends and family, but it gets hard sometimes.

I recently took a photo with a friend and I thought I was going to die because I felt like I looked SO horrible.  She posted it and I instantly got anxiety because I just hated my body in it.  Or some of my clothes fit differently on me now than they did when I was prepping.  Or I just went for my physical, and when I got weighed I sat there and instantly started crying after.

Oftentimes, I find myself trying to find my ways out of certain social situations or not take photos because I hate what I see.  I constantly am worried about the way that I look and the way people look at me, and social media does not help either (another blog for another time.)

A lot of my body image issues came from competing, but I oddly still really love it.  The sad truth is, in order for me to ever continue competing, I must get my mind right first!

If you, like me, are struggling with body image issues, I hope we can help each other through it. I put together a few ways to help you think positively about yourself and body image:

1. Appreciate all your body can do. – You can walk, you can talk, you have the ability to move around and workout.  Some people are tied down to a wheel chair or to their beds and aren’t able to do anything for themselves.  You are blessed.

2. Surround yourself with positive people. – This is so important.  Positive people will only boost your mood and how you live daily.  You tend to naturally base your attitude off of the people around you.  Choose positive people and situations.

3. Your beauty is not simply skin deep. – True beauty is what is inside of you.  Do good, and be good, it will make you more beautiful than what is on the outside.

4. Do things that make YOU happy and feel good. – Do not live your life for others and to please them.  Always do what makes you happy.

5. Keep a journal: write down everything you feel. – I love writing because I am able to get down everything I feel without having to talk about it out loud where there is room for judgement.

6. Step OFF of the scale. – Step off the god damn scale. Actually, just throw it out.  The scale number DOES NOT MATTER.  Your body composition compared to the person next to you is COMPLETELY different.  The number on the scale will only make you feel worse, I promise you.

7. Realize fitness isn’t all about weight, how much muscle you have, or calorie counting. – Fitness is about overall health.  Are you feeding your body enough macro- and micronutrients, fiber, water, and food in general? Are you giving yourself enough time to recover and rest? Are you giving it the proper amount of exercise daily? Are you HAPPY?

You are beautiful.

Much Love,

Alex

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