BE A REBEL

My battle with self-image has been life long. I don’t remember a single day in my life where I was happy with my body. Okay, maybe that one year when I lived off of diet coke and cigarettes back in my twenties, and even then I would’ve changed some things had I been given the opportunity. I dropped to 115 lbs and at 5’6″ that was underweight for me and obviously not healthy At. All. But it’s the last time I remember feeling totally free.

For a multitude of reasons which I shall not delve into here, my self-image is tied into my feelings of worthiness. Do I belong? Depends on weight. Do I deserve X, Y, Z? Depends on weight. If someone acts like they don’t really like me….I assume it’s because of my appearance. Pretty and thin = worthy.

Of course, I never put that standard on anyone else. Just me.

I tend to gain and lose the same ten pounds over and over and over. All through my thirties and into my forties, it was the same old story. Gain some weight over the holidays, then rein it in and lose ten pounds. But I’ve never been above a size 12.

Upon entering my forties, I took up running and, briefly, crossfit. I was arguably the most fit I’d ever been, but also the most critical of myself. The expectations I set were stricter and more unrealistic than ever. It was becoming obsessive.

In the summer of 2013, I was viewing photos from a recent family trip to Colorado. When I saw myself in the pictures I cried. They were real tears of disgust and anger because what I saw was appalling in my eyes. A failure. Someone who is unacceptable. A disgrace. And I was bitter and resentful that I worked So Hard and still looked like shit.

I was a size 8/10. In retrospect, I looked fit and amazing, but I couldn’t see that then. Ridiculous, right? But logic doesn’t always play a role in corrosive thought processes.

I begged *insert Divine energy* to please let me have a body I’m not ashamed of. PLEASE. Please, I’m working so hard, please let my body reflect it. I just want to go out with friends and not be consumed with my appearance. I want to agree to that beach trip my husband keeps mentioning, rather than make excuses why I can’t.

And then that Fall and Winter of 2013, I started gaining weight for no reason. My diet and exercise hadn’t changed. Perfect, give the girl with body images issues some random weight gain. Ohh, the irony, right? It’s just my winter layer, I told myself. I’ll get my game-face on in January.

Come January, not only did I get my game-face on, I became vegan and began running again.

My husband, who went vegan as well, lost 15 pounds.

I gained 12.

Throughout all of 2014, I continued to steadily gain weight. By December, less than eighteen months after the weight gain started, I’d put on nearly 30 pounds. THIRTY. That’s a medium size dog…on my ass.

Panic and shame don’t begin to describe it.

please let me have a body I’m not ashamed of….

I stopped volunteering at the school. I started parking in the back driveway to hide from neighbors. I cancelled social engagements, unless it was with my most trusted friends whom I don’t feel judged by. I didn’t eat in front of other people because I didn’t want them to judge what I ate. I couldn’t risk them thinking, “That’s why she’s gained weight…did you see her eating?” or worse, “Wow, she’s really let herself go.” I couldn’t bear the thought that people might think I sat around eating cheeseburgers all day.

The courage I had to muster just to be seen in public – especially in front of people who hadn’t seen me in a while – was titanic, and usually ended with me crying on the way home. Mortified.

Even worse? I wanted to write about it, but was too embarrassed to “come out” to my online community as “not skinny and perfect”. Because then what reason would they have to like me?

please let me have a body I’m not ashamed of….

I went to two doctors who each did full blood panels and physical exams. It has to be my hormones, right? Or my thyroid? B12 deficiency? I’ll be able to take a pill and this nightmare will end, RIGHT?

“Mrs. Teliho, you have the cholesterol and blood pressure of a 25 year old and you’re perfectly healthy. Keep up the good work.”

Good work?? But I’m failing. I’m….I’m…the F-word….*whispers* fat. I’ve become my worst nightmare. I’m a monster. How can I be fat? I showed up to boot camp at the crack-ass-o-dawn, in the hot Texas summer, on a Saturday, and flipped 200 lb tires in a parking lot. I took my own sweet potato to the family BBQ and didn’t touch the chips. I’ve been doing everything right. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?

There was a part of me – the logical part – that knew how screwed up this thinking was. I was so grateful for my health, and for my family’s health, and my awesome marriage…so many *real* things to be thankful for….yet I couldn’t stop fixating on my weight, which continued to pile on in 2015, albeit slower.

One doctor said I should try a juice cleanse to help jump-start my metabolism. I spent $200 on the best juicer and did the cleanse. I lost eleven pounds in two weeks. And gained it all back over the next eight weeks.

Another doctor sent me to a nutritionist who suggested a 40 day cycle of injectable HCG, which is a hormone that tricks your body into thinking it’s pregnant, while committing to a PERMANENT 500 – 700 calorie/day diet. This for the small price of $400.

Oh sure. *eye roll* That’s realistic and safe. I’d rather eat frog assholes.

I’ve always believed part of the reason we’re here is to learn lessons, so whenever I’m facing a challenge I constantly ask myself, what am I supposed to learn from this?

And then I remembered – when I was wishing I was back to the size I was in those Colorado photos – that I hated my body when I was thin, too. I’ve never been happy with my body, so what does it matter if I lose weight? I’ll still fixate, criticize, and stew in self-hate.

There have been several major movements in the media (alliterate much?) over the past year or so that got my attention. Curvy women living unapologetically. Models, bloggers, comedians, moms, authors…all of them embracing their shape, whatever that may be. Funny, smart, talented, successful women. Slowly, this began making an impact on me.

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BEAUTIFUL DENISE BIDOT

I was at the pool a few weeks ago and there happened to be a high ratio of curvy women. The astonishing thing I noticed is that they weren’t covering up. They were in bikinis. In the pool with their kids. Enjoying a snow cone and smiling. You know how that made me feel? Proud. Unashamed. Normal. Jesus, it was incredible. And that’s when it hit me. Our perception is our reality. If we’re fed images of beaches filled with size 0 bodies with golden tans and perfect hair, than that’s what we process as acceptable and realistic. Who are we to mess up the picture with our pale skin and stomach rolls?

I wanted to be a part of this incredible movement, and it starts with being a rebel and living unapologetically.

I searched for a lesson and I got one. Want to know what I learned?

I’ve been a fucking fool. We all have.

I learned I’ve been a pawn in our culture’s ploy to make money off media-imposed insecurities. The media that tricked us into thinking it’s adorable to see a thin person enjoy a dessert, and repulsive when a curvy person does it. The media that teaches us that there’s only one perfect way to look, and everyone else should be able to achieve that body with diet and exercise, and if you don’t, then you’re lazy or ignorant.

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BE A REBEL

I learned that happiness is in loving yourself, unconditionally.

My body is a result of genetics, and my weight gain is (evidently) the result of genetics and age. The same genetics that gave me pretty hair, a great smile, high cheekbones and full lips. The same genetics that gave me a body that’s been strong and healthy for over four decades. The same genetics that allowed me to have two healthy sons. The same genetics that gave me the creativity, imagination, and drive to write a book and publish it.

I learned that I’m beautiful because I say so. I learned that weight doesn’t define me. I learned that appearance does not always reflect health and fitness levels. I learned all bodies are gorgeous, not just the ones the media pushes down our throats. I learned that “normal” bodies come in ALL shapes and sizes. We’re all normal.

The Universe works in mysterious ways. Turns out I got exactly what I’d wished and prayed for, but not in the way I’d imagined. My perspective had to change, not my weight.

I got a body I’m not ashamed of.

Yes, there are days I “relapse” into old thinking habits, and the shame seeps in my bones like a virus. Hell, this week in particular has been brutal just because of the vulnerable nature of this post. It’s something I’ll always have to maintain, just like any big life change. You know what I do to readjust my perspective? I think of my friends, and how when I visualize them, their weight never enters the equation. I think of their light, their energy, their laugh, and how they make me feel. How their happiness matters to me. I think how beautiful they are because of their amazing spirit. And then I picture myself the same way.

Nowadays, I choose food for its health benefits – and sometimes that means mental health and this gal needs nachos and a cold beer. I don’t apologize for it. I choose exercise I enjoy and I do it because it feels good, as opposed to doing it as a punishment for last night’s bread. I eagerly keep plans with friends. I get in the pool with my kids. I smile, a lot.

And I went on that beach trip with my husband, rockin’ a bikini.

Regardless of what the future holds – gain, lose, maintain – I hope I continue what I started here today, which is to represent myself without hiding. To be me, without shame.

To be free.

 

24 comments

  1. You inspire me in so many ways. You are beautiful, because of who you are, because of your curves, because of your smile, your intelligence, your kindness, your soul.

    I struggle with my own self-image, and my own self-hate. But, because people like you exist, it gives me hope. Thank you for being you, Beth.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You go girl! Damn good for you.

    I have to admit that I hate my body. In fact, I am constantly shaking my head at folks who hate their body because there is too much of it (or, very rarely, too little). My body is sick with Crohn’s disease and has been for more than 40 years. I hate it. (I am also the world’s only fat Crohn’s patient, but I don’t care about that. I avoid cameras. It’s an easy solution!)

    I would gladly offer my shoes for anyone unhappy with their own body!

    Like

    1. Elyse, sorry I’m just getting go comments! Thank you for sharing your story. I’m so sorry – I know very little about Crohn’s except that it can be incredibly debilitating and painful. *hugs* I think you’re an incredibly strong and talented woman. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t believe I had to go in and “approve” your comment….as if you’re a stranger here?!?! WTF? hahahaha Thank you for reading (again); your support is so apprenticed. >3 I was updating this one because it was on SW before and I wanted it to have a forever home here.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know…I saw it needed moderation and I felt all dark and sad and hollow inside 😥

        I’m glad it has a forever home here. I think this is a wonderfully brave piece, and that YOU are utterly fabulous ❤

        Like

  3. Oh, Beth. The power of your words. I’m in tears. I SO feel you on this. Body image issues are something I think we’ll always have in the back of our mind. Or relapse with. But the fact that you’ve figured out the actual truth means that you’re on the right path! We can struggle through this rocky terrain together. I love this so much!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this so much! It’s as if you were telling my story. My weight is almost finally (at almost 57), a non-issue. Like that definitiveness???? Seriously, I have gotten really close to being free too. I know it’s just attitude, and have to correct myself when I get down and judgmental. The point is that if I stay aware, I CAN correct myself. You are so beautiful and have all the words to share it. Hugs, from bi-annual blogger Lynne. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Lynne! Thanks so much for stopping by and reading! Love hearing that you’re enjoying life and not obsessing on body issues! It’s a delicate balance for me. I’ll do great for a while, and then a photo can derail me. But I bounce back, and it happens less and less. I’m the most comfortable in my skin I’ve ever been…..and weigh the most I’ve ever weighted too, ironically! Love yer face, lady. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t even know where to start in my response…….. first I will say, you totally rock! I can relate to so many of the things you have said about never being happy with my body. Even when I was young and thinner I wasn’t happy about the way I looked. Psychologically I can come up with all kinds of reasons I had self-image issues dating back to high school. I look at pics of myself back then and even my wedding photos. I was thin! But I hated the way I looked and worse… I had a husband who ALSO criticized my weight and looks. He was thin and healthy but has gained a great deal of weight over the years (right along with me) and he never says anything about how I look now (he was a total dick back then too and he isn’t now!) 🙂 We discuss how unhealthy we are carrying around this extra bulk and the fact it causes issues with clothing and getting around. Now.. We are not huge by any means but we are both carrying around an extra 30 to 50 lbs. We are both in our 50s and need to make better choices. I don’t ever remember looking in a mirror and thinking “Wow, you rock girlfriend!” But I looked for ways to feel accepted and attractive to men. This has been extremely detrimental to my psyche over the years. I over compensate by achieving acceptance from others in what I do! I am constantly over achieving in school (I returned a few years ago to get my degree) and nothing I do is ever enough for me. Other people look at me like I am some kind of “super woman” and I AM SO NOT! I feel like a fraud and I need to learn to rebel against what society thinks is ok and learn to love myself.. I’m not there but I can get there.
    Thanks for writing such an awesome piece! It is revealing and you made yourself vulnerable. I admire that a great deal. I do try to live my life as authentic as I can and I put my real self out there for people and I feel confident in who I am as a person. I am a good friend and loyal to a fault and I do not allow others opinions to effect me near as much as I have in the past. But I need to get to the point where I am not ashamed of the body I have either… :-/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Courtney, I read this while I was out of town and your words made my heart ache because they are SO ME. Yes, the things we do for acceptance and approval. Over achieving so we can feel deserving and valuable. You sound like a thoughtful, lovely, incredibly successful person. Thank you for reading and commenting. I wish for you, as I wish for all of us, to love yourself unconditionally. xo

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Beth. I appreciate your words. I have worked through some of that and I do like myself more and feel more confident. I have been blessed enough to find 2 different counselors in my Iife that has helped me get through the hard times. I read the most incredible life changing book (for me) called The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene’ Brown. She has followed up with another book called Daring Greatly which was featured in her second TEDX talk. She is amazing and bases everything on research of what shame can do to us. She is a psychology research professor in Houston. It has gone a long way to helping me on my journey of living a more authentic life. If you haven’t read her books, I HIGHLY recommend them. But at the very least look her up on TED.com and watch her two videos. They will blow you away!
        Thank you for your words of encouragement. I am going to make a real effort to put pen to paper for a story to go in the book. It will be very therapeutic I think! 🙂 ❤

        Like

        1. I LOVE BRENEE BROWN!!! I have her imperfections book on my nightstand with little sticky notes poking out of the top from all the pages I knew I’d want to re-read. She’s amazing and brilliant. I have NOT heard her TedX talk, thanks for the rec! I’ll check that our FOR SURE! ❤

          Liked by 1 person

  6. My wife runs or swims at least an hour every day of the week and lifts at the gym 2-3 times weekly. She walks everywhere she can, and while she’s a small person–5’5 and 135 size 6–as we approach 50 her body is very different. Thicker in the belly and hips, broader in the ass. She looks great, but the changes bug her to the point where she doesn’t wear some things she used to–not because they don’t fit, but because she doesn’t feel good about herself in them, which is a shame. I’m the size of an NFL nose tackle–“Yuge”–and have in the past year lost 32 pounds that hasn’t even gotten me down a full pants size. Imagine that! The pants are looser now, but I can’t zip up the next size down. It’s difficult not to be impatient, but I figure: I’ve got a hot wife, nobody’s looking at me, and if they are? Why? You’re a good looking woman–it’s nice to hear you getting past doubts to be yourself and happy doing so. LIfe is too short to worry about appearances. Besides, I’m pretty sure all the people we think are judging us are far too busy fretting about their own insecurities to pick at our scabs. If I do feel a little self-conscious from time to time, I just imagine I’m this guy: http://a.espncdn.com/media/motion/2016/0705/dm_160629_COM_NFL_Feature_ESPN_The_Magazine_Body_I1313/dm_160629_COM_NFL_Feature_ESPN_The_Magazine_Body_I1313.jpg

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for chiming in here! It’s great to get a man/husband’s perspective. It proves that our criticisms are just in our head and not reflective of reality (except in the media, of course). You’re awesome. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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