My journey with self image and self love has had its up’s and down’s. I think most people can say the same. For a number of reasons, it can be challenging to show your body and image unconditional love 100% of the time.
I had an interesting shift at one key point in my life where a few factors collided and led me to a place that could have potentially spiralled out of control. After my third year of university — I guess I would have been around 20 years old — I went home to stay with my parents for the summer as I usually did. I had a five year relationship with my boyfriend at the time which, upon coming home, abruptly ended without any signs or warning to me. The end of this relationship revealed the toxic way my mind had wrapped itself around this person in my life. I was more of a disaster than I could have foreseen. It was to the point where I was barely eating, with a pit in my stomach for nearly the entire two months I was home. The tumultuous ending and my mindset around it is one story but the one that had a lasting lesson is what happened when I went back to school.
It was all I wanted — to get back to my friends, classes, and schedule. Not only did it put 4 hours of travel between me and my ex but it also distracted me in the way I needed at that time.
I think it may have been the first day back to class when I received the first comment from someone.
I remember one of my classmates complimenting me on how lean I looked.
I was flattered, but didn’t think much of it. I hadn’t really noticed the weight I had shed over the summer. But then more comments came in as the days passed. For about a month, it felt like various people in my life were often commenting on how thin I was. The comments came from an overwhelmingly positive place. And I welcomed them.
What I didn’t realize at the time, was the path that these comments were slowly paving in my brain. For the first time in my life, I caught myself thinking about what I was about to eat. I wasn’t raised to calorie count or weigh myself as a regular part of my routine. I grew up with a fast acting metabolism so I was scrawny and ate without shame.
My first experience with a Life Coach came in the years following graduation when I was living on my own in the city. I went to see her out of curiosity, without much in mind for what I wanted to discuss. Even though over two years had passed, I still burst into tears when we spoke about my ended relationship and dating life. Somehow, we landed on the topic of food and she asked me about my eating habits.
For the first time, I heard myself describing out loud this abnormal inner voice that had crept up on me. It was the conversation I would have with myself about food. I noticed that since my last year of school, I was slowly putting my normal weight back on and having had such positive affirmation when I had been thinner, I was thinking twice when eating. But it wasn’t just limiting junk food — I admitted to the Coach that I was skipping meals here and there. I would rationalize it to myself — saying that because I lived on my own, it was too much work to make a big meal or that I had had a big lunch so it was okay. I hadn’t shared this with anyone and felt so much shame because I knew it wasn’t good for me.
The Life Coach I was working with made some connections that I hadn’t considered. I had found myself at a time when I was desperate for validation — with a broken heart — and then an avenue had appeared and supplied me with all the validation I could want, through compliments on how I looked. Subconsciously I was hanging onto that state of being because I thought that it was the way I would receive love.
The clarity that this conversation brought me opened my eyes to how I was allowing my mind to sabotage my physical health. I went home and told my partner. From there, he helped me to stay accountable to eating a healthy, full diet and overtime, I developed more positive self talk around my body and relationship to food. I got back to a place where I see food as fuel for my body. The active and able body that carries me in this world.
It’s not always easy, but don’t let anyone but you determine what your worth is. Your physical body is not a representation of your worth and all of the social ideals that the world expects you to crunch yourself into are too small for your radiant beauty.
I share this from a place that has healed. I share it because I hope that someone who reads it can see a bit of themselves in it and know that they are not alone.
If you liked this post, please hit the ❤️ and share it with people that you like.
Brittany is the driving force behind The Courage Collective, a personal coaching service and blog for millennials and young people alike. It’s courage for your quarter life. This initiative and company has been her heart work over the past year. Connect with Britt on Instagram: @brittkathrynn