I wrote a post a few months ago called Revealed: An Inside Look At How I Eat  and received a ton of comments and emails about it, with so many woman saying it helped them to see what “normal” eating looks like.

I wrote it because I wanted to give a deeper perspective of what a typical day looks like. Because when I was in the throes of dieting/restricting and then overeating/binging, I didn’t have a CLUE as to what it meant to eat normally.

So I wanted to do a similar post and go in depth about the body-image side of this journey. I wanted to give a deeper look into healing something that is so ingrained in so many women’s psyche: this deep, often desperate desire, to have a thinner/more perfect body.

body struggles

And let me be completely real for a second: doing this post wasn’t easy. Because it lets you in on something I hid for so long from others. But that’s why I began my business in the first place; to use my experience, struggle, and healing to help others in that same spot (and to be raw, real and vulnerable about my own progress and journey!)

As much as I want to have it all perfect and have “arrived” at my own complete body acceptance, I haven’t. I’m not perfect. I still have my moments. And comparison does kick in occasionally.

But the progress I have made in loving and accepting my body has shifted dramatically over the years.

So I was home a few weeks ago and spent a lot of time swimming, at the pool, and on the beach. (Which meant I was in my bathing suit quite a bit).

And my mom (the ever eternal paparazzi photographer) loves to take 5,000 photos to document family events and snap pics of my nieces and nephews in all of their activities.

When I was looking back through photos (and videos of us at the pool), I got caught in a crazy negative spiral. All of my “old” thoughts starting coming up…

Ugh, I look so fat.

I look horrible in a bathing suit.

I should not be wearing a two-piece.

Do I REALLY look like that???

Should I “go on” a clean eating plan when I get back to Colorado?!

And on and on. It didn’t help that I had been eating more sweets than normal (because well…when I’m visiting family it’s always cause for a special occasion with desserts and treats!) and hadn’t been in my normal routine of eating/working out.

The worst part about that negative spiral is that when you feel awful, what’s the go-to “thing” to make it all better?! FOOD.

When we’re feeling bad about ourselves, it’s uncomfortable and unpleasant, and we want to escape the feeling immediately. So food calls to us and creates an illusion of making us feel better.

I’m not at the place anymore where I DO use food, but it still called to me. I wallowed in my bad body-image thoughts for a bit, and then took action to pull myself out of it.

Which is REALLY necessary when we’re in that dark mind place of negativity.

Because the danger here is that we create stories in our minds that we think are VERY real. Ten years ago, if this happened, I would have convinced myself I actually WAS fat, I needed to restrict and diet, and then would have started some plan the next day to lose weight to look better in my bathing suit.

But I’ve lived the cycle for so long that I DO know what to do.

I refocused on my progress and how far I’ve come, concentrated on the gratitude I feel around my mostly healthy, nourishing eating habits, shifted into a place of feeling strong and able, and felt appreciative of being so in tune with my body’s needs.

I noticed my thoughts for what they were: stinkin-thinkin’.

The negative spiral didn’t serve me. I knew it could pull me back into a dark mood very easily.

And I lifted myself out of it. This takes practice because when we’re “in” the dark, negative thoughts, it feels very real. It takes attention and focus to pull yourself out of it.

This is what I want you to know about YOUR body journey. You’ll have times when you really get it. When you feel comfort and ease within yourself. When you think “okay, I AM making some progress!”

And then you’ll have times when you convince yourself you’re a failure and haven’t made any progress. When you look in the mirror and all you see is fat. When you want to throw in the towel and just give up.

But don’t give up.

Because each time you pull yourself out of it that place, that muscle gets stronger and stronger. Each time you understand that you aren’t JUST what you see in the mirror, you’ll know that your value is worth way more than just a size. Each time you find yourself comparing your body to another woman’s and then bring your attention back to your own journey, you’ll realize that you have the power to come back, again and again, to focusing on your own progress.

In this day and age, it’s EASY to get swept up in the “I need to have a more perfect” body craze. It’s going against the grain to look for and appreciate what we enjoy about our bodies. (And it’s easier to pick out our flaws and see only what we dislike). But this is the work that must be done. Again and again.

Because you WILL get to the place where 50% of your time is spent accepting yourself. And it’ll increase as you keep moving forward. Soon, your days will be spent focusing on other things besides the critical body thoughts.

So keep coming back to this. Lift yourself out of it when you get caught up in a negative spiral. Until the place of more acceptance, more kindness and more self-love is where you spend most of your time 🙂