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I'm Being Nicer to My Body for My Daughter

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Ever since I had my daughter, I’ve made a conscious effort not to talk about my body in a negative light, talk about dieting or get on a scale in front of her.

I do this in hopes that she develops a healthy body image, unlike her mama who struggles with body image and weight on an almost daily basis.

I don’t want her to suffer the way I have. I have an eating disorderbinge eating disorder. I’ve gained and lost the same pounds over and over. I even had gastric sleeve surgery and had a tummy tuck and breast reduction because I was so unhappy with my body. And still, I suffer.

But here’s the thing — if I know I shouldn’t do those things in front of my daughter, why do I do them at all?

There’s no reason to talk to myself any way but kind. My body has carried and birthed two beautiful babies. And even though I’ve had some struggles with my weight, my body has been good to me. It’s not my body’s fault that I haven’t always treated it right. My body is deserving of love and appreciation. And it needs grace and patience.

Sometimes the way I talk to myself isn’t the nicest — and I’m trying to change that — but I would be heartbroken if I ever heard my daughter (or son) say these things about herself:

You’re fat.
You’re ugly.
Your stomach is huge.
Nobody will love you if you’re fat.

It’s not going to be easy undoing all the damage (physical and mental), but it’s time for change.

Last month, my parents came to visit for my daughter’s birthday and they stayed at our house. I have no idea why, but I was embarrassed that I had gained some weight. I felt guilty and shamed even though my parents are so loving and supportive. They would never mention my weight gain.

Here’s the scary part of the story — we have wood floors in our house and I noticed that while they were here, I tiptoed around the house.

I tiptoed around the house because I gained weight and my footsteps sounded heavier (in my head).

I literally thought my footsteps “sounded fat” — silly, I know. So silly.

I’m a little embarrassed telling this story, but I’m more bewildered. Even my therapist was bewildered. How can I be that damaged about my body?

To reverse the damage, I have to silence my inner critic. She can be so mean and hateful. When an ugly thought about myself pops up, I simply say, “Stop,” I tell myself that thought doesn’t serve me. That I’m doing my best to be healthy (I quit Diet Coke and started eating healthier), and that’s all I can do. I say something positive about myself. I don’t know if the negative self talk will always be there, but I can’t let my inner critic gain control again. If I tell myself negative things all the time, I’ll start to believe them. I’ll slip into a depressive episode. I’ll stop taking care of myself. I can’t afford any of that. And I have to remember that my kids are watching and listening. They need to see me taking care of myself and loving myself.

Also, my voice will become their inner voice. How I talk to them is how they will talk to themselves, and that alone is enough to make me walk the straight and narrow. I want them to love themselves, because they are amazing, and I hope they never know any different.

It’s not easy, and I have a long road to undo some of the damage of hating myself but it’s worth the work.

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Below are some body positive affirmations that help me:

  • My body deserves love and respect
  • Food is not the enemy and I thank the food I eat for nourishing me
  • My weight isn’t tied to my worth
  • I am beautiful
  • I love myself
  • I love my body, as it is today
  • I accept my body the way it is

I’m hoping the more I say those things, the more I start believing them. Like I said, my kids are watching and that’s more than enough reason to start loving myself.

Follow this journey on Unruly Neurons.

Getty image via Anna Semenchenko

Originally published: January 14, 2021
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