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4 Ways to Be Body Confident When Your Illness Makes Your Weight Fluctuate

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I always considered myself to have high self-esteem. I enjoyed taking care of my body with healthy food, regular exercise and grooming. Introduce a chronic digestive disease and suddenly all that goes away. I’m left a skinny, weak and depleted version of myself. Add in a few scars from surgery and I find myself with the worst self-esteem I’ve ever felt. I always lived by the philosophy that if you weren’t happy with something, fix it. But when it comes to chronic illness, control is taken out of the equation. So I am stuck with my body the way it is. And I firmly believe I deserve to love it.

Every chronic illness or medication affects the body differently. For me, weight loss was my most dramatic change. And thanks to a few courses of prednisolone and other medication, I have also had periods of fast weight gain. I keep a few different sizes of clothes in my wardrobe, because I never really know what my body will throw at me. It’s taken me almost two years to find some confidence again. I can’t say whether what I did will work for you, all I can do is provide some insight and remind you that you too deserve to love your body, even if it’s not the body you may have hoped for.

1. Tone down social media.

Social media plays a huge role in low self-esteem. Instagram is the biggest culprit, ranking the lowest in a self-esteem study. Being sick all the time means you have lots of spare time to flick through social media. It took me a long time to realize that seeing perfect, fit, healthy and strong people flaunting their bodies all the time on social media was influencing me to feel like I would never be good enough. My cure? A social media cleanses. I unfollowed, deleted and unsubscribed to anything making me feel unworthy. I even changed my preferences for things like advertising to make sure no weight loss or fitness ads would come my way. It made a real difference.

2. Have a pamper day.

I was never much of a girly-girl, but since I’ve been sick I just love spending a day completely on me. I have a long bubble bath, followed by nail painting, face masks, magazine reading and rom-com watching. I put on my favorite outfit and do my hair and makeup as though I was well enough to go out somewhere and just enjoy feeling dressed up. I used to buy nice clothes and let them sit in my wardrobe waiting until I felt better. Now I wear them to help me feel better.

3. Buy clothes for your new shape.

Every shape suits different clothes and styles. I used to be strong and fit, so looked good in sporty, short and tight-fitting clothes. Putting on those clothes in my new skinny body made me feel weak and embarrassed to go out. I slowly learnt to embrace my smaller figure with relaxed and beachy clothes and switched to high-waisted pants to cover my scars until I feel comfortable enough to rock them. A different body shape doesn’t mean a bad one. If you’ve got new curves or weight that wasn’t once there, rock it! Every body is beautiful. You just mightn’t be used to yours.

4. Smile when you look in the mirror.

This is something people just don’t do enough of! Giving yourself a little smile boosts your confidence and helps you get though the day. It might sound silly, but looking at yourself and baring a big grin can go a long way. If it was a smile from an attractive stranger, wouldn’t it make your day? Make your own day!

Getty Image by Qvasimodo

Originally published: February 23, 2018
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