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Body Image: How Do You Feel About Your Body?

A poor body image has haunted me since high school. Throughout my childhood and middle school years I was very athletic, skinny and even sported the iconic Dorothy Hamill haircut. As a result, I was often mistaken for a boy. I’ll never forget my seventh grade social studies teacher who referred to me as “he” several times, so I was mortified and extremely self-conscious
every time I walked into his class. However, I also loved being athletic, especially when I raced and often beat everyone — including the boys.

Puberty didn’t happen until I was 15 or 16, and when it hit, I wasn’t ready. I was uncomfortable with my changing body, especially as an athlete, because the additional weight (even though it wasn’t much), raging hormones, and uncomfortable PMS made me feel awkward and I wasn’t able to perform as well. My changing body was a part of growing up but that didn’t matter to me because I was no longer rail-thin and able to beat the boys, so I grew to eventually hate it. My body was betraying me.

It wasn’t long before every New Year’s resolution of mine focused on losing weight — regardless of how much I weighed at the time. I was desperate for the curves and PMS and bloating to disappear. As I’ve grown older and wiser, I’ve learned to stop trying to control nature and accept what my body looks like, especially over the last year and a half when my entire body completely and suddenly rebelled against me. It’s funny because as much as my body hurts and I feel like an alien in my own skin, I’ve learned to finally appreciate it. It took my body breaking down for me to appreciate it regardless of what it could do or how much it weighed.

It seems crazy, especially when I reflect on the days when I could run a sub four hour marathon or finish an ultra. I was never fully satisfied with myself or how I looked at the time, despite my body being strong enough to accomplish really cool things. Today I can barely run 5 miles at an 11 minute pace (and all the while feel pretty terrible) but mentally I am so much stronger. I’m not exactly sure why. I suppose some of it has to do with experience and getting older, ultimately realizing what a miracle my body is. I value it now, whereas when I was younger and coming into my own I was never satisfied with the way I looked. I continually compared myself to others and never appreciated my body for what it could do. I generally hated it for what it couldn’t do — like win every single race or look like the models that graced the covers of magazines. Being a strong girl wasn’t in. Being super skinny was. But no one took into account how much the female body changes and how we’re all unique and how it shows and affects us. Just look at all of the professional runners sharing their struggles with eating disorders and how this mindset nearly destroyed them. Thankfully they’re hoping to change things by speaking up.

Throughout my years of teaching and coaching, I’ve witnessed too many young people (even some of the fourth graders I used to teach) trying to live up to unreasonable standards because of what they see online. Having a healthy body image, one in which we value and appreciate our bodies and take care of them, is uncommon. There are so many young kids and teenagers who are obsessed with dieting in order to lose weight in unhealthy ways, who become preoccupied with how they look compared to everyone else, and suddenly they’re in the throes of a full-blown eating disorder. At the other end of the spectrum, a shocking number of kids are completely sedentary and feast on junk food, and as a result are overweight and setting themselves up for long-term health issues. ( And too often, we fat shame instead of trying to compassionately educate.) There are too many young people (or people of all ages for that matter), who fall on either extreme.

We have to learn (and teach our kids) how to NOURISH our bodies so we can thrive. We have to view exercise and nutrition as a vehicle for good health. If we’re constantly striving to look like someone else, we are always going to fail. We will never be satisfied, and we’ll never be healthy — physically or emotionally.

It’s taken me decades to fully grasp this and there are days I still struggle. However, I’m educating myself so I can understand what’s happening with my body as it changes once again, and instead of resenting it for aging, I’m taking care of it so I can feel good and live a productive life. Thankfully more people, especially women, are speaking out and sharing their struggles with body image, hoping that their stories will help the younger generation (and us older folks as well) embrace a healthy mindset about how they approach food and fitness and appreciate what their bodies can do.

I’ve been reading books and listening to podcasts on this topic and it hits home. Falling into the trap of hating our bodies because of how we look compared to others, or because we’re frustrated with them due to aging, injury, or loss of ability, happens to too many of us. Hopefully what I share here and in upcoming posts, sparks reflection on how we view ourselves and how we’re teaching others to view themselves. We need to learn how to be healthy and regard our bodies as a temple created by God. We’re supposed to value it, not idolize it. We’re supposed to take care of it, not destroy it. By creating dialogue, we can find avenues to support each other and change the culture. I’ll be sharing my thoughts and experiences in the next few posts. I’d love to hear your experiences with body image. Let’s start the conversation today.
#BodyImage #EatingDisorders #Perimenopause

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Struggles with caffeine/aspartame/sugar on your moods?

I have struggled for years with #diet cola sodas and chocolate. On again, off again. Also with compulsive eating since childhood. The overeating numbs but takes me to depression. The caffeine gives me a lot of pep and numbs anxiety initially, but then takes me to such high levels of anxiety that I feel barely able to stand it. Then I do it all over again day after day because I am addicted to it.

The sugar and caffeine affect my sleep. I know of many studies indicating that aspartame is very bad for our brains and bodies, as well as having a laxative effect, which also may mean that I'm not absorbing my psychiatric meds as much as I need to, as well as regular nutrition. I drink a lot of it, and I'm really afraid to 100% accept all of this within myself because I don't know how to let go.

The cravings and loneliness and mental health struggles started very young, and have gotten worse with age. There was a time for 2 years when I ate 3 meals a day, no chocolate, no sugar, did have diet soda but less than I do now. Rarely had depression then, but after two years of doing OK I started to go downhill over period of weeks and went into an outpatient program to get back on my feet.

I was also in very difficult perimenopause, and insomnia started then and has continued. It's been a mess, and holding down jobs have always been up and down with the depression and mood swings.

If you struggle with these, what helps you? How do you deal with intense cravings and loneliness and lack of sleep when even a CPAP machine and you don't work well together, and you've tried therapy and groups and classes etc to help with those aspects of mental health? I always take my meds as prescribed.

I would more than love to hear your shares. Thank you for listening and any experiences you can share.

#sugar #Caffeine #aspartame #diet soda #Depression #Anxiety #mood swings #Cravings #Sleep #compulsive eating #Outpatient #Perimenopause #Insomnia


Why do my lady parts hate me? blog

Hi everyone!

For the last few years I've been collecting chronic conditions:

Pelvic Venous Congestion Syndrome

I recently decided to blog about how these conditions impact me but with a twist of humour and it would be great to find more readers!

#whydomyladypartshateme #Endometriosis #pelvicvenouscongestionsyndrome #vestibultis #Perimenopause


Perimenopause and Insomnia

I can’t sleep. None of my female college friends can sleep. We miss estrogen. I took my dogs for a walk in the woods yesterday to promote good sleep hygiene, and yet here I am worrying and overthinking tomorrow. I wish my brain had an off switch. #Perimenopause #Insomnia


In health purgatory

I am 42 yrs old. I was 17 since I had weird symptoms periods and no periods. Extreme cramping, mood swings and No answers. Heavily fluctuating weight and no pregnancy even though I tried I was married then. I went to doctors and many years til I was in my mid twenties. Then moved to Florida had no health care. Then after Obama care passed finally able to get in 2016 health care. Well started doing the exams and test I needed. Found I had a goiter, cold nodules and starting to put pressure on trachea. So then six months find I have hashimoto's thyroiditis. Can't sleep or breathe well. Then in another six months goiter tripled three times size had to have surgery well my original surgeon retires so after him see second surgeon. Then surgery finally got scheduled I was 38 yrs old at this point. Had surgery and been having complications treating thyroid levels right because first endocrinologist didn't treat it right. Developed Chronic fatigue syndrome plus burning sensation in different parts of body due to TSH. Then after that was following up with my female health come to find out my complaints since 17 came to a head at 38. I found out I had Poly Cystic ovarian syndrome plus Adenomyosis. I wasn't crazy or exaggerating. When doctors for years said they couldn't find what was wrong. Well my insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes diagnosis and high cholesterol were all explained due to my Pcos. So my uterus was at a whopping 11.2cm big. Three times a normal uterus size. I wasn't menstruating and was 40 could barely do day to day duties. Walking, moving my hip and insides felt like they were gonna fall out incredible pain. Being a massage therapist I had to cut back hours and a day because my body couldn't. Went to a reproductive endocrinologist instead of a gynecologist because my gynecologist said they would have to slice me in half and tale uterus out. And I didn't want three months off. So I saw reproductive end and he heard my sordid story of how many years I been suffering and felt bad. He then referred me to next doctor a surgeon and I had my partial hysterectomy. Now after surgery got checked out and sent on my way all normal. Then started exhibiting high estrogen dominance and high testosterone both free and total. And here we are. Now I am in perimenopause and a third endocrinologist and still getting answers slowly. Not very happy but trying to lose weight and live life. #Hypothyroidism #PCOS #Perimenopause #CFS #Insomnia #BrainFog


#Perimenopause #Fibromyalgia #Migraine #PTSD #Anxiety

For those with chronic illness about to embark on the perimenopausal journey, be advised it’s going to be okay in the end. So far what’s helped my hot flashes a bit is reducing coffee and alcohol. The bonus so far for me is that my migraines, for the first time in my life, aren’t as severe or long lasting which has saved me a ton of money. My periods are crazy erratic and trip off my fibromyalgia symptoms every time but at some point I know they’ll disappear. The first few months my brain fog was nuts, find a post it or reminder system that works for you now while your brain works. The mood swings are not cool, I’m on a cocktail of two antidepressants and a mood stabilizer to keep as even as possible. But it’s manageable. You’re probably also going to forget stuff that came as naturally as breathing to you and you’ll wonder if you’re getting early onset Alzheimer’s (I talked to my doctor I was so anxious) but it is also part of it, and it went away for me.

I’d encourage anybody feeling the need to talk to your doctor, specialist, ob/gynecologist or whatever licensed practitioner to figure out a plan to keep you functional, go to the doctor(s) you trust.

Hang in there!


#Fibromyalgia & perimenopause

I'm sure a good many woman (afab) have dealt with this. Did some of your fibro symptoms become worse? What worked for you?
I feel like my body is stuck in wet cement. And the fog is I have so much I would like to do but know if I push through it I will be so much worse later on. Really don't want to look at a screen for hours on end and definitely can't sleep all day and night. There is no actual motivation due to the sluggish feeling.

#Fibromyalgia #FibroFog #Perimenopause


Is anyone else going through perimenopause and struggling with its effect on your mental illness?#Perimenopause #Hormones #BipolarDisorder

I am 50 years old and my hormones are horrible. Not only do I feel sick and bad, my bipolar disorder, mostly my anxiety, has been deeply affected. I have been really miserable.


Perimenopause #

I'm pretty sure I'm in menopause due to my symptoms and my age(45). All of the symptoms bother me some, especially the hot flashes, but my monthly , which is erratic about kills me with my depression and anxiety. My cycle ramps everything thing up until I feel like I need a medication change. It's much more severe depression and anxiety as well as terrible irritability, tearfulness, and intense pain and fatigue. My regular provider prescribed low estrogen birth control pills. My psychiatrist says I might not want to take them because it might make things worse. I'm already on several antidepressants and anxiety meds. My thyroid is a little out of whack, but I am taking meds for that as well. I just don't know what route to take. Any advice?
#Perimenopause #Depression #Anxiety

1 comment

Perimenopause #Perimenopause , #Crazy , #HormoneReplacementTherapy , hormones

Is there a perimenopause group on the Mighty? I know there's a few private ones on FB, but I quit FB. Anyone else feel like their losing their minds while going through this or have spouses going through it?