I’ve been told by my doctor I need to lose weight. I’ve struggled to find cute, fashionable clothes to fit me. I’ve been made fun of and discriminated against for my weight. And for the first 28 years of my life, I hated my body with every fiber of my “overweight” being.
But I can finally say I love myself, I appreciate my body and I don’t wish every single minute to be skinnier. And I didn’t get here by losing weight, in fact, as I write this, I’m easily the biggest non-pregnant weight I’ve been in my life.
My body image turning point
My story of learning to love my body started with a near-death experience when my first baby was about 3 months old. It took almost dying to realize how amazing my body is, how much it does for me on a daily basis and how cool this life I get to live is. After that, I decided I didn’t want to waste another minute of this incredible life berating myself for eating a cookie or crying in the mirror because of how I looked.
I wish I could say it was like flipping a light switch and I haven’t struggled with body image since then, but that would be a lie. I’ve struggled a lot in the five years since then. I’ve had to make the conscious choice to not speak negatively to myself. I’ve had to make the choice every single day to choose self-love over self-hate. I’ve chosen to disengage from diet culture and tracking the food I eat, and that means I’ve gained weight as I’m still trying to figure out how to healthily fuel my body without “rules.”
I can tell you this journey hasn’t been an easy one. I’ve still spent more time than I would like wishing I were skinnier and thinking about food, weight and my body. There are still days even now, five years into my self-love journey, that I look in the mirror and hate what I see. But the difference now is I don’t let that moment of self-loathing ruin my entire day or my entire week. I can look at my body or my outfit and realize that how I look is not the most important thing in the world. I can separate how I look from my worth as a person, and I no longer care what other people think of me.
The things that help me learn to love my body.
A few of the things that helped me most have now become rules I follow in my own life.
- If I wouldn’t say it to my sister, best friend or daughter, I don’t say it to myself (out loud or in my head). The way we speak to and think about ourselves becomes our reality, so it all starts inside with changing your self talk.
- I unfollow people who make me feel bad about myself. I no longer follow or engage on social media with people who make me feel bad about myself. Whether that person is a family member or a celebrity, if what they are saying makes me doubt my own awesomeness, I unfollow. No one needs that negativity in their lives.
- On the flip side, I follow and learn from people in body positivity space both who look like me and do not. There are a lot of great body positivity accounts out there focusing on everything from fashion to fitness to just being fabulous.
- I don’t compare myself, my body or my diet to anyone else. We are all different people with different genetic makeups, preferences and thoughts. Comparing myself to anyone else doesn’t get me anywhere. It only makes me feel bad, so I don’t do it.
- When all else fails, I make mental lists of all the amazing things my body has accomplished and all the things I’ve accomplished that have nothing to do with my body. The short list includes giving birth (twice!) and writing three books, but there are so many more amazing things I’ve done and I know there are great things you’ve done, too.
Body image isn’t about how your body looks, it’s about how you feel about your body, and the good news is you can change how you feel about your body a lot more easily than you can change how it looks. Making the choice to love my body how it is hasn’t been easy but it has been incredibly freeing. And I promise you, if I can do it, so can you.
About the Author: Paige Fieldsted is the author of the highly acclaimed book Confessions from Your Fat Friend. She is also a blogger and body positivity advocate who believes all women deserve to love and appreciate the body they are in right now, and that people of all shapes and sizes are worthy of love and respect. Paige lives in Utah with her husband John, sons Mason and Logan, and Willy the pug. When she’s not writing, you can find Paige dancing and singing in the kitchen with her boys, doing yoga, hanging out with family or reading. Learn more about Paige here.