Body Image & Mental Illness

(This post is about MY experience/struggle with body image and depression/anxiety.)

See this picture?

I posted it last week on my Facebook page.

I have a love hate relationship with this photo, because the thing I see first, is my back bulges from the racer back running bra I am wearing.

At first, I didn’t see the strong, resilient woman running to bring awareness to mental illness. It took me a day to make peace with this photograph, and to see the strong, resilient woman in it.

I am now 47 with peri menopause staring me down.  My hormones are out of whack.  My body is changing and I am trying to find the magic solution (haha) to keep myself healthy (I am totally eating a slice of pizza as I write this) and to continue to feel good about myself.

This is hard with a brain that chemically wants you to be miserable.  Really hard. It’s a fight both physically and mentally.  I can handle dealing with one, but dealing with both at the same time can be extremely overwhelming.

I’ve struggled with body image before.  This isn’t my first time on the roller coaster.

I was a personal trainer for a short period of time.  I know what needs to be done to get myself in the “feeling good” zone again.

I just can’t get into a corner of the ring to take a few minutes to strategize my fight.

Do I need to be “Skinny?”

NO.

Do I need to be healthy?

YES.

This is what I have made my peace with: I no longer care about “skinny”.  I can’t.  My brain will latch onto that and I will be back to bending over in the mirror to see how many rolls I have, start planning out my “fasting” moments, and I end up being skinny and NOT HEALTHY.  I’ve been skinny and not healthy quite a few times.  I’ve also been skinny and mentally ill AND not healthy.

I need to be happy in the body I currently occupy.

So, running will continue to happen (because it’s a great outlet for me), and I am starting another yoga practice in October for my mind as well as my body.  If I can keep this up for the month, then I can make it a healthy habit.

Now, FOOD.  I love food, and I do not deprive myself of it.  At all.  I am choosing healthier options, but if I am craving some pizza, I  have some pizza (see earlier paragraph – I am eating some pizza…right now).  Food is fuel, and I need healthy fuel for my body.  But I also realize that I can indulge and it’s not BAD.  I no longer punish myself for eating.  Food is not a punishment or a reward for me.

I think there is too much focus on weight loss and being “skinny”.  I think we need to encourage each other to start working towards feeling healthy, energized, and happy.  We all occupy a body that was made just for us.  We need to celebrate that.  I need to celebrate that.

It’s time to get back to the folks that encourage me to work towards a happy, healthy me, no matter what size that is.

Step 1: Moving every day is now a priority for me, whether it’s a run, a walk, or some yoga.  Just getting out and moving.  Clearing my mind and getting the heart rate up.

Step 2: I am working towards healthy.

In this body.

Because it’s amazing.

(Step 3: Let’s hope my brain comes around and stops being a jerk, eh?)

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