Since accepting that I am less than happy with my body and general well being, it has been something of a conscious decision on my part to start exercising.
Healthy eating has gone right out the window since I found out I needed to start job hunting again. I’m a comfort eater, so sticking to vegetables and cutting back on carbs hasn’t quite gone to plan. All too often I’m binging on pasta and garlic bread and ice cream and chocolate and maybe a packet of crisps later on in the evening. It’s not healthy, it’s not helping and it’s got to stop.
In terms of exercise, then, yoga seemed like a good place to start. I’ve done it before and enjoyed the deep stretches. It is one of the few forms of exercise that doesn’t trigger my asthma. There’s a class round the road from work that’s 2 hours of Ashtanga practice which offers a good workout as well as meditation. The meditation seemed like a good thing to try and get into the habit of too, for maintaining good mental health.
But yoga isn’t helping. If anything, so far it has only succeeded in making me feel even more self-conscious and defeated by my body’s inabilities and limitations. Despite my teacher maintaining the mantra that “yoga is a practice that can always be improved upon”, I can’t get past the shame and the upset of the situation here and now.
Now I am overweight, I have a belly I can’t stand the sight of and thighs bursting out my jeans. My double chin is back and I don’t look or feel like me. What I see in the mirror isn’t what I see in my mind. I expect something different, something more.
Changing, becoming a better version of myself, is such a big aspiration for me. To see myself and think Yes, I am happy and comfortable in my own skin. Getting to that point seems to be impossible though.
It all feels so hopeless sometimes. I have no motivation to get myself to a place where I’m happy, but I’m desperate to already be there. I suppose it doesn’t help that my hormones are running haywire just now and I’m exhausted from a week of less than stellar sleep (read: next to none).
This leaves me in a place of real confusion. I am a firm believer in body positivity, but feel like a fraud because I struggle with my own body image. I champion people everywhere to love themselves the way they are and accept themselves, but am a hypocrite when I cannot do the same.
Yes, body positivity is a journey. It is a mindset that can only be achieved through hard work and tenacity and love. Keeping up with that can be exhausting and it can feel unattainable. For someone who can be a bit of a perfectionist and hates hypocracy, this can make my dealings with and understand of my own body image all the more difficult and confusing. But body positivity is an empowering force in my life and I do desperately want to arrive at a point where I can happily stand up and appreciate my body for all its flaws and deviations from societal perfection and constructed beauty ideals.
I suppose I felt the urge to share my experience because I know I’m not the only person in this position. I’m not alone in feeling unhappy with my body and frustrated with its limitations. Shameful of the lack of breath climbing stairs, embarrassed when I squat down to the bottom shelf in a shop and struggle to get back up. Mortified when a pair of jeans a size bigger than I’d normally buy won’t button over my belly.
Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and the rest of them are filled with motivational messages, success stories and aspirational healthy lifestyles. Like what was highlighted with the See Me “My Unfiltered Life” campaign, what people rarely show is the true struggle it can be to get to that place and just how difficult it can be to maintain long-term.
Where are the selfies of red-faced, tear-stained men and women who have left a gym session early because their bodies couldn’t cope with the “beginner’s class”? Where are the Insta photos of the unhealthy meals – sans #cheatday – instead captioned with the truth, that sometimes you just can’t ignore the cravings or the need to hide behind junk food or not having the energy to prepare a healthy, filling meal after the day/week/month you’ve had.
Yes, these are all excuses for unhealthy behaviour. But we’re all human. Even the healthy stumble along the road. They just dress it up as a cheat day or a treat or over-emphasise the slip up to the point where it just feels fake.
Finding motivation doesn’t really seem to be enough. I’m not too sure yet what is enough, but when I find it I will be holding onto that thing for dear life because serious changes need to be made. I will, however, remain real about my situation and realistic about my expectations. No more searching how to lose 3 stone in as many weeks, no more lemon and salt water fads and definitely no more obsessing over social media accounts.
I’ve cried at every yoga class I’ve been to so far. If I cry at every yoga class I ever go to in the future I can at least be proud that I’m still going.