Finding the pretty


In my quest to feel pretty again (sidenote: have you ever actually looked at the word ‘pretty’? Does it look weird to you or is that just me? Just me? Okay then), I’m trying to embrace the girly side of things as much as possible without making myself aware of the whole OMG I’M 6-ALMOST-7 KILOS HEAVIER THAN I WANT TO BE, which is difficult because, well, that’s all I see these days.

Part of Operation Pretty:

  1. I’ve been wearing my pretty pink skirt that I bought on Friday. It’s one of those ridiculously expensive Metalicus skirts that is one-size-fits-all, which in normal terms would mean one-size-fits-some-who-wear-small-sizes but in this case is really quite amazing. It doesn’t cling at all and I think it’s pretty flattering. At least, it makes me feel unfat and pretty, therefore it’s a winner.
  2. Yesterday, after my OMG-I-ATE-ALL-TEH-FOODZ brunch, I went and treated myself to a pedicure. I felt like I should have paid the lovely woman danger money because my feet have not seen a pumice stone in a long time. It’s been winter here and I’m not usually one to treat myself to a pedi during winter. Heck, I’m not usually one to treat myself to a pedi normally. I usually give my feet the once-over, slap on some polish and leave it to grow out for a few months. Yes, I am that person. But not now! Now I have pretty green/blue toenails and smooth feet, all ready for summer sandals.
  3. I got dressed up  (in my skirt, natch) and actually put on makeup on a weekend to meet my folks for brunch this morning. It was really nice to feel nice, to treat myself well and know that while I may not be as thin as I’d like to be, I looked as nice as I could on a Sunday morning.
I’m not expecting an overnight (or over-weekend) success but I need to try, you know? Make an effort past the flower hair clip that I’ve been wearing. I finished my last assignment for the semester and I’ve been making good choices eating-wise for the past few days (regardless of what the scale says … damn scale hates me) so I’m focusing on that.
Next on the list is to organise a girls’ night one of these nights. I think I need some girltime – anyone feel like flying to Melbourne and joining me?
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Unpretty


I don’t feel pretty right now.

I feel fat and unfit and unattractive.

It’s got nothing to do with how The Boy makes me feel because he’s awesome but I feel unpretty inside. I don’t feel ugly per se but I don’t feel pretty either.

I don’t feel like I deserve to wear nice clothes because when I go to my wardrobe, nothing looks like it should, like it looks in my head. My hips are wider, my belly is there, my chest strains. So my ‘nice’ clothes are no longer nice.

But shopping when the image in your head does not match the image in the mirror is tough on the psyche. Things that actually don’t look bad still don’t excite me because all I see are HIPS and BELLY and BOOBS. I see a body that should not belong to me. I see a body that I thought I’d said goodbye to many years ago.

I see a neglected, sad body and I don’t see the point in dressing it up. So I walk around in comfy pants and loose tops that do nothing for me but at least hide the softness underneath. I look at pretty shoes and clips for my hair because feet don’t grow and hair clips don’t rely on thin or fat. I pull my hair back and I try as hard as I can to make myself feel pretty with jewellery.

But I still don’t feel pretty.

Today I went shopping and I bought more comfy pants and a tank top. I meandered through stores and touched a few things but tried on very little. Eventually, I bought a dress and a skirt and promised myself I will try feel pretty. I know that I will lose these extra kilos and get myself back but in the meantime, I have to try. Because if I don’t try, I’m not going to get myself back. I’m going to sink further into unprettiness and while I’ll have a killer hair clip collection, it’s not going to help me.

Anyone have any tips for me?

 

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Exposed – one year later


A year ago, I got The Boy to take a headless photo of me standing in a hotel bathroom. We were in Wellington, I think. I took the photo and posted it on the blog as part of the Exposed Movement and felt really quite literally exposed.

I felt so vulnerable. So silly and slightly vain. Vanity isn’t supposed to be good but it is. Sometimes it’s good to be vain. To be proud of yourself and your body.

Posting my exposed post made me face up to the fact that for the first 15 minutes, I couldn’t think of anything positive to write about my body. All I saw was cellulite and flabby arms and legs. I saw all my flaws first and I had to keep looking to see the strength and the beauty. And once I did, I promised myself that I would work on seeing that first all the time.

And now. A year later.

I’m sitting on my old bed in Melbourne, at my parents’ house. The Boy is back in Auckland in our flat. We’re getting married in 10 days and I’m working frantically to get everything done in time.

I have a very expensive dress hanging in my parents’ walk-in closet and I feel gorgeous in it. Beautiful. I still have those flabby arms since my workout regime kinda slipped down the priority list (Michelle Obama has no competition from me!), but I don’t see those arms. Or anything else. I see me.

That’s it. I see me, the woman The Boy fell in love it. The woman who is going to be a wife in 10 days. I see someone who is loved and who loves herself.

Sure I have my bad days – who doesn’t? I have days where I have to focus a little longer to remember my Exposed post and the strength it gave me. There are days where my clothes seem to hate me. Those days I find myself donating more clothes to charity since I only want clothes that make me feel good. Dress makes me hate my knees? Donate it since it makes me feel bad and I don’t need it. Shirt is tight on my arms? Not keeping it. I’m a bit more ruthless that way but if something doesn’t make me feel good and strong and gorgeous, I’ve got no business keeping it or wearing it.

That’s me, a year on. Did you take the Exposed challenge last year? How do you feel this year?

Our body image but their love


The other day I posted my EXPOSED photo post. I put myself out there for the world and while it was majorly empowering, it was also quite scary to tell the truth. For a few reasons.

It was tough at first to think of good things associated with body parts. I really didn’t realise how negative some of my self-talk was. Even my usual techniques of joking about how I have my father’s legs with my mother’s height to explain my short, stumpy legs is completely negative. The first thing I saw when I looked at my headless photo was the mini-muffin top over my bikini bottoms. And then I realised that this bikini NEVER fit me right and it’s the only one I have by default after my favourite bikini top snapped. This is more bikini fail than Gemfit fail.

But as I completed the post, I wasn’t all that nervous anymore. The exercise forced me to confront the negative self-talk and promote the positive in my mind. So I highly recommend this activity to everyone, even if you don’t post it on your blog. Take a photo. Annotate it. Make it ALL positive. Print it out and put it somewhere where you see it often to remind yourself of the positive.

And then I had another epiphany. Often, when we allow the negative self-talk to influence our self-esteem, we push people away. We joke, we deflect, we ignore because we’re allowing the negative to drown out any other positives. How often do we respond to compliments from friends and family by making excuses? I know my mother is the QUEEN of this –

“Mom, you look really nice tonight”

“Oh I need to lose 5kgs before this outfit fits me properly” (no jokes, I’m sure that’s been a real response)

First of all, that response is ridiculous. The proper response to a compliment is simple “Thanks”. Nothing more, nothing less. By joking or deflecting, you’re often crushing the person complimenting you instead of helping your self-esteem. By finding excuses for their compliments or love, you deflect any of the possible good for all the bad. I read a blog post the other day where the blogger was remarking on how shallow people were now that they were complimenting her on looking good (she’d lost a lost of weight but people were not remarking on the weight per se, but other aspects of her appearance and self). Instead of simply enjoying the compliments, she was finding the negative in why they were complimenting her, how they’d probably never even noticed that she had the same outfit for ages before, or that she’d worn those earrings before. It’s not important WHY they were complimenting her, she should have taken the compliment and enjoyed it. Said thank you, allowed the person to enjoy complimenting her too. It’s a two-way street.

So, an exercise for everyone. It’s a two-parter.

1. Go and compliment someone today. Something small. Could be a random person, could be family or friends. Be sincere. Notice something they’re wearing or doing. Notice how they respond and how you feel. If they say thank you and enjoy it, how does that make you feel? If they deflect, again, how do you feel?

2. When you get a compliment – be it today or anytime – stop before your usual response. Stop yourself from deflecting or joking or explaining. Just say thank you. See how that feels.

EXPOSED – baring all for better body image


I know this looks like I’m jumping on the bandwagon and maybe I am because damn, it’s a great wagon with some great people on board. That’s right, I’m joining the quasi-movement started by Mish at Eating Journey because I think we all need a body image boost sometimes.

I got the Boy to take the photo this morning in our hotel room in Wellington. I put on my bikini since I didn’t have anything else suitable (trust me, I’m not ready for a lingerie shot!) and I have to say, when I saw the photo, I suddenly wondered what the hell I was doing, putting a photo of myself up like this, for the world to see. I looked at the photo and initially, all I saw was the fat, the sag and the cellulite. And I was angry with myself for seeing that. I was annoyed with my mind for going there.

So, here I am. Sag, cellulite, stretchmarks and all. After all, this is me, this is who the Boy fell in love with, this is the body that has been through thick and thin with me, through depression, through homesickness, through sickness and through healthy times. It’s the body I cherish for all its quirks (why oh why did my ankle suddenly hurt this weekend I’ll never know) and it’s the body that’s going to take me through the rest of my life and damn, I’d better treat it well.

The only one I have


I was reading a post the other day on We are the Real Deal (great body image blog if you haven’t found it yet – go read!) asking what do you love about your body. I stopped to think and for the life of me, I couldn’t think of anything at that time. Everything I came up with was followed by a negative almost immediately.

I love my small waist but I’ve gained weight and now it’s not so small.

I love my strong arms but they’re still flabby and I hate the bingo arms.

My legs are really strong but I hate the cellulite I have and they’re short and stubby legs and I have cankles.

You get the drift.

And it made me sad. I do love my body. I’ve fought the battles of body-snarking and loathing. I’ve built muscles and strength and health. Other than my hip (or really lower glutes) hurting and getting tight, right now me and my body are getting along. We’re working together so things should be all unicorns, butterflies and rainbows.

And yet it’s not. I’m sabotaging myself. I’m eating crap, justifying everything, feeling like crap because of the crap food and self-medicating with more crap food. Sounds like a fun cycle doesn’t it? I look in the mirror and, depending on the time of day, I either grudgingly accept my body or I find a million flaws.

I feel fat and bloated. My thighs rub together. I notice the flab on my arms. I’ve gained 5 pounds. I’m a slob. I no longer fit into my smaller jeans and sometimes I feel that I don’t fit into my normal jeans either. I see myself in the gym mirror and I can’t believe how wide my hips are. I have days where I look at my belly in the mirror and I’m surprised nobody’s asked me if I’m pregnant.

And yet, when I go shopping, I constantly have to get the assistant to get me smaller sizes because I instinctively pick up the bigger size. I had to get a dress taken recently because it was too big in the back and they had no smaller sizes. It was an extra small. I was too big for an extra small.

I’ll let you sit with that for a minute.

How is it that my body and my mind are so far apart? How do I feel so awful but my body doesn’t reflect that? How do I get back to normal?

I want to get back to the me I used to be, where I loved my body for the strength, where I could revel in the weights I was lifting and the shape I had cultivated. I want to admire my muscles, my health, my vitality, myself. I want to nurture myself and stop pretending that popcorn and junk is nurturing.

I want to get back to me again.

Combating negative self-talk


We do it everyday. “I’m so stupid to do X” “This sucks …” but have you ever stopped to think that maybe using the negative language makes it worse? I mean, facts are facts – deadlines are insane and weather is not pleasant. But sometimes I think we fall into the negative too easily and without realising it, it brings us further down.

A friend of mine is 2 months into a break-up. The first month I accepted that everything was going to suck, the ex was automatically an asshole, even if I didn’t think he was, and life was terrible. I let her rant and vent and I listened and I sympathised. I tried pointing out that life was not so terrible, that things would look up and that she would get through it, but I realised that she needed to rant and just be listened to.

Now, I’m not sure if that’s the best thing. Everything she writes in her emails is about how things are messed up and life sucks and she’s still reading into every line of every email he sends (they’re sorting out money stuff) about how he’s doing this to her. And I wonder if changing the way she spoke about it would change the way she felt. I know it sounds hokey, but hear me out.

Using a work analogy, we have some insane deadlines coming up. From past experience, I know that our team pulls together and what seems to be crazy and impossible, gets done in the end. By remembering that and focusing on the fact that the deadlines are a challenge but it will get done, we’re able to take each day as it comes and not get overwhelmed. Because, while it’s stressful, we know it will get done.

If we look at things as completely impossible, we’re likely to get discouraged and less motivated to be productive, which makes each challenge more of an obstacle and therefore more impossible. As morale drops, so does productivity and therefore the deadlines become even more impossible. How does the negative help us there?

The same thing happens with losing weight and being healthy. As soon as we introduce things like “I’m so bad …” or “I screwed up so there’s no point”, we create a cycle of negativity and therefore encourage negative patterns. I know it sounds basic, but sometimes just changing your language can influence your brain and therefore break the negative cycle.

Try it on a small scale. The next time you hear yourself being negative, stop mid-sentence. Rephrase it. Make obstacles into challenges and banish the word “bad” from your personal vocabulary. Replace the negative with something positive – even if it’s saying a very similar thing. See if it makes any difference.

I’m trying to get my friend to try it but for her, this is a lifetime to change so I’m going with babysteps.