Well, yesterday I felt strong, today I feel mediocre. Yesterday was one of those great days filled with self-acceptance, confidence, and mental happiness. I woke up at 8:00 am, well 8:09 am if you count the snooze button, and forced myself to get to the 9:00 am boot camp class. Forced may be a strong word, I enjoy this class and like getting my weekend exercise done and out of the way, but morning movement of any kind challenges me. I am generally a proponent of “don’t exercise if it’s not enjoyable”, but I also knew I would be happy I went afterward. When I can muster up the physical and mental drive for a boot camp-style class, they are my favorite. I love knowing I am working toward making my muscles stronger, and I find this style of class inherently focuses on improving physical ability, not physical beauty.
On my way home, I walked through my neighborhood’s weekly farmers market, stopping for a few samples and buying an iced coffee. When I arrived home, our TV had been mounted on the wall (we moved into our first condo a few months ago and are slowly putting it together) - success! I was feeling productive. After a breakfast of scrambled eggs and veggies, I headed for the shower. This was a true moment of confidence. I got undressed and walked toward the bathroom, watching as I got closer to the mirror, and do you know what thought popped into my head? I look good.
I know one of my goals is to focus less on how I look, especially when it comes to size, but the amazing part of this thought was it did not just focus on my size. I thought I looked good because I looked strong. This was progress.
Today I feel Mediocre
What changed between yesterday and today? Probably nothing, other than my mind has a way of taking small, normal changes in my body and convincing me they are signs of impending doom. My shorts feel a little tighter, I am experiencing weird hunger signals (you know, the ones where you can’t tell if it’s hunger or a craving), and I probably should have slept a little longer this morning. All of these things can easily add up to feeling less strong, confident and ready to face the world. On days like today, I am reminded of an exercise my mom used to make me do in high school on days I was struggling to get out the door due to pretty low self-esteem...writing down three positive things about myself.
Self-affirmations, or positive body-image statements always seemed pointless as a high-schooler, but now as an adult, I see the value in taking a few minutes to remind myself about all of the wonderful things in my life that have nothing to do with my weight or what size shorts I wear. The National Eating Disorder Association includes self-affirmations in its 10 Steps to Positive Body Image, suggesting that you keep your list with you so it’s available at any moment you need a boost. While I do agree these statements should steer clear of weight and size, I do not think they have to move completely away from appearance. For example, I love my hair, I always have, and when I remind myself of that, I feel a little bit better. For you, maybe it’s a reminder that you look awesome in purple because it highlights your green eyes.
If the idea of self-affirmations isn’t for you, try something else to help create feelings of confidence and positivity in your day:
If nothing seems to be working, it’s ok. Take the time you need to feel sad/angry/frustrated, even take the time to cry if you need to. At work, I am constantly talking to patients and caregivers about the importance of finding healthy ways to cope with their difficult circumstances, and always make a point to say crying is an acceptable form of coping, maybe it is time for me to take my own advice.
For those of you willing to try writing some positive statements about yourself, here is your chance; I am giving everyone some homework. Write down three to five things that make you feel good/confident/strong about yourself. And yes, actually write them down. Once you have done that, find a place to keep them so you can revisit them when you need extra support in your day. If you are like me, the act of thinking about self-affirming statements is helpful, so maybe you need to do this exercise on a regular basis. Here are mine (for today):
See, not so difficult.
Walking enthusiast, kitchen experimenter, sports lover (watching, not playing), and future world traveler.
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