After nearly a year of dealing with constant debilitating insecurity and self-loathing about my post-partum body, a beautiful thing happened: I stopped caring so much. How exactly? After a series of events these past few weeks, I think I finally have the recipe that helped me, which I hope can help others who may be going through difficulties of their own.
Write it out
The process of sitting down to write and hash out what is going on inside my head has been unbelievably therapeutic. Getting my thoughts “out there” lets me start to let go of them. When they stay stuck inside my head to long they start to fester. The writings on this blog in particular have also connected me to so many amazing people who have in turn sent me articles, podcasts and other tools that have sent me down an amazing path full of new knowledge and empowerment. But wether or not I share them, the whole act of taking time to write out my thoughts and then reread them out loud to myself, husband, or close friend helps things “air out”. Sometimes, after I write an entry, I will reread it 20 times. After each read, I envision a piece of my worries releasing me from it’s grasp. Last week I was asked to write an essay about my experience with losing Spirit B for a podcast. It took me 5 days to finish a two thousand word essay. Re-living that experience opened up some wounds that I had been barely keeping closed for a long time. However, after writing it all out in my own words and then reading it out loud over and and over again to my husband, it brought us even closer as well as some much needed healing.
Taking Time Away from social media
This is an obvious one, but perhaps the hardest one to actually make myself do. Two and a half weeks ago I took a serious fall and injured my shoulder and neck pretty badly. I was very lucky in that nothing broke, but I was shaken and needed to focus on healing. Jason knew from my past traumas and injuries that I am not a good patient. When something is off physically or emotionally for me, I get angry, frustrated and depressed. Add social media and obsessive internet research to the mix and it is a recipe for immediate disaster. So, instead he banned me from all screens and told me that my only job was to rest, play with Max and focus on getting better. What happened in my 5 days of no internet and no phone time was amazing. Since I had no one to compare myself too, I was forced to see my progress. The only thing that mattered was who and what was in my immediate reality. After 5 days of rest, a ton of bone broth, massage, and no screens I was 80% back to normal. Too often many of us look to social media when we are down thinking that it will bring us inspiration, but in actuality it is really bringing us deeper into our hole. Since returning to digital-land, I’ve started started taking the weekends completely off from social media. Having time away from it has been refreshing and relaxing!
Set a timer on your troubles and worry
A few weeks ago I stumbled across a podcast where the woman who was being interviewed had a slew of ailments that were making it nearly impossible to have a baby. She said that for a long time she would spend most of her days wallowing in a pool of self hate and worry until one day she broke. So she came up with a plan. For 20 minutes a day she allowed herself to go to this dark place of self pity. She could wallow in abject despair, play the helpless victim without hope, put upon by the world. But after her time was up, she had to let it go and move on to other things. After a while of doing this, she found that she needed less and less time. At the time of the podcast, she was down to 5 minutes a day. After hearing this, I immediately adopted this plan. Jason helped keep me honest. I too started with 20 minutes and now 4 weeks in, I am down to only 10 minutes a day. And some days, I don’t even use it. Having this tool has given me the power to not be completely consumed by my own slew of self loathing thoughts. Instead, when those thoughts come up, I am able to go deep into them for those few minutes and then put them aside because I know that I have a time and a place for them later.
Focus on what you have and be grateful!
As I was doing an intense training work out on the treadmill the other day, I had a realization. It had been years since I had switched the metrics to see how many calories I was burning. I instantly had a flash back to my early teenage years when I was obsessed with how many calories I was eating and burning. Performance didn’t matter. It was all about how I looked. Flash forward 15 years and I am so grateful that the only metrics I care about are how I am actually performing as an athlete, and how can I get even faster and stronger. It is all about how I feel and how I perform. When I got injured and then when I came down with a cold and couldn’t train like I wanted to, I realized how much more I value function over looks now. While it was a bummer to be sick and injured and have a huge black eye, I was grateful to be reminded of what was more important to me.
While I am still not exactly a role model for self-love and body positive, I believe I am closer down that path than ever before – even before I got pregnant. Going through these changes has made me look into how I can change. Because honestly, disliking myself is exhausting. And I need that energy for far greater things.