The Emotional Body Image Roller Coaster Nobody Talks About

The Emotional Body Image Roller Coaster Nobody Talks About

Aug 20 2015 0 Comments Tags: Women's Health

Guest Blogger: Hollie Mcgrath

So you have decided to get fit…whether this is through running, yoga, swimming or weight lifting. You may want to lose weight, gain weight or anything in between. You expect your body to change in a way that satisfies your goals but what no one tells you are the changes in your body could very well surprise you and you may not expect the emotions that go along with it. Personally I have gone from one extreme to the other. At the age of 21 I was overweight and very unhappy with how my body looked and how it felt to me. So I decided like many people that I was going to lose weight, take up exercise and start healthy eating. As I started to lose weight my confidence soared. I was getting thinner, feeling much better, more energetic and generally happier. But then I started to notice as the fat dropped off me I was losing my generous cures I has always had. Ok so I was getting thinner and fitter but I was starting to feel less like myself and I doubting and questioning my journey. This is completely normal but no one told me it was ok to feel this way. Surely I should love my new body and I did most of the time. But on occasion I felt very self conscious in this new body, there was loose skin in places I didn’t want loose skin. Some how stretch marks were more noticeable and it did get me down. Again no one tells you its ok to feel like that. There is such a presence in the media and the general accepted views of what you should look like. But it’s normal to have moments of doubt as well as being happy with the changes you have made in your life and with your body.

Take Weight lifting for example, it is still an almost taboo subject for some women. It has been drummed into our heads from an early age that if we lift weights we are going to suddenly become men. Also, societies perceived thoughts on fit strong women are that it is not beautiful. Fit shaming is just as awful as fat shaming but it seems more acceptable to fit shame. I myself personally lift weights and I lift heavy weight. It’s a great way to lose fat, tighten up and keep your curves! Yes you can build more curves it’s not all about endless running on a treadmill to keep in shape. But you do what you enjoy to keep fit. As mentioned previously I have been at both ends of the spectrum when it comes to weight issues. I tore muscle in my neck and shoulder which stopped me being able to exercise for 4 months. All my efforts I had put in over 3 years and muscle I had gained quite quickly fell off me until I was classed as underweight. I was very thin and probably seen as more of a socially acceptable body image. But I had lost 3 years of muscle gain and quickly became very depressed about my image. When speaking with friends that have competed in body building competitions I think the emotions are quite similar you see the muscle mass you have worked very hard for disappear. It can have a very negative effect on your mental state and again this is completely normal and it’s ok to feel this way. But again you feel almost guilty for feeling this way because skinny is good right? Not always! Once I was cleared by the doctors to weight lift I was in my element. I began what would be classed as a “bulk” in the fitness world. This is when you eat more food/ energy than what you expend along with training, and the aim is to gain muscle mass without gaining too much excess body fat. Here is a comparison picture of when I was overweight to when I was at my lowest. A good 37lbs difference but it shows the extremes of body condition and how both can make you unhappy.

This bring us full circle to being on your journey and being happy with how your body is progressing. Again your body will be changing hopefully in a way that you are happy with. I am very comfortable in my own skin. It’s taken a while with some setbacks but at the moment its all good….except when I step on the scales. I am sitting at close to my heaviest weight but I look very different from when I was classed as overweight. Im strong, I have quads and a big booty! My arms are becoming more defined as are my back and shoulders. I love seeing these changes in my body. But occasionally as happy as I am I have moments of panic. I’m getting too big, I have too much muscle, I don’t look feminine any more. Normal normal normal! My advice to anyone at this point is throw out your scales! Judge YOUR body on how you feel not numbers. Judge how you feel within yourself and not what society tells you how you should look. Judge how you clothes feel! These are called NSV (non scale victories) and they are the best judge. Ok I still occasionally panic when I can get my jeans to fit because my quads and booty gains have become too much for them. But you just have to remind yourself that this is your body, this is what you WANT! Its’ ok to have moments of doubt as long as you remember no matter what you look like - if your happy then that’s what counts!

Hollie Mcgrath | @holliedoesntsharefood

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