I have been working on this blog post for a WHILE now, God put this subject on my heart about 6 months ago, and I have wrestled with the idea of whether or not to actually talk about it. Sometimes I feel like “Do I need to really share so much of my personal struggles with the world wide web?!” Am I being too open? Am I being too honest? But I think some of that comes out of fear, what will others think of me, what they will they say? When I do a blog post, especially one as personal as this, it is always HARD. It is out of my comfort zone and it pushes me. BUT I believe in transparency and I believe I have this blogging platform for more than just weekly recaps, for more than just recipes and weight loss. I believe God has allowed me to have this blog to SHARE, to ENCOURAGE and to bring HOPE to other women.
So for that, I am honored, blessed and excited! Now let me begin, I want to talk about Body image. I think I started having a critical self body image in middle school. It started with what I would call is typical “I hit puberty” and now I started caring more about how I look and how others perceive me. It wasn’t until high school until I became more “insecure” with my body image. I am shy in my personality and an introvert, so in high school I already felt like I needed to “try” to fit in. I remember feeling bigger than most of the girls and looking back I am like WHAT was I thinking?! I would take back my no stretch mark, barely any cellulite BODY LOL, but hey you live and learn right 😉 In college is when I started to stress eat, I started emotional eating and when I had to cram for a project I would run on coffee, cheetos and no sleep. That is when I started gaining weight. At first I was still running, so the weight didn’t start coming on until later. BUT those unhealthy habits crept in and stayed. When I got married is when the REAL body image struggles became obvious. I started to feel like I needed to keep up my appearance for David, I told myself I wouldn’t gain weight our first year of marriage, like so many couples do. (PS David and I have been together for almost 13 years). But guess what, we started eating out 4-5 nights a week, I didn’t know how to cook so it was the FUN thing to do! We had a FUN year of FUN food and of course I made unhealthy choices. I equated food as a TREAT, I equated going out to eat as a CELEBRATION and so I wanted a big bowl of pasta or dessert!
In our third year of marriage is when we started to try for a baby, this is when crap hit the fan, if you will. I’m just keeping it real, y’all. After getting off birth control for months, (no baby yet) and irregular cycles, I knew something was up. After almost a year of tests, my doctors told me they thought I had PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome). You can watch more about my struggles with PCOS and my success story HERE. All the while I was newly graduated, started my first REAL job and the stress of all of it, seemed to weigh me down everyday. What did I turn to? Food. Sure I prayed and asked God to give us a baby, I prayed that he would cure my PCOS, I prayed that he would change me! That year is when I really started to have a negative body image. I gained about 30 lbs and I started to resent my body, I started to criticize myself every time I stepped out of the shower. I started to nit pick myself when I saw a picture of me, I started to feel sorry for myself and accepted that I would always struggle.
Are y’all getting the picture? We don’t just wake up one day and say “Now I am struggling with a healthy body image” It takes YEARS to develop our perception of ourselves and it stems from life events, things people have said (good and bad) it stems from our stress level, our habits, etc. That year was a low point in my struggle, BUT oh man did it shape me and teach me so many things!
“To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of The Lord for the display of his splendor.” – Isaiah 61:3
So how did I change it? In August of 2013 is when I made a commitment to make a healthy lifestyle change for ME. Something I had never done before. Sure I had done diet after diet, I had tried to lose weight before. BUT I knew for the first time, that my SELF WORTH, my confidence, my beauty did not come from my weight. I knew that I had a negative body image and I did NOT want to pass that on to a child (we were not pregnant yet). Let me be VERY CLEAR, this lifestyle is what I needed to make myself a priority again, NOT to solve my “negative body image.” Losing weight will NOT be the solution, in fact it has NOTHING do with an unhealthy body image. BUT I needed to make new healthy habits, physically & spiritually. I started to pray, I started to ask God for guidance. I knew I needed to make a physical, emotional AND spiritual change. I committed to a 90 day fitness program, I committed to blogging about my journey, AND I committed to drawing closer to God than ever before. I basically got to this point where I said, well I’ve tried it my way and I keep failing, so let me try it God’s way. You can read more about my 12 week workout results HERE.
Throughout those 90 days, I had to depend on God like never before. I had to praise him like never before, I had to have FAITH like never before, I had to lift him up with every fiber in my being, I had to pursue him like I had never done. I began to read my bible every day, to pray to him everyday, to watch less tv and start reading more boos, and most of all, I had to change my negative self body image. I didn’t just wake up and say, Okay Alesha, start thinking positive about yourself. It started slowly, with habits, with reading scripture, with reading books, with getting POSITIVE thoughts in my head. It started with replacing self criticizing with self belief. That was about 3 years ago and I can tell you I STILL struggle with having a positive body image. After I did the Jamie Eason live fit workout program, (I lost 30 lbs) I realized that I STILL had some of those negative self thoughts. That losing weight didn’t just “cure me.” I realized that I put A LOT of expectation onto my weight and my self worth when REALLY they aren’t connected at all! I realized that my weight does not determine how God sees me, that he sees me as beautiful, as perfect, as chosen RIGHT NOW, RIGHT HERE. After I had my daughter (You can read more about our fertility success story HERE.) is when I had a HUGE “come to jesus” moment. I realized I would NEVER want her to have negative thoughts about herself and I wanted to teach her about how God sees her. In January of this year is when some of those old unhealthy habits started to creep back in (stress eating, negative self talk, playing the victim) and I said STOP. No more, I am not going down that path again, and God has more for me!
So I went back to the basics of reading my bible everyday, reading devotionals, talking to myself out loud with scripture, CLAIMING what God wanted for me, for my family and for our future. I started to STOP the negative thoughts and replace them with POSITIVE thoughts. I now feel like I am in a place to SHARE and to encourage others! I hope that this blog post will help remind you just how powerful our thoughts are and it is so vital to think about our bodies the way God does! Below are 10 bible verses that I want YOU to print out and look at every day. I want you to say them out loud every day until you start to believe them about yourself. This will be hard at first, it will feel uncomfortable, you may even feel silly. BUT you are far too important to have a negative self body image, and you deserve to see yourself the way God sees you! If this blog posts helps you in anyway, then please LIKE, COMMENT & SHARE it with other women who may need to be encouraged!
Click here to download your PDF Printable.
Click here to download your JPG (perfect for iPhone).
Check out my video explaining more about the importance of having a Positive Body Image!