Body Confidence & Holidays
I've written before on this blog about my constantly fluctuating levels of body confidence. Sometimes I feel gorgeous and amazing and other times I find myself in a high street changing room with tears stinging the backs of my eyes when I can't get the denim shorts to button up (I'm looking at you H&M and your ridiculously small sizes). On the whole this year I've found that I've had a much better relationship with my body. I don't know whether it's the fact that I'm getting a bit older and am more comfortable with my natural shape, or whether having a couple of health scares has helped me be more grateful for just having a healthy, functioning body, but I've been hating on myself a lot less. And honestly, it's been a very lovely, refreshing change.
I haven't been dramatically swinging from starvation diet to inhaling pizza like it's going out of fashion. I haven't been comparing myself to every single pretty girl in a bikini on Instagram. I haven't been prodding at my cellulite and spending ridiculous amounts of money on thigh slimming creams that don't work. It's felt like the first time since I was 14 that I've been truly happy in my own skin. That is, of course, until our holidays started creeping closer.
I've mentioned before that we're off to Spain next week and that we're going to Sydney in October. Rather than just being me and Sam on our jolly holidays like usual, both of these trips will be spent with other people, family and friends who we love and will have an absolutely brilliant time with. But also family and friends who are gorgeous and naturally slim and look totally fab in a bikini (despite some of them having given birth, multiple times!).
And as our holidays have drawn closer and closer and the reality of having to wear a bikini or swimsuit in front of all of these people has set in, I've found myself back in that self loathing cycle all over again. Instead of feeling excited about the prospect of spending time in amazing places with some of my favourite people in the world, I've found myself filled with dread at the thought of people seeing my cellulite and chubby thighs. I've spent countless hours beating myself up about not going to the gym more. I've felt guilty about eating some of my favourite foods or having a glass of wine after a stressful day.
I found myself restricting calories and trying to fit extra exercise sessions in and trying not to eat as many carbs. And even after just one week of being back in a diet mindset I felt incredibly miserable. My mood felt really low and I found myself crying for no real reason. I didn't have as much energy for blogging or doing my best job at work. I felt like a totally different me, and definitely not in a good way.
And it reminded me, once again, that life is all about balance. That me as a person is made up of so much more than the circumference of my thighs or whether I have a muffin top or not. I am my body, but I am also my sense of humour and my intelligence and my ideas and my creativity. I am also a good friend and a great employee and a loving girlfriend. But when I was starving my body, I wasn't doing my best at anything other than counting calories. And, to be quite frank, I'm not willing to trade all of the other good stuff to look ever so slightly better in a bikini.
I keep seeing a Pinterest style quote floating around that says something like "don't spend 95% of your life trying to lose 5% of your bodyweight", and honestly, it could not resonate with me more right now. There is so much more to life that we can end up missing out on when we're obsessing about our appearance.
Tuesday night felt like a bit of a turning point for me. I went to Pilates again and loved it. The exercise made me feel good - it was something I was doing for sheer enjoyment, rather than for maximum calorie burnage. And I came home and ate a tea that involved carbs, but also involved kale and broccoli. And I tried my bikinis on and made myself focus on all the good bits, rather than laying into all the bits I wished were different. Because there are always good bits, but we're usually too busy focussing on the "bad" bits to notice them. By the time I went to bed I felt a million times better about myself.
I'm determined to feel happy and confident on my holidays, rather than spending them obsessing and worrying about how I look. It's not often that you get to go away with your whole family or travel to the other side of the world with your best friends, and I don't want my overriding memory to be of me feeling self conscious.
So here's to embracing what we actually look like and feeling good about it, rather than comparing ourselves to other people. Here's to concentrating on our good bits and feeling like the confident, intelligent, sassy ladies that we are. Because really, when you think about it, life is to short to settle for anything else.