I wanted to share with you my very own before and after transformation. It's been nearly 10 years in the making. I don't have a 'before' photo but I can explain how I felt:
Looking in the mirror made me feel physically ill. I hated doing it. I hated how I would assess every part of myself and never feel good about what I saw. It made me sick thinking what I thought of myself, how mean I was to myself.
A quiet, light part inside of my heart told me that this wasn't okay, that it couldn't continue like this. All this obsessive unhappiness with my body needed to be dealt with. There was a great writer who knew that the God of the universe had created stars and sunrises and oceans and creatures, and also humans, and so we too must be "fearfully and wonderfully made". This phrase carried such confidence and beauty that I decided to replace my ugly, unhappy, berating thoughts with this single one. Anytime I felt the need to assess myself in the mirror, or make a mental list of everything wrong with myself, I had to repeat "I am fearfully and wonderfully made" until the bullying voice was silenced.
Some nights it felt like I repeated that phrase hundreds of times.
Slowly, over the course of several months, I stopped beating myself up so much. I stopped feeling sick as I looked at myself. I didn't love my body by any means, but I wasn't actively criticizing it. It was the start.
My body over the last 10 years has changed in various ways. I would gain when I lived in different countries and ate different foods. I would lose when I would go to the gym a lot and eat fairly well. It changed significantly when I was pregnant. It changed significantly after I was pregnant.
Truthfully, though, my mind and thought life is what has gone through the most difficult battle of change. My mind has held on to that initial fight that took place, the fierce determination to not be a bully to myself. I can be content in myself, and somehow, may truly believe that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I was challenged to believe that my contentment with my body would not come from what I did to it but rather how I thought of it, exactly how it was.
My 'After' image?
I have a mind that is still working to be gracious to the rest of me. It is a mind that is constantly fighting to not be taken in by the onslaught of societal ideals that tell me my body isn't good enough, that I need to get back to the way I was before, that my shape or size should affect my joy, that the grass really is greener on the other side.
I have a heart that breaks for others who feel oppressed by their own discontentment with themselves, who feel that what society says is true, who don't believe that no matter what they are fearfully and wonderfully made. It is a heart that deeply admires those who are comfortable in their own skin, from the petite yogi who constantly builds others up to the spunky motivational speaker who has sweet biceps to the plus-size model who looks slammin in her no-makeup selfies. It is a heart that has shed the excess weight of beating oneself up, and taken on a double portion of compassion.
As a result, my heart and mind embrace my body more than they ever did. More than when I was 15lbs heavier. More than when I was as fit as I've ever been. They've learned that my physical state does not, in fact, need to have any dictation over my contentedness, my relationships, my beauty, my experience of life. While I am still practicing living accordingly, I grow freer and lighter each day...