Earlier this week I decided to dig my summer office attire out from the back of the closet (since it’s finally warm enough here for me to wear less layers) and don a black knee-length skirt to work with a black t-shirt, grey cardigan and some cute gold flats. The last time I wore the skirt was at Christmas time, when I paired it with black polka dot print tights, a teal sweater and brown leather boots.
Imagine my horror when the skirt wouldn’t zip up.
But why would I be horrified? I’m a personal trainer who promotes body acceptance and positive self-image. I know I’ve been strength training and squatting a whole lot since December. I tell my clients it’s not about aesthetics, it’s about how you feel. Why would I even let it bother me?
I’m going to be honest with you: it did bother me. Even knowing everything I know, that negative self-talk crept in and started nattering away in my head. I pulled the skirt up higher around my waist so I could do it up then pulled it back down. It squished my thighs together. I was running late so I didn’t bother changing even though I felt uncomfortable. As I walked to work the skirt rode up with every step and I had to keep awkwardly tugging it back down. When I got to work I announced to my coworker that I needed to “seriously lock it down” because my skirt didn’t fit. I swore off uncontrolled chocolate and wine consumption and thought about what meals I should make for the week. I looked up a menu at a restaurant I’ll be going to today to find the healthiest option.
It doesn’t take much to spiral back down the road of negative self-talk and body turmoil. As someone who has suffered from disordered eating behaviours, the process of “getting in shape” is a dangerous path for me. Yes I would like to fit back into my skirt and not have to go purchase a whole new wardrobe (most of my clothes are made of lycra and spandex so I haven’t noticed any increases in my body size until recently). Does this really matter? No. And I know that. But as someone who works out regularly, knows what to eat to maintain a certain body composition and has been relatively the same size since high school, an extra 10-15 lbs causes panic. What did I do wrong? Am I being too lenient with food on the weekends? Is my love of chocolate getting out of control?
I know this all sounds trivial. But I wanted to be honest with you and share that I don’t always practice what I preach, that I haven’t been “cured” of my body image issues. I know it will be a process to find body peace, and that every “challenge” that arises is an opportunity for me to learn and heal.
This “skirt-astrophy” was part of the reason why I signed up to run a 25K trail race in September. Training for an event helps me refocus my mindset as that of an athlete; I tend to focus more on food as fuel and ensuring I’m getting enough nutrients for training rather than aesthetics when I’m training for something, and care less about body composition changes. This method might not work for everyone with body image issues (and could, in many cases, make it worse) but I know it works for me.
So here’s to long runs in the woods and carb-loading over the next few months. And as for the skirt — it’s getting tossed to the back of my closet for now. Thank goodness for spandex and lycra.
Have you ever had an experience like this? What do you do to deal with body image issues or negative self-talk?
Thanks Amanda for the link-up 🙂