How many times do you find old photos of yourself and wish you could look now the way you did then? But at that time you swore on a stack of bibles that you were as fat as a cow and you avoided the camera like a plague.
That's because we often don’t see ourselves as we really are. If you're walking around thinking of yourself as fat, no matter what size you are, you'll always appear to yourself as fat. I did it for years. Even when I had size 8 thighs, I swore that I was as big as a house. Can you relate?
Recently I sat in my office looking at old photos of myself. I was surprised how inaccurate my memory was and how different I looked in the pictures. As I went through them, I was overcome by gratitude for having been so deeply blessed in my life. Far from having a perfect life, I can now see all the bumps in the road and recognize how they have made me the person who I am. I’ve learned to look at the tough times as precious gifts, despite their bleak packaging.
As I spent time walking down memory lane looking at old photos of myself, my husband, Angel, our kids, friends and our families, I recognized the passage of time in those snapshots and I smiled as I noticed each of the changes reflected in each one. Some were of a thinner Andrea, some were taken during heavier times.
This time I noticed a difference in me after I looked at the photos. I was calm, relaxed, at ease and smiling as I put the pictures away. In the past, back in my Weight Watcher days, seeing those thinner images of me made me feel desperate to ‘go back there’ and ‘look like that’ again. Today I didn’t feel that pang of envy or urgency as I once did. Let me tell you what I did differently so that you can try it too.
- Where was I in my life at the time of this picture?
- What were my priorities and how did I spend my time?
- Would I like being that gal's (my) friend?
- What was the general quality of my life when this picture was taken?
- Was I happy with my body?
- Was I gentle with myself or 'hard as nails' and judgmental?
- Did I feel good enough, pretty enough or smart enough then?
- How much have I changed as a person since that picture was taken?
- Do I like myself more now or then?
- What can I be grateful for now that I didn't have then?
In general, I noticed that when I was just thinking of being thinner and focusing on dieting, there was no room for anything else in my life. My days were spent running back and forth to the gym, focused on what I would eat next, and torturing myself with promises of When I achieve my goal weight, I'll... The pursuit of thinness taken to its extreme is a full time job and it can crush your spirit.
As I pored over the photos, I remembered that in my dieting days, although I may have looked thinner, that was the only thing I had going for me at that time. In reality, I was angry a lot, always overcome by feelings that overwhelmed me, given to sudden outbursts, rarely spent time with my family and hardly ever had any fun. I was always worried that I would lose control around food and go back to being fat again. It was like I was frozen in time. I was waiting, waiting, waiting. I think that deep down I was waiting for some perfect time to start living.
Now I'm not waiting anymore. I'm busy accepting myself as a size 16 today and moving on with my life and sharing my passions with others.
I still can’t believe that for so many years, I measured my worth and value by my dress size. So many women still do. We’re taught that being thin is good and fat is bad. Where did this come from? It’s such a simplistic and stilted view of life. How could I ever have bought into this ratty bill of goods? Worse yet, how could I have let nearly 33 years of my life go by without stopping to love myself? What the hell was I thinking?
How about you? I'd love to hear from you. Please leave a comment and tell me what you think. Have you recognized that you are now a better version of yourself than you were before or are you still getting hung up on only seeing the outside and focusing too heavily on what can only be reflected in your old skinny pictures? Please share your thoughts and feedback with me.
And if you want to know how to change your body bashing perspective and find your own treasure trove of self-love, I invite you to join my new Facebook group, "30 Days to Lovin' the Skin You're In". There over the course of a month, you will get a chance to attend weekly live Google Hangouts and get daily assignments designed to help you brush away your insecurities and learn the tools to creating more confidence so that you can get started lovin' the skin you're in, right now. Click below to join: