Balance and Body Image

For those of you who follow my posts, it’s no secret that I struggled with an eating disorder in the past.  Even though I am no longer anorexic, I still struggle with my relationship with food. I’ve been overweight and underweight, never truly feeling happy in my own skin. 

And then here it comes, each year, “Swim Suit Season”, and those negative voices inevitably rear their pesky heads:  “My cellulite will show…I’m not in perfect shape yet…I’m pale…I’m not confident enough…she’s prettier than me…”

I had the blessing of celebrating my anniversary and milestone birthday in Greece this past month. As I shopped for a bathing suit, I took my “voices” with me.   After each suit, I would look in the mirror and put myself down.

It took a conversation with Dr. Roy to realize that no one has ever said those things to me. These were all MY own thoughts- nobody else’s. I had just said them silently for so long, they felt like someone else, something real.

It helped me to remember that other people may judge what I look like, but I can’t control their thoughts, I can only control mine.  In beautiful Greece, who cares that I’m not perfect? Who cares that I’m not a Victoria’s Secret model?. After a little push from Dr. Roy, I put my one-piece bathing suit in a drawer and packed a string bikini for my trip. When I tried it on, I smiled the first smile while looking at myself in the mirror in a bathing suit in a really long time. 

You know what? In Greece, the only one that was paying attention to what I was wearing was my husband and it felt freeing. My husband tells me I’m beautiful pretty regularly, and all that matters is that he loves me, inside and out, not anybody else. (He smiled too, by the way.) We celebrated our 4th anniversary, and as we walked on the beach along the Sea, I heard….silence in my head.

For the most part, I follow the gluten free, dairy free, pesco-vegetarian diet that I prescribe to many of you, but like you, I’m also human.  On vacation, I drank beer and wine.  I ate French fries, bread, cheese, and Belgian waffles.  I enjoyed dessert too. 

But I also ate a lot of salads, fresh veggies, seafood, fruit, fresh juices, and hummus.  I brought Macro Bars and matcha with us to have for breakfasts and packed our dinners for the overnight plane ride. 

Developing a healthy relationship with food is critical to all of our health journeys and I am starting to finally come to a place where I no longer feel guilty for eating things that may not be as healthful as long as I know I’m nourishing my body with nutritious foods most of the time. 

Life is all about balance and it’s not worth it to feel deprived all the time.  Life is too short to completely limit yourself.  You’ll drive yourself crazy.  Not only do we get nourishment from food, we also get a feeling of joy, home, comfort, and enjoyment.  So enjoy your food and join me in finding balance.

bethany swanquist