Building Confidence

A thin woman. A fit woman. A trim woman rebounding from a pregnancy. What do they all have in common? After talking with each, I learned that it’s negative perceptions about their bodies, given to them, in part, by other people (a mother, husband and colleague, respectively).

That really bums me out. If these women are struggling, what’s to become of those of us with bona fide weight issues who are working hard to make changes? Perhaps what I’m striving to achieve won’t make me blissfully happy once I get there after all.

When I was in my 20s, I was, for a long time, a perfect size 8. I remember that I still wasn’t satisfied, convinced that being a size 6 would improve my status. Still, I plowed forward into days when I felt almost attractive; when I embraced the fact that a size 8 was the right size for me, Jill Sherer.

That is, until I went to the New Jersey shore one weekend to visit my parents, who have a summer place there. My brother, his tall, thin wife and her equally svelte sister were also visiting. Before going out one night, my brother took a picture of us three girls. I knew that I looked short and squat in comparison, but tried to think positively. My poor mother, however, looked distraught. Maybe I was projecting my own insecurities, but the look on her face read, “Why can’t my daughter be tall and thin like the others?” I knew she didn’t mean to, but that me mad feel bad.

Since my 20s, I’ve packed on the pounds. Now, I look back at that time and long for the shape I was in. How unfortunate I didn’t appreciate it when I had it. Which is why today, I’m trying to come to terms with my body. I truly believe that’s part of winning the battle for body confidence, and perhaps why I lost the battle so many times in the past. I’m learning that I’m beautiful at every stage in the process (even though people consistently tell me how beautiful I’m going to be, before catching themselves).

It’s building an awareness of what you’re capable of doing and being, going for it, and giving yourself a pat on the back for each small stride in the right direction. I know I’ll never be built like my sister-in-law, but I can be the best that I can be: muscular and in tremendous physical condition.

One day I spoke to my trainer, Michael Logan, C.P.F.T., M.E.S., if he gets fulfillment from seeing his clients make great physical transformations. “No,” he replied. “I get fulfillment from seeing them make great mental transformation and from seeing them accept their bodies.”

Which brings me to the women at the beginning of this piece (and myself). I only hope we can turn off the critical voices around us so that we can truly embrace and accept our bodies. Nobody knows better than I do how difficult that is, yet I’m discovering that the payoff can be great.

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