Beautiful Redux

An undated photo of me opening a Christmas gift.
Last night, I was shooting photos for work, and I suddenly realized I had arrived at the event without an SD card for my camera. I didn't have time to run home. I started ransacking my camera bag.

Luckily, I found an SD card squirreled away in a side pocket of my camera bag. I popped it into my camera without a second thought.

It was only later, at home, that I began to review the hundreds of old images stored on that card. My nieces and nephews. My grandmother's birthday. My dad's hunting photos. And photos of me -- at Christmas, opening a Kindle. Hanging an ornament.

The images clearly show that I am heavier than I am today. My face is very round. I don't quite look like myself. I am not sure when these photos date, but they come from a time when I was struggling with weight. Of course, I realize we are our own harshest critics.

At my heaviest, in 2013, I weighed in at about 45 pounds more than I do now. For medications associated with bipolar, a gain of 45 pounds is not that bad. But I felt terrible about the extra weight.

Those feelings of low-esteem, the eating disorder that plagued me in college and that I had never beaten would lead me to going off a key medication. I would spiral down and down and down in a massive breakdown. I lost weight, but there was a high price to pay.

Me at Christmas 2017. 
Today, I am back on the medication I went off of and weigh in at a pretty decent weight for my 5'3" frame. I eat normally and exercise moderately. The eating disorder will always be there, however, I suspect. My psychiatrist has been sensitive to this, and prescribed a medication to reduce appetite cravings in conjunction with that medication. It helps reduce weight gain, though it doesn't eliminate it. The only thing I have found that works is to eat healthy -- no pop, very little other processed foods -- and a combination of cardio and weight-lifting.

Today, I feel good about the way I look. My mother said to me recently that "you look like you again." This is a nice feeling. I also have grown out my hair and let it return to its natural color. I feel like I am giving myself permission to be me, to look like me. 

However, I need healing when it comes to self-image. I still fear weight gain, and I always think I need to lose another ten pounds. The reality is that most American women probably want to lose weight, even if they don't need to. The media we absorb send us the message that we should fight to get ever-thinner.
A recent head-and-shoulders shot of me. 

My prayer is that I will turn this over to God, that he will enable me to be enough, to be beautiful for him. Perhaps we never really do fully "recover from" eating disorders in the sense that the thoughts go away, but maybe we stop empowering the thoughts, stop listening to them. I think the source of freedom from the things that bind us is to turn to the truest and best Source. In him, we are free indeed.

I also recognize that, even when I was at my heaviest, I was beautiful. It is something else that tells us otherwise. We all have intrinsic beauty that cannot be taken away from us, no matter how we age, the changes our bodies go through, or the weight we gain or lose. Sometimes, that feels like cold comfort, but it is absolute rock-solid truth. In a past blog, I quoted Psalms: "Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame." That is the truth about beauty and its Source.

As for me, I will put wellness first. I will exercise to stay in shape and to maintain my health, not to lose weight. Here's to being me and being happy with it. 

Comments

  1. I concur about your reasons/motivations for exercise. Society may not agree, but I believe you're right.

    I was 6'3" 180 from about 16-20 years old, and very active. My Rx's and manic depression have topped me at 332, at 34. I dropped 45-50 lbs over nine months last year, then I switched meds and in the last three months I've gained 40-45 lbs back. I absolutely abhor it!

    I'm not a lady, but I suffer with my body image too, despite knowing God couldn't give a flip. Send some specific nutrition/activity info if you can.

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    Replies
    1. I have difficulty exercising during the winter, but last year I made it to the gym about 3-4 times per week. I would use the elliptical for 15-20 minutes then lift weights and do both upper and lower body. I eat pretty healthy, so I kept my eating habits the same. I lost 14 pounds in 3 months.

      The medications are rough, aren't they?! I sympathize. But you will get your weight back under control. Keep at it, and don't give up.

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