My Not-So-Private-Anymore Journey Towards Self-Acceptance

#2I’m overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with the comments, emails and texts from friends and strangers alike about my last blog. The outpouring, while unexpected, was both comforting and terrifying.

“You just literally wrote every word inside my head and heart. No joke. I could go into some long explanation but as you know, it’s not needed because those feelings you describe said it all.”

“Ellen, I soooo get you! I’ve had the same struggle most of my adult life and I’m 60 now.”

“Have you been reading my journal? I’m a guy and reading that was like looking in the mirror. I appreciate you. Thanks.”

“You are sooo my hero! You’re not the only one! I feel the exact same!”

A hero?! Wow. Some have put me on an undeserved pedestal. I don’t claim to be an inspiration because I haven’t achieved anything to be inspirational. (At least not yet.) Realizing now that many struggle the way I do, I’ve chosen to continue my journey publicly.

Selfishly I write because expressing my struggles releases the stress that consumes me. I write for me just like I’m losing weight…for me. I don’t write to inspire. I don’t write to get attention. I write solely to get the negative thoughts, the toxins, out of my body. A mental detox to work alongside the physical one if you will. If others can take something positive from my experience then I welcome you inside my crazy, scared, and hopeful mind.

It’s time for a new beginning. I started fresh. A clean slate. There was no judgement. No judgement at all in having to start over. There was, however, encouragement and understanding. With Anne’s help, we set up a new plan. We even took pictures.

That morning I had woken up early and took extra time to do my make-up and dressed myself in an outfit that I felt really good in. I find if I feel comfortable on the outside, the inside follows suit. But if I was feeling confident then why was I afraid to have my picture taken? These are going to be my “before” photos but the reality is that they’re my “right now” pictures. It’s a mind trip knowing that I thought I looked great but in a few months, I’ll shake my head and think, “Why’d I ever let myself get like that?”

I promise to share those photos. I just can’t do it yet. Hell. I can’t even look at them myself let alone show them to anyone.

Recently I went on a hike with a great gal pal. While she’s in shape, she also works hard to keep a healthy lifestyle. As we hiked I found myself quickly getting out of breath. Thank God I brought Charlie, my dog, with me. He had to pee every few steps which gave me the perfect excuse to stop and catch my breath. A piece of me was embarrassed then I remembered that I wasn’t going to be like this forever. This was the hardest it was ever going to get. As we walked and talked I realized, I’d been thinking seriously about losing weight for four years. I could have lost that weight FOUR times since then if only I would have stopped thinking and started doing! Talk about a kick in the proverbial nuts.

In a perfect world what would my idea be of optimal health? I can list quite a few things off the top of my head. No more back fat! Not feeling insecure about my stomach when I sit down. And not feeling like my ass jiggles 30 seconds after I stop walking. More importantly, it’s about living the life I’ve dreamed about.

We’re all so consumed about being selfless. What’s wrong with being selfish? I wrote my blog selfishly hoping that it would make me feel better. The impact was more profound. Bigger than me. (No pun intended.) It brought many different types of people together in the common struggle of self image. Women, men, young, and old, we’re not alone. “If you’re not happy with yourself, how will anyone around you be happy?” I think I’m starting to understand what they mean.

Here’s where I try to convince even myself…

This journey is about making yourself happy. The only way to be happy a week, a month, a year from now is to simply start today. Be happy with one day. Go to bed tonight knowing you accomplished one day because that’s all it takes to start! Just one day.

My Personal and Private Struggle with Weight, Body Image, and Self-Confidence

#1I beat myself up over my weight and how I look everyday. It starts in the morning when I tell myself, “Today is the day you change.” And I truly believe it…for about 10 minutes. I’ve been telling myself that exact same thing, every single day, for the past four years. And I’ve failed, every single day, for the past four years. Why is today going to be any different?

It’s scary and exciting to start over like I did when I moved 2,200 miles away from everything I’d ever known. But people in the Great Northwest never knew “the real me.” Thinner. For all they know, I’ve always been like this. A failure.

Station events have become the bane of my existence. Not because I don’t like interacting with our amazing listeners but because I can only imagine what they think when they see me. “She talks about losing weight but I haven’t noticed a difference. Is she lying?” But what will people say after I lose weight? I’m more scared of the attention that I’d get for being in shape than for being fat! I already shy away from the “fame” that comes along with my job. At least me carrying around a few extra pounds makes me relatable. (There I go trying to justify being overweight.)

The extra pounds I carry might as well be a neon lit sign shining brightly that screams, “I’m not in control!” Another thing I hate. Not being in control. More often times than not I can mask it with jokes and hide behind a smile. But how do I cover up my lack of control with it prominently displayed on my ass, hips, and around my waist. I’m embarrassed. I don’t know which I’m more embarrassed by. The actual fat or the nonverbal signal I give off that screams, “I can’t control my addiction!”

I’ve put off life experiences because I think I’ll be able to enjoy them more without this extra weight. I don’t want to look back on pictures and say, “Wow! I was fat!” Or even worse, gain more weight then look back and say, “Wow! I was skinny then!”

My weight is a physical barrier for the emotional wall I’ve put up, especially with men. Despite popular belief, I have gotten really hot guys. I’m ridiculously picky which I have no reason to be since I’m no catch (or at least I don’t feel like it). But it never lasts because of me. I push everyone away. Why would a hot guy ever want to be seen with a girl like me? My confidence shield is just a show. Yes, I have a lucrative job. Yes, I’m an independent woman. And yes, I’m funny from time to time. But don’t mistake any of that for confidence. I’m not confident at all. I need someone to handle me with kid gloves. But how will that happen if my pride prevents me from telling anyone that’s what I need?

The saying “You should like me for what’s on the inside” is crap. My outside, my fat exterior, screams that I’m scared, unhappy, and extremely self-conscious. That makes my inside ugly and weak and no one wants to be around that, including me. I justified gaining weight because I have a cute face. Then I got a pretty cool job and figured an extra 20 pounds wouldn’t be that big of a deal.

::sigh::

I thought it’d be easier. Easier to lose the weight that has consumed my mind, body, and soul. My co-host Tony and I were introduced to a fabulous group of people at Optimal 365. Simply by eating right, Tony lost 15 pounds in what seemed like a blink of an eye. He gets showered with compliments from everyone at the office, deservedly so because he looks great! Not only does it take me longer to lose weight because I’m a girl, I have a lot more of it to get rid of.

I’m so hard on myself when I cheat. I feel as if I’ve completely ruined the new healthy lifestyle and I quit. Game over. A cheat meal turns into a cheat day which leads to cheat week, month, and year. This can’t be an option anymore.

I know what needs to be done so with all due respect, spare me your sales pitch on the latest diet pill or weight loss energy drink. I have a great support team on my side and with their help, unwavering support and mentoring, I know I can lose this weight. But ultimately, I need to believe in myself. So if everyone else supports me, why can’t I?

Allow me to reiterate. There is not one day that goes by where these thoughts don’t run rampant through my head. Is this normal? Am I alone? If I am, I’ve publicly announced to everyone that I’m loony tunes. If there are others who read this that go through the same thing (and God I hope there is although I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy), then take comfort in knowing I’m right there with you.

I need to believe in myself. Allowing these thoughts to consume me is robbing years of my life. Like I said before, I know what needs to be done, I’m just scared to do it. Am I crazy for being scared to lose weight? Is THAT what the real problem is?

Someone much wiser than me once said, “Until you accept the struggle, you’ll never realize the accomplishment.” I’ve struggled for too long without acceptance. In making public what has been my most private thoughts and demons, I’m choosing to move forward. Choosing to embrace the difficult road filled with temptation that’s to come. And choosing to let go and be happy because dammit, I deserve it.