One Mom’s Journey from Fat to Skinny to Confident

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What Affects Your Body Image?

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I think I have a bi-polar body image. There are times I feel on top of the world. Confidence bountiful. I’m unstoppable. Everything I put on looks fabulous. My hair falls just right. I glance in the mirror and, wow, I look great!

Then there are other times when I feel… bleh. All I notice are flaws. I’m aware of my body and I’m just not comfortable in it. It doesn’t matter what anyone says or does, I’m miserable.

What causes these huge shifts in my body image? It can be anything from my diet to the way my clothes fit. And it amazes how fast it happens. It’s day by day, sometimes hour by hour.

I find I’m winning the body image battle more and more by basically telling my negative inner voice to shut the hell up, but there are still things that mess with my head.

I can’t be alone. Can I?

What Affects Your Body Image?



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Discussion

There are 33 comments so far.

    prettylittlereckless

    August 2, 2011

    I think there’s a lot of things that effect it, but it’s all mental for me. Sometimes there’s just slumps I get in with life it seems like and then it just makes the body image thing worse. Exercise is a big part of feeling good. I also listen to music that pumps me up. Right now I’m LOVING Adam Levine’s song “Moves like Jagger” with Christina Aguilera. It’s listed under Maroon 5 though. Get’s me moving! I just try to remember that it’s usually just me that notices the ‘ugly stuff’ sometimes, when everyone else is just seeing the normal me. It’s just temporary and I know I’ll be feeling good soon as well.

    Paige

    August 2, 2011

    There are a ton of things that affect my body image, but the one I’m noticing recently is HEAT. I think it’s more that when I don’t feel put-together, my body image is worse, but recently there’s nothing that makes me feel not-put-together faster than being sweaty in the summer heat. Yuck!

    Hallie

    August 3, 2011

    For me, a lot of the time it has nothing to actually do with how I look. I feel my worst, body-image wise, when I’m stressed out or concerned about something else in my life…work, financies, etc. It seems like focusing on my thick arms is safer and easier than focusing on “real” issues that can’t be solved by me “getting my act together” (or that’s what I tell myself). Although…I’ve gained some post-wedding weight (and uh, some pre-wedding weight too) and the fact that my clothes are all tight, yet I’m not ready emotionally to throw myself into a diet, that’s getting to me a lot these days.

    Patty

    August 3, 2011

    For me it is one word: hormones!

    Sabrina

    August 3, 2011

    I can never look in the mirror and feel like I look good. I always find something wrong with the way I look. One day it may be my chin or chins I should say and one day it might me my muffin top. But I stand there and stare at myself until I can tell myself 3 things I like about myself and slowly but surely the negative talk is going away and the positive talk is getting easier.

    Jessica

    August 3, 2011

    I too fight this problem. It really is amazing, you are correct in one day you feel like a million bucks and the next, nothing fits, you feel HUGE. It drives me absolutely crazy. I work on it on a daily basis, try to get rid of the negative talk, it’s a work in progress. I think like some of the other comments suggest, hormones, other stresses in life (choosing to focus on your body image instead of the real issue).
    Thanks for putting it out there Roni….that we are not alone in this battle.

    T

    August 3, 2011

    Oooooooooooooh my goodness I totally have this too. Some days I look in the mirror and think, “Cute! Looking good! Clothes are flattering!” and other days I see the exact same face, exact same body, exact same clothes and think, “Plain. Bloated. Unattractive. Gross.” Horrible! There’s no one thing that triggers a change, but it’s totally bizarre and I can only try to inform the negative voice that it is lying and move on with my day…

    Jacqui

    August 3, 2011

    I can relate to several of these responses. Hormones, yes. I am 44 and feel like I might be pre-menopausal. Also, relating to Halle, it doesn’t even have to be about my body or my clothes. It may be that I saw my ex-husband and felt horrible about myself because he was always putting me down because I wasn’t “attractive” and I realize that in his eyes I’m still a failure. Why should it matter? I know. But it does, because I spent the majority of my adult life with him, until I turned 40, and I very much defined myself by his definition of me. I guess it’s hard to stop. There are times when I feel pretty, I admire my better qualities, and then one of my girls takes a photo of me and I see it and can’t even believe that it’s me.

    But I think that what is important here is what you and others are saying… banish the negative talk. It can’t help, and it sure does hurt.

    Heather

    August 3, 2011

    Roni, it is so funny that you wluld post this today. I recently lost 30 pounds and was thrilled to try on bathing suits for vacations and spend 2 glorious weeks at the beach in them.
    Here I sit 2 months later, the exact same weight and feel just BLAH…
    I am starting to pick out flaws, feel flabby in the clothes I felt fab in just 2 months ago!
    I am 40, a SAHM, with a wonderful child and husband and life.
    I have no complaints and I am eating well and treeating my body better than ever!!!!!
    I wondered what is going on with me too!!

    Ana

    August 3, 2011

    I think for me, it’s just a reflection of what is going on in my healthi-ness (or unhealthy) journey. If I have been eating at come, cooking my own meals I feel better, and think to myself that I look better.

    Also, if I invest an extra 10 mins in the morning doing my make-up right, I feel like it pays off times 5. I honestly don’t think it makes that much of a difference in how I look, but in my head I think it does, and so I carry myself in a more confident manner. Does that make sense?

    Roz@weightingfor50

    August 3, 2011

    Vanity sizing can affect my body image. I KNOW in my rational mind that it’s just a number, but I’ve lost 35 lbs, and hate when I have to try on clothes in my “old size” because the number of the tag is wonky. However, like you I’m working REALLY hard on silencing my inner critic and seeing size and the number on the scale as just that, a number. I feel better, I look better, yeah, I have a way to go still, but will never go back to the way I was this time last year. Thanks as always for your thought provoking post! Have a great day Roni!

    My pants feeling too snug is probably what gets me the most. Oh, and sometimes when my male friends will start ogling other women in our presence. How rude!

    Lori

    August 3, 2011

    So true! I can one minute feel amazing & the next like a beached whale. I find if I’m on track – journalling, working out, etc. I have a much healthier body image. My thoughts are pretty much positive & everything else seems to fall into place. When I’m not – I’m so completely negative I just want to throw in the towel. I guess I know what I need to do.

    Marisa E

    August 3, 2011

    You are soooo not alone. I’m still working on losing the weight from baby #2 and I’ve lost 30 so far, still have 20+ to go. Some days I feel amazing, seeing how well clothes are fitting me again, how much my hard work is paying off. Other times, I see a picture of myself or a reflection and think “OMG, is THAT what I still look like????!?!?!?” like I’m back at the beginning. I try my best to turn those thoughts off but its really hard. I either use it as fuel to my fire or I can crumble like a leaf and want to go into hiding….depending on my mood.
    I always try to remember that I’m still a work in progress and letting that inner voice even speak is NOT helping the situation. Inner Voice- Shut the &%#* up!!!!!

    Katie

    August 3, 2011

    Honestly – you actually read my mind when you wrote this. I experience these same dramatic fluctuations. Here’s to hoping they stabilize!!

    Kristi

    August 3, 2011

    This is so me for the last two weeks! Things are great and it’s like you fall off a cliff or at the very least slide down a hill – hoping to catch yourself on a rock!

    I think there are so many things that affect us women. Sleep, hormones, sunlight, words from others, words to ourselves, what we eat, how we feel when we are (or not) exercising, and other things like wearing make up (or not) wearing clothes that fit our current shape, taking time out for ourselves – whether it be to just BREATHE, have a mani-pedi-or massage. Sometimes alls it takes for me to turn around is 10 minutes ALONE in the bathroom applying a great smelling lotion and clearing my head. As I continue to make this journey, I’m trying to focus on the little things that make me happy and feel complete – as well as recognize the things that make me “off balance” no matter how big or small. I’m finding that balance is the key – when things start to get overwhelming i need to do something for myself other than “just breathe”. I feel selfish sometimes but then i realize that I’m a better everything (wife, mother, employee, “self”) when I take time to achieve that balance.

    Here’s to a happy(ier) you!

    I know exactly what you mean, Roni. One thing that I have found that really helps when I’m feeling down on myself is to take a picture of myself, even if it’s just with my cell phone. More often than not, I can see from the picture that I look a lot better than how I think I look. It sort of gets the “fake” image out of my head and lets me see how I look to everyone else (who doesn’t know I’m having a “fat” day).

    Lori F

    August 3, 2011

    So not alone! I go thru this same thing all the time. I find it coincides a lot with the choices I am making as well as my “cycle”. Telling myself to love myself helps too.

    Tami@nutmegnotebook

    August 3, 2011

    For me I know hormones play a big part! Sometimes nothing “feels” right about my body but nothing has really changed that day except my perception.

    I have also figured out that wearing certain clothing makes me feel worse about myself. I look my best in fitted clothing – I have that full on hour glass shape thing going – full bust, full hips and oh yes I do have a waist and if I wear lose fitting baggy clothing I look like a frump! When I look like a frump -guess what? I feel like a frump.

    When I dress in clothes that fit my body well, I look and feel my best. It really does make a difference for me.

    Lisa

    August 3, 2011

    I definitely have a bipolar body image. I can go weeks feeling REALLY good about myself, positive, happy, admiring my reflection…and then boom for some reason I look in the mirror and see every “extra pound” there. It’s bizarre and most likely hormonal.

    KCLAnderson (Karen)

    August 3, 2011

    HORMONES!! They can make me a supermodel one day and a haggard old bag the next!

    Alyssa

    August 3, 2011

    hi Roni! I’m usually a huge lurker (I read in my google reader so I don’t often click over) but every once in a while you totally get me – I feel like this happens to me all the time! Sometimes I think it’s hormones, sometimes I think it has something to do with mood/overall tiredness or stress, and other days I have no idea why I think I look great or horrible.
    Thanks for another great post! You inspire me on a daily basis :).

    Reinaldo

    August 3, 2011

    You’re not alone! One day is “If I suck my gut, I have no belly! Great!” and the next is “Dammit! I have to suck my gut to have no belly!”. Exact same body, different days :/

    Jennifer

    August 4, 2011

    Ugh, I so know this. I think EVERYTHING impacts my self-image. If I am bloated or constipated, if the number on the scale is higher than I want it to be, if I can see my stomach hanging over the top of my pants under my shirt or the poodge around my bra strap, it all makes me feel bad. I lost 50 pounds last year but have slowly re-gained 10 and it is so hard to remind myself that those 10 pounds are not the same thing as the 50 I lost. It seems like this battle will always be going on in my head. I keep quiet about it because I do not want to pass it onto my daughter, but it is agony.

    Jill

    August 4, 2011

    The scale, the scale, the scale, the scale……………ugghh. It is my frenemy, when the numbers are going down or I am maintaining at a number I like I feel great but when they go up I have a hard time talking my self out of a major emotional tantrum. I have tried to live without it but I do not think I will ever be able to, when I abandon it completely the #s go up and up and up…..and then I find myself in real trouble.
    I wish I could be like my husband he will jump on the scale once every couple of months and typically he is within 5 pounds of his ideal weight but if he is not he just adjusts his eating and exercise until he is again the right range. No crazy crying or throwing of clothes just a practical approach to solving the problem. I am trying to adopt this approach but after running 9 miles on Sunday, swimming 2 miles on Monday, running 4.5 miles (not to mention the workouts from the week before) on Tuesday the scale reflected a 3 pound gain. Seriously 3 pounds…………….I follow weight watchers and was too embarassed to log the gain. There were certainly days I exceeded my 29 pts but with the activityand exta weekly points I was certainly within plan.

    Enough whining. My goal for the next year is to get out of this cycle, make peace with myself and call it good.

    So no Roni you are not alone in your battle with body image.

    Marzipan

    August 4, 2011

    I have DEFINITELY noticed this with myself, and I attribute it to a certain ease within my body/skin. When I don’t take care of myself the way I know I should (and this is different for everyone), by say – eating too much white stuff (bread/rice/etc), not drinking enough water, drinking lots of coffee, being stagnant, not sleeping enough, eating tons of sugar, and drinking alcohol, I feel awful. I feel stuck in my skin, like nothing fits, and like I don’t want anyone to touch me. Unfortunately those are all of my “favorite” things. My biggest body image hurdle has been to try to better align those things that make me feel good with what I actually like to do on a daily basis, so that I’m not always fighting against it. However, even though I know this intellectually, implementing these kinds of lifestyle shifts takes on a life of its own. Ugh.

    Mehgann

    August 4, 2011

    Oh, I SO have this. And the worst part is that when I am feeling down, I do everything I possibly can to sabotage myself further. It’s crazy! How you got out of this cycle and lost the weight you did is something of a miracle to me. I just don’t know how to do it.

    Kim @ Imperfectly Perfect

    August 4, 2011

    I’m the same way. I think I must drive my boyfriend crazy. One minute I’ll be happy that I’m fitting back into my skinny jeans and the next I’ll be complaining that I’m thicker than I want to be. The poor guy can’t win. ;)
    I think there are many reasons for the ups and downs. Sometimes it’s caused by comparing myself to others (even though I shouldn’t….it’s hard when you have stick thin sisters), if I had a “bad” eating day, making it or not making it to the gym, my monthly friend making a visit, not feeling like I’m accomplished in my career and/or being bored at work (has given me too much time to think about weight/body appearance), focusing on things I can’t change (like loose skin from when I was much heavier, hormones and the list goes on….There are so many factors. Just have to try to stay positive and tell that negative voice to shut up, the way you do. :)

    I admire you so much Roni. You have made me smile so many times since I started reading your blog. I know I’m not alone in my thinking about you. I wish that we could all see ourselves the way that others see us. Most times, we are our own worst enemies. All I see is positive when I think of you.

    Sara

    August 4, 2011

    Roni! I seriously LOVE this post and I totally identify. I think many of us are like this, and its a good thing, because it makes us human. It makes you a real person, and I think your readers really identify with that and love that about you. It certainly caught my attention. I’ve been checking out a lot of blogs from wellsphere because I want to make mine better, and whenever I come across someone like you, Its like my brain starts taking mental notes and I want to ask you a million questions. I think you are what us humble beginners call a success story in the blogging & health/fitness industry. I aspire to be able to create something special the way you have…. you rock!!

    Paula

    August 4, 2011

    Trust me you are not alone. I go through this so often. Sometimes the number on the scale makes me feel like crap, sometimes it is the feeling I I get the day after I might have ate too much, sometimes it is nothing but hormones. I feel best when I eat well, exercise often and steer clear of negative people.

    Brittnie

    August 6, 2011

    You are SO NOT alone in this. I can go a few weeks feeling great about myself/my body and then other times it seems as though I am up and down a million times in a single day. It is definitely a mental battle and takes a conscious effort to stop the negative talk before it gets out of control and becomes obsessive. Thanks for being real!

    Rachel

    August 8, 2011

    I have what I have lovingly called Bad Body Days when I just feel awful about how I look – not just Bad Hair Days anymore (although being in the awkward growing-out stage doesn’t help things at all). Depending on what I am doing when I get in the funk determines how I will get out of it. If I get in the Bad Body Funk when I am trying on clothes, then forget it, it’s all over. I don’t want to try on anything else, I don’t want to look at anything in the mirror and I definitely don’t want to spend money on clothes I don’t feel good wearing. If it starts here, I end up in a funk all day. If I just catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and I notice I’m kind of frumpy (this happened the other day when I was out with my husband – who never looks frumpy) then I try to spruce myself up a bit (pull my hair back, touch up my make-up or something).

    Lately I’ve tried figuring out WHY I am in the slump once I get in it. Most of the time it is because I try on something and realize I need to go up a size from what I thought I was or something isn’t sitting right with me. Then I just catch myself and try to stop it before I spiral down and get gloomy.

    My Bad Body Days are normally prompted by a full-body mirror, so I avoid those at all costs. We broke our full-body mirror (the frame, not the mirror itself) when we moved into our house 2 years ago and I have made it a point to not replace it.

    Nicole

    November 7, 2011

    I feel like for me it’s how my clothes fit. If I look in the mirror and like what I see I feel great all day. However If I see something I don’t I spend all day picking out things about me that I hate.