Tag Archives: body dismorphia

I used to want to be anything other than myself.

I love listening to talk radio in the mornings. Like the early early mornings 7am and earlier – on my way to see clients.

It’s one of those “guilty pleasures” although I feel no guilt about it. So, it’s one of my pleasures.

Z100, 95.5 are two of my favorites. Though Z100 has a soft spot in my heart because I have been listening since I was a teenager. Wow!

And I do listen to news on occasion but when it’s this early (we are talking in the car by 5:45am some mornings) I need to keep it light. I want to hear my horoscope and how the Shaun Mendes concert was last night.

Something I notice is that when they take breaks on the radio they often segue into a segment about “I’m using this fabulous product for body contouring. This body contouring product gives me confidence and makes me happy!”

I don’t blame the DJs. They are simply doing their job. And usually I turn down the volume or flip to another channel because: listening to this does not serve me.

Also, in my head I am saying:

People: body contouring alone is not the quick fix that’s gonna make you happy people

What I want to do sometimes (in my little dream world in my head) is this:

Call into the station and start talking about how body contouring or going on a diet and losing weight might give you confidence … but it’s temporary.

The only way the confidence and joy and happiness will stick is if you do the inner work.

These qualities we want in life, they’re an inside job. They do not come from our external circumstances or conditions.

While we might feel extremely excited and happy when we get a dog – the excitement wears off if we aren’t truly committed to accepting and loving the whole dog experience unconditionally. We can’t sign up for a dog just to snuggle with us when we are feeling blue. We have to commit to it all: the daily walks, picking up poop, training the dog, taking it to the vet.

We have to commit to accepting and loving the whole human experience unconditionally. The highs and lows. The fuck-ups and the accomplishments. The stability and instability. The joy and the pain. The growth and the loss.

The way I see it, I have three ways I can respond to these radio ads:

  1. Be convinced that yes, I do need to change the way my body looks in order to feel good. Period.
  2. Get angry. Get angry that these ads perpetuate the judgment and hate that permeates so much of our society.
  3. See it as an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to see the contrast: they are telling me one thing and I’m just like “Nope. Actually I like that my left thigh has that little dimple in it. I don’t even care about my thighs looking smooth and seamless anymore. Or the rest of my body. I want all the shapes and dents and dimples… all of them. I actually feel really good in my body.” And so forth. This is the new story. And i can go on with it. For a long, long time.

In total honesty, I sometimes do get angry. But if I stay angry, that’s choosing my old story and I’m already living the new one. So I don’t want to linger in the old anger story for too long.

In fact, I stay there less and less and it gets easier to move from #2 to #3. Or jump right to #3.

It took me years to get over not being perfect. And I’m not just talking about my body. I’m talking my clothes, my writing, my vocabulary, my education, anything you can think of – I was severely judgmental toward myself. I was convinced that if I wasn’t happy all the time, I was failing. I believed that if I was angry or jealous or sad or did anything imperfectly, I was failing.

I used to feel so sad that I wasn’t something else. I used to feel disappointed that I wasn’t anything other than myself.

And now … now I wouldn’t want to be anything other than myself. Even on the dark days. Even where there is struggle.

I take myself. I love myself no matter what.

For anyone out there who hears these radio ads (or any other messages from media or society telling you that your body needs to be a different way in order to be accepted/happy/confident) and jumps to #1 … I encourage you to explore the inner work first.

There’s no rush. Just check in and see what happens.

If you’d like some guidance on getting to the inner work, please fill out my contact form and we can set up a call. 

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Those darn stilettos…

When I was 26(ish) my boyfriend gave me a beautiful pair of burgundy {can’t say it without thinking ‘ron burgundy’ ha – i digress} ferragamo stiletto heels. They were (are) fucking gorgeous. And I wanted them! In my head I was all like “these heels are gonna make the a real has-her-shit-together kinda woman.” They were perfect.
 
Only they weren’t.
 
Because they weren’t “me.”
 
They never felt comfortable. And I was always baffled by this because they were SO NICE!
 
Aside from the physical comfort thing – I just never felt comfortable in them because well… I’ve finally come to the conclusion that it’s RARE that I ever feel truly comfortable in sky high heels.
 
I’m already pretty tall as it is and to be honest I like to have the option to be able to flail around fancy free as I please. And not roll my ankle.
 
And, well, stiletto heels just don’t allow that part of me to shine. Most heels just don’t allow that part of me to shine.
{And I commend any woman who can be fancy free in heels – I really do!}
 
I share this because: It feels freaking amazing to be like “heels, don’t need ’em!” Heels are not a crucial part of BEING A WOMAN. Or being a human for that matter. Geez.
 
Somehow, 26 year old Maggie believed so. And part of me wishes she hadn’t spent so much time TRYING TO FIT IN but then… maybe I wouldn’t be where I am today.
 
I’ve learned many a lesson in my short time on this planet. One being: I will never (RARELY) spent my well-earned money on a pair of stilettos or any other article of clothing that I believe will “fix me” or make me “fit in” with a certain mold.
 
And that my friends feels incredible.
 
(PS. The stilettos are still in my closet and when I’m in a heel-wearing mode I will occasionally rock them. And usually take them off 20 minutes later to replace them with flats of some sort.)
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Ironman vs. The Bulge (spoiler alert: Ironman wins)

How Ironman got me to move beyond some of my body image issues and start to see the bigger picture…

I don’t know how we got on the topic of body image but toward the end of a typical Monday night dinner at home, Brett and I started getting into a fairly emotional conversation about positive versus negative body image and having a healthy approach to fitness versus an unhealthy, shame-driven approach. I can’t blame him at all for not seeing my perspective from the beginning — I had not fully explained myself, nor had I provided any hard wired examples. Add to that the fact that Brett is a man who deals with completely different issues pertaining to physical appearance.

I had initially given him the example of a student in my class who expressed to me she hates the way her thighs look in downward dog – a story that was all too familiar both from my own experience and from those who have shared similar sentiments with me! I told Brett how it broke my heart to hear that because ultimately my goal as a yoga teacher is to help people see their bodies in a more positive light. I felt like I was not doing my job.

It wasn’t until he asked me in earnest “what’s wrong with not liking your thighs and doing something to change them?” I knew full well what he meant, and that he meant well. But I could no longer keep my cool, nor could I contain myself.

And out it came…

I launched into a small section of my own story, a fairly recent incident that occurred during the last months of training for Ironman Lake Placid. On several occasions while preparing to head out for long runs I would stop and stare at myself in the mirror, I would lift up my shirt to uncover “the bulge” and force myself to see this imperfection and then take myself into a downward spiral of self-hatred. No longer did I feel motivated to run. What was the point if I looked like this? All I could focus on was the bulge that my run shorts created around my hips and that I had no way of covering this up, and how on earth will I cover this up on race day when I will be wearing tiny tri shorts and a tiny tri singlet that barely covers my belly button?

As I was telling Brett this story my chin started to quiver and my eyes welled up with tears. Not only was I providing a concrete example of negative body image and body dismorphia, but I was reliving the experience and all the emotions that came with it.

Brett was at the same time shocked that I could see myself in this way but, more importantly, appreciative that I could share this with him as it gave him a deeper understanding of who I am. And I in turn didn’t feel like I was harboring a deep dark secret.

Eventually I was able to move beyond the thought process and  my attention shifted away from obsessing over what was wrong with me. I was able to throw on my run clothes and just get out there because I had a much larger goal, something far more important to focus on; that goal was Ironman.

It surprises me that I am able to unveil this story as I rarely talk about my own issues with body image, much less such isolated, specific incidents like this one. I normally keep these stories to myself because they make me feel shameful and embarrassed. At the moment I am working on putting all of this together into one big Maggie Story and this is really just a small snippet. But it’s an important one.

This one incident shed light on what Ironman and endurance means to me. In the end, none of it matters. When I crossed the finish line at Ironman Lake Placid I loved my body and my spirit for all that it was capable of. I had forgotten about how I looked in my tri kit – “the bulge” was but a memory by this point. My body morphed into this superwoman creature that carried me 140.6 miles – and that rocked my world.

I guess sometimes you have to transport yourself to another superhuman-like planet to start to see yourself in a new light.

 

 

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