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My Journey Towards Body Positivity

Weight wise, I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been. Confidence wise, I feel better about myself than I ever have. For many people, weight gain and confidence are incompatible, and for a long time, I was one of those people too. I equated my self-worth with the number I saw on the scale and as it got larger, my self-esteem began to decrease. It wasn’t until about a year and a half ago that my own journey towards body positivity began, but it’s been one that has changed the course of my adult life for the better.

We're all on a journey, and mine is one towards body positivity. Read all about my struggles with my body image and how I've overcome.

Growing up, I never too much worried about my weight. I was a lanky kid and when my body began to change during my pre-teen years, I grew into myself nicely. As a teenager, I was always complimented on my figure. Although I wasn’t weight-obsessed, I lived in a family of women who were and seeing their reactions to their own bodies made me wonder if I should be more concerned. Each and every summer, the women in my family would try out the latest fad diet. Because I didn’t want to be the only one eating chips while everyone else was snacking on fruit, I would get on board and join them as they tracked points and counted calories. Although unnecessary, dieting became a way of life and I loved being able to talk with them about how much we all wanted a cookie and what would make a good alternative. Between me and the other women in my family, obsessing over food and weight loss became a bonding experience.

As I exited my household to begin college, social media was on the rise. I’ll never forget the morning that I woke up to a new thing called “Twitter” and, a few years later, when everyone began posting pictures with outlandish filters on Instagram. With Instagram came Instagram models and with them came the birth of my own self-comparison to other women. I became hyper-aware of how I stacked up against these characters who, at the time, seemed so real. (I later grew up and realized that, most of these characters are no more real than Disney princesses.) I began defining my own “body goals” based on what I saw in the media. How many squats did I have to do to get a butt like Draya’s? How many crunches did I have to do before my stomach looked like Kim K’s? How I viewed myself became less about me and more about others.

At the same time that I started viewing other women as a measuring stick for body success, I began to gain weight. My father passed away, and at 21, coping often included vodka, buffalo wings, and cupcakes. By the time I graduated college in 2012, I knew that I was bigger than I had been when I started school, but who isn’t? I figured that my weight gain was somewhat “normal” and thought that I was the only one who noticed… Until I returned to Miami for homecoming a few months later. “Awww, Allison! How far along are you?” an acquaintance asked as a group us stood around catching up on what we had all been up to since graduation. I still, to this day, can’t quite figure out if she was deliberately trying to break me down or if she sincerely thought I was pregnant. While I was able to laugh it off on the outside, internally, her question awakened something in me that I wish had stayed sleeping.

What followed that fateful evening at homecoming was 3 years of feelings bad about myself. For 3 years, I focussed my attention on every single one of my flaws, went through periods of working out and dieting constantly, went through other periods of feeling like there was no point in working out or dieting because my body wasn’t going to change anyway, and felt completely uncomfortable in my own skin. For 3 long years, I didn’t take care of my body because I had lost respect for it.

Sometimes, when it comes to our bodies, we need to be more grateful. We need to be reminded of how powerful our bodies are and the things that we are capable of because of these shells that our souls reside in. Realizing how strong my body is what helped me to regain respect for it and begin my journey towards body positivity. When my husband and I were living in Japan, one day, I woke up and decided to go for a run. I didn’t have any goals in mind and wasn’t focussed on losing weight or creating a certain body, I just wanted to see what my body would do for me if I just let it. Although my running career was short-lived due to shin splints, it changed everything for me. I was amazed at what my body would do for me if I gave it a chance and began to love my body for its capabilities instead of hating it for its flaws.

body positivity

I began to focus more on being healthy and feeling my best than how I looked, and everything else slowly but surely began to fall into place. I traded comparison for admiration and self-loathing for self-love. While I still have a long way to go in my journey towards body positivity, I don’t body shame anymore, and that goes for myself and others. I realize that God made us all just the way we were meant to be made, and that includes people of different shapes and sizes. I focus on the things I love about myself instead of the things that I’m not too happy about and I play up my assets.

For a long time, I refused to accept that I no longer wore a size small. Now I buy clothes that fit instead of worrying about what it means about my body if I need a medium or a large. As a result, I not only look better, but I feel more comfortable as well. I feed my body what it wants, even if that does mean having a chocolate chip cookie or ice cream cone, because I realize that if I’m craving something, there’s likely something that my body is lacking. While I don’t deprive myself of anything ever, I focus on what my body needs and fuel it with the right things, not to try to lose weight, but to be my healthiest self. I spent time trying different workouts until I found a few that I genuinely enjoy and I do them religiously because I feel stronger and more confident afterwards. When I do measure my gains and losses, I do so based on how my my abilities change and how I feel instead of what the scale says.

journey towards body positivity

Body positivity isn’t about having the perfect figure. It’s about NOT having the perfect figure and still feeling comfortable in your own skin. It’s about respecting your body for everything that it does for you. It’s about loving yourself and practicing self-care. It’s about focussing on being your healthiest self, inside and out, whatever that may include. My journey towards body positivity is an ongoing one, but for the first time in years, I feel thankful for the skin that I’m in.

 

I’ve partnered with my mom and out favorite beauty expert, Sanae Murata, to deem this week “Body Positivity Week.” Across all of our platforms, we’ll be sharing about our own personal journeys towards body positivity, and tomorrow, on The Duo Podcast, we’ll be discussing body image. Be sure to tune in to Episode 23 of The Duo Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher to hear all about the role mothers play in how their daughters feel about their bodies and how we as women can ensure that the younger generation grows up to love themselves. I’ve included a sneak peek of the episode below:


Are you on your own journey towards body positivity? If so, I’d love to hear all about it!

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