Looking Back at Me | My Body Image Journey

by

Hi everyone, This is a long one so sit back and get comfy! Don’t worry there are plenty of pictures to keep you entertained πŸ™‚

Today I am going to Reflect on my Reflection.

My reflection is not just the one I see in the mirror, but how I see myself in my own eyes and in the eyes of others!

Honestly, I don’t believe that my body image story is more special or deserves more attention than anyone else’s; I actually believe that everyone’s experience is worth the same as we each have inner feelings about how we look which are relative to us. However I also think there are many stories that share common threads. It is a well known fact that many of us (especially women) struggle with accepting our “imperfections” (I mean who decides what is imperfect anyway!) and a large proportion of these people end up taking extreme measures to achieve a look that will make them happy or make them more confident. Actually “Up to 8 out of 10 women will be dissatisfied with their reflection, and more than half may see a distorted image”, The Social Issues Research Centre. It is for this reason that I feel sharing my story will at the very least help someone realise they are not alone.

Given the path my life has taken me and the decisions I made, I can say that NOTHING I have ever done to “improve” the aesthetics of my body (while hoping that change will make me happy), has actually made me happier! In fact a lot of the efforts I have made, with that single goal in mind, have actually caused me more unhappiness and a slight hatred of myself for doing it in the first place.Β  It’s possibly one of the most difficult things to explain as you feel a little insane by voicing such feelings about your own God-given body – but this is my truth and it is unfortunately a common occurance in the world we live in today. A world where more value is placed on someone if they look the part.Β  After all, the good fairy/princess is always beautiful; the wicked stepmother is always ugly.

I am not referring to every day vanity; the type that makes you get washed every day, to stay neat and tidy, or look good for yourself and your spouse etc. I am talking about when you become so self-conscious and so self-critical that you fear even stepping out of your front door! This post is going to reveal the TRUE feelings I have had for myself over the course of my short 29 years. Note I am calling it a journey because I am quite sure I have a lot of ground yet to cover. I even wonder, will I ever be 100% happy with how I look?

As a women, my body and mind go through many ups and downs through each month at the hand of hormonal changes and I now believe this is where the majority of my issues began!

As a child, I rarely gave my appearance much thought. My mum had to chase me with a hair brush most days and choose something “decent” for me to wear as I was apparently hell bent on wearing whatever was most suitable for climbing trees or playing war games with my older brother and his friends. I could have gone weeks wearing my raggy play-clothes, or without a thought to the mats in my hair – I actually remember not brushing my hair once over a 3 week period when I was 9 LOL. As a child, although everything was “about me”, I didn’t care at all what others thought of me – as you can see in the 1980’s I didn’t give a crap that I was cycling around in a jumper and my knickers!! And don’t get me started on the massive fringe – eek!

Only when I began hitting puberty at around 12 years old that everything started to change. Not so much my body at this point, but my mind-set. I would look at other girls and start comparing myself to them. I remember having a crush on this guy (I was around 14 years at this point), but he liked this other girl; for the life of me I didn’t know what he saw in her because I actually thought I was prettier LOL, so I thought it must be something else! Looking back, I’d say she had more confidence in herself as a person plus she was the same age as him, but at the time it HAD to be something about how she looked. What I decided, was that she was THINNER! Now, at the age of 14 I was a stick-figure so why I thought that I needed to be thinner is beyond me but I distinctly remember looking at myself in the mirror and beginning to wish I could change the way I looked! I would try and hold my stomach in and try to wear clothes that flattered my already tiny waist! I wanted to look more like that girl because I believed it would bring me what I wanted. Of all the things, why did I fixate on her being thinner?? To this day I still do not know that answer.Β  What worries me more looking back at that is how I needed to change my appearance to fit in with what I believed the boy wanted, not what made me happy.

Throughout my years in high school I would set my alarm extra early to allow myself time to apply my make-up and fix my hair. Many days I had significant stress over the fact that my hair was frizzy or didn’t fit in with how the girls in the “pretty crowd” looked.Β  I went through high school feeling totally invisible to the opposite sex yet highly self-conscious of how I might look to them. Never mind the obsession that I had about my “fat” knees. I will confess that even to this day, I am not fond of my knees, but boy did I hate them while I was a teenager! I remember dreading summer time, when we had to wear socks again and I could no long hide my “humongous” knees under 100,000 denier tights! Joking aside, this was clearly one of the danger signs that becoming fixating on an “imperfection” causes your mind to magnify it ten fold!

As I got through my mid teens I became obsessed with more body “flaws”. One was CELLULITE!! Why oh why do magazines draw so much attention to this? I probably would never have noticed my own cellulite had I never been exposed to the negativity and “stigma” around having it. Even though I am very toned now, I still have some cellulite. I’m not thrilled about this but what can I do – nothing – so I may as well just accept it! I’m certainly not the only female on earth to have cellulite.

The next flaw brought my body image issues to a whole new level and this is the one thing that has shown me that tampering with your body to try and “fix” something, will not bring you the results or effect you wish for.Β  Genetically I was blessed with a nice arse, however the boob department always caused me great anxiety; especially when all my friends seemed to be bigger than me. I thought of course I was a freak and that no man would ever want me if I didn’t have bigger breasts, because I would never look feminine enough or ever fit into all the nice clothes and NATURALLY my arms looked disproportionately big because of my flat chest etc etc bla bla (the list was endless).Β  All I ever noticed about other girls was how good they looked BECAUSE of their bigger boobs. I saw all the clothes I could not wear, because you would have to go bra-less. God forbid I took off my padded 32A bra!! I think I even slept in it πŸ™ So instead of learning how to accept the way I was, I would research all the fad methods and even exercises to try and increase my breast size. Why did no one tell me that they would never work?? Why was I so obsessed with being perfect?

At 17 years old, I had tried everything but nothing was working, so then all I wanted was a boob-job! Thinking it would solve all my confidence issues I went to my Doctor and was placed on a waiting list for a bigger “better” pair of breasts. Now here’s the irony – I was on that waiting list for about three and a half years and, by the time I was called for my appointment, I had actually started to accept my body shape. I was even in a steady relationship with a guy who, despite being a self-confessed “boob-man”, loved me the way I was.Β  But I went ahead with it anyway thinking it would only make my body, relationship and life better. Guess what, it actually made me extremely unhappy for the first couple of years and I have honestly regretted it since. Although I have now accepted the mistake – I wish I had never tampered with what I was given!

In the midst of all this manipulation, I was also struggling with my body weight. Up to my mid teens I had been very sporty but then was forced to give it up partly due to hip and knee pain and partly because I was getting plain lazy.Β  After this, I began to notice a change in my body shape and size as I started to gain weight. This was very difficult because I had always been the “athletic” or “sporty” one in the family.Β  As you can see from the picture below, the sack race was my greatest achievement in my early years:

The next picture is me at aged 19 (also, this is pre boob op). Later, after gaining a total of about 35lbs, I often dreamed of returning to this tiny weight of 119lbs (ish). This became my ultimate goal – regardless of, and ignorant to, body composition.Β  I think a total ignorance or disregard for body composition is one of the biggest errors anyone can make during a weight loss attempt. For one, it should be called FAT LOSS!

Only two years later, I had probably gained about 14lbs and I started hating myself even more. For some reason, I always seemed to believe that I was a giant beside my friends. In any photos in University while we were out I always cringed at myself because they all looked so pretty and petite in comparison to me. CRAZY I know!! The three pictures below were taken about one year apart. I was 21 in the first one (pre boob op), 22 in the second (about 6Β  months post op) and 22 in the bottom one (at my fattest).Β  To this day I hate these bottom two pictures! How did I let myself get like that?Β  I never did myself any favours that’s for sure; eating junk food, drinking sugary alchopops, and doing zero exercise. Okay I was never obese but, at about 11 stone 3 lbs (157lbs), I was overweight for my height and age. Besides, what matters is that at that time I was extremely unhappy with how I looked.

My weight loss journey began shortly after this as I increased my activity levels by walking everywhere and trying to make better diet choices. Along the way I made many mistakes like doing crazy diets such as: only eating salad, only eating soup, taking appetite suppressants, starving myself. Each new method would last about 5 days and I would give up after I saw no effect.Β  This sort of silly behaviour was bad enough but it was when I fell off the wagon that I was at my most vulnerable to even more dangerous behaviours. For example,Β  if I ate a large meal or had a treat I went through a phase of making myself sick. This is shameful I know, but I was so desperate and I would have done anything just to be THIN! I used to look at all my friends and want to look like them! Thin = happy πŸ™ Not so! Not only did I just want to be thin, I wanted to be thin YESTERDAY, so I had zero patience and zero concept at how to actually lose body fat and stay healthy.

Unrealistic expectations can be so dangerous!

The picture below was taken about 6 months after the last and I had lost a bit of weight just from being more active. I was feeling a lot happier with myself, but ONLY because I had lost weight! After another few months, the weight started to creep back on! It is hard to notice yourself putting on weight, especially when it happens slowly. Either that or I was living in denial hoping that it wasn’t true and wishing it would go away. My unhealthy behaviours started to come back too. I would feel SO guilty after a large meal that I hated myself. That feeling of self-hatred and regret that you have eaten this fattening meal was the catalyst for more extreme diets and lots of tears. I was always comparing myself to my sister or my friends thinking that I was the ugly fat one and no man would ever really like me.Β  Despite having the boobs my feelings towards myself had not changed.

By my final year in University, I had started to feel better about my body and had lost weight again.Β  It was around this time that my back pain got really bad. I didn’t know I had arthritis at the time and I think it was the inflammation and stress that caused most of my weight loss in the last few months of university. Would you believe that the next two photos were taken just months apart?? I must have lost about 10 – 14lbs in that time and was nearing my lightest weight, which was back to my goal of 119lbs! Although I was in pain, I was VERY happy to be thin. I was also very happy about everyone noticing that I had lost weight and saying how thin I looked etc etc!

What happened next was that I got into fitness and a whole new world of body image issues cropped up.

As some of you know from reading my older posts, my main fitness goal was to have a six-pack. So although I was happy to be thin, I had fallen into the belief system that in order to be considered fit, I needed to have low bodyfat levels and highly defined muscles, oh and maintain my tiny weight of 119lbs!! It was at this time that I became obsessed with eating healthy, trying to cut out all the junk and have strict meal times and set portions *yawn*! This was never going to work for me, but I went through the motions anyway, with the hope that it would make me happy – And you guessed it – I was NOT happy!Β  I actually did a blog post on this a while ago; it’s called “Orthorexia and Extreme Leanness – Healthy Becomes Unhealthy“.

As you can all see, I have not reached my shallow goal of 15% bodyfat and a full six-pack. In actual fact I have finally begun to be happy in my body even with its so-called flaws.Β  I now realise that there is more to me than my outer shell. There is a person inside who is dying to shine through and show others what she can achieve ! It’s not just how you lookΒ  that attracts people to you, it’s what you radiate; inner strength verses inner hatred??

This is how my strength training has helped me the most.Β  I have realised that training is about so much more than making you look a certain way. Yes, it has helped me achieve a look I am happy with, but this is not the body of my goal 2 years ago! Looks can only get you so far in life, and believe me I am grateful for my appearance, but I am now very aware that you need to break past that mind-set if you ever want to reach your full potential. Whether it is in training goals or life goals, having an inner strength and confidence is key. You cannot get this confidence from the outside, it has be be found within!

So am happy with how I look now?

About 80% of the time I am happy with how my body looks.Β  During these times I can look at myself in the mirror and think I look stronger and better than I ever have. Inside I feel more confident and have been told many times lately that I seem much happier or more at peace with myself. I put a lot of this peacefulness down to my mind-set changing from “you could look better” to “you do look better and you have overcome so much”. The remaining 20% of the time, I waiver between mild Time of the Month “fat” days to feeling a little guilty when I pig out at the weekend, or I go on holiday to the USA and everything you eat has 6g of salt in it, blowing me up like a balloon which freaks me out a bit! In comparison to how I used to think and feel, I know I am no longer dangerously vain or dangerously body dysmorphic.Β  There are things I am still not thrilled about (like my fat Irish knees LOL) but all in all I think I have done alright.

My appearance no longer rules my life πŸ˜€

Thanks for taking the time to read my story. Feel free to share your feedback or indeed your own story below or in the forum. Do you love the skin you are in?

Cheers

Marianne

Final picture (I love this one) of me aged 5 years – I had no idea that one day I would indeed end up a nurse!

Related Posts with Thumbnails
If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Work out
with Marianne

Online Coaching

81 Responses

  1. Randolph says:

    Pardon for arriving so late to the party, but as they say “better late than never”.
    Marianne, your story is inspiring, as is the progress you have made. I’d kill for shoulders and arms like yours, and I am a guy!

    I have no back-story of my own to tell (at least one that would be worth reading), however, today I came across a video posted by a young woman that left me in complete awe.
    http://youtu.be/PM-6OnG2WYQ

    Your videos are terrific, keep up the great work!

  2. Ashley says:

    Marianne, I’m late to the game and just now discovering your blog and videos, and I love them!! I’ve never really been a fan of “working out,” but kettlebells are fun!

    I searched your site for the words “paleo” and “primal,” but nothing came up so I don’t know if you’ve tried this before or not — but I just wanted to throw out an idea related to your arthritis.

    You mentioned that it’s an auto-immune inflammatory disease. I’ve heard of many cases of rheumatoid arthritis (I know that’s not what you have) being helped or even put into remission with a whole-foods, nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet (a.k.a. “paleo” or “primal.”) I follow this diet protocol myself since being very sick for a number of years with colitis (also an inflammatory condition). I’m age 29, 5’6″ tall, and was about 99 lbs. at my sickest – severely underweight! I changed my diet, healed my gut slowly, started strength training, gained weight and feel really good most days now.

    You might want to look into it. I just Googled “ankylosing spondylitis paleo” and saw some interesting stories. Seems like low-starch seems to help. Balanced Bites has an autoimmune protocol – check out her blog, too. Also check out the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (I used this initially to heal my gut and heal my endometriosis).

    It’s amazing how food affects our bodies – we literally are what we eat!

    Thanks for all the work you do!!

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Ashley,

      Thanks for the tips. I’ll check it out – though I have done this type of diet before to try and help things. It makes little difference and I just end up miserable LOL

    • Sam Metson says:

      Hi Ashley and Marianne,

      This may provide a slightly odd twist on the above comments, but relates to why eating foods that are natural and in balance with our need is so important.

      I have just commenced Reed Davis’s Functional Diagnostic Nutrition (FDN) course, since I had become so interested in why modern life conflicts with our biological processes.

      We have been members of the ape family for at least 3 million years and Homeo Sapiens for about 200,00 years. Our interaction with our environment over that time, ruthlessly selected out a complex self-regulating systems that was designed to maintain our health from the cellular level upwards, through tissues, organs and hormonal systems – all are evolved to maintain good function (health). “Natural Selection” is no longer a process at work on our gene pool. We have overcome our predators, bar a few nasty viruses (e.g. bird flu), with our technological advances. This means we have the biology evolved for a caveman in a high-tech world. That is a bit over-simplified, just to set the scene.

      The starting point is our seasonal “Circadian Rhythm” (light and dark cycles). In fact this is common to nearly all forms of life on this planet. It controls plant germination, flowering and seeding. It causes breeding / nesting periods in animals as well as migration and hibernation timings to name a few basic processes . As an example, in summer we literally produce a hormone set, to increase our appetite, which also causes us to lay down body fat in preparation for the coming winter – a vital process to allow our primitive selves to survive the cold when food was scarce. Now, just imagine how simply the advent of bright lights at night, TV’s and our laptops switch us into a “permanent summer” mode. We don’t have a natural winter “fat burning” mode, brought on by the longer winter nights. No wonder obesity is increasing year by year.

      Our hormones are evolved to constantly change in gradient (concentration) through the day and night and through the seasons. They are like a complex cobweb of interactions working over various time frames all at once, in a very connected way. A tug here produces a response elsewhere. They are reacting to external stimuli as well as themselves. As one hormone level falls, this may cause another to rise. As daylight fails, cortisol should fall and melatonin rise, to initiate sleep. The reverse happens with day break, but as you will see cortisol can cause problems too. If you are wide awake at 3am, then high cortisol level is the cause, when melatonin should be dominant.

      Think about the “fight or flight” adrenaline / cortisol response that was designed to heighten our senses, make us stronger in an emergency, but at the same time, it cuts out non-vital processes to do with detoxification, digestion and reproduction. The “fight or flight” action, of fighting a neighbouring tribe or fleeing from a wolf, would dissipate these powerful hormones and allow us to return to a state of “homeostasis”, always assuming we survived!

      Today, this same response is triggered by financial worries, conflicts at work with colleagues or family at home, jobs we hate, foods that are too refined for our bodies, lack of exercise or “over-exercising”, especially after dark.

      These stress response hormones are surging through our bodies several times a day, and they are shutting down parts of our biological process to some extent. When this stress response happens, there is a chemical produced called pregnenolone, that is used to manufacture cortisol, but it is also used for the production of many other hormones such as DHEA, which in turn make other hormones. However, Cortisol has first call for pregnenolone and the other hormones lose out to this pathway. This process is called “pregnenolone steal”.

      We each have a slightly different (individual) “metabolic type” and from this we have different levels of tolerance to stressors. This is know as our “adaptive reserve”. This will allow our cortisol levels to rise, which might even create a sensation of feeling really good, since we are coping with the excitement of these stressors – they can be positive challenges. However, over time the Adrenal glands, which are at the heart of this cortisol production, start to breakdown under the constant call to manufacture cortisol. It is during this phase that we start to feel less good and signs of “functional breakdown”occur. Symptoms of illness begin to appear. Symptoms of ill health are the last part of the jigsaw only once our adaptive reserve is exhausted. As you can imagine, given our individual metabolic typing and the amount and type of stress that we are subjected to, this “symptom” phase may take decades to show through, while our adaptive reserve struggled to keep us in homeostasis – perfect function and health.

      FDN sets about restoring the body’s natural function, but does not attempt to cure symptoms of ill health directly. The assumption is every cell has an evolved biological programme to achieve and maintain full health, if the right environment exists for it to do so. The key lies with DRESS – Diet, Rest, Exercise, Stress Reduction and Supplements – intensively farmed and hence depleted soils, do not allow the crops we eat or even the animals we eat to contain all the micro-nutrients that we need. I can say that as I am a farmer too! Then consider how refining and food processing also violently undermines the nutritional value of food we tend to eat day in day out. Refined foods often also have addictive properties that the food industry is well aware of.

      FDN uses lab testing of multiple saliva and urine samples to identify how our endocrine system pattern is shifting through the day and then, via a detective process, attempts to design a programme for each client to restore full function.

      I am only a student of FDN at present, but I am excited by this logical process to overcoming the explosion of chronic disease in our society today. Doctors only have time to deal with symptoms in your 7 minute appointment with them. FDN wants to trace the source of these to hormonal imbalances, which once corrected bring homeostasis back into play. I have just used the Cortisol pathway as an example of FDN work. There are many other pathways to examine, depending on each patient.

      Finally, it has to be said that the FDN process is not for everyone, because of the expense of time and lab testing involved. It is trying to reverse years of poor behaviours that have created ill health. However, once the FDN process is understood, then we are in an educated position to prevent ill health for ourselves and our children. Need I say that the pharmaceutical and food industries are unlikely to aid our education.

      Note for Marianne: You may not think this blurb is relevant to your site. Only you may be the judge of that.

      Best wishes,

      Sam

  3. […] Looking Back at Me: My Body Image Journey […]

  4. Sam Metson says:

    Marianne, I have found a challenge for you …

    http://www.youtube.com/user/sixpackshortcuts?v=bkD9LwDBWW0&feature=pyv&ad=10239637927&kw=workout

    Actually, you can probably do it anyway – Warning turn the volume down!

  5. Sam Metson says:

    I have just bought a kettle bell – one that you can take weights on and off – and I was looking on the web to find out how to use it properly. Your fitness and strength are impressive, but more so, the precise manner of your technique – it never falters. Your journey to get so fit is really interesting too, as you battled poor eating and living habits.

    I have recently started listening to Sean Croxton’s podcasts on http://www.undergroundwellness.com and his new website http://www.darksideoffatloss.com. Watch the brief video intro first on the latter. It will immediately start to resonate with you, about why we as a species are suffering epidemic levels of chronic illness despite all the “improvements?” to our diet, health and medical system. He talks about us jumping into “the box” of diet and exercise and tells us why it does not work.

    Marianne, you may not want to post my entry about some other website, but have a look yourself. On underground wellness.com, listen to TS Wiley on “Lights Out”, Dr William Davis about “Wheat Belly” and Dr Pillary in “Life Unlocked”. There are loads of brilliant interviews, but don’t let the style detract from the content.

    I am not tied to Sean Croxton in anyway – he has no idea who I am, nor do I benefit from telling you this.

    What you have done is marvellous and your results speak for themselves and you do look beautiful. Your body is how all of ours should be, and are not. Presumably, you fought through an addiction to the wrong foods and won. There are so many opiates, even in wheat, that make this battle too hard to win for many of us.

    I have overcome that side of things, but now I want to get myself fitter and I know better feelings flow from that and seasonal living. I have taken up road cycling and now kettle bells. Thanks for this great website of yours.

    Sam

    • Marianne says:

      Hey Sam!

      Thanks for your comment. Of course I don’t mind posting this with the links, I love Sean Croxton’s work!

      I wouldn’t say that I have won the battle just yet, but I am working on it every day … it is a very difficult addiction to break.

      Your compliments are very kind πŸ™‚ I hope that you too will see the success in strength and performance training that I have. Please let me know how you get on πŸ™‚

      • Sam Metson says:

        It was the wee hours of the night when I found your story, so I was skimming through it quickly. Today, I have re-read it and all the comments below it. I noticed you said you had an auto-immune arthritis. To keep it brief, I was involved in an unpleasant bike crash in Feb this year. I picked up a series of injuries, but the one that was not responding to treatment was a whip-lash neck injury.

        After listening to the “Wheat Belly” podcast (see above), I gave up eating wheat – luckily I had the flu, so I got through withdrawal phase easily. What has astonished me is that my neck is no longer a problem. I can move it freely without pain. After this happened, I was out with my wife in Pizza Express, eating a goat’s cheese salad, but they put dough sticks around the edge of it. I said to my wife that I was going to eat them, because my neck was better (and I hate food waste). The next day I was back in agony. A week later after going wheat-free I am freely moving again. You could say it is co-incidence, but I don’t think so.

        Wheat changes the body from a alkaline to acid and this is effecting bone density and the surrounding tissues. The anti-body that attacks clumps of gluten (undigested protein) and not the individual amino acids, also attacks joint tissue – hence the auto-immune reaction over the long term.

        Try two to three weeks wheat-free (not just gluten-free) yourself and see if it makes the difference for you. As I say I have been totally surprised by the effects – loss of body weight has also accompanied this without cutting down and the foods I do eat. I no longer have that desperate hankering to eat bread, biscuits, cakes and pasta every few hours.

        In biblical days wheat was a 14 chromosome plant that stood as high as a man, with poor yields. Today, it is barely a metre tall and yields 10+ tonnes per hectare with it’s 42 chromosomes. This is as a result of mutation in plant breeding programmes (pre GM). I used to farm combinable crops and conduct crop trials.

        I hope you find benefit from this too. i would love to know if I am the only freak!

        Sam

    • Squirrel says:

      Interesting you writing about wheat and opiates, coz when I had to stop eating wheat and all the other gluten-stuff, I was suffering from something like a detoxification for about 2 weeks – my mood went up and down and I felt weaker and nervous – after these two weeks my health started to improve drastically.
      I don’t really have an explanation for this (Marianne, maybe you have as a nurse πŸ™‚ ) and I know others, who are now on a glutenfree diet, who experienced the same.
      Do you have more sources about this?

  6. Ralphy says:

    Hi M,

    I really enjoyed reading your story & its good to see you come out of the “other side” I wonder how many people don’t make it??

    I have struggled with “me” all my life & probably always will, despite having a beautiful partner & an amazing daughter I still don’t think I have anything to offer anyone & ama fat ugly mess.

    I have inflammatory arthritis, bronchectasis (I had half my left lung removed in 05, I have asthma, oh & PTSD following 2 car accidents.

    I think a lot of mine is self esteem & you only gain confidence when you “achieve” something, so when I achieve something then I feel a bit better but I seem to strive for perfection & I’m really good a putting together weekly workout & eating plans but if I fail on something (missing a workout) I will plunge back into my biggest demon of all COMFORT EATING!! I do it when I’m sad, stressed, even happy, which I think I do to try & maintain the feeling of happiness.

    I enjoyed your articles on IF (& Colin Firths) & I am trying to incorporate them into a more achievable programme.

    Apparently my problems come from my childhood, or lack of it hahaha!

    I work in Mental Health & currently have 3 jobs, @ 70 hours a week over 7 days (damm the CSA πŸ™ )& drive over 500 miles a week with my main job.

    Things however could be so much worse & I do try to remember that but sometimes its so hard, so its nice to read success stories & I will keep on trying & will keep checking your website for workouts, tips etc.

    Thanks for listening & sorry its a bit disjointed I was only supposed to say thanks for sharing your story!

    Ralphy x

    • Marianne says:

      Did you mean Andrew Firth Ralphy? πŸ˜‰

      I really hope that you can find that place of appreciating all the small progressive steps. You have had to deal with a lot, but there is a good thing to take from all these challenges – the potential for growth is even higher! The inner and outer strength it takes to overcome all of this will be one hell of a badge of honour and source of inspiration for others. Keep thinking how you can help others in helping yourself and it will pay off.

      I always like to think about this:

      When we pray to God to give us patience or strength, He does not just make us patient or strong, but He sends us the opportunities and trials to practice them.
      This has always helped me through tough times when I wish “it wasn’t happening to me” or “why me”.

      Hope this helps πŸ™‚

  7. EJ says:

    Just another example of your total honesty that reflects what a vast majority of the population, male and female, has felt or feels daily. You are an inspiration and a template of success for how to deal with real human emotions regarding body image. Thanks much for making us all much healthier mentally and physically Marianne.

  8. Rachel says:

    Marianne,

    I have just stumbled onto your site via Girls Gone Strong on Facebook. I initially looked at your pull-up tutorial, which I thought was great!

    In reading your story, I see so much of myself – it seems we women are bonded together with our body image struggles and it gives strength and comfort to know we’re not alone.

    I think you’re gorgeous now. You are physically strong and have made yourself emotionally and mentally strong as well. Like you, I try hard every day to continually give up the obsession with how I look and I, too, have realized that I’m so much mroe than a physical shell.

    Thank you for sharing your story – like I said, I think we all gain comfort, wisdom, and strength from knowing we’re not alone. It’s also inspiring to hear from women who have struggled and overcome.

    -Rachel
    Dallas, TX

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Rachel, thank you for your comment. We all need to stick together and show this sort of support. I want more women to reach this point of self acceptance. The more we speak out, the more hope there is that women will realise that inner confidence and strength are what makes you beautiful πŸ™‚

  9. Annika says:

    Hi!
    I have been following your great posts and exercice videos for months now. I am from Finland and I am so in love with this site! It’s a really intresting to see what’s up with you every now and then πŸ™‚ Really nice work and keep doing this! You are my weightloss / exercice motivator!

    Greetings from Finland πŸ™‚

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Annika, welcome back πŸ™‚ I am glad that you find my site such a source of motivation – that’s what it’s all about!

      *Waving* from Ireland πŸ™‚

  10. Sarajane says:

    Hi Marianne,

    I’ve been wanting to reply to this amazing post for ages! Thank you so much for sharing your journey. I kinda find it hard to believe that you were ever not super fit even though I know you’ve worked really hard to achieve it! You really are such an inspiration to other women and it will really give other women hope. I know it has given me some πŸ™‚ I love the fact you’re so determined to help other women, its awesome!

    My situation in ways has been kinda the flip to yours, I was really overweight as a kid. I was definitely obese when I was about 8-12 so where you wanted to get back to your former tiny self, I’ve always had this niggling feeling that I can never be “thin”. I might always struggle with this but anytime I get that niggling feeling that I need to lose weight, comes back I start going in circles. But its so true that we can create unrealistic expectations when you’re bombarded with whats “pretty” and what’s the “perfect” size.

    Haha I love the photos of you as kid! Maybe there’s something about Ireland and letting kids run around in knickers, theres lots of me running around when I was younger. lol there’s actually one with me and this monkey I befriended on holiday and I look very like mowgli!

    • Marianne says:

      Thanks Sarajane! I love the Mowgli reference LOL!!

      Hopefully we can all help support each other with our individual demons by standing up against these sources of unrealistic and generic expectations of beauty and fitness. I know I am sick of seeing the same body type being heralded as “perfect”. That’s why I love the image of Girls Gone Strong, because we each look so different and everyone has their strengths – it illustrates that you are at your strongest when you join forces and support one another without all the shallow-sourced pressure to look a certain way!

      Thank you for sharing chick πŸ™‚

  11. Claire says:

    Marianne,

    Thanks for sharing this journey! All women can relate to this in some way, and can share comfort in knowing that no matter who you are, how you look, how you live your life, etc…women are all nit-picky about their figure.

    I’m also 29yrs old, and have struggled with my body image/self-love/respect but for very different reasons. I developed uncomfortably large breasts at a very young age, and was singled out and teased about them for a long time. I grew up wearing baggy sweaters and pants to avoid drawing attention to them. It took me an incredibly long time to love them (because they are a part of me, and reflect my family heritage – thanks Grandma! LOL) and accept that they will draw the wrong kind of attention but that I can deal with that on my own terms. It has also helped that I’ve learned to focus on other parts of myself – learning new things (both in Uni and outside of it), my work ethics, my contribution to my community, my relationships with friends, family, and my boyfriend, and my HEALTH (overall health). These things have helped me to start letting go of the “baggage” I carry around – emotional and mental. I am inspired even more to continue loving myself in ways I never knew I could by your ongoing journey of letting go of your “baggage”. Everyday is something new.

    As for imperfections – you are right, who the heck is deciding what is perfect and imperfect? We are all different in our likes and dislikes, and this can even be seen in the different ideas of “perfection” projected onto women by various industries and the media (i.e. fashion, fitness, etc…). What you are doing here is challenging the status quo in a huge way – something that is greatly needed. Generic IS so boring! Boooooo….:)

    You are an incredibly beautiful, strong (I love this!) woman. The comments your readers post are fantastic – this is a great community you have built! Inspiring, motivating, and I learn new things all the time. Thanks for your hard work and commitment to the cause – strong women kick ass!

    Claire <3

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Claire πŸ™‚

      You are a great role-model to your friends, family and work colleagues. It seems like you have come a long way on your journey too and I commend you for your outlook on things. It is people like you and most others here that make this community great. Having people share and support is vital in us making progress and growing in all forms of strength.

      Although I have made many mistakes and errors in judgement – I feel I am finally on a truly positive path. And I am lucky to have such amazing support to help me keep this going πŸ˜€

      Thank you! x

  12. sarah Canter says:

    Hi Marianne

    Is it possible you can get any more pretty and ‘ bad ass ‘ than you are ?… apparently so πŸ™‚

    I also agree with the others….a fantastic piece of writing, and on a topic many females struggle with…some their whole life.

    In my early to late teens, I also had a real dislike for many things related to my personal self worth. My weight, looks, chest size and even how intelligent I was. When one of these demons reared it’s ugly head in the morning, I was totally miserable the whole day, and nothing anyone said could change my mind set. I think the negativity I had about myself caused my relationship with friends, family members and boyfriends to crumble…I was ‘ hard work ‘ mentally for them. When it got to the stage where there were more bad days than good, and my negative thoughts caused me to start skipping school, effected how much I ate ( either starving for days or binging for days ), and even how long I stayed in bed isolating myself from people around me, my family made me seek professional help, and although I wasn’t diagnosed with depression, I think I was pretty boarder line.

    It took a long time, many clinical sessions and some tough love towards myself, before I started to feel ‘ ok ‘ about myself. I say ‘ ok ‘ because even now, years later, I can have moments where doubts about who I am and what I look like set in. The difference now to then, is the negative thoughts are fleeting, less frequent , and when they do occur, don’t dictate my self worth for the rest of my day.

    Will I, or many others, ever feel 100% positive about our body image every single day ? Properly not, but can we learn to still be happy and ok with that ? Absolutely πŸ™‚

    Keep doing what your doing Marianne, and staying the person you are, because you help me more than you will ever know.

    xx Sarah

    • Marianne says:

      Sarah, you’re such a star for overcoming this! You are so strong!! I was actually really emotional reading this, thank you for sharing your experience.

      I too still have my moments, but they are indeed fleeting in comparison.

      Thank you for your wonderful words. They will surely help many others who are struggling now πŸ™‚

      Cheers
      Marianne xo

  13. Philip says:

    Marianne,

    Firstly, congratulations on an extraordinary piece of writing – you have identified your demons and relegated them to a place where they are less likely to trouble you than ever they were before.

    Perhaps I come at the issue of how we perceive ourselves, and how we view our appearance, from a slightly different perspective to others because of my background and my own experiences. I’m involved in mental health – and have ‘issues’ of my own there – and have come to think that self-image is important to the extent that one doesn’t have other interests taking up one’s time. I realise that how we see ourselves can be overpowering, pushing everything else to one side; at that point it’s usually a medical problem, at least in part.

    I suspect that the more we do, and the more we pursue other interests, the better sense of perspective we have in relation to our own bodies. Social pressure, though, is impossible to avoid as it is everywhere – TV, cinema, news(?)papers, magazines, internet, friends – the list is endless. The key to having a chance of avoiding becoming obsessed with how we look, at least in my book, is being occupied with more than work, fitness and TV. And the chances of that are dictated in large measure by our upbringing and, perhaps, by chance encounters. Oh, and a determination to develop a sense of proportion. Not easy, though.

    Philip.

    • Marianne says:

      Interesting view-point Philip. For me, it was definitely worse when I was around my friends – I just felt inadequate beside them. Now though I find it easier to know what I stand for and have more self-worth, but it’s not always easy and there are times when I still doubt my strengths.

      What area of mental health are you involved in? Are you a nurse?

  14. Rick says:

    Hey great blogs, just reading the change in your body. I am a pt and as much as i deal with clients and there issues it was really hard to deal with my own. I really got and been through the whole not happy being just fit. its all about having that happy feeling, I still cant get a full on 6 pack bloody belly haha.
    and lets not get started on the BMI!!
    great videos

  15. Squirrel says:

    Hey Marianne,

    Thank you for sharing your story with us!
    Mine is different from the most – I had always trouble gaining weigth. I tended to faint when it was hot and was generally a weaker person, stomach, strength, blood pressure and everything. 5 years ago my condition went so bad, I bothered the doctor to have a full check up. And there it was – I’m intolerant to gluten. It took me two more years to fully recover.
    And now? I’m about to get stronger, and training helps me to get stronger from the inside, too.
    Am I 100% satisfied with my look? No (I thought I was the only one to suffer from cellulite with 16… But now, with 29, it has decreased due to hard work πŸ˜‰ ). Does this make me sad? No. Perfection is boring and leaves no room for further development.
    Keep up with your honest and realistic way, I appreciate that! And you’re a really strong and beautiful person inside and outside.
    Cheers, squirrel.

    • Marianne says:

      Thank you Squirrel πŸ™‚ I am glad that you discovered what the problem was, you couldn’t be living like that forever always being ill! You know it could have been your body’s reaction to gluten that was making your cellulite worse back then. Even so, I guess it is all about learning to be happy in your skin, regardless of how you look. Yes we can improve things, but often these things take time and patience.

      I agree that perfect would be SO boring!

      Talk to you soon πŸ™‚ x

  16. Joanne says:

    HI Marianne,

    Thank you so much for this post (and all the others!). You are an inspiration! I am new to kettle bells (with my trainer) and slightly new to weights :)and this website is a great support.
    Your comments about lack of patience, wanting all the results yesterday….sounds very familiar πŸ™‚ my mentallity to this is moving upwards all the time.
    I used one of your bodyweight workouts for the first a couple of weeks ago and loved it, really helped my confidence that I can do this without a trainer if ever I needed to.
    Love your work πŸ™‚

    • Marianne says:

      Great to hear Joanne. I am glad that you are finding a balance between getting the practice and working hard. Hope to hear from you again about your progress πŸ™‚

  17. David says:

    I am just a guy πŸ™‚ but have watched many female friends go through exactly the same stages as you (and the other commenters) have gone through, heck I have even gone through some of it myself, albeit on a milder scale. When I was younger I was conviced I looked like a girl :-\

    These days though it must be hard for boys too as everywhere I look there are images of ‘ideal’ men, torso of the month, celebrity hunks etc. Unless you look like these people it seems that you aren`t attractive.

    Luckily now (and since I was about mid twenties (34 now)) I really haven`t given two hoots what people think of me. I’ll make a proper tit of myself, run around playing games etc and image is one aspect of that. I know that many of my friends think I am strange but I am happy so I don`t care what they think. They think I am wierd for going to the gym, I think they are wierd going to the pub talking about how to install new guttering on their house!

    I do workout 5 times a week but that is purely for me and me only, a great body is a side effect haha. But no matter what you do, if your goal is to be attractive to all you will never succeed. At one point I was at 6% body fat, had an 8-pac and felt great but my gf left me, she liked bigger rounder fatter guys. You will never win.

    Be who you want to be, it’s hard getting there but once you are you have an inner calm (getting hippy now) and peace.

    Confession time (and at the risk of giving you a big head) but when I stubled across this site, I was looking for videos on kettlebell exercises, the vast majority were made by HUGE guys with no idea what they are doing. What made me play your video was because of how you looked, I admit I fell for the ‘hot chick in a workout video’. I stay around now though because I love your workouts and your ethics πŸ™‚

    • Marianne says:

      You’re forgiven David πŸ™‚ Thank you for the compliment. I’m glad you have grown up no to care and I hope you no longer think you look like a girl :-/ The magazines certainly don’t help things when you are feeling low about yourself anyway – it just multiplies it.

      Be who you want to be πŸ™‚

    • Brian says:

      ” I admit I fell for the β€˜hot chick in a workout video’. ”

      I’ll fess up too. I’m with David on that, but without any substance and real value on the posts, I would never had stuck around. Your workouts have been more challenging and fun then any others out there (IMHO). You may have started out with the goal of changing your own self image, but have made quite the impact on many others’ self image.

      BTW….curious if your arthritis is RA? My sister has it.

      • Marianne says:

        *blush* Thanks Brian πŸ™‚ For all the compliments, that means a lot!

        My arthritis is Ankylosing Spondylitis. But it’s an auto-immune arthritis like RA. Is your sister recieving Anti-TNF therapy for hers?

        • Brian says:

          Actually, I’m not to sure what therapy/medicine she is currently using. She’s had this for about 20yrs and she’s bounced from med to med. Some are more effective then others, but with each one brings unwanted side effects that she determines if she is willing to put up with or not.

          It’s tough at times, but she’s a strong woman and tries not to let it run her life.

          Keep being active like this. It’s a big help in making you feel better and keeping the pain at bay.

  18. Kim says:

    As I read this, I thought I was reading my own story. I got into fitness, as trainer, mostly because; I too had these bizarre views of myself. Four years later, I am far more patient and kind to myself – but it is a daily affirmation that keeps me in check. Thank you for sharing this story. Would you mind if I linked this post on my blog for my clients?

  19. Michelle says:

    Hi from Finland! I just wanted to say that thanks for the story and you look great! Ou, and thank you very much for posting so many workouts! =)

  20. Heather says:

    Hey Marianne,

    Thank you for this post. It’s a shame that our hatred of our bodies starts at such a young age. I, like you and almost all women, have struggled with loving myself. I’ve never been obese, but I’m definitely a “brick shit house” as my bestie says. At 5’6″ and hovering near 170 lbs, I often feel I have flaws, but then I remind myself about what my body is capable of. Completing a marathon in 3:45, deadlifting 245 lbs, and all my wicked strength–inside and out–that’s what it’s all about. πŸ™‚

    Keep inspiring us!

  21. Rachel says:

    I love your post Marianne, you’re wise beyond your years! I laughed at your honesty about hating old pics of yourself- its almost easier to be negative about your body isn’t it- and so so much harder to be positive. Congrats on your journey so far, I am in my late 30’s and still wake up every morning and find fault with what I see in the mirror, but luckily I dont have time any more to worry about it, I work full time in fitness and every day feel fortunate to have built the strength that allows me to continue my work. Looking forward to more of your posts!

    • Marianne says:

      It’s easier at the time to be negative about yourself but you pay the price later. When people pay you genuine compliments, you don’t know what to say because you’re suspicious at what they really mean – because you don’t see what they see. It’s a difficult hurdle to overcome. I just hope that my children (when I have them) don’t ever feel this sort of negativity for themselves.

      Thank you for your comment and kind words Rachel. Keep up your own great work.

      Cheers from up North πŸ™‚

  22. Kim Rapp says:

    A very honest and heartfelt post. Thank you for sharing. Helps me to understand the struggles my wife and daughter have with body image and weight gain/loss.

  23. Jim says:

    Marrianne,your story is a story that many of us can tell whether we are males are females.
    The look in the mirror story. My teeth aren’t straight, my head is going bald, my face looks fat and we all can go on and on. the mirror cannot reflect what’s inside of us. Our bodies are our connection in all these articles, but it’s more than our bodies. It’s getting out what we fell inside.I am a Maintenance director in a nursing home. These people don’t worry about their looks. They worry about making their next doctor appointment or what time is bingo and I can go on and on. I don’t worry about mine, I’ll be 62 on Saturday. I look at you and a lot of the different ladies that reply to you. They look great. For instance, look at Gillian, she is in her 50’s and she looks great, but she uses yoga to keep her healthy. This is how we should perceive ourselves. When you get older and if you exercise and eat right, everyone of you will make heads turn, but it’s not so much as heads turning at you, it more of I am fit because I did what it takes to get this way. So many things come with age, diabetes, high colestrol, high blood pressure and on and on. By exerciseing, eating right and taking care of your body, your chances for any of the diseases will be decreased tremendously. It’s a beauty contest for us, but it’s a beauty contest for our organs and everyone is a winner.

    • Marianne says:

      Most men I have met never really voice their insecurities about themselves. With the exception of one or two that is. These exceptions actually seem to boarder of body dismorphia and Orthorexia, which is very worrying and very difficult to be around. Sometimes you feel you are being sucked in to that mind-set!

      I like your comment Jim, it puts a lot of things in perspective. I especially love “the mirror cannot reflect what is inside of us” – There’s a great quote right there!

      Cheers

  24. Marty says:

    Almost right after I read this, Rachel Mac posted this quote on her Facebook page:

    “The sickness of perfection is one of the most destructive [things], but because it can outwardly yield positive results, no one cares to pay attention to the overachiever when they’re screaming for relief.”
    – Natassia Marchbanks

  25. Stephanie says:

    I love your ending quote ‘my appearance no longer rules my life’. That is what I desire, to be comfortable in the skin I am in, no matter what imperfections I cannot change or erase. It really is a journey. Thanks for sharing yours.
    Stephanie

  26. Lynda says:

    Thanks Marianne your story could be mine and many others I’m sure. Every day I used to wage war with my scales and they used to either put me in a good or bad mood for the day. It took a long time for me to realise they are not God but an indicator of possible health issues that need to be addressed with a plan. I now embrace how my training makes me feel on the inside – stronger more confident and a much more positive person, I have taken back my power from the scales. Oh and by the way I have lowered my crazy cardio put in recovery days trained hard and heavier and guess what the numbers have improved who would have though my temple wanted a rest LOL

    • Marianne says:

      Aw yes the evil scales!!! I forgot about those – it is amazing how much it can ruin a day to see the number go up! I’m happy to hear that you have recovered your power from them and long may it continue!

      Yay for recovery. Molly Galbraith has a saying: “Train smarter, not harder” – it’s true. You don’t need the quantity if the quality is there. Well done on your progress Lynda πŸ™‚

  27. sulfababy says:

    Marianne, thank you so much for sharing your story. It does make me feel less alone, and I’m sure it will help many other people come to that realization, too.

    I was never athletic or fit, mainly due to severe asthma. As a teen, I did suffer from some disordered eating tendencies. In my twenties, eating habits changed. Years of surgeries, infertility treatments, injections, emotional eating, etc etc etc all took their toll and I gained a lot of weight. Six months ago, I had had enough. Eating healthy and exercising have become a permanent part of my life, and not only have I lost a lot of fat but more importantly I feel a lot healthier.

    There was a hurdle in the journey, however, when I became a little too obsessed with counting calories and getting in all my scheduled workouts. Just like you wrote about, if I strayed from the plan then I used it as an excuse to self-punish with stricter rules. When so many other parts of my life are uncontrollable, eating and exercise are controllable. Visiting the website of an *ahem* unnamed YouTube guru sure didn’t help.

    But then I stumbled upon your site, which has been a blessing. Your views on food and moderation are so refreshing. I know you are not perfect, and you are not an idol whose words are to be hung on. But it does help me to realize when those bad tendencies are coming back and to keep them in check.

    So… all that to say, thank you for all you do.

    • Marianne says:

      Waow you have had an amazing journey! What a lot to overcome – well done! What you describe during your fitness years with the eating and all is exactly the path mine took, so I know how difficult it is to get out of that way of thinking. It’s great to read that you are happier now too.

      Thank you for your kind and encouraging comment! πŸ™‚

  28. Nicole says:

    A very poignant post Marianne,

    I too have struggled with depression and self hatred because of wanting to change my body (small breasts, scottish nose, or even the tiniest amount of fat on my midsection.) My husband is constantly telling me how crazy I am and saying that I have “black tinted glasses” when looking in the mirror.

    While I am improving in my body image issues, it is nice to know that this is a path traveled by others as well. Here’s to getting rid of the other 20% of negativity.

    cheers,
    Nicole

    • Marianne says:

      Nicole thanks for being so honest about your own struggles! I hope that you realise your husband is probably right. But I also understand that this is something you need to see for yourself before you can accept it as truth πŸ™‚ So I wish you all the best with removing those “black tinted glasses” once and for all because life is too short. And, even if you did change those physical things you dislike about yourself – I can tell you that it wouldn’t be enough. You have to first learn to appreciate what you see and accept it. If you can’t do it now, how will you ever be able to accept any change. That’s the hard truth I learned after my boob op. I did it for the wrong reason, I did it with my “black tinted glasses” on. I forgot to take them off so I couldn’t cope with the change.

      Here’s to us both getting rid of the tinted glasses πŸ˜€

  29. colin says:

    Hi Marianne, Thank you so much for sharing your inner self with us….you are awesome and indeed a bad ass beautiful woman its a shame the only photo of yourself in a jumper and knickers was when you were 9 ? You inspire loads of people to get up off their sofas and go down to the gym or go lift weights etc keep up the good work πŸ˜‰

  30. Emma says:

    What an amazing story! Thank you so much for sharing it. I won’t drone on too much because if I were to tell you about my body image woes over the years I’d fill about 100 pages, but I just wanted to say I am now FINALLY at peace with myself and this is in no small part due to strength training and the inspiration I have taken from your wonderful site. As I’ve said before, I used to be a gymnast which embedded some pretty warped ideas of how I was supposed to look. My worst memories are of my coach weighing me in front of the other girls and telling me I was too fat. I was only 7 and weighed 4 stone! Another time I was lined up with my group and my coach stood behind me and told me I had β€˜dimples’ in my bottom. Pretty humiliating to say the least and by the time I was 11 I was on the way to an eating disorder. I did get over it, but I have always been very body conscious and, up until fairly recently, this was the reason why I trained so hard – to keep the fat demons at bay! It’s only now I have started strength training and adopted a realistic approach to diet that I have gained some body confidence. I can now honestly genuinely say I no longer look at stick-thin people and wish I looked like them. If anything, I think they look a bit wussy πŸ™‚
    Thank you so much for your honesty and for all your words of wisdom. I will read this article again next time I have a β€˜fat’ day.

    • Marianne says:

      Emma thank you for your great comment! This means so much; not just because you said nice things to me, but also because you have shared your own experience. This is exactly what I want other women to read – other peoples’ experiences with these issues. None of us are alone and none of us are immune to the entrapment that these negative feelings can have.

      You said: “…up until fairly recently, this was the reason why I trained so hard – to keep the fat demons at bay! It’s only now I have started strength training and adopted a realistic approach to diet that I have gained some body confidence. I can now honestly genuinely say I no longer look at stick-thin people and wish I looked like them.”

      I hope that every women, who has ever felt a fat demon or worse, can one day turn things around and be able to say this! I am grateful that I can πŸ˜€

  31. gryer says:

    Marianne thank you for sharing this… I know that it will help a lot of people, so I hope this stay an active conversation.

    Seeing you now, it is difficult to imagine that you went through so much turmoil, but reflecting back on my growing up, I think we all have doubts, they just vary in degree. Now I am older, and hopefully wiser, I have grown to accept myself. But even in my fifties, I see friends who face the same demons. Some of us just put more value in our looks, and since they are transitory at best, those people fate themselves (fate didn’t do it to them, they did) into living a life of never being good enough. Others of us may be overly preoccupied with career or money or any number of other things, rather than accepting what we are right now. So, it doesn’t necessarily get better with age! I must agree that working out gives you perspective, but for me, yoga has given me the most peace of mind, because one of its goals is to quiet the mind and just exist.

    Look at dogs — they just are. And they are happy with it. Any little thing makes them happy and they love you no matter what. If they look weird, they don’t care and none of their doggy friends care. (I know you are a cat person, and some of this applies to cats too, but they are more persnickety.) If we were more doglike, we would all be much happier!

    Oh and I have British fat ankles! But then, I can do more pushups than anyone I know, so that makes up for it.

    ~ Gillian

    • Marianne says:

      I’m a Chinese “Dog” πŸ™‚ Or so it says on my left shoulder … does that count? hehe! You’re right, life would be so much easier if we just weren’t aware of how good/bad we looked to others. I hope I have your outlook and wisdom when I am in my fifties. My mum makes me so proud of her, because she has never caved to these pressures. She never (or almost never) wears make-up and she has never given any of us (myself or my siblings) the impression that you HAVE to look a certain way to be successful. I don’t know where my insecurities came from, but it wasn’t her! My mum, and people like you Gillian, are my rolemodels for my future self πŸ™‚ Peace of mind is the most amazing feeling!

      I hope this thread stays active too. Especially because I want to hear if anyone has any other “fat” British/Irish/European bits LOL!!!

      Good to hear from you Gillian, as always πŸ™‚

  32. Adam says:

    I think you look great in all the pictures. There is beauty in each of them. I hope you continue to be free of the obsession. After all, it’s just an illusion; one that constantly morphs depending on our outlook at any given time.

    • Marianne says:

      Thanks Adam. You’re right – it really does depend on your outlook and can even change within the same day! That’s really good point, it’s such an illusion.

  33. Tamara says:

    Lovely post, Marianne! Thanks so much for sharing. And now maybe I know where my chubby knees are from, it’s my Irish heritage, hmmm? πŸ˜‰ I think you look amazing and what’s more, you’re an awesome person, I can tell!!!

  34. Alice says:

    A nice story!

  35. Renee says:

    A very timely post for me. Thanks for your courage in sharing your journey.

  36. Maria says:

    Marianne, I just wanted to thank you for sharing such a personal story with us. I personally think you look great (you are a beautiful badass, after all!) but you shouldn’t care what I think, or anyone else for that matter.

    I’m not sure who said it, but this resonated with me:
    “Be confident. Too many days are wasted comparing ourselves to others and wishing to be something we aren’t. Everybody has their own strengths and weaknesses and it is only when you accept everything you are – and aren’t – that you will truly succeed.”

    I spent years depressed and filled with self-hatred. Way too long. I’m *finally* beginning to be as patient with myself as I am to others. We all make mistakes, and our strength journey (both physically and mentally) takes time. Patience is key.

    • Marianne says:

      Thanks Maria. Great quote!! I can finally say that I am learning to be more confident in my strengths πŸ™‚ I have always struggled to see what is so special about me, but you’re right that everyone has their “gifts”!

      I am happy that you are finding your way too πŸ˜€ x

  37. Kerry says:

    Thank you sooo much for posting your story, Marianne. It is so easy to think that others who are fit (like you!) are somehow “different” from the “average” person (like me, which is how I feel). Sharing your story reminds me that, first of all, even an “ordinary” person can achieve fitness success such as yours, and, even more importantly, it reminds me that, even if my body were “perfect”, it takes more than physical appearances to make a person whole and happy. I think that a lot of people are going to see themselves in your story, so, again, thank you. And, yes, I live in the United States, and there is sooo much sodium in everything!!!!
    Kerry

    • Marianne says:

      I know how you feel Kerry, I wanted to share this because I know that I am not the only one who has been on this sort of journey! We have so many body image challenges to face throughout life that require us to have the strength to overcome them. Puperty, weight changes, aging process, pregnancy, menopause, surgery (whether cosmetic or otherwise) will cause changes to our bodies and minds and you are right that it takes more that physical appearances to make someone whole and happy. I am only glad that I have finally realised this.

      I hope reading this inspires you to reach your own training goals. I have faith, because I have done come a long way already πŸ™‚

Leave a Reply

Advertisements