I have to admit, I do not have the best self-image so body positivity is a challenge for me. Some of this is based on how previous partners have treated me, regarding my weight. Some of it is based on my own ideas of what my body should look like. Still, other challenges are tied to how my body has changed on the antispsychotic medication that I take called olanzapine and how this has affected my cholesterol and other laboratory tests done on my blood samples.
Full disclosure: I have gained a lot of weight on other classes of medications like anticonvulsants, lithium, and other types of antipsychotic medications. So, while I have gained on olanzapine, it is a helpful medication that I use to manage my Bipolar I Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Because my starting weight was 114 pounds I punished myself for gaining forty-six pounds once I began taking the olanzapine. I have been wearing sweat pants and baggy shirts to hide myself. Only now-those same clothes have turned to rags, and I really need new clothing.
I told myself that I would buy new clothes once I lost weight, but the added pressure on myself just made me feel a loss of motivation. It was really hard to lose weight and get fit and then start olanzapine and plump up so quickly. I felt like a failure for letting it happen to me. Especially because, as a former volleyball player, runner, gym-goer, and now personal trainer, I know how to take care of my body.
Stop the Punishment!
I think the first step to body positivity is to recognize you have a negative self-image and the second step is to stop the punishment. Chances are, you are punishing yourself for your body not being the way you would like it to be right now. Whether it is baggy clothes, knotted hair that you refuse to brush, the substances you use to force your body to lose weight, the bathing suits you refuse to try on, and so forth-you are punishing yourself and this actually feeds a negative self-image and also depression.
Celebrate Your Body
I know it sounds cheesy, but you need to celebrate your body for what it has done for you and will continue to do for you as you age. You do not have to be a perfect weight or body fat percentage to feel happy and whole-or even beautiful.
Also, maybe try doing something nice for your body. Buy a comfy bra. Or, like me, today, I ordered a set of five pairs of leggings. No more baggy sweatpants to hide beneath! Leggings are comfortable and this set was affordable. I can also exercise in them. Sweatpants are cozy but I overheat in them when I exercise-even in the cold. A barrier to exercise, for me, on days when I do not feel my best, is that I do not want to change clothes. So, if I am wearing clothes I can exercise in-I am more likely to take the walk that I would have turned down if I needed to change clothes first.
To develop body positivity, you do not have to buy anything to celebrate your body and what it does for you. Sometimes, showing love for your body comes down to what you do not buy and put into it. This summer, I drank alcohol. It was mainly tied to my grief over losing my younger sister to the disease of alcoholism. I rarely drank prior to her death, and it is mainly because my body does not process alcohol efficiently. So, this summer, I have probably done some damage to my overall health and wellness, and I am looking forward to healing that damage. Healing my body shows love, care, and appreciation for the body I have been devaluing-mostly because I am disappointed in how I look right now.
Seek Mental Health Help
If you find yourself struggling, do not hesitate to find mental health help. There are even apps that you can download that allow you to access a therapist more easily. I remember my first therapy bill was $880, and I only talked a few minutes. The therapist said she wanted to bill my parent’s insurance-and since I had gone to her to report sexual abuse-I left because I did not want anything billed to my parent’s insurance. I think the accessibility of mental health treatment has come a long way since those days!
Mindful Body Positivity
I think it takes time to develop body positivity. There will be moments when you feel bad about yourself. I would encourage you to mindfully redirect your thoughts back to appreciating your body and thinking of fitness as a form of overall wellness and not a vanity. It is nice to want six pack abs, but wanting them might not be good for your overall wellness in that moment. Maybe you just need to focus on eating a healthy diet that day, meditating, and exercising-not just for physical wellness but for mental wellness.
I plan to take each day at a time, from this moment forward, on my new journey toward body positivity. I hope this post helps to inspire you to take each day at a time while developing your own sense of body positivity!
Current Weight (Update)
I lost twelve pounds recently. Instead of thinking that I should have lost more, I am trying to think about the progress I have made and enjoy that happiness for a little while.
- The website Top10.com did a great job of listing mental health websites (all or most have apps). To see Top10.com’s top 10 mental health therapy websites, please visit “Best Online Therapy Sources 2021.”
- If you find that you in a crisis situation, BetterHelp has emergency resources you can visit HERE.
- If you are wondering how much online therapy costs, please visit “How Much Does Online Therapy Cost?”
- “Can Body Positivity & the Fitness Industry Co-exist?”