Fear of the Mirror and Loving Yourself (It’s Not What You Think)

I admit it, ever since this school year started, I treated my body like crap. I last went kickboxing in October, and couldn’t even tell you the last time I did a general workout at home (which believe me, is the fastest and easiest way to squeeze one in). I didn’t care too much about what I was eating, as well as what I wasn’t eating, and some days would pass by with an 8-hour break between meals or no meals at all. Other days, I’d indulge in a bag of popcorn, swallowed down with a beer, and topped off with a bowl of ice cream, fully knowing how badly my stomach (or anyone’s stomach!) would react to it.

Additionally, I tired myself out so much with piling everything on my plate that I became fearful not just of the figure in the mirror, but of my own face. The natural dark circles under my eyes got only darker, and lately I’ve seen more breakouts on my face than in all my pubescent years. I never took the effort to take good care of my hair, and most days I had to walk around with a sloppy bun at the top of my head, hiding my split ends. As if the hairdo wasn’t bad enough, I noticed a couple of greys pop out as well.

The further I got into this slump, the more I realized I wasn’t giving myself enough love. And I don’t mean the generic stuff you always here about loving yourself the way you are (that’s a whole other topic). I’ve reached a point where loving myself this way was only going to destroy me more. I realized I needed to make the effort and take the necessary actions to bring myself back up on my feet.

As a typical full-time student (not to mention everything else), I let the excuse of being too busy stop me from doing what I needed to do to take care of myself. I let my short-term desires for crappy food stop me from loving my body. I let my commitments to my education, my work, my hobbies stop me from committing to myself. I let short-term gain take over my long-term well-being.

So now, as my school semester finally comes to an end, and I can give one of my time management excuses the boot, I am making the following promises to myself in order to love my body and myself. If you’ve made it this far in reading, I encourage you to make the same or similar promises to yourself:

  1. Make it a point to do some form, any form, of physical activity a few times a week: whether it’s kickboxing, a quick at-home workout, or even just a walk around the neighbourhood. The worst feeling in the world is feeling the toll of your past injuries creep up on you due to lack of muscle strength.
  2. Reject popcorn at all times. This applies to all foods and drinks, or combination of, that make my stomach turn. Once again, it’s the choice of short-term pleasure over long-term gain. Not to mention that popcorn isn’t even filling, and only creates more cravings!
  3. Take care of my skin. Not just for preventing and/or treating breakouts, but just the simple stuff like face masks and moisturizing. Does anyone have a solution for the dark circles?!
  4. Feed my body with good stuff. I grew up being hungry ALL the time (this was not good for a dancer), so I got used to feeling hungry but not being “allowed” to eat. My body has changed now, and I barely feel hunger at all, so the lack of cues has me forgetting to refuel. On top of that, I don’t take vitamins, don’t drink enough water, and definitely don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables – yep, I need help!
  5. Stretch! A retired dancer’s biggest nightmare is losing their skills and abilities, and I am living this horror story one inch of flexibility loss at a time. Even when I was working every now and then, I wasn’t stretching afterwards nearly as much as I should have been. This summer, I hope to get most of my flexibility back.
  6. Wear make-up and do my hair. I know, I know, this doesn’t sound great, but hear me out: my dark circles are not going to disappear, nor are my negative feelings towards them. If I don’t do anything with my hair, it looks like my cat had a go at it. There is nothing wrong with putting on some lippy and mascara, giving myself a blowout, and feeling like a million bucks!

 

We are all guilty of becoming resolutionists on January 1st, beach body enthusiasts as soon as the warm air starts to breeze through, and “NOW I’m going to start eating healthy and working out” type of people, but for the most part, we do that because it’s a trend. Want to know what’s not trendy? Feeling like crap because of the decisions I’ve made over the past half a year, failing to take care of my body the way I should have.

I challenge you to join me on the journey of taking your physical and mental health into your own hands, understanding their congruency, and just moving forward to a happier, healthier, you!

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