Several years ago, I was an active part of the Size Acceptance and Size Positive community. I joyfully learned to accept and even love my own body, no matter what shape it was in. Eventually a good friend and I even started our own SA group, quickly drawing hundreds of people also interested in no longer apologizing for their looks or weight. Learning to accept myself the way I was helped both to boost my self-esteem and ease my self-consciousness.
I still work hard to practice self-acceptance, which is one reason why I'm not as concerned with weight-loss and more focused on my health. I've always focused on my positives: my hair (love!), my smile (straight!), or my awesome personality. I wasn't lying to myself either - I really didn't hate the way I looked, but today, I did.
I've been putting off taking my "before" pictures since I began these health changes 6 weeks ago. I had a myriad of reasons why I couldn't take them, but the truth was that I just didn't want to. Finally, tired of putting it off, I took my "before" photos today. I stood in my revealing workout pants and tank top, and forced myself not to suck in anything (harder than you might think). Taking the photo was a bit of a relief, but then I looked at the pictures. I was shocked. I looked nothing like I imagined I would. I dropped the camera, locked myself in the bathroom, and cried for awhile.
The thing was, I didn't know why I was so upset. Why was I crying? Why did I feel so horrible at what I'd seen? I wasn't in the habit of crying over my looks. On the contrary, I felt pretty good about myself, at least most of the time. When I calmed down enough to actually hear my husband's encouraging words through the door, I realized that I wasn't upset over my weight or my physique. I was disturbed to realize that I looked the same. Here I'd been feeling so different, so much better inside, so renewed, so invigorated, like I'd changed something deep within, but it didn't show. It wasn't reflected in my appearance. My miraculous inner transformation was just that - an inner change. For the time being, anyway.
After I took time to reflect on things, I called Coach Dad. In the past, my dad has been my personal trainer, therapist, walking partner, and overall supporter. When I told him about my disappointment in not recognizing any of my inner changes externally, he chuckled. "Remember when I started Insanity 6 months ago?" he asked. He went on to explain how he hated his before picture too. I was shocked! My dad's always been in great shape - what was there to hate? But it had nothing to do with what anyone else saw - it was what the picture meant to him. He saw all of the changes he wanted to make that no one else would notice.
Boosted by moral support, I looked at the pictures again, and this time, I saw the changes, even though I knew no one else would. The fact that I was even taking "before" pictures was a huge difference, because I knew there would be an "after." In the meantime, the way I feel inside is enough of a reward.