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Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, You're the Biggest Bully of Them All!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

My sister is on a weight loss journey of her own, and she has a Facebook page for accountability (I highly recommend using your social networking for accountability, whether it is posting your weekly weigh-ins - good and bad - or just as a place to post pics of your journey and encouraging memes or informational links), and she recently posted the following: "My hardest critic...myself...No matter how much I lose I still see a fat person looking back at me."

Bear in mind that my sister has always been a beautiful blonde, one of those people who just gets things done and seems to have it all together, a woman who manages to take care of everyone and wear a smile even when there isn't a lot to smile about. She is a former athlete, an amazing b-baller, and someone who has always had a can-do attitude that she clearly inherited from our beloved mother. She is my kid sister, the baby of the family, but since our mom got sick years ago and just passed last June, Libby has been the mama of our family, keeping her older brother and sister in check and serving as the glue that has held us all together during the loss of both parents in a five-month span last year. Not only that, but she is a busy mama of four boys (two toddlers and two teenagers) and three doggies, a diligent wife and homemaker, a faithful church servant who works in many ministries, organizer of many charity efforts, a part-time worker in my family's herb/supplement business, a gap-filler for anyone who needs help with anything, executor of my parents' estate, and is in the process of adopting a child who needs a home. She really is my hero, so much so that I wrote a story about her for ALL YOU Magazine last spring.

As far as her weight goes, it's been up and down through the years like mine. When we were kids, even though I was a humongous teenager and young adult myself, my brother and I teased her for her weight and even dubbed her with one of those sort-of-cruel sibling nicknames, Beluga, because she was somewhat bigger than other kids and because she loved pink; in our childish minds, calling her a pink whale seemed to fit. All these years later, we laugh about it now, and we all call her "Lug" (pronounced l-ew-g). She even signs our Christmas cards that way, and it's a big joke to us, with no hard feelings. Unfortunately, Libby, like so many other weight strugglers, is quite hard on herself when it comes to her reflection. She has managed to lose almost 120 lbs., but instead of seeing the Superwoman Barbie I see when I look at her, she still sees the same person she was many months ago.

I believe this is a struggle we all have, no matter how much weight we lose. When we spend the majority of our lives and our school years being big, we begin to think very small about ourselves. The insults we hear over our lives, as well as the ones that mock us in our heads, cause scars and damage, and some of it will never be undone. In extreme cases, this results in problems like anorexia and bulimia, but even if it doesn't get that severe, it is very difficult for those of us on a weight loss journey - or even near the end of it - to accept that we are NOT the sum of those insults, whether they have come from others, from society, or from that nasty bully in our own heads. I have never had much self-confidence in any area of life, and to be honest, not much of that has changed. This is NOT me fishing for compliments, so please don't feel compelled to correct me here, but I have never felt myself to be very attractive in any way. I try, with my fake fingernails and my Clairol-colored hair and my makeup and matching accessories and cute boots, but even when I'm dressed to the nines, I don't feel like much more than a four. So how do we combat this onslaught of self-defeating trash talk? Simple: By learning to hear, see, and accept compliments when they come our way.

Personally, I have a LOT of trouble with this. I tend to think two things when someone compliments me for any reason: 1) "They are just being nice," and 2) "Yeah, right." I try to graciously accept nice remarks made about me, but believing them is a whole other matter. Frankly, I think I'd have an easier time accepting an ugly Christmas sweater that's six sizes too big and made in yellow, a color I'm literally phobic about because I have such a psychological aversion to it. Lately, I've received a lot of compliments, especially from my sudden 400+ friends on Spark, which has been so encouraging and flattering but still a little hard to accept - whether they are compliments about my writing (the compliments that mean the most to me since it is truly my passion in life) or my weight loss. As a lifetime largie, I know what it is like to struggle with low self-esteem and to find it difficult to accept compliments as genuine and matters of fact, but I encourage you to do something for you: START COLLECTING COMPLIMENTS! That's right. I'm giving you homework. For the next week, every single day, write down at least one compliment you receive daily, whether it is about your weight loss, the way you fold laundry, the new shoes you're wearing, that soup you successfully pulled off, or that report your boss was happy about. No matter how big or how small, write it down and put it somewhere where you can see it. If you have to, write it backward on a Post-It and stick it to your forehead so you see it when you look in the mirror. If you are so compelled, it might behoove you to write down more than one; when you do, you will start to see that people really do have a lot of good things to say about you, and by the end of the week, you'll have quite a collection to look back on when that nasty bully of a mirror tries to tell you different. received a couple yesterday that went in my journal:

From Yuki Johnson, a former co-worker and a great friend, in regard to my weight loss journey: "Has anybody told you lately just how amazing and inspiring you are?!? You look awesome and healthy and happy and beautiful and I am SOOOOOO proud of you!"

From my landlord, whom I'm always convinced doesn't like me, even though he's never given me a reason to feel that way: "...You guys are the perfect renters..."

Now, here is a compliment for you, to start your collection...and know that I mean every single word of it!

"By simply being on Spark, reading this blog, counting your calories, and signing up for your site, you are making positive steps toward better health, inside and out. You are making a concerted effort to avoid being a beluga. You are making a difference for you, and THAT deserves a compliment!" ~ Your Sparking Buddy, Autumn C.

That voice in your head and a lot of voices around you might continue to insult you about your weight and other so-called flaws. That mirror in front of you might try to distort what you're really looking at. Just remember that you ARE attractive in MANY ways, no matter what weight you are, what you are wearing, whether or not your house is cleaned up, your bills are all paid, and your kids were perfect in Sunday school and are always on the honor roll. You were worth God making, and you are worth any compliments you receive, so don't ever think of yourself as anything less than the good things people have to say about you! As a matter of fact, try saying something nice about yourself once in a while. Open your ears and your eyes and embrace the beautiful person you are...and I'll try to practice what I'm preaching here. Hey, if my self-conscious sis and I found the nerve to walk around in public in 80s garb last fall with the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man we used to look like, you can find the confidence to believe the nice things people have to say about you...because they're all true!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    emoticon This is probably the only time in my life that I have been excited about Homework! I'm going to write down compliments I get :) emoticon

    I find it very hard to accept compliments - I feel I don't deserve them. I was bullied about my appearance in school by both classmates and teachers and I have never been able to get over it - no matter what my husband says about me being beautiful.

    Thank you for motivating me and giving me hope on my journey- and I mean it! I feel less alone when I read your blogs and realize that many of us struggle with the same things.
    1843 days ago
    Thank you emoticon
    1844 days ago
    You are an amazing inspiration Autumn! I enjoy each and every blog. A great balance of humor and truth. Thank you for being here!
    1844 days ago
    My goal is to look at myself in the mirror full on for 1 minute each day. Some days it is hard and other days it is quite easy. I am vowing to better with loving and accepting myself as I am. Not as I think I should be.
    1844 days ago
    Challenge accepted. My "mirror" hates me. So I figure I must look how I feel to everyone else, too.
    I still find myself wandering around the plus-size section when I clothes shop. Even though it's been years since I've needed to be there.
    1844 days ago
    It is so hard to believe anything good about myself when I spend so much time in my head criticizing everything about me. I am going to take your advise and see where it goes! Once again you've written inspiring helpful words!
    1844 days ago
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