09/01/2015 11:09PM ● Published by Nancy Babin
Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the prettiest of them all?
“Certainly not you,” the mirror replied,
“With those monstrous hips and bulging thighs!”
But I work so hard day and night.
I count my calories with every bite!
I go to the gym and the gamut I do
The treadmill, weights, aerobics… to name but a few.
The scale tells my tale, not a friend, mostly foe
Why 3 lbs. heavier today I do not know!
I am tired and I am weak but I have to keep losing
My body I’ll conquer if I keep beating and bruising.
It will have to give in. It will have to take shape.
From the ugly I see, I will finally escape.
But the mirror replied, “That’s enough, can’t you see?
From this image before you, you will never flee!
For the girl in the mirror is a perception in your mind,
and the only way you will ever leave this behind
Is to realize most girls feel the same, insecure
And that none of their thoughts are completely pure.
Covetousness, envy, jealousy, strife
Always wanting someone else’s life…
‘She has the perfect body.
Why can’t I look like that?
But instead I am surrounded by all of this fat!’
When actually the other is in turn looking at another girl
Saying, ‘She’s got everything you could want in this world!’
So unless you determine to be who YOU are,
You will find out one day that you have gone too far.
For one day you will look at me,” said the mirror, “and the image you see
Will be your worst nightmare. It will be reality.
For you are as you think and become what you see
So do yourself a favor and set yourself free.
From the mirror to you, I beg and I plea…
See yourself as valuable when you look at me.
Your special design is like no other
The person you are, don’t try to smother.
Realize instead you should head a different direction
And determine instead to improve on perfection.”
Can you relate to these words? I can. I wrote them. I know it’s not the most well-written poetry you’ve ever read, but these words reflect raw private thoughts and self-perception during a very dark time in my life. I was 28 years old and had been married for just over a year… and I hated my body! And I told myself that daily. I literally almost starved it to death because I wanted to have smaller hips than what God gave me. I wanted to look like my lean, thin gorgeous friends. I binged and purged and ran several miles, two to three times a day. Signs that my body was giving out began to become evident. It had to stop. I had to stop!
And I did. But the war still rages in my mind and it’s a daily battle, with my thought life, that is…
Why am I writing this now? Not to highlight eating disorders but rather to shed light on this blanket of self-hate and toxic thoughts that covers so many women, keeping our true beauty and worth in the dark. What I walked through then is ultimately the reason I ended up becoming a health and fitness coach today. And, by being real and transparent, I hope to show women that they are not alone in their struggles with body image or the terrible things we say about ourselves each day.
There are many scientific and biblical references to the power of our spoken words, whether about ourselves or others, and our personal thoughts that lie within. They can be life-giving and promote health or they can be toxic and have physical and emotional ramifications. Yet knowing this truth, we still let them take root and cultivate an image not at all like who we really were created to be, allowing these toxic adjectives to define us. Why is this?
Because we give them power to do so and don’t even realize it.
A recent study revealed that 97% of women have at least one self-hate thought a day regarding their appearance. That’s astounding! The sad truth is until they were asked to keep a record of these thoughts, most were unaware of even having them. We yield our minds and thoughts daily by comparing ourselves to others who are struggling just as we are. This study didn’t just apply to overweight women. It included all types and shapes. At my skinniest (which is a term I have grown to despise because I no longer desire to be skinny but instead to be the leanest, fittest, healthiest version of me), I was the most insecure. I had what I thought I wanted and still hated myself!
So what’s the solution? I can only share with you what my daily thought life looks like now and the truths that work for me.
- “I am more than what you see.” I had to focus on realizing WHO I was created to be, not what I was created to look like. Sure, every woman wants to feel and look beautiful, but beauty is subjective and different through everyone’s eyes. I had to look in the mirror and see ME. What can I do with the “me” in the mirror today that will make me a better contribution to others, myself and my family tomorrow?
- I had to OWN my thoughts. I cannot control what others think or say whether nice or cruel; however, I can control what I say and think. By writing down my negative thoughts as I hear them, I can visualize who the real enemy is…me! For every negative thought, I counter it with a positive attribute about what I look like or who I am. I do my best to shut off the noise of what others may think or say. If they are focusing on me, they are not doing their part to better themselves and that tells me they are struggling, so why does what they think matter, especially about me?
- I had to recognize that I am not alone and that the very woman to whom I may be comparing myself has her own story…they all do. I haven’t walked in her shoes and our feet probably aren’t even the same size. Allowing comparisons to a 5’10” beautiful blonde is really not a smart use of my energy. All the coveting in the world is not going to change the color of my black hair to blonde and grow me 5” taller. Move on!! Use that energy to work on things that will make ME a better, healthier friend, wife and mother.
The reality and ultimate solution is to take back your power. And believe it or not, the lost power is not at the hands of others, it’s against your own mind! You have heard, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt!” Hogwash! I have never heard anything further from the truth. Words do hurt…and most of them are our own!
I mentioned earlier that the battle in my mind still rages daily. We are bombarded by internet and magazine images that make us shrink back as if we are less than what we see. The difference between when I wrote that poem and now is that I have learned to take captive a large portion of those toxic thoughts and words and replace them with life-giving ones instead. I don’t always hit the mark but I still consider myself the victor…for true success is doing something today better than you did it yesterday. It is not about perfection (as if you will ever reach that desired destination!) but rather it’s about the journey. Remember the power that your words and thoughts carry. Choose today to use that power to build not only others up but yourself as well. And as you are empowered, you will be able to help others…maybe the very ones you were comparing yourself to begin with!
“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” -Norman Vincent Peale