Saturday, August 7, 2010

I loved this challenge.


The physical challenge was easy. Well, ok, it was hard, and I shook a lot, but I went from 20 girl push-ups to 30 (no really, I have a witness/drill sergeant named Kurt who can vouch for it). On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I did as many as I possibly could in 1 sitting, and on Tuesday and Thursday I did 5 push-ups at a time, 3 or 4 times per day. And it worked.

The hard part of the week was the Self Esteem challenge.

I am really good at criticizing myself. It's a skill I've been perfecting for 25 years. If the challenge had been "stand in front of the mirror and find 15 things you don't like" it would have taken me maybe 20 second, tops.

"My hair is limp and greasy"
"Acne again? Why thank you face, you shouldn't have."
"Hello muffin top. I see you have grown."
"Oh little toe, you think I don't see your snaggly nail?"

That's the problem, you know? I look in the mirror, and automatically start cataloging things I wish I could change. It's a habit that I learned from my mother, who was never kind to herself when looking at her reflection. She would have been horrified to know that I am taking after her in this area.

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I stood in front of the mirror, possibly naked (what? I said possibly), and I started with some backhanded compliments.

"I've seen saggier boobs."
"At least there isn't cellulite on my ankles."
"I rarely have to shave my stomach."

....But those weren't really helping me feel good about myself. I decided to take a break, and go eat some Fiber One cereal (that stuff is amazing)(this is not a paid endorsement).

A few hours minutes later I was back in front of the mirror. Frustrated, I only lasted a few seconds before I decided to take an extended break, and come back tomorrow.

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I was driving home from work the next day, enjoying the camouflage my sunglasses provide (they are so dark, you can't tell what I'm looking at), and blatantly staring at the people in the car next to me.

"She has such a pretty tan, and my skin is so pale. At least my nose is cuter. But she has better eyebrows."

That's when it hit me- I was doing this all wrong. If I am basing my beauty (or lack thereof) on other people, I am never going to be happy. It will always feel like a competition, and with myself as a judge, I am guaranteed to come in last.

"1 point to Chantel, for her lack of cankles."
"3 point to Amber for her wavy/curly hair."
"-2 points to Helena for biting her nails and eating that doughnut"

Instead of looking in the mirror and thinking "I should have less stretch marks on my boobs" or "At least my back isn't as hairy as that girl in front of me at the store today" I should be looking at my features, and finding things I love about them by themselves.

Does that make sense?

Here, let me explain:

I love my eyes. If I am comparing them to other people's, they aren't very special. Amber's are bigger, David has longer eyelashes, and Kurt doesn't have dark circles under them. But so what? My eyes are still pretty. And that's what matters.

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When I got home, I tried to isolate each and every visible part of my body, and find something I loved.

It was hard.

It was hard to silence that voice in my head, to stop comparing myself to people I know, or models I've seen, or that unreachable vision of what I consider to be ideal beauty.

After a few false starts, I did it. I found a bunch of things that I genuinely love about my body. And it felt awesome.

I love the smile lines that are just beginning to form at the corners of my mouth, because they tell the world that I am a happy person.

I love my over-plucked eyebrows, because they remind me not to try so hard.

I love the freckles on my nose and cheeks that show up in the summer, because freckles make me happy, and remind me of my mom (who never had freckles, and spent her childhood envying the kids who did).

I love my collar bone. I don't even know why.

I love my cleavage, because I always have a place to put my cell phone.

There are still things about my body I want to change, but I am going to stop basing my opinion of myself on those. I am what I am, and not what I am not.

I am not a 5'9" 115 lb European model. I am not a 16 year old beauty queen. And I will never be an all-American beauty who stops men in their tracks.

But I am me. And that isn't going to change. So I can either learn to love myself, or spend my life miserable and ashamed.

I know which one I'm going to pick.

How about you?

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I'm linking this post to:

Life in the Pitts

6 comments:

Annie on August 7, 2010 at 1:00 PM said...

Helena, You rock and are beautiful!I miss you so much! I am glad we can do this together yet be far apart.
PS. I am glad that:
you rarely have to shave my stomach and At least my back isn't as hairy as that girl in front of me at the store today.

Paul and Kerry on August 7, 2010 at 7:44 PM said...

this is an awesome idea! I love that you girls are all still so young. I struggled WAY too long. At age 40, I am FINALLY where I always wanted to be physically. mentally, that is taking longer. I think because I was down so long. Good luck and hugs to all of you! ~Kerry

Denise on August 7, 2010 at 8:41 PM said...

My mom is 60 and still gets zits. At 41 I have a LOOONGG road ahead(in that dept). Helena, YOU are a beautiful women. Your honesty and frankness give you self esteem BONUS points. It took a lot to say all that, for all of us to "hear".
Thanks Ladies for sharing the fun with us(ME:)
God Bless You in your journies

Chantel on August 7, 2010 at 8:45 PM said...

Helena you are beautiful, and I love you. Thanks for writing this post. You are an amazing person and i look up to you.

You should be proud :-)

I miss you!

ps. I noticed you made some changes to this post since earlier today. How come?

Jingle on August 8, 2010 at 6:48 PM said...

be yourself,
talents differ,
no one is better,

Briana Priester on August 9, 2010 at 8:48 AM said...

I feel like I could have written this myself except not as well. As in -I think the same things and the same way.

Way to go on an inspiring and heartfelt post! *hugs*

z

Annie, age 29

About Annie

With everything I am responsible for at home, my ridiculous work schedule and my health problems, it makes it hard to keep working out on the front burner. But when I heard about this blog, I thought 'why not!'. I'm excited to get started and hopefully I won't die of exhaustion when this is all over!

Heléna, age 26

About Helena

I can't fit into my clothes! After getting married and being forced to eat my own cooking, I started gaining weight. The desk job didn't really help. I gained 30 lbs in the past year, and I can really feel it when I try to get dressed in the morning. I am really good at starting diet and exercise programs; but really bad at finishing them. And that's all about to change...

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