Part 1 of my mental recovery: body image

Girl in a pink tshirt and jean shorts laying on the ground, covering her face with her hands.

Hello, dear readers! I have published a lot of casual blog posts on Dolls Have Hearts lately, however, today I wanted to talk about something more personal and reach out to those who are dealing with the same issue. I am not sharing this story for pity or just to whine, I am doing it as a promise to myself and you that I will get better.

I barely remember the last time when I felt comfortable enough in my own skin and didn’t worry about my jiggling thighs. Sometimes I wish I could go back in time to when I was only 5 years old. At that time I was careless kid whose mind was not ruined by opinions of others. Fast forward 10 years later. Fifteen year old is full of doubts, constantly checking her stomach and thighs online, working out every day for an hour even if I am sore from yesterday’s workout. She felt guilty about every slice of cake, every ice cream and can of soda she had because in her mind there was this perfect version of herself with a perfect body and she had to be that version… Every time she had to wear shorts, this girl felt really self-conscious and though everyone was staring at her, judging all of her flaws and wondering – why the hell doesn’t she look like Ariana Grande or some other celebrity on the cover of Glamour?

Fast forwarding to this very moment, to almost twenty year old version of myself. I have made a promise to myself that I will get my confidence back and fall in love with the body I have, instead of focusing of some sort of perfect version of my body that exists only in my mind. See, the problem is not my body, it is my perception of it. I came to this conclusion when I not only reached my goal weight but even went few kilograms under it, yet still felt unhappy. Just few months ago I thought that I will have to live with distorted body image forever. All these celebrities with perfect bodies, Instagram famous fitness trainers and guys that bullied me every day for 9 nine years straight have fucked up my mind too badly… right? Wrong. I have talked about victim mentality and depression on my blog before and I refuse to keep that mentality for the rest of my life. That is exactly why I started breaking out of this mental cage now and started doing few things to recover.

My first step to recovery was starting to attend dance lessons. I know what you are thinking: “Yeah, that’s lovely but what does it have to do with your self perception? You are still working with your body not mind.” In a way you are correct, however, two types of dancing I decided to pick up are burlesque and pole fit. If you have tried any of these yourself or even watched them, you know how much bravery and strength it takes. Confidence and persistence is the key, and you have to be ready to get new bruises in the most random places every time you go to a lesson. Your body might be sore the next day and even few days after when you are just the beginner but those types of dancing definitely give me the confidence boost that I needed so much. One more thing that I noticed while attending dance classes – they are not only for skinny and fit girls who are already good at everything. They are for everyone, who wants to improve themselves, no matter if your stomach is perfectly flat or not, no matter if you have stretch marks or not.

My second step was writing down everything I ate in a day. I am not counting calories, however, I wanted to make sure that I get rid of the silly “overeating followed by starving myself” habit. I have added food log to my weekly spread, writing down what I ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as snacks. In food log I also track water intake in a day, just to make sure that I don’t forget to stay hydrated.

My third step was picking art journalling (again). I have used my art journal previously to deal with issues such as depression and anxiety, however, I quit using my art journal for a while just because I left it back at home. During this break without free creative expression I started to feel uneasy, so I bought new plain notebook and started putting my thoughts and feelings on pages in form of drawings and written text. It does not matter what type of mental health problem are you dealing with, art journal has given me huge relief pretty much every time.

These three steps are the only ones I have taken so far in my self-acceptance journey but I am proud of myself that I was brave enough to begin. If you are dealing with the same problem as I am, just know that you are not alone and you can get better. You are not stuck with one type of mindset for the rest of your life and you have the capacity to start making small changes today. Until next time on Dolls Have Hearts!

P.S. I do apologize that I am publishing this post so late on Thursday night but it still made an effort to publish a post today and I truly put all of my heart into this. I hope you enjoyed it. 🙂

Love, Porcelain Doll.

 

Health and body image update: part one.

Brunette in workout clothes, stretching on the street

Hello, dear readers! I’m publishing this post a little later than expected because life is not exactly a long walk on the beach and with all the things happening in my life, it was hard to find a time to write a post. Yet, here I am. Just twenty-four hours ago I was sure that I want to whine about how stressful my life is right now but then remembered Dolls Have Hearts is really not the right place for that. I will whine in my personal notes later, however today I came here to talk about something more positive that is going on.

I do not know, if I mentioned earlier in any of the posts but since December I started working out again and since January I’m back on track again. Many months ago I kind of fell off the track of working out, constantly told myself that I am too busy and/or tired to do that until I stopped working out at all. The worst thing is that I even told myself I am better off without it. I had lost most of the muscle gains I got during two years of training but still maintained about the same weight. For a while I did not really care until certain thoughts started crossing my mind. Am I still healthy? Do I eat healthy? Should I eat less sweets? Do I eat too much in general? Maybe I should start working out again? Two months later (in December) I finally decided to get myself together and get healthy again. It was not easy to get back on track but I did it.

This time I created more compact and balanced workout plan. I had few exercises under categories: butt exercises, arm exercises, ab exercises, other exercises and yoga. First three included one exercise for each specific area, for example, glutes but the last one was just few yoga poses to do at the end of workout to strengthen my body in general and calm down. Let me tell you, Warrior 2 – that’s a real killer. You might think it is not a big deal to get in that pose but holding it is a real challenge.

One thing that I just recently learned to do is enjoying not only the results but also the process. Ever since I started going to PE lessons at school, I hated them more or less the whole time. And I hate them the most right now – in middle school. Just to make this clear – I hate lessons not exercising in general. PE lessons in my school mostly include team sports and just a tiny bit of strength training. Whenever we have strength training and some useful exercises, our teacher rarely explains, how to do them the right way and they all happen in such a rush because no one’s really interested in doing them or, even more, enjoying the process. What’s the result? Well, injuries and / or terribly sore muscles in all the wrong places for next 5 – 6 days. But enough about that.

The last thing I wanted to do for the part one of this health update is share my current workout plan. Yes, it is self-made but I am careful enough not to push myself too hard and injure myself. I have categorized them and written in random order. When I actually work out, I just mix them up.

Ab exercises:

  • 30 crunches
  • 30 bicycle crunches
  • 30 leg lifts (while lying on back)
  • 30 raised leg, bent knee crunches
  • Boat pose (holding as long as I can, 3 times)
  • Side plank (both sides for at least 1 minute)

Butt exercises:

  • 15 fire hydrants (for each leg)
  • 30 straight leg raises (while laying on stomach)
  • 30 bent leg raises (while laying on stomach)
  • 30 both bent leg raises (while laying on stomachs)
  • 30 donkey kicks
  • 30 hip raises

Arm exercises:

  • 45 bent over row (with 1 kg dumbbells)
  • 45 shoulder presses (same weights)
  • 45 (unidentified exercise, couldn’t find the name)
  • 45 (one more unidentified exercise)

Yoga poses:

  • Tree pose 1 (holding as long as I can, mostly 2 mins on each leg)
  • Warrior 2 (holding as long as I can; about 20 secs each leg for now)

Other:

  • 30 jumping jacks

Also, I haven not forgotten about warm ups and cool downs but I decided not to mention them here. Anyways, that’s about it for my current workout routine. I try to do it 3 – 4 times a week. The best thing about it? Even though I feel a little sweaty after it, there’s barely any soreness the next day, most of the time there’s none at all. That is it for part one of my health update.

Do you do any of these exercises I have mentioned? And how often do you work out? Let me know in the comments. 🙂 Until next time on Dolls Have Hearts!

Love, Porcelain Doll.

The less visible sister of fat shaming – skinny shaming.

Skinny brunette in workout clothes, walking down the street

Hello, dear readers! By now I think you have all heard of fat shaming. Curvy people, especially women have raised awareness about it a lot during last few years. It is no secret that media has been pushing the image of “perfect woman” onto us for quite a long time. We are still drowning in magazine articles about getting beach body and different diets that will help us lose x amount of pounds every month. However, there is one side of body shaming that has not been covered as much and it is skinny shaming. Yes, that is really a thing! Why am I writing about this? Well, because I have been fat shamed as well as skinny shamed.

During my childhood years I was somewhere in the middle – not really chubby but also not skinny. However, I despised PE lessons and ate what ever I wanted, so I was no way considerable as the fit one. Being a kid and hating sports was not cool at all, so I quickly became the main object of mockery in my school. Most of my bullies were boys, who were skinny and loved sports. They could eat all the junk food in the world and still stay the same way. However, if I would eat too much pizza or cookies, my body would show it after some time. I was a girl and being tall and thin was not in my genes. I was jealous at girls, who were like that. The self consciousness made me feel terrible about my thighs, who seemed way too thick at the time (I mean, how thick can be thighs of a ten-year old, who is not overweight?) and small stomach roll that I had while sitting down. For nine years straight I was laughed at because of my body and fat shamed almost every day. It did not mater, if I tried eating less or dressing differently – I was still the ugly, weird and fat kid. This nightmare ended after middle school.

About a year before graduating from middle school I started working out. Of course, results did not show that quickly but I was getting there. After middle school I decided to continue my studies in a different city and different school. Things seemed to get better – my schoolmates did not care about my looks at all and the fat shaming was over. However, soon after that when my workout results finally started showing, I experienced something as uncomfortable which was skinny shaming. As I continued to workout, my stomach rolls disappeared, hip bones, ribs and collar bones started showing a little bit more. I was eating healthier than before and still had normal BMI, however, my parents started getting worried with no apparent reason. I started getting a lot of comments from them that I workout too much and suggested me to workout less and eat more. I could not understand their reaction. I finally started feeling better about my body after all the fat shaming and now this? My parents have never been on the thin side, so this fact made me nervous from early childhood. Will I look like this when I grow up? I didn’t want to. I wanted to be like one of those fit, happy girls you can see on Pinterest and Instagram. Why was is such a bad idea? My parents should have been happy that I wasn’t one of those girls, who look at thinspo every day and starve themselves.

During last  4 years I’ve been working out and eating healthier but their remarks didn’t stop. Especially from my dad. I wanted to feel better about my body and love it but comments like: “You should eat more. Your breasts have become smaller. Your hip bones are showing too much. Your ribs are showing too much. Are you trying to starve yourself? The way you look isn’t healthy. Stop starving yourself. Stop working out so much.” made me insecure and unhappy. You might think that having a slimmer body would make me more confident. It didn’t. I still listened to what people are saying about it. I felt insecure about my hip bones and the fact that I sometimes got bruises on them after workouts, I felt stressed out because I couldn’t find pants that fit me just right. Most of them were too tight in the area of my thighs and too loose around my waist. I felt insecure about my breasts that were never too big but now got even smaller. I was jealous to girls, who could wear nice lingerie, push up bras and actually have something to put inside them. I was almost flat, I still am.

I shouldn’t hate my body, I should love it and you should do the same with yours. It’s okay to have thick thighs, it’s okay to have tiny breasts, it’s okay have boyish body with no curves or very curvy one without small waist. I’m here to tell you what no one has told me – love your body the way it is now. It doesn’t matter, if people tell you that you’re too skinny, too muscular or too chubby. There is no such thing as perfect bikini body and you shouldn’t stress about getting it. There is not one universal body shape everyone should and would be able to fit. No matter what body type you have, it has its own beauty. Stop listening to media and society in general, who’s telling you that you need an ass like Kim Kardashian or body like Keira Knightley, or that you can’t wear crop tops because your stomach isn’t perfectly flat. Wear what makes you feel good, don’t torture yourself in order to look like someone else. You already have a full package of what you need. Sure, you can do some ab workouts or squats, eat more veggies and treat it like a temple but… never take it for granted. You are beautiful in your own skin – embrace it here and now.

That’s all for this week’s blog post. I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as enjoyed writing it. See you next week with another great article. 🙂

Love, Porcelain Doll.