When a person starts drinking heavily, they start to gain weight, mostly in the abdomen area. And for women, this can create some really uncomfortable body image issues, especially if they already have low self esteem.
This is what happened to me after I started drinking excessively. I was having a really hard time with narcissistic family members who were so disrespectful and childish to me. It made me feel like I wasn’t worthy to be part of my husband’s family. I felt self-conscious and would feel hurt if someone was laughing behind my back (which happened a lot). So every night, we put a bottle of wine out of its misery. It was a ritual; one that we dare not break for fear of the dreaded DT’s. “What harm could it do?” we thought, as we poured another glass. “We’re not driving or operating heavy machinery.”
Harm. It did some harm, all right. To my waistline, my self esteem, my moods, and the way I reacted to the negative energy around me.
It did a lot of harm.
To everything I loved, including my fit and healthy lifestyle.
It was battle of the bulge, and I was losing. Wine: 1. Emily: 0.
This went on until I realized that no matter how much I exercised, I was not burning the fat in my ever-expanding belly, thighs, and butt. It just wasn’t possible unless I benched 250 everyday for months. And that simply isn’t possible. I think I can dead-lift 30 pounds at the most.
I kept running and I would do squats and other body weight exercises occasionally, but it was futile; I had some strength in my legs from running, but that was it. The pounds just kept coming.
And so did the negative energy. It’s not easy being a very small, shy girl in this decade. People are hurtful. Unless you look like Kate Upton or Kim K, they pretty much dismiss you as trash, and I was dismissed all right. Tossed aside with ugly words and dirty looks. I’ve always been funny looking, but alcohol made me look a lot worse.
I coped with crying and burying myself under the covers; and alcohol. So much alcohol. It was a vicious circle. The more depressed I got, the more I drank.
And from all this foolishness, I gained 20 pounds; but I’m trading in those pounds for self esteem, self care, happiness, joy, and a healthy, fit body. The body I used to have. The body that could run for miles like a tiger. That’s the body I want, and the body I deserve.
Body image issues don’t have to be a part of our lives forever. I believe that if we forgive ourselves for doing things to our bodies that aren’t healthy or are harmful, then we can begin the healing process. We also need to forgive those who have hurt us; not because they deserve it, but because it will help us to heal from the pain. No one likes to be called fat, ugly or worse; but forgiveness is the critical first step in moving on.
Loving ourselves is so important too. It may seem impossible now (believe me, I’ve been there), but loving ourselves in a healthy way is job one. Self-care is a way to love yourself; shave your legs, go for a walk, and put healthy food into your body. Those simple steps are a way to show yourself love.
Changing our mindset. Oh, how important this is. I had to do it straight away because my original mindset was “I’m not worthy, and I can’t do anything right.” Now my mindset is “I’m created in His image, and God loved me so much that He gave His son for me.” Genesis 1:27, John 3:16. Changing our mindset can also be about replacing negative thoughts that bombard our minds with good thoughts. Cast out the negative, wicked, and depressing thoughts, and replace them with good ones. Write them down and read them aloud to yourself. It will improve your mood and help you climb out of the rut of a negative mindset.
Exercise. This is a no-brainer for someone like me who is into running, weight lifting, and other outdoor activities. But when someone is depressed or hungover (or both), who wants to exercise? I get that, yet it’s so important to keep the body moving. Endorphins make us feel good, and that’s a great pick-me-up for someone with body image issues.
These are just a few of the things (in addition to God’s Word) that I’m applying to my life to climb out of the rut and live a healthier, happier life. I know it’s hard to live with the body image issues that come with alcohol abuse; it’s one of the things I hate most about it. But there is hope, and there is a healthier happier ‘me’ on the other side of the spectrum. I just need to go after her.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Rm 12:2 Taken from 15 Positive Body Image Bible Verses, via Marie Osborne.
Body Image Activities from A Year Without Mirrors
Everything I have written in this post is strictly my opinion. I am neither getting paid or endorsing a product or website. I am simply sharing my experience and what has worked for me in my current situation. Also, I am not offering medical advice or recommending that someone exchange professional advice for what I am offering here.