Beach, Body Image, and Grace

This post was written by Candace Johnson.
This beach trip was unlike any we have had before. Years past we would have hit all the hotspots for dinners and lunches making sure we got our favorites in for the year. But Corona has changed that and this year we brought enough food to feed an army for a month knowing we didn’t want to go to the store or restaurants. We did pick up food a few times for take-out but definitely not the same as sitting in the atmosphere we have come to love over the years. That being said, it was probably the most relaxed vacation we have had! Board games, cards, late night star gazing on the beach, bike rides, long walks, and lots of laughter!

 

I did not stay on the diet plan while there, but I was prepared for that. I did make a shake a couple of times for breakfast but not nearly what I “should” have done. Yes, I gained. No regrets though. Sometimes it’s more important to be in the moment than to worry about the next meal prep!

 

I wish I could say that my body insecurities had disappeared and that I was confident walking the beach. Unfortunately, the tape running through the head with negative body image talk did not pause for vacation. There were some moments of being carefree and just enjoying being on the beach, but the large majority of time I was completely aware of my thighs and my stomach and it wasn’t a very pleasant awareness! This made me sad for my girls because I could see the same thoughts in their minds as well. It’s hard to not be the same size as your family and friends. No matter how hard I try to set a good example, I know my eating and diet practices are a large reason for their insecurities. They have watched me go up and down so many times over the years and heard me body shame myself far too many times. I suppose it is the same thing I heard growing up in my own childhood. Why are we so hard on ourselves when it comes to body image? Why can’t we look at ourselves and say, this body of mine carries me everywhere and is strong and I am thankful for it?!

 

From my beach chair I watched people all day walking in total confidence. Some people were what society would say is the perfect size, others were so tiny that I was scared they would break! And then others, not so different from me, were proudly walking the beach not trying to cover up their “imperfections”. What makes them so confident and comfortable with themselves? It’s something I have strived for as long as I can remember without much success. I know as a mental health professional and someone who has long had issues with dieting and weight, that if you do not love yourself as you are right now, there will never be a “right”size for you. I have been all sizes from a 4 to an 18 and was never truly satisfied at any point. This has given me a lot to think about lately and is helping to guide me now with where I go on this journey. I said from the beginning it wasn’t about a number, but who am I kidding. There is ALWAYS a number in mind whether it is the scale or the clothes. But after spending a week in a swimsuit, feeling insecure literally in my own skin, I have decided that is enough. I do not want my girls to live their life always wishing they were something else. Where that takes me next, I am not exactly sure, but I know it will include practicing some self-love and compassion.

 

I have some pretty emotional days ahead….changing jobs, my daughter’s high school graduation (finally), and college drop off. It would be foolish for me to think that I will eat perfectly through all of this. So I will move forward as gently as possible, giving myself grace, and remembering that I am doing the best I can, in the body I am in. Don’t forget to love yourself just are you are today!

By Candace Johnson