How do you become comfortable in your own skin?

Earlier this year I had surgery to help with some of my pain issues. And while I felt better for a few months (after suffering through recovery), much of the pain I was struggling with before has returned.

And I’m realizing that my wiring, the way I approach fitness and body image, absolutely has to change.

The reality of my situation is that I live with celiac disease, endometriosis, and other “We can’t quite figure out what’s wrong with you, but it’s probably autoimmune related” issues.

So when I try to get back in shape by doing what I’ve always done (setting goals, dreaming of the way my legs used to look, pushing through the pain), my body fails me. I end up taking one step forward and twenty-two steps back.

When I try to train like before, I hurt myself worse. When I try to get my old body back, my new body rebels.

I’ll be honest, the reason I have tried pushing through the pain so much is because I WANT TO LOOK LIKE I WANT TO LOOK. I want muscular legs. I want non-jiggly arms. I want to look in the mirror and see my version of “good” in a bikini.

I’ve written about this struggle before, and I’m finally realizing that nothing will change until my body image improves. Nothing will change until I become comfortable in my own skin.

But oh my gawsh, that is so hard. How how how do we become comfortable in our own skin? Especially with these kind of images filling our social media feeds?

How do we become comfortable in our own skin with messages like these? |

Obviously I have many reasons for choosing MuTu core over Taebo and yoga over running. Feeling better physically and decreasing chronic pain are two of them.

So why does that not seem enough for me sometimes? Why do I go for a run when I know it will probably hurt me? Why do I look in the mirror and try to calculate how many lunges I can do before my body breaks?

I don’t have an answer. But hopefully in posting this, the process of rewiring can begin. If you have chronic health issues, maybe you can relate. If you have reached the point of feeling comfortable in your own skin, maybe you can respond with some encouraging words.

Because something needs to change, and I’m just not sure how to begin.

How do we become comfortable in our own skin with messages like these? |

  • Staci August 3, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    Hi Alysa! I’ve been following your blog for a while (I’m a dietetic student, entering internship in the fall!) and I was compelled to answer your (maybe rhetorical) question in this post. For me, yoga has cultivated a greater sense of self-love; running has always been self-depreciating to my perception of fitness (because, well, I’m not that good at it!). Where does your mind wander to in yoga? Maybe with each practice, your intention (for now) can be focusing on the strength required to pull off yoga poses and the mental and physical power you have to have such controlled, conscious movements.

    However, the thing that has really changed my perspective is how I perceive my body. Maybe all you need is a mind shift! Something I did when I was really going through some body struggles was set a reminder on my phone “What did your body do for you today?” Maybe a moment of mindfulness over all the beautiful powers of your body each day will help to shift your perspective to the positive. I still can “see” my imperfections (for me, a soft belly, some stubborn acne, and a gut that really rejects a lot of foods) but they no longer pull on that string–you know that string, the one that makes you slouch a little and “uhg” in the back of your throat. Now, I focus on flexible hips that allow me to hang in a pigeon pose, legs that can (sometimes!) get me through a run and a body that tells me what foods are hurting and helping it. I try to listen to my body by fueling it with the food it craves and the movement it enjoys instead of being frustrated with what it doesn’t inherently thrive with–heavy cardio and ice cream lol.

    Each day we can choose to be happy and I vote that every day you just take a simple moment to give yourself a little love. Over time, it could completely change your perspective.

  • Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine August 3, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    Yes, I totally relate to this! With my autoimmune diseases, I know what my dear body can handle and even though sometimes I get angry for what I can’t do, I know that what I do, I enjoy and I embrace those things as much as possible!

  • Amy @ UpearlywithAmy August 3, 2015 at 9:51 pm

    Self-love is hard work but the most rewarding work you can do. I don’t know that I have the answer for you, but I do agree that writing a post like this and recognizing the root of your struggle is at least 22 steps in the right direction 🙂 Good luck and thanks for sharing.

  • Holly August 4, 2015 at 2:18 am

    I’m celiac and obviously my imflamation has healed as I’ve gained 25 pounds over the past two years and in some ways I miss my skinnier self and I’m finding it harder to exercise with this extra weight. I’m trying to stay positive and do the little I can as it will all make a difference one day. I try to stay away from toxic defeatist thoughts that only bring me down and make me want to give up or feel sorry for myself. Stay strong!!

  • Rea August 9, 2015 at 2:15 pm

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot this week while on vacation. Two things made me realize that I need to start shifting my perspective. One was getting to meet up with a friend who had to drop her regular exercise routine 9 months ago when they moved to a new city. Suddenly this woman who had been a champion of positive self-talk kept referring to her body as ‘disgusting’. (In my eyes she was every bit as beautiful as she’d always been.)

    I also spent time with my mother, who, while not quite 80, has the body and mobility of a much, much older woman. And I don’t want that for myself. And yet I also look at her and realize the inevitability of aging, and the fact that I NEED to learn to become comfortable in my skin, because no matter how much exercise I do of ANY kind, things will change, and sag, and wrinkle, and flap. And I don’t want to be that 80 year old woman looking in the mirror being disgusted at how my face sags (I heard once that we are genetically predisposed to either wrinkle or sag, I really, really wish I were a wrinkler and not a sagger!). I also don’t want to be that 80 year old woman who can’t stand up straight or go for a walk.

    So, I don’t really have any answers for you, other than the realization that at some point we start taking a longer term view of health, and our goals have to change because looking like a 30 year old isn’t a realistic long term goal for most of us, but feeling energetic and flexible and strong is.

  • Heather August 11, 2015 at 4:40 am

    As I am beginning the third year of recovery from an eating disorder I can honestly tell you becoming comfortable in your own skin is hard work. It’s a realization that one makes when the “old” way no longer is sustainable. It is a decision you make and then practice minute by minute, day by day, month by month and year by year. It is the realization that you are not a number or a size or an exercise style or a nutritional plan or a body type. It’s the encompassing of wholeness, that your physical self is but a part of you and not the whole you. It’s making the shift from pass/fail, good/bad, right/wrong thinking. It is the understanding that it’s not your body that is failing you, it’s you that is failing your body by not accepting her “as is”. It’s removing the triggers and propaganda and messages and self talk and media influences that feed the”not good enoughs”. It’s grace and forgiveness for the failures and the frustration that you’ve self imposed upon yourself. It’s knowing that you are imperfect and messy and changing and beautiful.

    • Alysa August 11, 2015 at 5:02 am

      Heather, I love this. Thank you for your beautiful words, I am going to be thinking about them for a long time.

  • Dani @ Dani California Cooks August 11, 2015 at 4:50 am

    This was a beautiful post! I am new to your blog, but I also struggle with rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune related pain, as well as minor eating disorders over time. Talking about it out loud – saying these things to another person – makes it a lot easier for me!

    • Alysa August 11, 2015 at 5:02 am

      Thank you for sharing, Dani. This is why I post these things – because in sharing my story, hopefully I help others feel less alone, and more able to share their own stories.