Conscious Living, Fitness, food

My struggle with the perfect body image

Yesterday I got really down on myself. I had filmed a video for a kickstarter campaign for the eco-friendly yoga and fitness leggings collection I had designed (more on that on the blog soon). When looking at the footage, I did not recognize myself. I felt bulky, swollen and somehow manly. This was not at all the body I was striving for.

I had been eating crazy healthy since the beginning of the year. I have never eaten this healthy my entire life! I cut out bread, cheese, alcohol, for the most part (because a girl has to have the occasional glass of champagne, right?!), and chocolate. Okay, I had a pizza maybe twice and I also indulged in some chocolate but come on, you still gotta live!!! I also worked out regularly meaning 1 hour every day! And still my weight hasn’t dropped a bit! My body wasn’t any leaner or tighter. I’d rather felt like I had gained weight!

You have to know that my struggle with body image has affected me since my teenage years. I have always been very fond of sweet food. As a little kid all I wanted to eat were pancakes, sweet rice and the like. When going into puberty my body started to change and I did not metabolize all the sugar as well anymore. I wasn’t fat or anything, but I also wasn’t really skinny. Like when skinny jeans became a thing, I remember that my legs looked humongous in them.

teenage years body not skinny
I was not fat as a teenager but I was not neccessarily skinny either which I struggled a lot with.

I also had a girlfriend at school who was really tall and thin. She played lots of tennis and was very fit in general. I always envied her for that. I was also quite fit but no matter what I did, I could never hold up with her. She would run faster, jump wider and so on.

This combined with my ever-growing interest in fashion made me feel really uncomfortable in my skin. Whenever I would travel with my parents to Asia, I would watch Fashion TV admiring all these skinny models on the runway and wishing I would look just like them. I started to constantly feel for my hip bones to see if they were sticking out. You could say I became obsessed.

I also started to inhabit some very unhealthy eating habits. I would allow myself to eat breakfast and have a coffee in the afternoon (a White Caffee Mocha with soy milk from Starbucks to be precise – not the healthiest choice as we all know). Of course, once dinner time rolled around I was starving. The next day I would be so hungry that I overindulged like crazy leaving me feel like crap. This vicious cycle continued to repeat itself over and over again ultimately messing up my metabolism and my stomach.

Needless to say, I did never achieve my goal of being very skinny because every pound I may have lost during my starving days came back on once I ate normal again. I started to get really frustrated with myself because I wasn’t strong enough to stick to my goals. I have just always loved food. I don’t eat if I don’t like it but if the food is good than I sometimes can barely stop. And you know there is lots of good food out there!

I grew up in a household were good food was always really important. My parents are frequent restaurant goers and I have been to almost every exquisite restaurant all over the world. Good champagne and wine included. So naturally it was hard for me to stick to a certain meal plan when this freshly baked bread with cheese sits in front of you. I guess my wish to get skinny and become a model was not as strong as the longing to eat and try all the food.

graduation pick weight gain
I had clearly gained some weight during my exchange year.

During my exchange year in America, I indulged in everything I could get my hands on. Everything was new and exciting and of course I had to try every fast food chain. I enjoyed it tremendously and just couldn’t get enough of certain things. I gained a lot of weight and was the heaviest I have ever been (which wasn’t much compared to the amount I ate). But you know the funny thing? I did not feel fat at all! I felt great! Maybe it was because I was surrounded by people that were quite big (being in the South and all) or just because people are generally more accepting of different body types in America. But for the first time in my life I just felt fine. Even sexy! It was only shortly before I had to leave to go back to Germany that this feeling crept back in.

Once I was back, it was sheer horror! I remember my best friend picking me up at the airport and commenting on my ass and how big it had gotten. I was devastated. I immediately renewed my gym membership and dropped the excess pounds in a matter of weeks. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop there. Being back in Germany I fell into a huge depression. I had felt so amazing in the States that it was almost unbearable for me to be back. All the self-consciousness came back. I stopped eating. I got so skinny that not only my parents grew concerned but also our neighbors started to ask questions. It was an awful time that I never want to go back to.

During my college years I adapted some very unhealthy eating habits again. I don’t know if it was the constant stress, the new environment or simply emotional eating but I had a pizza and an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s almost every night! I also started to drink Coke again which I had totally quit after being back from America. My then boyfriend and I would also indulge in crazy amounts of chocolate which upset my stomach pretty badly. I would have cramps and some very bad bloating issues. He was naturally skinny, so of course, it didn’t do him any harm. I think this is where my real stomach and gut issues started. All this bad food and the constant change in my eating habits ultimately took its turns.

protein pancakes yummy food nutritious healthy
When I discovered Tone It Up, I learned that nutritious food can be yummy such as these Protein Pancakes.

When I discovered Tone It Up in 2014 I was determined to turn my life around and finally be healthy and do something good for my body. I was really drawn to their positive and beachy vibe. I was also inspired by their lean and toned bodies. And when I saw that one of them, Katrina Scott, used to be heavy in high school and was now this beautiful bombshell, I was completely hooked. I started to make working out every day a habit. This was not particular hard for me as I had always loved sports. I have also had a gym membership almost all my life.

The eating part was again the most struggle. At one point, I started to fully commit and buy their nutrition plan. Even though some recipes sounded delicious, most recipes were not my cup of tea. How could I possibly survive on solely veggies and protein?! I always needed some kind of creamy sauce or cheese. It took me almost three years to train my taste buds to crave healthy and nutritious food.

Fast forward to now and I’m hooked on healthy food! I get my pizza and chocolate cravings every now and then (especially in the winter months when it is cold and dark outside). But even though I’m living the picture-perfect TIU life, I still have not seen the results I was hoping for. Or let me say it like this: I still have not come around to accept and love my body for what it is. I don’t see that I can now go for an hour long run and feel amazing afterwards. I don’t see that I can do 15 push-ups in a row. I don’t see that I use 5kg dumbbells for almost all my workouts. I don’t see that my stomach is pretty defined. All I see are my bulky thighs and for my taste way too muscular arms. Not at all what a model agency is looking for!

running for a healthy body
Move your body to be healthy and not because you are chasing after unrealistic standards

And you know what, I only blame myself to a certain degree for that. How am I supposed to love my body the way it is when I’m constantly exposed to super skinny photo shopped models on every cover or every billboard ad. Even on Instagram I see curated pictures that are shot from favorable angles. And then I have to learn that even these seemingly “perfect” people have gotten their cheekbones done or their nose or their boobs.

I do love my face though. I think it is very pretty with a lot of charisma. So if you have a pretty face and a normal body why shouldn’t you be able to model. Why not change this whole beauty image back to regular so that young girls don’t feel pressured anymore to meet a certain standard? Life is too short to not be enjoyed. This shouldn’t be a free pass to put crap into your body but we as women should not constantly forbid ourselves everything just because someone once thought this type of body was pretty. And let’s be real here, most of the girls going down the runway are not pretty per se. Most of the time they are just skinny. And if we started to display clothes on normal people wouldn’t sales also go up for the designers because people could better identify with the clothes? In my eyes, this would be a win win situation for both sides.

healthy fit body
A healthy and fit body as much more beautiful than a too skinny one

I know I still have a long road ahead of me. But the more I think about it, the more I realize why I want to become a model. It is not solely about the pretty clothes and the fame anymore. It is more about setting an example for everyone that is struggling with their body, especially the younger generation. I don’t want them to spend their youths constantly thinking about whether they are skinny enough to be liked like I did. I wasted way too many hours with that! The focus should shift from body image to having a healthy body, no matter the size!

The movement has gone somewhat in the right direction with the recent emerging of curvy super models just as Ashley Graham. And I think that is amazing. But it also again goes into the other extreme. What about girls with pretty faces and regular bodies? Why can’t they be the stars of the fashion scene of tomorrow? If I can be part of this movement and educate young girls and boys on the importance of having a healthy body instead of an unhealthy, skinny one than I would have served my life’s purpose. This is also why I started this blog.

healthy food for a healthy body oven roasted veggies
Healthy food is delicious and benefits your body in many ways

It is funny how I just realized this a couple of days ago while staring at a video and once again being dissatisfied with what I saw. I just have the gut feeling that 2018 is the year where something has to change!

What is your opinion on body positivity? Have you struggled as well as a young girl?

 

XOXO,

Madeleine

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