I’ve never had a flat stomach, I was hella self-conscious about it, and if there was an award for comparing yourself to other women, I would have won it.
Self-comparison was my forte. I was so critical about my body. Like, in the nagging, mirror-hating, self-loathing way. One of the things I spent way too much time doing was comparing myself to other women - especially the thin, pretty ones with toned abs. You know the girls I am talking about, the ones who look stellar in anything they try on, that rock a bikini 365 days a year, and can eat whatever they want.
For me, I couldn't get over comparing my belly to everyone else's. I couldn't stop fixating on it. It was the first thing I looked at in photos of myself, it was always the body part I tried to hide when I bought clothes, and I was conscious about how it looked all day long. I always knew the state of my stomach and whether or not it was having a "good" or "bad" day. (Ok, maybe I sound wacko now, but it's the truth).
I tore out all the ab workouts from magazines.
Wore flowy tops and dresses.
And God forbid that anyone would see it.
My stomach was always bloated up and I was constantly suckin’ it in. I was also carrying about 30 extra pounds of weight, which is one of the symptoms of celiac disease. When you have digestive issues, your belly is in a constant state of stress and inflammation. Plus, with my IBS and leaky gut, I felt like a sumo wrestler. And not like those cute girls who wear the sumo wrestler blow-ups costumes at Halloween, but the legit ones from Japan.
Plus, I often thought things like this:
- “She’s got a really flat stomach. Ugh, I just need to work harder at the gym.”
- Oh shit, that black bikini looks really good on her. I wish I had a body like that. I’m just going to flip over and lie face down on this beach chair….”
- “That person is so skinny. I better cover myself up.”
- “She looks so good. Oh god, I feel so gross. I will never look pretty like that.”
Except the problem was that I would turn their bodies into a statement about myself.
If I saw someone really rocking a bikini, I’d give them the up-down and conclude that I was failing, doing something wrong, falling short, and struggling. (Which is actually makes no logical sense when you think about, but whatever).
In my head, I turned these other people’s successes into a commentary about myself and just decide that I was huge, fat, failure. Like, the type of failure where you get a massive, red, capital “F” on the top of your report card.
Often I’d wonder:
- “Ugh. Why do I have to go through this crap?”
- “Why can’t I just be normal?”
- “Is there a reason why I'm not like them?”
I never actively asked for a chronic illness. But, I sure as hell made myself feel like it was my fault. Giving up this sh*t and no longer looking at digestive problems as a curse was one of the things I wish I stopped doing sooner. So, don't be hard on yourself over stuff you can't control. I made that mistake for too many years.
It took me eons to get over it and stop assuming that one person’s success and shredded abs meant that I was a chubby, chip-eating, failure.
How I stopped comparing myself to other women:
1). I grabbed the gratitude journal.
When I become thankful for my body instead of hating it, a shift happened. I worked on being grateful that I had a belly. Yes, it was hella bloated and uncomfortable most of the time, but at least it still worked and I didn’t have to have a pouch attached to me in order to empty my waste. If you can start keeping a gratitude journal, it will help you shift your perspective. P.S. here are 3 tiny ways to build this practice. So, grab some pretty notebooks and go.
2). I read this book.
Melissa Ambrosini's Mastering Your Inner Mean Girl has a lot of stellar tips in here about conquering that inner critic. Give it a read. My inner shit talker sure had a sh*t ton of stuff to tell me. "That girl looks way better than you, she's way prettier than you, and she sure as hell is way skinnier than you." Yadda, yadda, yadda. This book helped me get real on that voice. Because it sure wasn't my truth and it was rooted in fear.
3). I personified my inner critic.
Plus, you should name your inner critic something funny. This is heavy stuff right here, so give yourself something to crack up about when you catch yourself feeling upset. I named my inner critic Viola. (Cause of this scene when Viola eats the chicken in one of my favorite childhood movies). So, whenever I hear that nasty little voice, I tell Viola to can it. By doing this, it also enables me to distinguish which voice is Kelly and which voice is Viola. (Also, apologies if your name is Viola.)
4). I realized that my thoughts weren't scientifically accurate & I wasn't getting fatter and uglier by the second.
So, if you can make choices based on first principles and not emotions or through an analogy, you’re headed in the right place. I love this video where Elon talks about how electric car battery packs are affordable, based on facts and evidence, versus how we may emotionally respond. Truthfully, someone else’s success a commentary about our failure has not solid, logical reasoning behind it.
So, when I feel those nagging comments come up, I just go back to my first principals and think about it logically. That person in the black bikini is just a person in a black bikini. She probably doesn’t know me and her life has no correlation to mine. And by looking at her, I am not magically getting fatter and uglier by the second. That is all made up stuff in my head. There sure as hell is no scientific evidence backing any of that up.
And lastly, we’re all just doing the best we can.
Let's get real, no one shares out loud how much self-loathing they chant in the mirror. So, it might feel like you’re the only one suffering from self-comparison, but it's common than we'd like to admit. So, ease up on yourself. Baby steps, folks. We're all navigating the same stuff.
All the love,