Reaching Body Acceptance

Before becoming poorly, I was very athletically fit, slim and toned. I absolutely LOVED exercise; boxing, synchronised swimming, athletics, hockey, running, you name it, I’ve done it! Even at uni when my chronic pain started, I was still managing to do some exercise, particularly when I had periods of being pain free. All of that came to a very sudden halt in May 2012 when my pain condition got considerably worse and spread. And since the beginning of this year when I was diagnosed with POTS, I’ve been even more limited. I am pretty much housebound now and spend the majority of my time lying down. And, when I do go out, I use a wheelchair so I’m not walking around at all. My figure, in my eyes, has changed quite a lot over the last couple of years because of this. Even though others may not be able to see the physical changes, I know that they are there. I feel a lot more ‘wobbly’ and a lot of my uni clothes don’t fit any more or are a lot tighter (not that I’d wear them now…if you could see how short some of my dresses were…eek). What’s more, I am not wearing make-up at the moment and I don’t wear really fitted fashionable clothes, I wear what’s comfy (which is more often than not, PJ bottoms and cami tops). So, as you can imagine I don’t feel remotely glamorous and I often feel like a shadow of my former self.

Me at university

Me at university

Initially, when I suddenly couldn’t exercise anymore I panicked and cut down on food quite considerably because I thought I would put on weight. But that just made me miserable. I could no longer control how my body looked and I hated it. I would spend time in front of the mirror scrutinising the changing shape of my body, and wishing something could be different or somewhere else. After a short while though I gradually got used to my new body and started caring less and less about having a toned stomach or skinny arms, and I began to embrace my new slightly more curvey figure. This was a major turning point as, even when I was well and exercising as much as I liked, I wasn’t happy with my figure anyway!

Changing my diet at the beginning of this year to primarily plant based really really helped (for more info on my diet change see my previous post on how I took control using food); I no longer count calories or fat content, I now count nutrients and feed my body with foods containing the most vitamins and minerals! I realised what we eat has a huge impact on our health – food isn’t the enemy trying to make your bottom and thighs bigger, but rather the powerful tool we can use to heal our bodies and make them stronger.

What has also helped has been my boyfriend Paddy. Having someone who loves you just the way you are is a powerful thing. I’m not saying your happiness within yourself depends on having a supportive boyfriend or girlfriend, I’m just saying it was one of the things that’s helped me personally. Paddy is always saying he wouldn’t change anything about me, which has enabled me to relax and not worry to much about how my body has changed.

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Image from Marie Claire Magazine

I also often remind myself that my body has survived incredible things – so many examinations and invasive tests, the flare ups, the spinal injections that caused increased pain, the slow recovery, and for that I do feel some love for it and respect. I have to believe that my body is so much more in the grand scheme of things than just a fashion accessory. And while I do everything I can to make my body strong and healthy, I can’t hate it for showing the weathering of my chronic illnesses.

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Me now!

Although I can’t say that I am body confident, I now have body acceptance and I am happy to just embrace what I have.

29 Comments

  1. southernblondevegan November 19, 2014 / 2:45 pm

    You are such a beautiful person. What a challenge to be faced with so young – your strength is so inspiring! And it’s SO TRUE, your body is a soldier of a vessel being put through so much, and holds much more value than a simple “fashion accessory”! You are going to help so many people by being honest and transparent. Thank you for sharing!

    • berrystylegirl November 19, 2014 / 3:41 pm

      I’ll be honest, with your kindness and strength, I’ve also mentioned your beauty. It’s not a compliment, it’s how I see you. Though I can understand what you’ve written and really appreciate that you are trying to accept what you think is not as good as your previous shape. But let me say: you look wery natural now and charming. I love your eyes and only wish I could steal tiredness from you.

      • spooniesophia November 24, 2014 / 2:39 pm

        Polina, you’re so sweet and kind. Thank you for being so understanding, I really appreciate it, and thanks for trying to make me feel better about the whole thing <3 xxx

    • spooniesophia November 24, 2014 / 2:37 pm

      Aww Sarah thank you for your lovely comment :) I was so nervous to post it as it’s so personal but I am glad I did if it’s helping others! Thanks for taking the time to read it too! Xxx

  2. Lemons 'n Lyme November 19, 2014 / 3:32 pm

    Thank you for this post! I needed it. I have gone through the same thing. I was SUPER active before I got sick and then had to cut all that out of my life. It was very hard and I’m still in the process of learning to accept. Sending all the best <3

    • spooniesophia November 24, 2014 / 2:41 pm

      No problem! Sorry you’ve had to go through the same thing :( I hope one day soon things will be easier and you find acceptance sweetie x

  3. abodyofhope November 19, 2014 / 4:21 pm

    What a beautiful post. You are stunning- because of your inner and outer beauty. Because of your spirit that can be felt in your words and your voice that carries your essence.
    I agree that having a supportive husband tell me he thinks I’m always beautiful really helps. I try not to think about it too much any more, but I miss the little fun things about enjoying my femininity that I didn’t even realize this tom boy relished to begin with!
    It was fun to see pictures of you. I hope they make you happy to reminisce and not sad about so many changes. Hopefully in time that will be true if not yet.
    You are doing a great thing helping us all better accept ourselves <3

    • spooniesophia November 24, 2014 / 2:43 pm

      Wow thank you for such a lovely comment!

      I’m so glad you have a wonderful husband who assures you you’re beautiful! I miss femininity thing too and getting all dressed up and feeling sexy! I hope one day we will be able to do those things again :)

      Thanks again, I hope you’re ok xxx

  4. Jenny November 19, 2014 / 5:32 pm

    This is such a beautiful and honest post. Well done for standing up and making your voice heard. You have such an inspirational and positive story.

    • spooniesophia November 24, 2014 / 2:45 pm

      Thank you Jenny! Like I said to Sarah, I was very nervous posting something so personal, but I’m glad I have now!

      Hope you’re well x

  5. Chloe November 19, 2014 / 7:20 pm

    I can totally relate to this post as I’ve put on a lot of weight since becoming ill. At first I hated it and tried to cut food out and exercise which made me even more ill but I soon came to realise that health is the most important thing and i need to look after my body. It doesn’t matter what I look like, just so long as I am as well as I can possibly be :) chloe xxx

    http://www.chloe-meandme.blogspot.co.uk/?m=1

    • spooniesophia November 24, 2014 / 2:46 pm

      Hi Chloe,

      So sorry you can relate. You’re absolutely right health is paramount, and it’s not worth making yourself more ill to be thinner. You’re doing really well and you’re beautiful just the way you are!

      Xxx

  6. montaguemouse November 20, 2014 / 12:14 am

    I’m working on this too – with Christmas coming up it feels like such an achievement if I even get to a party, but then I feel sad that I can’t look as glamorous as I used to. Knocks my confidence a bit. I’m encouraged by your story from a bit further down the road to acceptance than I am, thank you! Elizabeth xxx

    • spooniesophia November 24, 2014 / 2:48 pm

      Hi Elizabeth, thanks for reading! Being able to go to a Xmas party is a huge achievement, I hope you can see how amazing that is :) but I totally understand what you mean, I miss wearing fancy clothes and make up a lot! Keep doing what you’re doing lovely xxx

  7. Berta Karaim November 20, 2014 / 1:19 am

    As some one, who for quite a long time was obsessed with weight and petrified of gaining some, I can only imagine how difficult this experience must have been for you! Your honesty is truly inspiring and I hope that one day you will be able to love yourself for all the inner and outer beauty that you possess <3

    • spooniesophia November 24, 2014 / 2:50 pm

      Thank you for your comment Berta! Sorry to hear about your experience, I hope things are better for you now!

      Aww thank you so much, I’ll get there!

      Xxx

  8. Teresa Hatfield Barnes November 20, 2014 / 11:56 am

    This was wonderful for me to read. I was exactly the same as you, very active and fit before I was struck with chronic pain June 2013. Yep I have since gained weight and my body is soooo wobbly now. But my biggest hang-up is how people much older than me are healthier and fitter than me. I am so envious of my parents and their health and feel terrible that I have to rely on them so much during their retirement years when they should be enjoying themselves.
    And I totally agree about the spinal injections, they are awful. I will never be having them again.
    I hope I gain your body acceptance soon, you are incredibly beautiful.

    Teresa x

    • Barbie Ball November 22, 2014 / 2:58 am

      I was seriously contemplating having the spinal injections, without a lie, it does scare me! But like yourself, the gorgeous Sophia and others that suffer chronic pain conditions, sometimes we need to seek other avenues in pain treatment, along if with our (my) pain meds that don’t seem to be doing a hell of a lot atm…so tired of popping pills and being homebound 80% of the time.

      Much love

      Barbie x

    • Barbie Ball November 22, 2014 / 3:00 am

      I was seriously contemplating having the spinal injections, without a lie, it does scare me! But like yourself, the gorgeous Sophia and others that suffer chronic pain conditions, sometimes we need to seek other avenues in pain treatment, along with our (my) pain meds that don’t seem to be doing a hell of a lot atm…so tired of popping pills and being homebound 80% of the time.

      Much love

      Barbie x

    • spooniesophia November 24, 2014 / 2:54 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed reading Teresa.

      Oh no, sorry you’re a chronic pain sufferer too! I know that feeling too well, my mum and dad, aunties and uncles all run marathons and ultra marathons so they are all mega fit! It makes you feel rubbish doesn’t it, seeing them so active. That used to break my heart as I was so desperate to be like them.

      I also feel bad for relying on my parents so much, But I guess there’s not much we can do now. I hope things get easier for you so you can gain back your independence.

      You too are beautiful and never forget that!

      Xx

  9. Alice November 20, 2014 / 7:31 pm

    This was super lovely post. I totally feel you on this one- I know how much it sucks. You sound like you’ve come a long way in learning to accept your body for what it is, so a huge well done to you. You go girl 😉

    Alice x
    slowlymendingme.blogspot.co.uk

    • spooniesophia November 24, 2014 / 2:55 pm

      Thank you so much Alice <3 your lovely comment made me smile! I hope you're doing ok xxx

  10. danceflowlift November 21, 2014 / 7:33 pm

    Very brave post, well done. Not to such an extreme (yet) but I too have had to limit my exercise due to bone issues, not easy when it was my job and passion, I can still work physically but not forever. I’m learning to love my new path in life and your post is very inspirational. xx
    Tash || http://danceflowlift.com

    • spooniesophia November 24, 2014 / 2:56 pm

      Sorry to hear about your bone issues :( gosh, that must be so hard when exercising is part of your job! It’s amazing that you’re beginning a new path and enjoying it though, keep at it :) xx

  11. Hayley-Eszti November 23, 2014 / 1:46 am

    Such a relatable post Soph. To me, you are beautiful and strong, maybe not muscley strong, but you are definitely strong inside and that is more powerful than any amount of weight lifting can make you.
    Before I got ill I was training to become a professional dancer, I was training all day everyday, I also got my aerobics instructor qualification and my family are all sports/exercise mad so we always liked to do things together. It was hard having to quit or not being able to join in on those things at first, it still is but I’ve adapted to it now. I’m much thinner now than I was before things got bad, and people always compliment me on it like it’s a good thing! Loosing weight isn’t always good, when I was at my worst I dropped to a size 6 from a size 12 in the space of a few months and it was horrible. My clothes hung off me, I couldn’t stand my reflection and I lost my prize possessions AKA big boobs and huge booty! I’ve put on more weight now and I’m happier although I’m still flabby and have no muscle definition or physical strength at all and I wish I could hit the gym and tone up. It’s frustrating because healthy people can change anything they like about how their body looks, they can loose or gain weight, they can hit the gym, they can aim to make their bum more peachy or their abs more defined, but we can’t do any of that so we have no choice but to accept and like you said, considering all our bodies have had to go through, or go through everyday, we’re looking pretty damn good! Also, haven’t you heard, PJ bottoms and cami tops are all the rage this season? WERK THOSE COMFIES GURLLLLL!

    P.S. sorry for the essay comment, I just have so much to say about this topic! xxx

    • spooniesophia November 24, 2014 / 3:02 pm

      Thanks gorgeous for the kind words, they mean such a lot!

      Gosh I had no idea you were a trained dancer, or maybe I did and forgot (brain fog :/ haha), that’s incredible! That must have been so hard to give up when you became ill. You poor thing.

      My family are also absolutely exercise mad! They all run marathons and ultra marathons all over the world so sport is a big part of family life. Like you I’ve adapted though and I’m not really bothered by it now. I used to be really jealous but now I have accepted it and moved forward.

      Yes you’re so right, healthy people are so luckly! They can put on a pair of trainers anytime they want and go for a run or hit the gym to feel better about themselves.

      But I want you to know that even though your size has changed you’re absolutely stunning Hay! Inside and out!!

      Xxxxxxx

  12. Sini Salatas November 25, 2014 / 9:16 am

    I can so relate to this post. Prior to CFS I did ballet and and yoga and lord to walk. Not being able to be physically active has been so hard. I’ve also suffered from anorexia in the past, so having to accept my new ‘cfs’ body has been a bit of challenge. Our bodies are amazing though. They’re keeping us alive and fighting through this illness. Thank you for such a positive post xxx

  13. fibrogeek November 25, 2014 / 9:07 pm

    Great post. It’s brilliant that you have reached acceptance. It’s a journey I’m currently on and working towards. I keep thinking I’m there to realise I still have a way to go. It’s inspiring reading about other people in a similar position. Thank you

  14. Jenny November 26, 2014 / 3:41 pm

    what a amazing post! This was so beautifully written. I have so much respect for you for writing this I can really identify with some of the issues that you have spoken about in this post. I too used to be sporty and well… attractive! But as spoonies our physical appearance is not something that we have total control of. I too have learnt to use food as a ‘medicine’ its the way that I feed my body to give me the best possible chance of having a good day, and being as healthy as possible, and that is as far as it goes. I don’t think about the fat, or the weight that i may gain, in fact I would rather have slightly too much food inside me than slightly too little, because at leas than I know I will ave the maxim energy possible! Thanks for speaking out! :)

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