beauty

"What it really felt like to finally reach my 'goal body'."

By Sarah Vance for Ravishly.com

I stood there looking at myself in the mirror. Twisting, turning, and examining what was reflected back at me.

“I did it! I finally achieved my goal body. Well, as close as it can come because let’s be honest, I am still not — there. There is still this piece jiggling over here, my boobs are too small, my butt needs to grow, and let’s not even get started on the situation that I call my face.”

You would think that I would be happy, right? But happiness was the last thing I was feeling. What I really felt was an overwhelming sense of sadness.

I always thought that once I had my perfect body that this ideal perfect life would manifest, but once I reached my goal body it was the exact opposite.

My life was non-existent. There was no time to connect with other people; there was no room for deviating from my diet without becoming consumed with guilt and shame; there was no confidence to go after the promotion I wanted. And trying on clothes was like stepping into a funhouse full of mirrors that only reflected an even more distorted perception of myself.

Watch: Aussie singer Christine Anu talks about the importance of positive body image. Post continues after video.

And who has time, energy, and the hormone balance to have great sex when your body can barely sustain making it through the day on the little amount of nourishment you are providing it?

My goal body felt awful. It felt like a trap. I was shackled to this idea that it just wasn’t ‘there’ yet. That is why my life wasn’t manifesting as such. For so long, that is what kept me chasing and searching. Always thinking it was just around the corner… just a few pounds less, or a few inches smaller.

All this time I was wasting to become smaller, all in hopes to live a life that was bigger.

My mind was so tightly twisted into this concept which the fitness industry sells to us: that once you look a certain way, you will finally reach this magical place of feeling like you are enough —all in the form of a goal body.

I think we all at some point have felt the desire to have a goal body, whether it be smaller, bigger, firmer, curvier, smoother, younger or taller. We have been sucked into this idea that the body we take space in right now is not good enough to be the body we call home. And thus it leaves many of us searching for the body that we think will finally be enough.

"All this time I was wasting to become smaller, all in hopes to live a life that was bigger." (Image: iStock)

A body that symbolises a key to unlocking the door to being accepted per society, and that will lead us to living this radiant life. A life in which we are able to be successful, fall in love, be part of a community, show up, wear whatever we want, eat the delicious foods, and have great sex, get the promotion, amongst many other things.

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A goal body that will lead to the goal life we really want, because that is really what we are chasing.

I fell into this trap. I ate it up like the cookies I used to binge on while I chased this altered reality.

I ate off a very rigid meal plan that included about as many food items that you can count on your fingers and toes. It was the same thing every single week. You know what I'm talking about — you cook a giant batch of food at the beginning of the week to get you through the next few days so you don’t ‘mess up’ your diet. That way I would have no excuse to not eat in the perfect way I did.

This was of course accompanied by my “go hard, go home” mentality in the gym.  (Post continues after gallery).

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Waking up every morning for my 60-minute cardio session, and then taking enough of a break to be able to take my much-needed nap on my depleted body, to only hit the weight room later in hopes of sculpting the body I had into the body that I was desiring in my mind.

With every calorie I burned, and with every bite I didn’t eat, I became closer and closer to achieving my goal, or as close to is as one can become, because once you obsess over something hard enough, what you achieve is never going to be satisfactory for your desire to feel like you are enough. You will always be grasping and clinging on the next idea that will give you that feeling of wholesomeness.

I continued down the cycle of bouncing between severe restriction and binging until my body, and mind, couldn’t take it. I lost my period, my hair was falling out, my nails didn’t grow, my energy was non-existent. I was the least confident I had ever felt, and plagued by an intense amount of anxiety on a daily basis around my body and food.

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Deep down I knew that this wasn’t ever going to make me happy, because I desired going out and living my life. I was tired of seeing my life pass me by, as I looked onward entrapped in my body.

"I'd hit the weight room in hopes of sculpting the body I had into the body that I was desiring in my mind." (Image: iStock.)

Changing my relationship with my body and food wasn’t easy and didn’t happen overnight. When you are so disordered — it is the only thing you know. The thought of giving up your old compulsions is scary, because you don’t know how to rely on your trust and intuition.

In addition to that, it becomes your life, but I knew that the bigger life I was wishing for was not going to be at the end of my goal body. It was going to be through deciding to show up in the world, to eat the delicious food and learn how to do so without having intense emotions of shame.

To make time to spend with others talking about something other than the best method to get lean, without being consumed with feelings of failure that I missed a gym session.

To make peace with my body, and come to the conclusion that the love I desired was a love that went much deeper than my appearance. To define success as the actions that create fulfillment in my life and soul.

Watch: Meghan Ramsay discusses the impacts of poor body image. (Post continues after video.)

To challenge the ideals that I ate up in regards to my body, because the truth is: all these things that we think are waiting for us at the end of our goal body are really here right now, waiting for us to step in and show up as who we are. We have just become so blind to that idea that we are enough and worthy of them as we are in the body we have right now.

The truth is this: I didn’t want to live small, I wanted to live big.

And big is how I choose to show up now: Big in experiences, big in connections, big in my thighs, big in my voice, big in my presence, big in flavour, big in play, big on rest. And big in knowing that whatever size, weight, or shape my body decides to take that it is my home in allowing me to live this big, radiant, amazing life.

I had to go out and live it to know that. And so do you.

Image: iStock

Have you had an experience like Sarah's? How did you learn to embrace your body?

This story by Sarah Vance originally appeared on Ravishly, a feminist news+culture website.

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