Fending Off Negative Feelings

This is a cross-post at WeAretheRealDeal re: Fitbloggin!

What a weekend! MizFit, Marsha, YumYucky and I spoke on a body image panel at Fitbloggin in Baltimore this past weekend.

(Were you there?! If so, let us know — and thank you for coming; it was a blast!!)

Fitbloggin was a fitness/wellness blogger conference organized by Roni, and it was an amazing time!!

Seriously, a wonderful experience and so nice to meet Marsha and YumYucky, and to see MizFit and Roni again (I met them at a blogger meet-up in Chicago in ’08).

Anyway, though we didn’t have a huge turnout at our break-out session (our time slot had us up against book authors) it was an intimate and engaged crowd and an overall awesome experience.

Our topic was body image and blogging: what are we teaching our kids.

But today I’m not here to talk at length about our panel discussion (more on that in another post later). I’m here to talk about the day from a personal perspective and how it relates to our topic.

I’m pretty sure it goes without saying that probably everyone has days where they feel better about themselves than others. As someone about to speak on a body image panel, you definitely want to be having the kind of day where you are feeling good about yourself.

Yet when I woke up Saturday, I’ll be honest … in spite of being stoked for the conference and to meet all the other bloggers, I felt pretty unsettled for a couple reasons.

First, though I am a PR professional in real life and love to talk, I am not a fan of public speaking. I do it for practice when the opportunity arises, but it makes my stomach twist into knots.

Then in addition to being nervous/anxious about my first panel experience, I was feeling pretty uncomfortable and self-conscious in my own skin, especially after weeks of being out of my eating and exercise routine.

I hemmed and hawed over clothing choices and settled on one of my go-to confidence-boosting ensembles (my fave jeans, a fitted black jacket and a cute black T, boots) … but even that wasn’t helping my mental state at the moment. I know I don’t look or feel my best right now, and I found myself psyching myself out on the drive from Annapolis to Baltimore.

All of a sudden, the thought of being at a fitness conference — with all these fit, healthy bloggers — had me in knots. I hate to admit it, but I started second-guessing myself and felt the ugly comparison monster coming out to play. I hated her, and hated myself for feeling her coming out … I wanted to be better than that … wanted the ability to trump her and say “Go away!”

But I was feeling weak that morning. Hell, I even snapped at my parents when they happened to call to wish me good luck … it was terrible. I just was feeling body-conscious and then guilty/ashamed of feeling that way, period — recognizing how ridiculous it is.

So when I got to the hotel, I started rationalizing that much of this fear was in my head and that I was here for a reason, and needed to jolt some confidence into my head.

I swiped a little lip gloss in the ladies’ room, fixed my hair, and then started talking to myself — telling myself that I CAN do this; that I am here because I want to be here. And I told myself that I could either wallow in my misery or use my experiences to help other people.

Somehow that little self-talk was just what I needed to snap out of my funk.

I hit up the registration table, got my speaker name-badge and swag bag (amazing stuff, BTW!), and never looked back. When I got into the main conference room, there were 200 men and women in there.

What was I so afraid of?!

I’d been judgmental and assumed (incorrectly) that everyone would look a certain way and I’d be the odd woman out … but the truth is, there men and women of all different shapes and sizes and colors, all there for a kick-ass fitness blogging conference.

I’m sharing this story today because even after all the talk we do here about trying not to compare ourselves to others, to love ourselves as we are it’s not always easy to do … and, right or wrong, it’s human nature to compare ourselves to others. Sometimes it can be a good thing … but sometimes the fear of the unknown can psych us out.

What I discovered from this experience is that we DO have the power within us to trump our own “comparison monsters.” Sometimes all it requires is a shift of focus.

Once I was able to get past the negative feelings dancing in my head, I was able to relax and enjoy the day. And it was an amazing day! Thank you again, Roni, for organizing FitBloggin’!

How about you? How do you deal with uncomfortable body image days? Does self-talk work for you?

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11 thoughts on “Fending Off Negative Feelings

  1. Thanks for this post! I struggle with public speaking too. I recently got promoted and it’s going to be a much bigger part of my job now, so it’s always relieving to read that other people have the same fear.

    One of the things I’ve heard over the years about public speaking is that people WANT you to be successful. Nobody wants you to get up there and bomb. And the same goes for self-confidence. I bet nobody at that conference could have cared less if you were a size 2 or a size 30. They were attending your panel because they wanted to hear what you had to say!

  2. I’m glad you had a great time at the conference – seeing everyone’s recaps made me wish so badly that I could go!

    I’ve recently tried self-talk in those times/days when I’m just not feeling good about myself. I have a feeling that, like with most things, the more I do it the easier it will get. A few weeks ago I was just feeling blah and yucky – so I went into my bathroom and actually started talking to myself in the mirror. Um, I did feel a little crazy at first. 😉 But you know what? It really DID help me to feel better. It got me out of that funk, and I was able to go about my day. I hate that so many of us are really hard on ourselves, but I have a feeling positive self-talk could really be the solution!

  3. I was sitting front-and-center at the panel you spoke on, and I thought that it was fantastic.

    I’ve been recovered for almost 4 years now, and I still face struggles like this. I had a very similar moment prior to Fitbloggin’ (here’s the post I wrote during that moment of doubt: http://www.joggerslife.com/2010/fitbloggin-i-still-want-to-lose-10-pounds/ ).

    Although I initially felt incredibly scared and nervous with the prospect of facing 200 “Fit Bloggers”, like you, my fears were squashed as soon as I got there. It was kind of a testament to all of the times when my T would demand “WHERE’S THE PROOF??!!” when my brain would tell me unreasonable things. Ultimately, I learned a lesson (again) about comparing myself to others.

  4. This is so refreshing to read! And I would also like to add that you were not only at that conference because you wanted to be there, but also because you deserved and needed to be there to share your voice.

    When I have bad body image days, I remind myself that our bodies do not change overnight. There’s no way I look drastically different than a few days ago when I was feeling great. Usually that helps, but sometimes you just have to power through as best you can, be gentle with yourself, and move on to tomorrow.

    1. Thank you, Jenn… that really, really means a lot!

      That is a great way of looking at things.

      Oddly, when I looked at photos of THIS trip, I didn’t think I looked nearly as chubby as I did two weeks ago in Korea … 100% sure a lot of it is in my head. I mean, the scale doesn’t lie … but a lot of it is in my head.

      Great advice!

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