Body positivity

Body Positivity is something I used to roll my eyes at all the time. Every time youth group split everyone up into boys and girls, I knew that the girls were going to get told to find our worth in Jesus, and to love our bodies. And I was frankly sick of it. I didn’t care, I never really thought about my body. That all changed one day when a boy told me I was ‘skinny’. From that moment on, I was aware of my body. I noticed how my thighs looked in jeans, I started weighing myself. The insecurity rolled in.

As I got older, my hips got wider, my breasts got larger, and I gained weight. I was mortified. I began running. Every single day, I would run 5km, then 6km, sometimes even 7km. Everyone praised me for running, they said I was so ‘disciplined’ and ‘motivated’. I was praised for being so ‘skinny’ and small. The more weight I lost, the better I felt about myself. I began recording my weight, taking photos of myself every month, making sure that I was always getting smaller. I was running every day, not because I was disciplined, or motivated. I was running every day because I was afraid of weight gain. I ran every day to make sure I kept losing weight so that people would keep praising me, and telling me I was ‘skinny’.

All of a sudden, I found myself in a very dangerous headspace. Any weight gain was a disaster, I would burst into tears, I would bawl my eyes out. I even began self-harming to ‘punish’ myself for gaining weight. This headspace was so damaging. And what caused all of this? The world praising me for being skinny. People using the word ‘skinny’ as a compliment had trained me to think that if I wasn’t skinny, then I wasn’t worth anything. I carried this into university, still running every morning at 6am, before uni. Even to the point where I was so exhausted I could barely keep my eyes open as I ran, even as winter rolled in and the streets of the City were freezing, even in the pouring rain, I ran.

The first step for me in getting out of this dangerous cycle was actually realising I was in it. That is actually the hardest part. I encourage everyone reading this to consider the exercise you do, and the amount you eat and question your own motives.

My next step was consciously deciding that I didn’t want to be like that anymore. That decision was hard too. It was really hard to let go. I was really worried, thinking to myself “if I stop exercising then I’ll gain weight, I have to keep going”. But I finally prayed, laid the situation at the foot of the cross and decided to let go. I decided to stop pushing my body to its limit, stop living with constant pain in my shins. I decided to stop anxiously weighing myself every day. It was a hard decision, but it has been so beneficial.

This decision didn’t come with instant body confidence at all. I remember even just last summer, crying for hours on my poor boyfriend’s shoulder, devastated at my appearance. I had been doing the ‘Kayla Itsines bikini body workout guide’, (which I am now completely opposed to as it advertises the false idea of an ideal body type you must have to look good in a bikini, and doesn’t even dissimulate that it is good for your health), and following heaps of unrealistically fit and thin women on Instagram, who would pose in their workout wear and bikinis, trying to sell a false ideal of ‘beauty’ (usually with the purpose of making money). I was looking at ‘fitspo’ posts on Pinterest, and comparing myself to so many women. I felt like a blob of fat. I cried for nearly 48 hours non-stop, and nothing he would say could console me.

That summer was a huge setback, but I decided to keep on persisting with my decision to gain body positivity WITHOUT trying to change my body. I put the ‘Bikini Body Workout Guide’ in the bin (thank goodness), and decided to just do exercise that made me happy, not worrying about how much fat I was burning. Walking, cycling, yoga or taking the dog to the park. I decided I would never again weigh myself because the weight of my body is not a good indicator of how healthy I am. I decided to eat whenever my body needed food. I would listen to my body, instead of trying to ignore it, and I finally started to heal.

I learned another lesson just last week. I went to see a nutritionist, and she got me to keep a food journal for a week. When I took the journal back to the nutritionist, I was feeling embarrassed at the amount of food that I had eaten, and that I had eaten too much chocolate, and that she was going to grill me. The nutritionist DID grill me, for NOT EATING ENOUGH! She explained that the reason I was feeling tired and reclusive all the time is that I was not giving my body enough fuel. She said she see’s it happen to girls all the time. They stop adequately fueling their bodies, and they start getting tired, they stop doing things they like to do, they stop wanting to hang out with their friends. So many of them (not all I acknowledge) could fix this by eating more food.

Now I eat lots of healthy, mostly plant-based food, all throughout the day. I make sure that I get all my major food groups into my body (gotta nourish to flourish), I eat when I feel hungry, and I do exercise that I like BECAUSE I like it, not because of fear of weight gain. I unfollowed all the fitspo accounts on Instagram and followed a body positivity page. I judge my health by the way I feel, not by what I see on a scale, and I can honestly say this has helped me so much on my journey.

Despite all of this, I am still on my journey. I think a huge mistake that people make is that they think ‘body confidence’ is something they will just wake up with one day. Maybe when they get married, or when they are pregnant, or when they achieve their goal weight. This is so untrue. Body confidence, and loving your body is actually a conscious and sometimes difficult decision you make every single day. It is hard, but with prayer, and help from friends, you can do it. Say to yourself ‘today I will love myself’, rather than telling yourself you are not good enough.

I know everyone’s journey is unique, and I don’t want to undermine or say that mental illnesses are easy to fix, they aren’t. But we are children of a huge God, who can do amazing things. I believe in you.

Love always

sunniejean xoxo

how to overcome your beauty insecurities

Video on True beauty and worth

A video on body acceptance that helped me heaps

Part 1 of an awesome vid on self love

Part 2 of an awesome vid on self love

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Update

Well, a lot has happened since I last wrote a blog post.

Firstly, I changed degrees. Yep. I wasn’t enjoying the one I was doing, and I figured that life is too short to do something you don’t love. So next year I will be doing a Bachelor of Music.

Secondly, I have left Sydney for the holidays and I am having a nice time in my hometown hanging out with my family.

Thirdly, I have started a Youtube channel! This is the main reason my blog posts have been very sparse. I apologise for that. But, I would greatly appreciate it if you could all go check out my channel: Sunniejean 

Expect a lot more blog posts now that I am home for the holidays, and enjoy the Youtube videos.

Love always,

Sunniejean

Med School drop out

Well, I was hardly in ‘med school’, it just makes for a better title. I was in my first year of university. I got a great ATAR, and everyone told me not to ‘waste it’, they told me I needed to go and do medicine, or law. So I put aside my strong love of music and performing, and moved to Sydney and began to attend The University Of Sydney, as a student of medical science. All was well for my first semester. I had moved out of home, I was making new friends and loving my new found independence, so I didn’t have too much trouble ‘grinning and bearing’ the calculus and the chemistry.

I began to feel very down and depressed during exam week. I had no prior experience in calculus, chemistry or psychology – and these were ¾ of my subjects. I assumed that this feeling of distress and sadness and constant anxiety was normal. I thought “I’m at university now, this is what its like”. I finished my exams and went back to my home town the next day, and I was so happy. I was completely euphoric at the idea of not thinking about my subjects or uni work for a month. I passed my subjects, all with credits, and I felt rather accomplished. I had all the time in the world to play my flute, write songs, sing, lead on camps, and do all the things that I loved doing. I felt so happy and close to God.

When uni went back, I packed my bags and went back to my dorm in Sydney. I was happy to see my friends again, but this depressed, anxious, sinking feeling was washing back over me. I was finding uni extremely hard, it was an insane amount of work. I was taking the same subjects, and I was struggling. I got to a place where I couldn’t stop crying, I couldn’t get out of bed, and I didn’t want to see my friends. By week 3 I had dropped a subject, and by week 4, I was in seeing a GP, who diagnosed me with clinical depression, and got me to start seeing a psychologist. Everyone was telling me that it wasn’t the degree that was making me depressed, it was the depression that was making me hate the degree. But as I went about being treated, I realized that uni wasn’t getting easier. It was still making me so anxious that I was shaking, I was still struggling to get out of bed in the morning. I had stopped running, I had stopped playing my flute and I had stopped enjoying my life. My GP was recommending antidepressants. (Just to be clear, antidepressants are a good thing, they pick you up from the chemical low in your brain and help you to begin feeling better, they don’t have to last forever, and eventually, you begin to feel good again without them).

I finally decided to go part time on the university census date (the final date that you are allowed to drop subjects without paying for them). I dropped all my science subjects and just kept my elective (fundamentals of music). I felt like a huge failure. I had essentially given up on medical science. I felt as though I had let the depression win. I had no clue what I was going to do with my future. All I knew was that I didn’t want to be depressed, I wanted to get better, and that was never going to happen while I was doing those intense subjects and hating them.

As I was praying through the decision, the craziest thing happened. When the subjects were gone, I immediately began to feel better. I started playing the flute again, I started connecting with God again, and I even started running again. I felt so free. I felt as though God was really directly letting me know that I wasn’t meant to be a scientist. I still have days where I feel downcast, but they are not as frequent as they once were. I now feel excited about pursuing music and ministry, the things I am most passionate about.

I don’t regret my first semester. I learnt a lot, and I believe God sent me through that storm for a reason, I know myself a lot better now. I am certain, that even if I amount to nothing by this worlds standards, I still have a savior who loves and, and who died for me. I think that mistake is what I needed to give me the courage to pursue ‘the arts’, something that people with ‘good marks/ATARS/grades’ are encouraged not to do.

I hope this story has inspired you to chase after something you love at uni. It can be stressful putting in UAC or college preferences at the age of 17 or 18, when you have no clue who you are or what you want. But, I hope my story inspires those of you who are getting ‘good marks’ not to be pressured into doing medicine or law just for the sake of it. Do something you love. God gave you your passions and talents for a reason. ‘Smart people’ should pursue the arts, and good marks don’t mean that you are limited to medicine or law.

Love always,

Sunniejean xoxo

Semester 1 – done and dusted

That’s right past self, you survived your first semester of university, congratulations! You finished with average marks, but, it was your first 6 months living out of home, your first time in a new city, and your first time being completely and totally independent. You learned loads, drew nearer to God, and made a whole heap of amazing, lifelong friends, and you had the best 6 months of your life.

If only my terrified past self could have read this. I was absolutely terrified at the prospect of leaving my home town all by myself, and the idea of attempting to get into (and survive in) a huge, prestigious university in Sydney. I was so close to just giving up, going to the local uni, living at home, continuing my part time job, and staying right in my comfort zone, but I am so so glad that I didn’t. I am thriving in this new environment, and while it was a scary leap of faith, it has been so rewarding.

Sure, I didn’t get much better at cooking and ate roasted sweet potato for dinner and lunch on more than one occasion, and sure, I considered dropping out of my degree a couple of times. I cried (in public), had anxiety attacks, forgot to shower, wore the same outfit for a week and broke down on multiple occasions, but I survived. I have given up on trying to be some model, aesthetic university student like the ones I see on Youtube, and thank goodness! Those perfectly organised desks, unrealistically healthy (and expensive) foods, and perfect makeup and hair every day was just too much for me to live up to. Protip for first-year university students, just embrace the beautiful mess that you are, daggy clothes, messy hair, no makeup, you do you! All those people that look like they have it all together are just faking it too!

I have well and truly given up on trying to be some model, aesthetic university student like the ones I see on Youtube, and thank goodness! Those perfectly organised desks, unrealistically healthy (and expensive) foods, and perfect makeup and hair every day was just too much for me to live up to. Pro-tip for first-time uni students; embrace the beautiful mess that you are. Embrace your messy note taking, daggy fashion sense and lack of makeup, just do you.

This has been my review of my first semester of uni, hopefully it inspired you in some way,

Love always,

sunniejean xoxo

Amateur Uni Student

Tomorrow, for the first time in 13 years, school is going back and I won’t be attending. This is a scary thought. I hasn’t really struck me until now that this chapter of my life is closed.

This year, I am doing a Bachelor of Medical Science. Along with this I am also leaving home, and going to a big university in Sydney. I’m leaving my coastal town and exposing myself to something completely unknown, and to be honest I am more nervous than excited at the moment. I will probably do more growing than I can predict right now, and more crying than I predict, but I want to focus on the positives, instead of the things that are making me nervous. So, get excited for blog posts about an awkward introvert trying to survive in a student share house, and a huge university. Maybe it will help some people to feel that they aren’t alone.

Right now, I am reminding myself that Jesus died for my sins, and I did nothing to earn or deserve this – so if I don’t thrive in a huge uni, and move home, I am still the same person, with the same eternal promise. What else really matters? God doesn’t care if I’m a doctor or a toilet cleaner at a tourist park (yep, that’s right). So, to my fam from regional/remote areas hitting the big smoke this year, hopefully you can hold on to that too.

Love always,

Sunniejean xoxo

Miss Lonely

‘Loneliness’ is a word. Mostly associated with negativity (think nursing homes, prison, a large dark room or even sadness). Today I pondered why there is so much negativity attached to the concept of being alone.

For me personally, being alone can be a gift. Being home alone means whatever channel I want (a no judgement dance moms marathon), music as loud as I want, interpretive dancing in the lounge room and talking to myself to my hearts content.

Tonight I drove home from my dads after having dinner with him. There is a street on the way home with the most magnificent Christmas lights, and I wanted to drive down it, but hesitated. Why? Because normally driving down that road is a group activity, last year I drove down it with I guy I fancied, and the year before with my mum, sister and cousins. But I decided that this year, since I am quite alone, I have two choices; I can brood and not be festive, and wallow in my lack of companionship or I can drive down that damn road, look at those fantastic Christmas lights and for once not be afraid of being alone. Seriously! I am actually so uncomfortable sitting at a table in a food court by myself, of swimming at the beach alone – I constantly keep my nose in my phone to show the general public ‘hey, I may be alone right now, but I do have friends in cyberspace’.

Well, im done being uncomfortable with my loneliness. I am going to use my loneliness to pray, read the bible, blast my worship music, sing out loud, dance freely and enjoy the company of my own thoughts instead of worrying about how alone I look.

Love always,

Sunniejean xoxo

Christian Feminism

So, I am looked at strangely when I announce to any of my Christian friends that I am a feminist. Why? Probably because of how the word feminism is so often taken out of context – so before I begin this ranty blog post, let me clarify what feminism is (in my opinion): the stance that men and woman are equal, both entitle to the same jobs, pay, opinions and lifestyle. What feminism ISN’T: a bunch of cranky women who refuse to shave their body hair and set fire to their bras because they are holding on to anger at an ex boyfriend, collecting cats and hating men, while listening to only female bands.

So – why am I a feminist? Well, firstly it’s because I am angry that as a christian girl, I was taught that marriage is a compulsory, completely necessary part of my life – that my wedding day would be the pinnacle of my existence and that my purpose is to raise children. Thank goodness I didn’t believe this lie that I have been told. I think that getting married and having children is a noble pursuit, but personally I get angry when I see young girls being taught that this is what they should strive towards – while young boys are taught to strive to be preachers, and ministers, and doctors and lawyers.

Lots of people say to me “you will change your mind when you meet the right man” – yet another lie that Christian girls are told; that there is a perfect, handsome man who is going to find us, and complete us one day, and that when we find this man, our relationship will be perfect and romantic and beautiful and we will never have a trouble for the rest of our days. They say to me “you will be glad to submit to the man that God sends you”. Lets get one thing clear – there is no such thing as a perfect man, or a perfect relationship. Every relationship is going to be flawed, have challenges and need a lot of work. I’m not perfect, neither are you, and nor is any man that you will ever meet.

So, onto my second reason for my feminist views: Christian men in particular, seem to think that women are supposed to be quiet, gentle, peaceful little flowers who don’t speak, go to them for everything, can’t open a door by themselves and need to roll over and submit to them in order to be wife material. Thank goodness my goal in life isn’t to be wife material. The amount of christian husbands I hear quoting ‘wives submit to your husbands’ completely out of context and blatantly ignoring the whole ‘husbands love your wives’ part really infuriates me.

My third point is that people act as though having children is the most important thing I can ever do. My own father told me that I shouldn’t do medicine because I’ll be 28 by the time I get a degree and by then my ‘biological clock’ (this crap makes my skin crawl) will start ticking and I’ll have children, so I shouldn’t strive to be a doctor, while my hypothetical husband could strive to be a doctor because he isn’t expected to stop his life to have kids – so of course every male wants children – because they don’t have to carry them for nine agonising months, birth them (which is even more agonising), and then leave their career for years and years to take care of them. Only for women, at the end of it all the children don’t even get your last name – seems legit. I personally see the value in singleness – I could be a successful doctor – serve God on the mission field, if I got a call “hey, we need you in Zambia” I could get up and go – girls, you don’t have to get married and have kids to be made ‘complete’, you are made complete in Christ.

So I guess my message here is that I think Christian’s (girls AND guys) CAN be feminists. Us girls can aim to be doctors, lawyers, missionaries and whatever else you can come up with. Don’t undermine yourself just because your ‘biological clock’ might start ticking, or because you are single – God made you, and He loves you just the same as any man.

Love always,

Sunniejean xoxo