My friend sent me a list of her fitness goals for the year, primarily her weightlifting goals. Do not get me wrong. I LOVE a good fitness goal and am all for cranking away at hitting those feats and feelings of accomplishment, and I sure as hell have them too. They are what keep me motivated to press on – to continue developing into a better version of myself. This time I wrote back my goal, a mental one at that:
Learning to love my body.
I had a ton of other fitness goals for the year swimming in my head, but there was one that stood out in the forefront that I could not take my mind off of. I cannot tell you how long I have struggled to learn to love the body I am in and how many times my weight has fluctuated. I have no clue when body image started to creep in. I know the standards were sitting softly on the surface, a slim awareness that there was a certain set of standards for the body I was supposed to live up to. Not proliferated by my people — they loved me as is, extra 5 lbs and all. It was in the world around me – a certain body ideal was just there, no matter that athletes, singers, artists are all made differently – covert and undeniable. As a young perfectionist, I was of course going to live up to these guidelines, if not supersede them, because obviously that’s what I’m here for! I was an athlete by golly.
It wasn’t until later that I realized these standards are not for every body. This is why I love the “Every Body” movement. It’s recognizing that there are all types of bodies out there and not one standard. And yes, there is a healthy weight for my height. And there are weights that I know I’m not feeling my greatest at, but that’s because I know when I feel healthy and fit and ready to take on the world, regardless of what the scale shows. I’m in tune with my body. I pay attention to how it’s feeling when I eat certain foods, when I’m not getting enough calcium or iron, when I’m not resting or recovering or when something is just feeling off.
Naturally, I perked up and eagerly scooped up all of the information I could muster. She shared photographs of her beach trip, showing unflattering photos and areas of her body she was uncomfortable with along with flattering photos she loved from a different shoot. She pointed out that the photo shoots were 4 days apart and that her body hadn’t changed in that time. My favorite quote from the article was:
The lesson here is this: to anyone who has ever seen an image of themselves in an unflattering light and had their thoughts immediately begin racing with stories of how old, fat or out of control you’ve gotten… please know that it’s NOT real. Don’t let the wrong light, a bad angle, an unflattering outfit or a few margs determine your value in this world. You are loved 100% as you are… and the angle you take your photos isn’t fooling the people who see and accept you as you are. – Sarah Herron
It was a much needed reminder that the people in your circle see you and love you as you are because you bring something wonderful to their world. You bring your charm, your sense of humor, your positivity, your bright light and your warmth. Those are the overarching, big picture things that you add to someone else’s life as well as your own.
Learning to love your body. The body you are in. Currently. Now. The body you’re in, even if you are in the process of working towards a fitter, slimmer, stronger, whatever-it-is kind of you, is meant to be loved and nourished in both food and thoughts. That’s why gratitude has been springing up left and right and sideways to help shift our mindset and thinking into one of appreciation, to move away from the lies that get told to you, often by you (Read Rachel Hollis’ book Girl,Wash Your Face about this and tell me you don’t love her book.). I’m not saying this is a one-stop-shop easy fix. I have to actively engage in it every day. To check my thoughts at the door. To show up for myself with intention, and the intention to be kind.
Yes, we’re always going to be working towards something, towards improvement of our selves and our bodies. And that is EXCELLENT. Having goals is wonderful for self growth. But there is no reason why we can’t love ourselves in the process.
Not only that, girls and our next generation need those role models. I can’t stress this enough. Young girls see role models in the women in their lives. They observe how you interact with the world and how you treat yourself. They look to you as a mirror for how they can interact with the world and themselves, because they see bits and pieces of themselves in you. Be the person you needed when you were younger. Girls can pick up on that energy of positivity you emit. Think of the confidence you are building in them. Girls need confident, accepting role models of every shape, size, color, and ethnicity, with personalities and interests similar to themselves. They want to see someone like them, loving every ounce of who they are.
So in the onset of bathing suit, beach-body-ready season, suit up with some self love and admiration for all that your body has accomplished for you today.
For tips on how to sync up your mind and body on a positive wavelength, visit Athleta’s Chi Blog for more love and inspiration.
Here’s How I Work Toward Love and Acceptance of My Body Every Day:
Pause the negative self talk. Check yourself. I once read an article that advised you to ask the question, “Would you say that to a close friend?” I think that is an excellent marker for learning ways to talk to yourself with your inner thoughts. Your mind is growing, expanding and learning and it needs to be nourished.
Remember it’s one day,one feeling in the grand scheme of your life. Yes, some days I feel like a big, bloated, floating Michelin Man and other days I feel light, slim and strong as a feather-ox character in a heroic film. But you know what, the scale reads the exact same number on those days. My weight doesn’t change in the couple of days I feel completely opposite about the body I’m in. In those days it’s my perception, what I’m wearing, what I’m repeating to myself. The mind is more powerful than we give it credit for.
Do it with intention. Show up for yourself. It takes time and effort to intentionally be nice to yourself and remind yourself you are loved. So show up and make time for yourself. And bonus, there’s always future opportunities. Promise yourself you do better tomorrow to make yourself feel loved and to take care of the temple of a body you have at all shapes and sizes. Give yourself a break. There are waves of change in life and obstacles that are going to knock you off course and veer you away from your goals. That’s how life is. Life is a fluid journey. But you’ll get back to the good days. So appreciate yourself at all points in your life because it’s an ongoing discovery. “It’s not about the destination, it’s the journey,” my dad would always say as he was met by an eye roll and a smile from me. As I get older, I’m learning that more and more.
Appreciate what your body CAN do for you. Gratitude is a life-changing, mental game. It sounds like a trend and gets thrown around a lot. But it’s amazing when you can really pause and focus on what you actually are appreciative of in your life or that day or that second. Let’s get that serotonin level up, and say some nice things to ourselves. It re-frames your mind to look at the good. Because those good times are worth it.
Remind yourself you are beautiful, powerful and strong. You are loved by people in your world and each of us has something to offer the world. And wouldn’t it be a shame if the world missed out on your unique talent? Yes, it would. So sing a song, repeat nice things to yourself and remind yourself of all you’ve accomplished to make it this far and that you – as you are – are enough.