The other day I was looking through old pictures and was reminded of the ever so common experience that I’m sure many, if not all, of us have had. You know the one where you’re looking at pictures of yourself from back in the day and think, “I can’t believe I didn’t like my body back then,” or “I can’t believe I thought I was fat there!” This is usually closely followed by: “What I wouldn’t give to look like that now.”Ah yes, this experience is not limited to those who are overweight. I have been guilty of this many a time. In college, I yearned after my high school body. A few years after that, I was yearning after my college body. Until one day it hit me: if I continue to do this, someday I’d be looking back and wishing I had this current body.
I remember thinking, “Oh my gosh, that’s so insightful! Yes, I have to get off this crazy cycle and just love and enjoy my body RIGHT NOW.” The only problem is that’s a lot easier said than done. As much as I tried, all I could seem to focus on were the flaws and imperfections in my current body. I started to wonder: is it even possible to love and accept my body as is and want to change it at the same time?
I absolutely believe it IS possible! Not only possible, but pretty important for balance in your mind, body, and spirit.
Feeling pretty skeptical right about now?? Hang with me….
Let me start with this analogy: I love my life right now. I’m happily married and I have the freedom to focus on going after my dreams. It’s pretty great. However, as much as I love this phase of life, I don’t want to stay here forever. I hope for change in the future and I’m even doing things that are hopefully moving me toward that change. There are days where I do great and there are days where I totally fail in this pursuit. (As a former professional procrastinator, I’m working on my time management skills but they still leave a lot to be desired.) Back in my perfectionist days, every bad day would lead to a downward spiral of self-loathing and all the reasons why I can’t do it.
Now, since putting away all of the BS that is perfectionism ;), a bad day is simply feedback that allows me to re-evaluate and figure out if there’s anything I could change in order to help myself out.
Now let me explain how I got to a better place of loving and accepting my body….
Where do you hang your identity
First, I was able to get to this place by realizing that my job and my success do not define me. In the same way, I can love my body while taking steps to change it.
After all, my body is what houses my soul, my brain, my heart, my personality – all the things that make me me. The shape of it does not determine any of these things. Just like a good book, the best thing about it is not in the exterior at all. My body does not define me and changing it won’t make me more or less worthy of love.
The more I believe this, the easier it becomes to love and accept my body…for the amazing creation that it is and for the life that it provides and for everything it allows me to do each day. The more I hang my identity here, the harder it will be to accept my body as is. The more I base my love for my body on my performance and results, the harsher I will be.
Fighting the urge to compare
Comparison is a heavy burden to place on yourself. It will do nothing but enslave you.
In this auto-tuned, photo-shopped, and social media-driven culture we live in, I think we’ve become obsessed with perfection. It’s doesn’t matter how often we tell ourselves that it’s an illusion, it’s still hard not to compare. Fight this by finding what triggers discontentment and comparison in you and take the necessary steps to help yourself out. Maybe just awareness is enough or maybe it means unplugging more often or switching out your magazines for a book. I don’t know what it’ll look like for you, but it’ll be worth it. I can promise you that.
There is no one alive that is youer than you. That’s pretty cool! No need to worry over being authentic! Be you and you will be.
Ending negative self talk
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” ~Ephesians 4:29
OK, let’s be honest. How many of you have read that verse before and ever thought about the words you say to yourself? I hadn’t.
“So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!” ~James 3:5
Our words are powerful and yet, most of us don’t think twice about how we talk to ourselves. Just because no one else hears it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be mindful of the words you say to yourself. Especially when you realize that you are in your own head all the time. So naturally, you’re much more prone to believe the things you say to yourself over what anyone else says to us. So next time you’re looking in the mirror, remember:
“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” ~Proverbs 16:24
So why is it so important to start loving your body now?
Because when you love it, you want to take the time to listen to it, honor it, and care for it.
I was recently reading something from fitness blogger Neghar Fonooni and this quote especially stuck out to me:
“The hard part is separating the different stages of my physique from my feelings of self-worth. The hard part is finding the courage to be fully authentic, to live in my skin with a sense of freedom and ease–to understand and accept, every single day, that I will not suddenly be more worthy of love and acceptance if I lose 10 pounds.”
It is hard. SO hard sometimes. So start small….next time you look through old pictures or look in the mirror, be thankful for the body that holds the beautiful story that is you and be kind to it. This is where it starts.