According to Google, love is “an intense feeling of deep affection.” So then, how can you “love” your body? Currently, there are over 180 million uses of #fitness on Instagram (Simple Strat). I don’t know about what you’re seeing, but what I’m seeing is strong and curvy are the most popular looks right now. It’s a stretch from the once waif thin societal expectations of the 90’s, or going back to the Renaissance period where obesity was associated with wealth and status. It seems we’re finally on the right track as a culture, as far as finding balance in diversity is concerned.
I remember when I first got skinny shamed. That time was when I was a young girl. There was a boy in school who shouted out amongst everyone, “you’re so skinny, what are you, anorexic?” It was then, that I decided my body was horrendous. Before I knew it, I had adapted a self-hate mentality about my body. I hated everything, from my freakishly long and skinny toes to my coarse hair, and everything in between. I ate like a normal teen, yet was a stick and had no chest whatsoever, which made my skinny look so much worse. Before you decide to judge my circumstance and label it a first world problem, think about how terrible you would feel if someone did it to you.
It wasn’t until I recently began a new fitness plan, and I discovered that I have struggled with loving my body my entire life. I’ve been at it for a month now, and I must admit, it’s been a bit more emotional than I had anticipated. At first, I had to figure out why I was seeking change in the first place. That reason for me, was that skinny does not always mean healthy, and it certainly doesn’t mean strong. I struggle with depression, and anxiety. I also am in hormone induced menopause, from endometriosis. I seemed to be going through phases of lazy, unhealthy eating, followed by obsessive routines, which is fine in your 20’s, but not so fine in your 30’s.
I decided what I was seeking, was balance, for my body, and my mind. I was seeking to love the body I have, but first I had to learn to take care of it. If you have a hard time with goal setting, check out my article on setting goals here.
Let’s get to work on loving our bodies. Here are 5 steps that I have recently used to develop a love for my own body.
- It begins with acceptance. We have to accept that our bodies are a vessel of emotions. We must accept that with body image, come emotions that are often tied to emotional experiences in the past, perhaps traumatic ones. My first turning point in loving my body, was when I accepted that I was going to have to find the source of my emotional shame for my body. If you struggle with shame, check out my article on shame recovery here.
- It requires a thorough inventory. Once we find that source of negative body image, we have to figure out how to heal from it. For me, as a practicing Christian, the solution was easy. Forgiveness. I have since accepted that the kid who called me anorexic in front of everyone, was actually quite insecure himself. I had to go one step further and forgive myself for creating the insecurities from the incident. I had to forgive myself for treating this amazing body God made, like trash. Sometimes, you may need a professional or a coach to help you through this step, and that’s totally ok!
- You have to begin to reframe those pesky thoughts. The next step is the funnest one, creating a new body image. For me, that looked like accepting all my flaws. I have stretch marks, cellulite, and scars. I also have two amazing girls to show for them. It’s totally worth it. Those feet I hated as a kid? They’re now covered with beautiful tattoos, and scars too. I have scars from blisters, from marching in combat boots for the US Army. I love my scarred feet, to me they embody American Freedom. See where I’m going with this?
- Determine what your mind-body health looks like. Step 4 is where it gets tricky. Determining between vanity and health, I had to adapt to a new lifestyle of balance. No fad diets, no insane workout regiments, no gimmicks allowed. That would be vain. Vain does not work when it comes to your body working as it is designed to. I found balance, strength, and health combined in one package. I found my soul sister, Beach Body Coach, Krisse Lemcke (found on Facebook at Krisse Lemcke, on Instagram at krissi.lemcke). This program and the coaching helped me remain accountable for my daily meals and workout, but more importantly, she helps me love myself and my body through the less than stellar days.
- Accountability is key. Which brings me to the final step. Remaining accountable. As someone who’s been in recovery for over 7 years now, I cannot stress how important accountability is.
Accountability isn’t just the checking in with nutrition and exercise but by doing so, it leads to a self awareness of healthy an unhealthy though patterns…JUST LIKE WITH SOBER LIVING.
So, there you have it, my self-love for my body journey in a nutshell. Let’s stop calling ourselves names, and putting our bodies down when they don’t look or act right. Instead, let’s appreciate them for what they are. Our bodies are amazing, micro cellular, structures, capable of changing the world we live in. When we can learn to not only appreciate them, but to actually become fond of them, that’s when we begin to love our bodies. And if we can learn to love our bodies, imagine what we can do for others in the same struggle?
Self-Love. Pass it on.
As always, stay sober my friends.