I often have to check myself on my thoughts about my body. When I think about where I’ve come from: an unhealthy and sad version of the woman I am today, I am proud. I realize that the feeling of pride comes from focussing on the state of my emotions, physical health, and confidence level when I was obese, and not the aesthetic aspect of what 242 “looked” like.
Many of us women tend to focus on what we look like rather than how we feel. When the focus is put on physical labels, those labels transfer to feelings. Animated almost cartoon-like terms are put on the areas we want to change: muffin Top, thunder thighs, chunky monkey, jelly belly, spare tire. And we obsess about those areas and compare our bodies to other women. It becomes a competition. We have a self-deprecating remark on reserve for a compliment thrown our way. One day I will love my arms, my legs, my stomach if I just keep up the cardio, weights, and eat loads of salad (insert method)…oh yes, one day I will be happy with my body.
How about today? Can we love our bodies and all the things we can physically do today?
I also realized I felt the most alive in those first few weeks of my journey when I found a love for being active, fuelled my body with foods packed with nutrients and vitamins, and finally took care of myself with respect and love. That feeling of euphoria had nothing to do with what I weighed, or what size of clothing I wore. For the first time in my adult life, I found pride within my progress. Progress, not perfection.
And so today, I have to remind myself this lifelong journey to feel alive and vibrant comes from taking care of myself the way the human body was meant to be cared for. With heart healthy activity, vibrant coloured natural foods full of nutrients, and feeding the soul with positivity and love. I can change the way I view my body just by adjusting those factors and focussing on health vs. appearance.
Having lost 90+ pounds, I will always have bigger thighs than if I was never obese. That’s a fact. Having extra skin or fat on my thigh area does not attribute to being unhealthy. These legs travel me wherever I want to go. To not appreciate the gift of health is disrespectful; especially to those who have limited or no mobility.
There is a shame feeling when I type “I love my body as is”. Why? Body shaming is so prevalent in our society that the norm is self-deprecation. There wouldn’t be a market for “get thin quick” diets, or “lose fat in 10 days!” ads if we were content with our body.
I love learning more about fitness and nutrition. The science of fitness is interesting to me, and so I followed a bunch of fitness-focussed accounts on Instagram. Last night as I was enjoying a full-bodied glass of red wine and a couple of squares of dark chocolate with sea salt, I started browsing my Instagram feed. Images of fit bodies (heads cut off/focus on chiselled body parts), quotes like “real women drop it like a squat”, and low-calorie meals flooded my feed. I instantly felt shameful about my glass of red and my dark chocolate. So I clicked unfollow on every stranger fitness-based account that brought up body-shaming feelings for me (I should add I enjoy seeing my friend’s fitness progress, I love their hearts and I’m invested in their hard work).
After removing the accounts, I had to analyze why seeing all those photos made me feel bad about myself. I asked myself this: Do I want to constrict calories to a level where I’m not happy? No! I don’t want to feel hungry. I crave balance not restriction. Do I aspire to be a size 2/4? No, because that’s not my personal goal.
Hey, it’s none of my business what you eat, your personal goals, and how often you workout or don’t workout. Go for it girl! However, no one will dictate to me what my body should look by their standard of a “real woman”. We are all real women! ha!
There’s just as much “skinny” shaming as there is “fat” shaming. My point is why shame? Why focus on the physical? Why do we even have an opinion about another woman’s body? Seriously, none of my business. I want to get to know another women for her heart, her sense of humour, her personality. I really don’t care how many calories a day she eats or what she weighs.
So love your body for all you are physically capable of doing. Embrace and celebrate your imperfections because that’s what makes you unique. Feel pride from treating yourself with respect and self-love.
Above all else, let’s not just love ourselves, but love others through action: lifting one another up with encouragement and support. No jealousy or envy. There is no room for that in living an authentic life full of positivity.
From my heart to yours,