We live in a physical world. It has been like this for years now, but now with the over-stimulation from mainstream media, attention to the physical has never been more prevalent. We compare ourselves to individuals we see on Instagram, magazines, and in movies. “I wish I had her body.” “Why can’t I look like him?” The comparison loop spins around and around in our minds until we find ourselves in a state of self-loathing.
Like most people, I have struggled with feeling confident in the skin I am in. When I was younger, I thought I was too skinny. “Eat a hamburger!” said kids on the playground. The thing is, I was eating hamburgers. I was eating pretty much everything in sight. As I got older, magazines told me I needed to lose weight. As an emotional eater, I never could get myself to diet, but I would make myself feel guilty if I ate something I believed to be “unhealthy.” I would force myself to work out in the hopes of counteracting the “forbidden” food I had eaten.
It wasn’t until I was pregnant with my son that I discovered for myself what it means to truly love and appreciate your body. When I was pregnant, I was so gentle with my thoughts toward my body. I viewed my stretch marks as proof of the beauty my body was creating and I was not afraid of eating one (or two) more cookies “for the baby”. I realized at that point that loving your body is appreciating it for what it can do, rather than how it looks.
I recently finished the book Body Kindness and have been recommending it to all of my loved ones, for it defines what it truly means to be healthy more eloquently than I ever could. Essentially, Body Kindness surrounds the idea that health can not be defined by a number on the scale. One’s health encompasses more than just the physical, but also the mental and spiritual. Physically, health is caring for what your body needs; truly listening to it. If your body is craving a salad then that is what your body needs. If your body is itching for a cookie, then you should eat the cookie and not feel guilty about it. The guilt we feel causes more mental harm than just eating the cooking could have caused physically.
Movement is also essential for one’s health. It is important to move your body out of love though. No more punishing workouts and exercise classes you hate. Welcome at least 15 minutes of loving movement a day whether it be yoga, dancing, walking, etc. With exercise, in order to maintain it as a healthy activity, it is important to note that the goal is never to look a certain way; the goal is to FEEL a certain way–more energized, stronger, or happier.
I highly encourage you to read Body Kindness to learn more about what it truly means to be healthy physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I also challenge you today to be mindful of your thoughts while searching Instagram. If you constantly find yourself playing the comparison game, it might be time to put the phone down and do something to show yourself love! Anytime I spot a negative comment in my head directed toward myself I stop, acknowledge the thought, and then tell myself three things I like about myself. Whether it is physical or not, it redirects my thoughts in a more positive and loving direction every time.
Adopting these beliefs has truly changed my self-esteem. I know longer fret about what my next meal or workout will be. I am not worried what size jeans I fit into, for I know I am giving my body the love and nourishment it deserves. I may not look like a swimsuit model and that’s ok–who does? It’s 2018, and while there is so much positive movement toward creating a completely accepting society, there is still so much work to do and it starts with YOU. It starts with us accepting and loving our bodies as they are before we can expect anyone else to do the same.
//Tell me about your journey to body acceptance. What is your definition of health?// Tell me in the comments below!