How I learned to love my body.
Do you cringe at your reflection in the mirror? Wish you had the “dream” body? Have you been unhappy with the way that you look? Stressed out about losing weight? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, I must have you know that you are definitely not alone. There are so many of us, especially women, that are under extreme pressure to lose weight or to conform to a “perfect body” that always seems to be just out of reach. I just Googled “eating disorder statistics” and they all confirmed what I thought – more people than you would ever imagine are struggling with this, all around the world, and each year are steadily increasing. Apparently 40-60% of girls in elementary schools (age 6-12) are concerned about their weight (and this can stay with them throughout their lives.) It’s not just women, either – apparently 10-15% of people with an eating disorder are male. Google it for yourself if you want to read more stats, but I warn you that they ain’t pretty.
Society’s obsession with body size, shape, and weight has been coming to my attention more and more these days. It’s all over the media, brainwashing people to equate their self worth with their weight. How many people do you know that struggle with their weight, and are under a lot of pressure and stress about it? Even when they’ve lost the weight, there’s still the pressure to keep it off and the constant fear of falling off the wagon and gaining it back. I’ve totally been there. I’ve struggled with eating disorders from my teens onwards and have had a challenging relationship with my own body for as long as I can remember. It seemed to me that my weight was out of my control. I would get teased about it, was ashamed of it, and actually felt like less of a person because of it. As time went on, as I obsessed more and more about losing weight, I realized that no matter my size or shape, I was never happy. Even when I was at my thinnest, I still wanted more. I was never able to appreciate or love myself as I was, because I was always focused on another “ideal version” of myself I wanted to be. I couldn’t allow myself to be happy until I reached my goal, but if I ever reached the goal I would never even know it because I was already focused on the next one. It was a never-ending, vicious cycle that constantly distracted me from living my life.
I had a great workout session a couple of days ago with my friend/trainer Becky, at her new spot in Toronto called Junction: The Fitness Hub. (I love the place, I totally recommend it!) I hadn’t been to the gym in nearly 6 months so it felt amazing to lift heavy stuff again and get my butt kicked a bit. During that workout, something special happened. Not only did I do squats and dead lifts in decent form after months of not training(lol), I totally felt like a fog was lifted – something changed in me and suddenly I was free of all the usual demons. I could finally just have fun and enjoy my workout. There was no judgment, no fear, no self-punishment, and not once did I cringe or speak negatively to my reflection in the mirror. My relaxed demeanor and positive reinforcement toward my body also helped my workout. My form was better, I was more focused, and when I couldn’t finish the workout I was able to show myself love and compassion instead of getting angry at myself. I used to view exercise as a form of punishment for eating, so when I couldn’t finish a workout or, God forbid, miss a workout, I would get irritable, depressed, angry, and feel guilty for eating. With this mentality, I ended up over-working myself at the gym a lot, getting myself injured or running myself into the ground until I’d get sick. Then, I would just be depressed that I was sick and couldn’t work out and pictured myself gaining dress sizes by the hour. Never mind my health, or how I was acting towards my loved ones, or taking care of myself and my body, I was so obsessed with the fear of gaining weight it blinded me to everything else. There are plenty of other stories along those same lines, and so many different ways that my obsession with food, exercise, and my weight completely took over my life and my ability to enjoy it. I felt that my entire self worth was based on my weight, and I was never thin enough to be happy.
You could never imagine just how many people around you are struggling with this silent killer – physically, emotionally and mentally. Please be mindful with the thoughts and words you choose towards yourself and others – they can leave a lasting impact. Words become thoughts, repeated thoughts become beliefs, beliefs dictate actions, and actions bring reactions and therefore life experience. (If that confused you, you can check out an example I’ve written here.) My thoughts and beliefs were definitely key players in my mind-body war, and once I learned how to become aware of them, and change them, my actions and life experience began to change as well. It’s hard to say how long I’ve been in recovery, but writing about it openly today is definitely a good sign of my healing. When thoughts are given a voice, they lose their power. There are still certain things that trigger my old thoughts, but it’s getting easier and easier to not react to them.
There’s a part of me, my ego, that sometimes still wants to pretend that I’m completely fine and I’ve always been fine, but the bigger part of me, my true Self, can’t contain the wisdom and inspiration I’ve been given to change and probably even save my own life. I finally feel safe in my body. My mission now is to connect with others out there going through the same thing, praying for the answers or just feeling around in the dark super afraid with no hope of a different way. (I used to think the only way out was to kill myself - I hated my body so much I wanted to escape it.) I can assure you that there is definitely a different way, and I’m here to offer you hope, connection, love, and support. There is a whole other world waiting for you on the other side where you can love your body no matter what, and no longer stress about counting calories, exercising, or measuring your self-worth as numbers on a scale.
It would be great if you could take a moment and simply appreciate your body. Feel the tingles of energy that run through your fingertips all the way down to the tips of your toes. Remember all the times that your arms helped you hug your loved ones, your legs helped you dance, walk, and play, your belly helped you digest your food and nourished you, and your lips allowed you to steal a kiss. Feel your heart pumping for you and your body breathing itself without you having to do a thing. Your body is there for you, supports you, and gives you the ability to live your life to the fullest. It’s time to start a revolution, where we show our bodies love and care instead of hate and criticism, where thinner isn’t always better, and we can love and accept ourselves no matter what we weigh. Our bodies are meant to be exactly the way they are right now, and when you can love and accept yourself just as you are, major changes can happen.
Do you love your body? How do you show your body love? Have you struggled with your weight? I would love to hear from you and keep in touch about this topic, as it is something near and dear to my heart. Let’s start a revolution of self-love!
Please share this with anyone who might find this helpful – you never know who’s life you will change. Also, if you enjoyed what you read come and subscribe to my mailing list for weekly love, inspiration, and other goodies from my heart to yours.
Thanks for listening y’all, wishing you mad love, health, and strength.
You are all beautiful exactly the way you are.