I don’t “love” my body in the sense that I think it’s absolutely flawless. There are and always will be things that I would not wear that I would never feel comfortable in because some parts of me I’ve never felt completely happy with.
However, I still love my body. I accept it for what it is and for the first time in my entire adult life I am not currently dieting to change it.
For the first time in my entire adult life I’m not going to the gym to change my body or to rack up calories burned. I’m going to the gym so that I can feel powerful, strong and joyful. The benefits of lifting heavy aren’t limited to how it shapes the body but how the process of moving through progressively harder tasks fills us with a sense of confidence, purpose and a vision for what we’re capable of.
For the first time in my entire adult life I’m not telling myself that I’m fat, that my shape is wrong or that I’m not good enough, or that a certain part of my body has to be changed in order for me to be happy, sexy, self-confident and worthy.
My body, after all, isn’t here just to be a trophy or a work of art. It’s so much more than that.
It’s the physical representation of my soul.
It allows “me,” my “self,” to move around the world, to share moments of connection with people that I love and to be able to fulfill whatever tasks my soul desires that I undertake.
And this body does that job very, very well. I have a fully functioning, fit body that could do anything that my mind wanted it to. And isn’t that the real goal?
I think the irony of being happy within yourself, of living a lifestyle that you enjoy and of building for yourself and environment that you are content within, is that this process of contentment transfers to your shape anyway.
To be happy and healthy means that you fuel yourself adequately. You’re not mired in a fog of sugar hangover and that horrible feeling of having eaten too much grease. You’re not using food as a panacea for the problems in your life.
To be happy and healthy means that you challenge yourself regularly. That you have an appreciation for the fact that you can only grow when you face resistance. This is true mentally, physically and spiritually. Challenges are what truly mold and identify a person, not their successes.
When you’re happy, you’re not using exercise and diet to scourge yourself of the shame you feel about how you look.
We really do have it backwards.
We think that a fit body that we’re happy with comes from being obsessed with food. That we have to slave away in the gym day after day. That we can never rest and that we must always be on the lookout for how we could be doing a better job of chiselling it into the “perfect” shape.
Then, and only then – will we be happy with our bodies.
I have learned over the years of doing exactly that – that this doesn’t give us happiness. If you believe that the way your body looks is going to change the rest of your life for the better, then you’re sorely mistaken.
ESPECIALLY at my leanest, I was the most distraught.
I was MORE critical of myself, not less. I had MORE anxiety about my body and my food and exercise choices, not less. I was MORE emotional, more depressed, more self-depreciating, not less.
And this is because it didn’t matter how my body LOOKED, it mattered how I LIVED, and the way I lived when I was obsessed with the body beautiful wasn’t particularly enjoyable. It’s difficult to submit yourself to the highest standards in the world and then see that you’re not meeting them every second of every day. It’s tiring, it’s lonely and it’s a special kind of hell where you feel that you’re fighting against yourself every step of the way.
But happiness comes from inside, it doesn’t come from your body. Happiness comes from living a life that you are proud of, that is value-driven, that includes the things and the people that you are passionate about and involves daily acts of self-care and self-compassion.
When you have these things, you don’t need food to make yourself feel better.
You don’t need to punish yourself in the gym.
You aren’t compelled to bully yourself or to push yourself down.
The act of withholding compassion and love from someone is called neglect, and yet we do it to ourselves every time we tell ourselves we’re not good enough “yet,” because we’re not perfect yet.
Well, fuck that.
Life is too short to spend it hating yourself, because all that does is make it 100% certain that you’re going to continue to be unhappy.
Your ability to give and receive love in this world has NOTHING to do with what you look like and everything to do with how you live your life.
Remove yourself from the pressure to conform to an impossible standard, and instead, move and eat to give yourself energy, vitality and purpose. Do this consistently, and you’ll find that your body changes for the better anyway – without you having to hate it, fight it or punish it.