We’ve gotten a lot better recently with telling each other to love our bodies, but that’s easier said than done when we’re being bombarded with mixed messages from all angles.
And that doesn’t even begin to include what preconceived notions of “beauty” we’ve been instilled with from childhood.
So, how are we supposed to make peace with our bodies when we’re being told to “strive for a 'healthy' body” but “to love the body you already have”?
I have no idea. And I don’t think it’s a one-sized fits all solution. But I can offer you my story.
I know, according to "society" I have a body type that is fitting with what others “strive" for. I’m not here to post photos of my thigh gap and tell you to eat your greens.
I want to share two life changes that revolutionized the way I felt about my body.
I won’t get into how I used to grab at my “saddlebags” and wish for a perkier butt.
But what’s it mean when someone who is “skinny” still feels they aren’t “there”. Who knows?
Even the girls in the magazines don’t look like the girls in the magazines. (There’s a quote out there that is basically this).
But moving right along. Those two changes:
Learning about my menstrual cycle and changing my diet (lifestyle).
I know I’ve talked about these things before, but they are worth repeating over and over again.
I don’t even know how to begin to explain the personal empowerment I discovered by ditching the pill, learning about how my body actually worked, and taking control of my own fertility.
It made me realize how many myths there are about our fertility, our menstrual cycles, our minds and our bodies that are still prevalent today.
Up until at least the age of 21 I didn’t know that a woman was only fertile for a few days out of every menstrual cycle. I seriously thought that we could get pregnant regardless of when we had sex.
Knowledge is power, and that power feels good.
I used to despise my period. It was annoying, unnecessary. It wasn’t fair that I had cramps and continuously ruined underwear.
But when I discovered the magic behind the menstrual cycle, within the different phases and the purpose of the different functions, my world was rocked.
No longer did I whine “Why me?!” when I cramped, but instead marveled at my body’s ability to do something without any effort from myself. To see what you are learning about play out in real life is quite incredible, and something I suggest for everyone. If there is something that frustrates you that you don’t understand, do some research.
Moving along to my change in diet, or like I prefer to call it, lifestyle. Because diets seem to be pandered as temporary, quick fixes. Something you only have to do for a period of time before you can go back to what you were doing before. And frankly I think that’s a load of crap.
I don’t understand how we can expect something that hasn’t been working to somehow work after we take a brief “health” hiatus from it.
There's a quote that goes a little something like this:
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.”
Think of the number of fad diets you’ve seen out there that claim you can continue eating everything you love eating, you won’t have to exercise, but you’ll somehow be able to drop all those unwanted pounds?
Anything that is sold as “temporary” screams fake to me.
The truth is so many of us don’t want to change our habits. We like what we’re doing, but we don’t like the results. We see a potential change as difficult or unenjoyable.
“But I don’t want to eat just lettuce!"
We think that to maintain a healthy lifestyle and body we have to live in a world of deprivation when in reality for many it’s a world of abundance.
When you cut out processed foods, animal products and focus on filling your stomach with a whole foods plant based diet you can (*gasp*) eat as much as you want.
Discovering this world of abundance, energy and vibrance was incredible as a 21-year-old.
Not only did my insides feel so much better (I had a lot of digestion issues before), but I started to feel better about my outward appearance as well. When you start treating yourself better in one aspect of your life it is infectious, and it spreads.
Instead of grabbing at and complaining at my perceived imperfections I started noticing and appreciating what my body was capable of.
If your biggest problem in life is that you don’t have a thigh gap or a flat stomach it’s time to take a step back and find the things about your body that you are grateful for.
And even if it just starts with “I’m grateful I have two legs,” that’s something to be grateful for. Recently, I’ve been challenging myself physically, and I’m constantly aware of my gratitude that my body is able to run 10 miles, or complete a sprint triathlon.
The moral of the story here is to find ways to nourish and enrich your body and life. Find gratitude in your days, in your abilities. Learn about your body, what makes you feel good and what doesn’t? And start doing more of what does make you feel good.