How I Learned to Appreciate My Body
"I'm having a fat day..."
"My nose is too big."
"I was so bad today."
Does this inner dialogue sound familiar? The average woman has 13 negative thoughts about her body per day. As women, many of us hold ourselves to exceptionally high standards in all aspects of our lives. We expect ourselves to be the perfect mother, wife, coworker, baker, counselor, chauffeur, friend, and hostess. That’s not to mention our expectation to maintain a svelte figure. Not only are many of these expectations unrealistic, but they’re also not sustainable, which only causes greater dissatisfaction and unhappiness.
Body image is one of the things that we really harp on ourselves for. I’ve been there, too. A couple of years ago, I was spending a lot of time and energy focusing on calorie intake (food) and expenditure (exercise) in order to maintain what I perceived as a great, in-shape body. During this period of time I was tired and unhappy. I spent so much time consumed with this mentality that I lost sight of something really important.
I’d lost every ounce of gratitude for my body: legs that carry me to and from my destination, arms that hug my loved ones, eyes that help me see, and the thoughts that come from my brain - things so simple and involuntary that I was taking for granted. Worst of all, my lack of gratitude for my body was fueling a negative lifestyle and attitude that was spilling over into all areas of my life. One day something clicked. I took a step back and asked myself two questions: What has my body has done for me? And what I was doing for my body? The good things that my body has done for me far outweighed the good that I had done for my body. I knew I needed to make a change.
I needed to stop:
- Comparing myself to others
- Counting calories
- Feeling a sense of empowerment by controlling my food and exercise so much
- Worrying about what other people thought
- Constantly thinking about my appearance
I needed to start:
- Listening to my body
- Nourishing my body with food that I loved
- Treating myself to indulgences that I loved from time to time – guilt free
- Finding joy in things that had nothing to do with food and exercise
- Nurturing my relationships
When I finally took action and made these changes, it made a world of difference in myself and, to my surprise, to how others perceived me me. While I may never have a “perfect” nose, I am never going to be tall, and there will be days when my skinny jeans don’t fit, that’s okay with me. Embracing the things that I perceived as negative qualities as part of who I am gave me an entirely different appreciation for myself.
By appreciating my body, flaws included, and embracing self-love, I brought more positive relationships and love into my life. My friendships improved, I started having fun, and truly enjoying life again. Yes, sometimes that inner dialogue pops up in my mind, but I do my best to push it aside, take a step back and remember the reasons why my body is amazing. I remind myself of all the things my body does for me on a daily basis. When all is said and done, I am who I am and will continue to strive to do what’s best for me and my body.
What do you do to maintain a positive body image?