The truth about self-love and body acceptance
I was looking in the mirror today after I took a shower, and I was noticing the way in which my body has changed since my whole life was turned upside down last September. Although it isn’t anything too drastic..some of the places that are softer than I’ve seen them in a long time caught my attention. One thing I’ve always been very proud of is the definition in my shoulders and arms, and I noticed today they are a bit rounder than usual...among other things.
It’s amazing, isn’t it, that we pay so much attention to the details of our physical bodies? I remember even just a couple of years ago having anxiety on the days I would look in the mirror and notice (or think I noticed) even the slightest change in my shape. I even remember doing things like consciously flexing my legs as I was walking so they wouldn’t jiggle so much, and frequently throughout the day pinching at my lower back to make sure I hadn’t somehow magically grown love handles since the morning.
Today, though, instead of pinching or poking or comparing..I honored my body exactly where she is. I let go of the need to look like I have in the past, and instead embraced the incredibly beautiful changes that are happening NOT because I have stopped taking care of myself, but because I have started to understand that it is natural for our bodies to change. And it is ok for us to be peaceful when it does.
In honoring my body in this way I honor my entire self- My soul, my emotions, where I am in my life, the difficult lessons I’ve had to learn to get here, the experiences I’ve had, and the incredible places I’m going.
This last year has been tremendous in my expansion. I have experienced a spiritual awakening, manipulation, heartbreak, more heartbreak, healing from lifelong toxic beliefs and behaviors..and all wrapped up I quite literally feel like I have completely shed the person I used to be, and stepped into the most authentic, strong, and soul-centered version of myself.
Imperfectly perfect body in tow.
We have been taught that focusing on our bodies will fix everything in our lives. That having the “perfect” figure will lead us to total overall health and happiness. But this is so misinformed. Not only was I awakened to the truth that mental, emotional, and spiritual health are essential in an overall healthy body, I have been experiencing it for myself for the last year..especially the last 3 months.
It is impossible to achieve and sustain a healthy physical body if our mind and emotions aren’t at ease, and it’s difficult to achieve this without having faith in some kind of higher power.
I never accepted my body until I accepted this concept. I spent over 17 years trying to keep up with diet culture and societal beauty standards. I’ve had the abs. I’ve had a great physique (relatively). But I was never able to recognize it or appreciate it when I did. This is because when we are constantly focused on trying to be like or look like someone else, we are conditioning ourselves to believe we are never enough. We are conditioning ourselves to believe we are always something that is broken in need of fixing. We are constantly in search of the next best thing, and not at all tuned into the present. Because of this, when we do reach those goals, we are never satisfied. We are programmed to already be worried about what to change next.
I never thought I could be happy not chasing weight loss or the perfect body. I never thought I would be able to love or accept my appearance if it didn’t reflect something that at least resembled what we have taught is acceptable. But I have been close to that standard several times, and it never once changed the way I saw myself. The entire time I had anxiety and depression. I had a terrible relationship with food. I had to drink to be social. I had no direction. I had no idea who I was or what I really wanted out of life. I felt shame and guilt everyday. And I constantly put myself in situations to sabotage my own growth.
But I didn’t know any better.
Now I do.
It is impossible to heal or understand these deep things we struggle with if we refuse to see that they can’t be dealt with where we are at the surface level. And without healing and understanding these things..love for ourselves is not attainable.
The bottom line is..you are not your body. You are an emotional and spiritual being living in a body and having a human experience. Life happens and our bodies change to reflect it. It’s not all about exercise and nutrition. We might gain a little extra weight if we are feeling unsafe. We gain weight when our bodies are supporting new life. We might have trouble losing unnecessary weight if we are in a job we hate. These circumstances are just as much a contribution to the functioning of our metabolisms as what we eat or how we move. We HAVE to take these things into consideration when we are thinking about out health, and just as important, we have to be able to recognize and honor these things as they happen. If we continue to believe we have total sustainable control over the shape of our bodies, we will never be happy. If we continue to ignore the parts of us that are also in need of care and attention, we will never truly love ourSELVES
Imagine being able to look in the mirror and seeing your body heavier or more dimply or less toned than it ever has been, and instead of comparing and breaking down, embracing it, thanking it, smiling at the places it’s taken you, and the beautiful gift you have of even being here in a body at all. Imagine being proud of the person you have become and the gifts you have to offer, and the love you have to give, and the way you show up in the world. Imagine what you see in the mirror reflecting those things instead of just flesh and labels. Imagine being at peace with it all..to the point where the shape of your body is no longer something that defines who you are, and instead something that simply houses your soul.
That is what self- love and body acceptance looks like. This is what stepping into your authenticity and full potential looks like.
And it can only exist if you make accepting yourself a priority, rather than needing to be accepted by someone else.
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