I spent my entire twenties overweight and out of shape. I was a young mother, stressed and overwhelmed with life. I never lost the weight I gained with each pregnancy, and I spent the majority of my time hating my body.
Every so often, I would lose weight, and would feel a temporary happiness. But every single time, before I knew it, I would self-sabotage and end up right back where I started.
About 3 years ago, through a series of life-changing events, I got very serious about my health. This time it wasn’t about looking good, I just knew that something needed to change because I was sick of feeling tired and old at only 30-something. I was able to slowly adopt a healthy lifestyle that eventually led to me dropping 30 pounds of fat, gaining an athletic physique, and being in the best shape of my entire life.
The Happiness Was Temporary
You would think after all of that that I would have been happy. And I was, temporarily. The first time I tried on a certain size dress, the first time I wore a two-piece to the beach, seeing pictures of myself that I didn’t hate – it was all good; temporarily. But my focus shifted back to how I looked. I became so wrapped up in it all over again. Sure, I had a six pack now, but my thighs still had cellulite. I saw only the flaws that remained. I studied photos of super-fit women with cut muscles, and even though I myself had gotten down to only 13% body fat, I wanted more. I wanted to look just like the girls in the pictures. I pushed myself too hard, I beat myself up mentally, and again began the self-sabotaging of my past. I started to hate myself, again.
Around the same time, I became interested in making fitness and nutrition my career. I began the process of getting certifications, and learned about how to help other people. In the process, I ended up helping myself more than anyone.
Self-Hatred Has No Place in Health
I realized that to get myself healthy means to love my body enough to treat it with the utmost respect and give it the nutrition and exercise that it needs and deserves. I realized that fat is just fat…it doesn’t define me, it doesn’t mean I’m a bad person, it doesn’t make me less than anyone else. It is a substance on my body that only says I have stored calories.
I realized that if I screw up and eat a cookie…even if I eat an entire bag of cookies…this does not mean anything about me. It’s a mistake that I learn valuable lessons from. I no longer wallow in self-loathing when I mess up. I no longer pick myself apart in the mirror. Just this weekend I put on a dress and thanked the universe that I am finally comfortable in my own skin. It feels amazing. And it didn’t come with losing weight, it didn’t come with getting fit or reaching a level of body fat percentage, it came from learning to love and accept me…at every stage, every weight, every size.
The Aesthetics Will Follow
If you want to transform your body, do it because you love it, because you want to feel good, because you want to live longer. The aesthetics will follow as a nice bonus.
When you can look in the mirror and love and accept what you see, only then can you start the lifelong process of taking care of your body. Anger and hatred will get you nowhere but backwards and stuck. Love and acceptance will be the tools to move you forward.
We live in a judgmental society that pushes ideals on women. Lately the trend has been towards athletic bodies, “strong is the new skinny” as they say. How many of us sit around and stare at pictures of hard bodies, thin bodies, whatever it is that we think we *should* be because society deems it so. Stop doing it! Look at yourself as a project with goals, and don’t compare yourself to anyone else out there. Don’t let other people’s ideals cause you to hate yourself.
Be the best you, the healthiest you. Treat yourself with love and respect in everything you do, and the rest will follow.