when was the last time you looked in the mirror and admired the form staring back at you? when was the last time you could stand to look in the mirror? when was the last time you felt truly beautiful in your skin? have you ever?
it's Valentines day. many of us expect big displays of affection, grand gestures made up of roses and fancy candlelit dinners, looking for a sense of true belonging and love from that special someone. but here's a question - what if, this year, that special someone was you? and what if. that sense of true belonging, acceptance and unconditional love was directed toward your body? crazy, right? I'm not so sure.
I know I'm not alone in saying that there are times I feel as though I'm not good enough. if I could only lose those last 10 pounds, or work a little harder on my ______ than my ______ will look better. I would look better. if only I had her legs/her butt/her ___, I would feel better about myself. The pursuit of the perfect body is something so many of us spend our days pursuing day after day. but what if - hear me out - what if we loved our bodies now as opposed to 10 pounds from now?
we beat ourselves up over every nutritional indulgence, over every workout we didn't complete. trying to shave off a few calories here and burn a few more there…because that's what will make us happy. but, is it really? let's play this through for a second. once you reach that arbitrary goal (being a size X, looking like so and so, having a flatter belly, etc.), will you truly be happy? will you wake up one morning, finally liking what you see in the mirror? I really don't think so. Because, I've been there. I've been 10 pounds lighter, and I wanted 20. and at 20 I wanted 50. and you know what? with obscene amounts of deprivation and excessive training, I got to where I thought I wanted to be. and let me tell you, I still didn't love what I saw staring back at me in my reflection. negative self-talk was constantly occupying my thoughts. I wish I looked like her. I need to be a size ____ and then I'll be happy. Ugh, I can't eat that…I'm so disgusting. are you willing to go to bed with a grumbling belly? passing on social functions because you know wine and dessert will be served, and you don't want to field the questions as to why you aren't having any? punishing yourself on the treadmill for that one little bite you snuck? This, my friends, is the road to misery. you'll exhaust yourself trying to obtain something that's always out of reach. I know this because, that was me. wasting precious time on a goal that was seemingly always out of reach; unhappy, empty and punishment-driven.
I'm over it. I can honestly say that I love what my body can do, and how it moves. I have found my value and self-worth, prioritising strength and health above some skinny ideal. sure, there are things I want to work on and improve, but I can now acknowledge that it's a process and those things won't make me any more loveable of a person. and I want that for you too. I want you to want that, for yourself. Self-acceptance is so much more than just a number on the scale, or a percentage of body fat. Learning how to love yourself starts now, not 10 pounds from now or two dress sizes from now. You. Are. Enough. You are imperfectly perfect. The image you've painted for yourself inside your head, the doubts and shame, have no hold on you. Can you love your body, while simultaneously wanting to improve it and make it stronger? absolutely, yes! but just as your love for another person should not be conditional, neither should the love you show for yourself. I'll say it again, you are enough. right now, as you are. just imagine how much more satisfying the pursuit of strength, fitness and a transformed body will be when you are comfortable in the skin you wear. Hating your body into submission is simply not a sustainable or life-giving option. to know that everything you need to thrive is inside you right now is a powerful thing. but harnessing it and finding that power of self-acceptance isn't an easy task.
Loving yourself takes work. you will have to fight against many forces telling you that you are not good enough, not pretty enough, not thin enough. But darlings, you have to set yourselves free. body-shaming will get you nowhere. when I tell a client that he or she has gotten stronger/leaner/fitter, 9 times out of 10 the compliment is rejected, dismissed. and my answer is always, "let me believe it, see it and remind you of it, until one day you start to believe it's true". Train yourself to speak kindly. not only to others but to yourself. Look at yourself in the mirror and state a positive affirmation. Be intentional. Be consistent. and one day, self-loathing will give way to self-love. and then, losing 10 pounds will simply be an improvement on something already worthy, something already beautiful, instead of a stipulation for acceptance and worth.
so go ahead, learn to love yourself this year. look at yourself in the mirror, fight against those poisonous self-doubts and criticisms and find something you love about yourself. and let that love grow and take shape, until one day, you are proud of what you see staring back at you. because, that, is worth more than your weight (whatever it may be) in gold.
happy valentines day lovers.
Eat well. Live well. Be well.