By. Danielle Husband
Learning to love my body is something I’d never thought possible during the years I’ve struggled with my weight and self esteem. Even now, there are times when I feel like self-acceptance is just someone else’s dress that I’m borrowing. Then I see myself in the mirror and don’t have the same reaction as before, and I know that self love can be real.
I love my body for all that it provides. My body enables me to experience the world, helps me feel the warmth of those I love, and gives me the sensations of sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. Best of all, it forgives me for all the times I’ve wronged it, time and time again.
Accepting my curvy figure has been both a relief and a challenge. It’s a relief because I can finally stop punishing myself and waiting in the wings while life slips past me. It’s a relief to finally just be myself and feel a little more confident about the amount of space I may take up or how an item of clothing may fall on my figure.
On the other hand, it’s a challenge because it goes against what society has taught me. Accepting my body and loving myself as-is has also made it hard to know how to take care of my body. If I lose weight, am I betraying myself? At the same time, isn’t loving myself about treating myself well with healthy habits?
In the past, I dieted and worked out because my body wasn’t good enough. Now, I wondered how to balance my newfound love of my body with the desire to care for it and help it perform at its best. Finding that balance is not as hard as it seems. When I focused on showing myself care and compassion, everything else fell into place. By focusing on these five behaviors, I was able to balance body love with the desire to be my best.
I focus on how I’m feeling and not on my size.
My body allows me to experience the world, and it can’t do that if it doesn’t feel well. When I choose nutritious foods or seek out more activity, I do it from a place of love rather than deprivation. I care for myself with compassion and understanding that go better on some days than others. I’m not worried about the scale or what size I’m wearing; I just want to feel good and be able to do the things I want.
- Being active every day makes me feel better and gives me more energy.
- Eating nutritious foods gives me energy, boosts my mood, and makes my skin more radiant.
- I have goals in life that I want to accomplish, and I need my body to feel well enough to take me there.
- My body feels uncomfortable after I reach a certain weight, so I take steps to stay under the tipping point.
- I want to maintain healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
I avoid behaviors that harm my body.
In the past, I’ve made a lot of harmful choices in the pursuit of a slimmer figure, such as overly restricting food, forcing myself to work off all that I’d eaten, and popping diet pills. Ironically, each time that I lost weight, I’d gain it all back plus some and found that it was even harder to lose it again. My body didn’t feel good, and I wasn’t happy. At the same time, I felt like I and my life didn’t matter because I wasn’t good enough. I was less-than what was expected, so I couldn’t be happy with myself.
Those thoughts were wrong. Now I realize that we are all worthy of love and acceptance. I matter, and so do you. I avoid behaviors that harm my body, and I hope you will, too.
- I don’t starve myself.
- I don’t take diet pills.
- I don’t engage in exercise binges to make up for eating.
- I use mindful coping strategies to prevent binge eating.
I’ve changed the way I talk to myself.
This is the most important change in my life that’s come from loving my body. I try not to criticize my body, no matter how tempting it can be during moments when I’m feeling bad about myself. Sometimes I’ll catch sight of my body from an angle that might be less flattering, but I don’t let those negative comments swirl.
Instead, I turn it back to the positive: the good parts of my body, what my body does, how I’m feeling in the moment, etc. No one is perfect, and that’s okay. You can still love yourself, flaws and all.
Here are a few positive statements that help me remember that the size of my body is not what determines how happy I am:
- I’m feeling good and enjoying my life.
- My body is strong and carries me everywhere.
- I’m happy with were I’m at.
- No one is perfect, so I won’t criticize myself for my flaws.
- My body is a sum of its parts, and it’s a work of art.
- I love me for me.
I dress in a way that makes me feel good.
For too long I hid under clothes I didn’t love because I thought I didn’t have the right figure for what I like. Ironically, I’ve since learned that the clothes I love are actually a lot more comfortable than what I was wearing before. I love dresses and tights, so I have a closet full of quirky dresses and so many pairs of tights that they don’t all fit in one drawer. My clothes make me happy now, and I don’t feel like I need to hide anymore.
- Confidence makes a big difference. People respond to me differently depending on how much confidence I’m showing.
- Clothes tell the world a lot about who you are, so give them the message you want them to hear.
- If someone criticizes how you dress, it shows that they have an insecurity in themselves. It has nothing to do with you.
- Really, it’s not about you.
I focus on right now, not on my past choices or future hurdles.
Mindfulness has really helped me avoid dragging out my baggage. Are there things I wish I could change? Sure, but who doesn’t? I’ve made mistakes in the past and treated my body poorly. By trying to make myself fit a certain look, I pushed myself further away from that goal and a healthy outlook on life.
Those days are gone. I’m lucky that I made a change in my life early so that I can live my present better than I lived my past.
- I know that where I’ve been has brought me to where I am now.
- When I start to dredge up the past, I engage my senses to ground myself in the moment. I focus on what I’m seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling.
- By moving my body I can be in the moment. I go on a walk or do yoga.
Balancing body acceptance with making healthier decisions is an important part of being the best you possible. Approach it with care and compassion, and you will find the balance you need. Love yourself and love your life.