ow do you love your body as part of your self?
I see all these posts on social media. Women of all different colours, shapes, sizes and textures, loving and sharing themselves proudly.
And I’m over here like: “how?”.
My sister, the editor of this mag, asked me to share about my journey with my body. Up until fairly recently, I’ve kept pretty quiet about it…I didn’t think my story was anything extraordinary and I never felt safe expressing my insecurities and discontent. You try complaining about your body when you’re naturally thin and eat whatever you want and see how people respond to you…
Over the past 15 years, I’ve counted calories (read: starved myself), restricted my eating, over-exercised, and abused laxatives as I strived for ‘perfection’, which for me, for a long time, meant being skinny. I’ve experienced body dysmorphia, shame, and guilt. So much guilt. Guilt from eating ‘badly’ and not exercising, to guilt about treating my body with such hatred. And this may come as a shocker to you, but all the times I heard “but you’re so skinny” didn’t move the needle on any of it.
I’ve come a long way.
I’ve realized that while reassurance and support from others is lovely and important, self-acceptance and - love have to come from within. So, I set the intention to love my body for no other reason than because it houses me.
And I’m not there yet.
I started my exercise journey three years ago this month. It definitely started from a place of insecurity: aesthetic reasons primarily and health secondarily. Actually, the health thing was probably third, because my boyfriend at the time (who is now my husband, yay!) told me that it was important for him to create a fit and healthy family. As a woman in my late 20s with a slowing metabolism and an awesome man planning our future, starting to exercise was a no-brainer.
And so I started. And kept going, and I actually began to like it. I had always been tall and fairly slender, but for the first time in my life, I felt strong and empowered in my body.
Around the same time that I started exercising, I began participating in self-development courses and workshops, healing wounds from the past and tackling destructive patterns in the present.
Over the past year I’ve realized how my fitness and self-development journeys have been parallel. I explored my self-hatred, insecurities, perfectionism, resilience, strength, and vulnerability by working both my body and my mind. Working on my body provided me with another vessel to heal, strengthen, and build. Though my fitness journey started for aesthetic reasons, I realized that I was actually building my body to carry my self.
Last year, I created a project called From Loaft to Lifter, which (don’t mind if I do) I think perfectly describes my physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual journeys over the past few years. From a physically (and otherwise) lazy loaft – taking her body and health for granted and repeating destructive patterns because they were comfortable – to a lifter. A lifter of weights and of spirits. Someone who took her own self into her own hands, because she deserved to live a great life.
And, I’m still not entirely free.
I mean, there are times I like my body and think I look good. And then there are other times, a lot of times, where I criticize it or think about how much I would need to exercise or not eat to get back to seeing definition in my stomach. Just this past month, as I galivanted across beaches, grasslands, and with lions on safari in Africa, I counted the days that passed since I exercised. When I arrived home bloated and having gained 5lbs from eating allllll the delicious food, I thought about dieting and over-exercising.
I have these thoughts often and I’m hard on myself whenever I do. Am I bad and wrong for not being fully healed?
I’m taking on listening to and honouring my body, for all the miraculous things she can do (woman can literally house and grow another human being, and we’re worried about a few dimples of cellulite?!). I’m taking on being gentle with and loving towards her, extending the same compassion I do to others, to myself. And I’ll continue to remind myself that my worth has nothing to do with how I look. Neither does yours.
I’m proud to share that just in the past week since being home I’ve noticed an increased strength in being able to be with those thoughts and then eat the pizza anyway. Cuz who’s to say that enjoying a slice of pie is any less good for me than a delicious, sweaty work out ?
I certainly never claimed to have all the answers!
How ‘bout you? How do you love your body as part of your self?
Connect with me @fromloafttolifter and let’s continue the conversation!
Your partner in loving yourself wholly and completely,