In our society, nobody bats an eyelash at the extreme lengths we go through to achieve “beauty”. We starve ourselves, do insane workouts, even risk mutilation, unhappiness, and death.
The more I step away from mainstream culture, the more extreme and disturbing these measures seem to me.
We’re chasing something unattainable and the elusive nature of what we seek is no accident. Think about who’s benefiting from your unhappiness about your body. I have a feeling it’s not you or the people who love you.
Our commercial, capitalist society is designed to make us feel like we’re not enough, therefore we need more, more, more. However, we don’t have to buy into those messages. I’m not saying it’s easy to challenge these thought processes, but I do believe it’s possible.
That’s why my goal is to have the healthiest body I’ve ever had and I know this all begins with my perceptions. I’m taking a long, hard look at what I’m willing to do to my body and making sure it’s aligned with my values, not anyone else’s.
Love My Body
Loving my body doesn’t mean that I’m going to pretend that I am at my ultimate best and all is as it should be. I will always have health and fitness goals and lifestyle improvements I want to make. However, loving my body means I choose to start treating it the way I treat anyone I love.
I speak to it and about it kindly instead of putting myself down. I don’t compare my body to other people’s. I encourage and support instead of judge, resent, and punish.
When I have a choice between condemning or loving my body, I’m learning to choose love.
Nourish My Body
I once went on one of those shake diets where you drink two shakes a day and have a “healthy” meal for dinner to lose weight. I cringe when I think of the chemicals I was putting into my body every day to change its appearance. An acquaintance even suggested laxatives to me, but thankfully I wasn’t willing to go that far.
I don’t see myself ever doing that to my body again. I hope I never value a number on a scale or a flat stomach more than I value my health even when all the external messages come barging in telling me that those physical attributes are more important than ME.
I eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m satisfied. I refuse to deprive myself. I try to eat whole foods as often as possible, but I don’t beat myself up for having a treat. If I start eating too much highly processed food, I adjust accordingly. For me, the key is meal planning, grocery shopping, and food prepping ahead of time. If I have healthy food, I eat healthy food.
My ultimate goal is to eat healthier and healthier, not to get skinnier and skinnier.
Move My Body
I enjoy exercise. I often have to rev myself up to get started. Sometimes I’m truly tired. Sometimes I’m just plain lazy, but once I start I always enjoy it. By the end of it, I’m always glad I did!
I’m willing to move my body to improve my physique, but that’s not the only reason I want to be active. I want to get faster, stronger, and more flexible. I want to build my endurance. I want to reward my body and see what it can do. If the way my body looks ends up reflecting these accomplishments, then more power to it!
If I can remember that to enjoy my physical activity and ALL the benefits that come with it, more power to me!
Accept My Body
Even as I write this I feel like a hypocrite because I do want to lose some weight and I do want to see changes in my body. However, I’m trying to keep those goals in perspective and make sure they are side effects of a holistic outlook and not my ultimate goal. Otherwise, it’s just too easy to ditch healthy choices along the way. It‘s a balancing act that I haven’t mastered yet and probably never will, but I know that there must be a better way and I’m committed to finding it.
Accepting my body doesn’t mean that I’m in denial when I’m not where I want to be. It means not beating myself up for being human. It means appreciating all that my body does for me and creating a loving plan for what I want to achieve.
Not as easy as it sounds, I know. I have a lot of work to do when it comes to treating my body well and having a healthy view of it, but I’m glad this journey is taking me in the right direction.
I hope everyone who’s ever sacrificed happiness or health for a “better” body will join me.