When I started my health and fitness journey four years ago, I was in the depths of an eating disorder, desperately searching for a way to heal myself. I found weight lifting as a form of mental release and as a method of learning to accept my body.
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I saw myself becoming stronger and I enjoyed feeding my body in order to continue this progress. Four years later, and I am recovered from my ten year battle with anorexia, loving my body for what it can do, and still getting stronger as well as confident. Who could ask for more right?
Well, it wasn’t as easy as it sounds. There were and still are a lot of struggles and missteps that trip me up along the way. Throughout my fitness journey, I have always held an image of what I hoped to look like, one of those toned and tan models in magazines, on instagram, and plastered on fitness websites. I had in my head, that if I looked like that, then I was golden, happy and confident.
This was my biggest problem, as I believe it is for many other women out there trying to figure out their own quest through fitness. Because we see millions of photos of perfect fitness bodies everywhere we go, how can we not feel as though that is how we should look?
In order to be healthy, do we need to look like that? In order to be happy, do we need to look like that?
In my head the answer was yes. That was until I started following more realistic fitness models. On instagram, they wouldn’t post photo-shopped images of themselves in bikinis, but rather themselves performing great feats with their bodies, and sharing their progresses (no matter how big or small) with followers. They would acknowledge the fact that, yes, they had cellulite and jiggly stomachs, but continually thanked their bodies for what they could do.
One of the main struggles for me was that I could never really progress and get stronger because I was afraid of getting fatter, so I compromised my fitness goals in order to stay the same size. Thinking about this now, I realize how sad and limiting these thoughts were.
My goals have always been to get stronger and be able to lift heavy, but without properly accepting my body, these will never come true. Lately, I have become a lot more trusting of the process of becoming stronger, which inevitability means putting on some weight in order to build muscle. I have begun accepting that I might gain some cellulite during the next couple of months of my training, and that my clothes might not fit anymore.
The goal for December is to compete in a power-lifting competition and I want to be as strong as possible, so accepting my body as it is now, and how it will change over time is crucial to my success.
But how do I accept my body, you may ask?
1. Remind yourself what you’re good at. I think I’m pretty good at lifting weight and creating art in my spare time. My body helps me do these things. So I thank my body for this.
2.Remind yourself what feats you have accomplished. Has your body helped you finish a marathon? Can it lift a heavy deadlift or do a really amazing yoga pose? Did it help you walk upright today? Thank your body for making it possible to do these simple things.
3. Remind yourself that you are constantly changing. No one will stay the same forever. Bodies change, weights change. Throughout the day, your body is adapting to everything you are doing. Throughout your life, your body shape will change, your weight will change, but your body will still do all the wonderful things it needs to do in order to keep you alive and functioning.
And finally, remember that your body is truly amazing. Isn’t it time we treated it like it is?
Is your body image getting in the way of your success, fitness or not?
How have you let your own negative thoughts about your body affect you and your goals?
One of the best ways I have found, that I have also learned from others on how to accept your body, is to focus on what it can achieve, rather than what it looks like. Can you run three miles without stopping, did your body help you get through a marathon? Can you do yoga poses with ease or lift heavy without even thinking about it?
What is your body good at? Thank your body for be strong for you.