And I said to my body, softly, ‘I want to be your friend.’ It took a long breath. And replied, ‘I have been waiting my whole life for this.’ -Nayyirah Waheed
Weight and body image are things I have struggled with for as long as I can remember. I think I am safe to assume that I am not alone in this.
We live in a world that basically grooms us to hate ourselves. Everything we are exposed to and everything we watch, do and read is set up to make us feel like we aren’t good enough and that there is something wrong with us. Advertisers bank on this. It’s how they sell basically everything. An even bigger part of the problem is society’s focus on weight.
The majority of the population is obsessed with weight. We are either too heavy or too thin. When someone loses weight, we notice. When someone gains weight, we notice. It’s a thing. The world we live also tends to promote thin or fit bodies as being “beautiful”, “better” and “healthy” and larger or fat bodies as being “gross”, “bad” or “unhealthy”.
It breaks my heart to see or hear women tearing themselves down and criticizing themselves. Apologizing for being themselves or for making excuses for what their hair or face looks like in photo. Please stop this! It’s no surprise how we ended up here, but we don’t need to continue do this to ourselves.
We can be so hard on ourselves and we almost always tell ourselves that we are not good enough. We are our own worst critics. We need to remember that we are real women. Humans beings. We have flaws. We have rolls. Maybe our thighs touch. We have wrinkles. Messy hair. Acne. We are aging. The list goes on. We strive for perfection, but perfection does not exist. It’s an unrealistic goal that often leaves us feeling worthless or like we’ll never be good enough.
To every woman reading this: You are beautiful and amazing, as you are, right now! Today. This moment. Flaws and all!
The more I started to notice our unhealthy obsession with weight and appearance, the more I also started to notice how people seem to feel like they have the right to comment on someone’s body size; no matter how big or small. Why is this even a topic of conversation? Why do people feel the need to do this? Why is it relevant? Why is this the first thing we notice? Why does weight even have to be an issue – ever? Seriously. Just think about how messed up that is.
Weight does not equal health. This is true for bodies of ALL sizes. Just because someone is thin or lost weight doesn’t mean they are healthy and just because some is heavier or has gained weight does not mean they are not healthy. This also means that just because some is really skinny DOES NOT mean they need to “eat a sandwich” or that there is anything wrong with them. We all have different bodies and we are all different shapes and sizes. This is normal and it’s 100% acceptable.
Side note: I challenge you to think twice before complementing someone’s weight, especially if they have lost weight. Or even just notice your urge to do so. Doing this only perpetuates the lie that being thinner is better and that our weight somehow equals our self-worth. Try and find something else to compliment them about. How happy they look, their energy, how beautiful they are, etc.
As I already mentioned, I have struggled with weight issues and body image issues my entire life. I have gained and lost weight more times than I can even count. I’ve spent years and years of my teenage and adult life worrying about my body, hating my body, doing diet after diet, over-exercising, restricting myself.
For as long as I can remember I only felt good about myself when I was “skinny ” enough. Every thought I’d think and every choice I’d make (especially around food or exercise) was in relation to what was “good” or “bad” or “healthy” or “not healthy”. There was nothing intuitive or loving about it. I would exercise so I could “eat the cake” the next day. I’d eat minimally all day because I was saving myself for eating out that night. Or I’d skip eating something I really wanted because it was “too many points” or wasn’t “healthy” enough. Oh and if I DID eat something not “healthy” enough I’d feel guilty and beat myself up for days.
I would diet and restrict myself, lose weight, go back to living real life and then *surprise*…gain all the weight back. Over and over and over again. The society we live in promotes diet culture and we’re led to believe this back and forth dieting routine is somehow normal or even worse, that it’s our own fault. When we gain weigh back after restricting ourselves we feel like WE failed. We just don’t have enough “will power” or “self control”. Well, that is a load of crap and couldn’t be farther from the truth.
There is nothing wrong with you. Dieting is what doesn’t work! Dieting is what fails. Not you.
When we follow different diets or restrict ourselves constantly (or on and off) through-out our lives we are blatantly ignoring our body’s intuition and that internal “knowing”. Will power is just basically implying that your mind knows better than your body and that just isn’t true. We stop listening to our hunger cues, how we’re feeling, what our bodies need. No one wonder our bodies get confused! Our bodies are much smarter than we give them credit for and they know exactly what we need and how to take care of us.
I always thought I needed to be healthier, skinnier, or better in one way or another. I was never good enough. I treated myself horribly. Years of dieting and body images issues also lead me to no longer TRUST my body, myself or my instincts.
I was always searching outside of myself for the answer and for someone else (or something else…like a diet) to tell me what to do or how to take care of my body. How to lose weight. How to feel better. How to be healthy. Well, no surprise here, but it didn’t work. Temporarily maybe, but never long term.
The times in my life where I weighed the least were when I was on some new diet or restricting calories and over exercising OR I was so severely stressed or unhappy that the weight just fell off without me even trying. Neither of those situations are ideal or healthy.
I don’t know about you, but I am DONE with diet culture. I am DONE with that way of thinking. I am DONE feeling like I am not good enough. I and DONE worrying about my weight. Period. I’m just done. Life is too freaking short.
There IS another way.
With the help and inspiration from many different avenues (including coaches, teachers, friends, blogs, books, podcasts, yoga, meditation, journaling, etc.) and a lot of inner work, I am truly learning (for the first time EVER) to truly LOVE my body and take care of my body – with my flaws, extra weight and all. I am also learning to look at the world and everyone around me differently. Weight truly doesn’t matter and most of the time is NOT an accurate indicator of someone’s health.
I have finally realized that there is nothing wrong with me (or any of us) and that diets simply don’t work. They just don’t! Learning to truly love myself and to really care about myself and TRUST myself is the answer.
I am not my weight.
Just because I am choosing to not care about the number on the scale doesn’t mean I don’t want to take care of myself or my body (or am suggesting that you do the same). It doesn’t mean I am “giving up”. Instead I am choosing to focus on body kindness, body positively, intuitive eating, self-love, acceptance and trust. When making choices, it’s about coming from a place of love, compassion and caring, not from a place of punishment, restriction, blame or ‘shoulds’.
The answers I have been seeking about heath and weight have been inside of me all along. I know what I need. My BODY knows what I need. I know what feels good and what doesn’t. No one knows these things better than myself. This is true for you too.
No one knows what you need more than YOU!
I now focus on doing things that make me FEEL good. Period. I want to feel good in my body because it is the only place I have to live. I want to be healthy. I want to move my body everyday in ways that feel good. I want to stay hydrated and drink enough water. I want to have energy. I want to feel light and radiant. I want to eat when I’m hungry. I want to be able to hike in the mountains or run around the block without feeling like I’m going to die. I want to eat food that makes me feel good. I want to rest if my body needs rest. If I want to eat chips, I’m going to eat the damn chips. I am making choices that support a healthy mind and body, but I am DONE punishing my body for what it is (or isn’t) or for not looking the way I think (or society thinks) it should.
I am done making choices because they are ‘good’ for me or because I am too fat or because exercising makes you lose weight, or not eating ‘x, y or z’ because it’s ‘bad’ for you. I am done with that way of thinking. I want to take care of my body, love my body and be grateful for my body because I deserve it and because I LOVE MYSELF!
When we learn to love ourselves and take care of ourselves our bodies naturally start to figure themselves out. It’s what they are designed to do. It’s okay to trust yourself and your body.
If you only love yourself or feel good about yourself when you look a certain way or weigh a certain amount, I have news for you: That is not loving yourself and it is not healthy! It is actually the exact opposite.
If you don’t learn to love your body, right now, exactly as it is, with the extra weight, flaws and all, you aren’t suddenly going to love your body when you lose the weight either. When we do this we put a condition on our self-love and it effects how we treat ourselves and our bodies. It effects every single thought we think and choice we make. Those healthy habits we are trying to adopt won’t stick either, unless the choices we make are coming from a place of LOVE and a desire to take care of yourself for the right reasons.
Eat like you love yourself, move like you love yourself, speak like you love yourself and act like you love yourself! ❤️
Learning to love and accept my body how it is RIGHT NOW definitely hasn’t been easy, but it is worth it. I have a long way to go, but my thoughts and perspective are changing. For the first time ever I am feeling peace around these issues that I’ve struggled with for my entire life and I feel better in my mind and in my body than I ever have.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t have bad days or that I have this body image stuff all figured out, but I have come a long way and it’s something I’m working on every day. It does get easier though and eventually becomes your new normal.
We can be SO hard on ourselves and more often than not, we tell ourselves that we are not good enough. We are our own worst critics. We are also real women. Humans beings. We have flaws. We have rolls. Maybe our thighs touch. We have wrinkles. Messy hair. Acne. We are aging. The list goes on. We strive for perfection, but perfection does not exist. It’s an unrealistic goal that often leaves us feeling worthless or like we’ll never be good enough.
I am here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way! We can choose to love ourselves instead, no matter what.
Loving yourself doesn’t happen overnight, especially if you’ve been hating yourself for years. It’s a process that takes a lot of time, love, compassion, and forgiveness. Start small. I challenge you to think about and notice how you talk to yourself, how you feel about yourself and what you believe to be true, especially in regards to your weight and body image.
Be aware of your inner critic and challenge her. Tell her to shut up! Love yourself instead. Just as you are. Right here. Right now. I invite you to adopt a new self-dialogue. Try and change your perspective and your self-talk. Instead of coming from a place of lack, self-hate, or not being good enough — try coming from a place of gratitude, compassion, acceptance and self-love. We get to choose the thoughts we think. What you tell yourself over and over again is what you start to believe. Change the conversation.
“You’ve been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” – Louis Hay
I know it is possible for you to truly love, accept and appreciate yourself, no matter what you look like or what you’re going through. I believe that making changes and making healthy choices from a place of self-love vs. self-hate is the way to make lasting changes and to truly feel comfortable in your body.
How we feel about ourselves, always, at our core, is what matters. If we start making these changes inside ourselves it is surely bound to start affecting the people and the world around us too.
You are perfect, just as you are. You deserve to love yourself, just as you are, right now. I want every single woman reading this to realize how amazing and beautiful you are! Right now. Today. Yesterday. Last year. Tomorrow.
You are not your weight.
Body Kindness by Rebecca Scritchfield
Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon