Body Appreciation

You have to understand, I’ve never had a body that looks like mine does now in my entire life.  For most of that life, this body has been enveloped in a thick layer of fat.  What I’m discovering underneath is thrilling.  I will admit I can’t walk past a mirror or reflective glass without taking a look and admiring my handiwork.  I’m sure this fascination will dim and fade as I get used to being in a fit and healthy body.  But right now, I’m still noticing the changes every day.

My waist is defined, my hips are narrowing, my shoulders have visible separations and divisions.  Most of the time when I look in a mirror, my reaction is “Damn, I look good!”

I could offset that statement by telling you about the imperfections my body still carries.  But I’m not going to.  I believe in focusing on the positive.  I’m not going to let the “flaws” negate the positive traits.  I love my body just the way it is, the way it was, and the way it is will be.  I am no longer waiting for perfection that will never arrive before I decide I can love myself.

If I could give one piece of advice toward the goal of accepting your body, it would be to let go of the idea of Perfection.  Let go of the idea that there is something wrong with you.  Let go of the notion that if you could look just a little better, you would be able to love yourself.  Realize that self acceptance is a choice completely independent of your physical appearance.  Realize that Perfection does not exist.

There was a big part of me that simply would not do this for the longest time.  I was afraid to let go of it.  I thought that letting go of the idea that I should be perfect was giving up and a cop out.  If I just tried harder, I would be perfect.  Only ugly girls say you should love yourself the way you are.  Only fat girls say weight doesn’t matter.  I’m not sure where I picked up those ideas, but I did.  I was afraid that the only thing separating me from the perfection that could be mine was my own lack of effort.  And I beat myself up for it.

Then, by some miracle, I simply stopped doing that, cold turkey.  I didn’t tell anyone about it.  I didn’t say “I am not going to berate myself anymore.”  I just stopped.  I wish I could say what finally made me able to do it.  The more I think about it, the more I realize that it was when I decided I could trust myself that I began to make the most profound changes.  I used to always worry that I would screw everything up without knowing it- somehow I would sabotage myself without my own permission.  But at some point, I realized that it is and has always been my choice what food I eat and how much.  It had always been my choices that created the shape of my body.

I used to worry that if I didn’t record my calories, I would eat everything in sight like I had in the past.  But I learned that I can trust myself.  I am in charge of me.  I had to choose to eat the right amount, not too much and not too little.  The hardest part of learning I could trust myself was admitting to myself that all the mistakes I had made were choices I made.  It would be really easy to place blame on outside factors, but it would be false.  You can’t control the circumstances of your life or the actions and words of others.  You can only control your reactions.  I accept that many negative things that have gone on in my life have been due to my own choices.  At the same time, I forgive myself.  This comes back to not expecting myself to be perfect.  There is a huge difference between accepting responsibility and placing blame.  Yes, I had some difficult situations in my life that I dealt with in less-than-healthy ways.  But it was not the difficult situations that caused this.  It was my own choices in how I dealt with them.  By saying this I am not saying that everything is my fault.  I am only acknowledging that it is my choice to make changes.

Is losing weight really difficult?  Not really.  It’s pretty straight forward when you consider the actions you take.  Eat less.  Move more.  Everybody knows it.  Deciding to do it, believing you deserve it, sticking with it… those are the hard parts.  Not because you don’t know how- because there are so many mental and emotional barriers in your way.

Break them down.  It is worth it.  The pleasure of discovering the body that was hidden underneath for so long, and reacting to it without all the judgment and negativity is indescribable.

7 thoughts on “Body Appreciation

  1. “Only fat girls say weight doesn’t matter. I’m not sure where I picked up those ideas, but I did.”

    You got these ideas from society.

    “It really is 99% mental. Is losing weight really difficult? Not really. It’s pretty straight forward when you consider the actions you take. Eat less. Move more. Everybody knows it. Deciding to do it, believing you deserve it, sticking with it… those are the hard parts. Not because you don’t know how- because there are so many mental and emotional barriers in your way.”

    I love the above paragraph you wrote because it’s so true, especially the last sentence.

    I love your writing and insight!

    Thank you!!

  2. I just finished reading The Self Compassion Diet by Jean Fain, and would definitely recommend this book. For those who have tried many diets and are tired of losing weight when you’re on the plan and regaining the weight when you go off the plan, Fain offers a different approach. This is more of a non-diet and more of a lifestyle change and attitude adjustment. It’s not something that you go on and go off, but more of a different way to approach the way you think and feel about the food you eat. Instead of labeling foods as “good” or “bad”, Fain suggests listening to what your body wants and being kind to your body by giving it nutritious delicious food. She suggests treating yourself like you might treat your best friend, with loving kindness rather than being critical and self loathing. She says by doing this, you will naturally lose weight. I was skeptical at first, but throughout the book she mentions many of her clients who have tried this approach and have been successful. She herself was one of those roller coaster dieters who had tried everything, but nothing worked long term until she used her approach of self compassion and loving kindness to lose weight and keep it off. This is not a quick fix, but more of a long term solution to slow steady weight loss. While reading this book, I’ve found myself paying more attention to my hunger and have been paying more attention to what I’m eating and how it tastes and have started to eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. I’ve also had the desire to eat more delicious nutritious foods and have found that my cravings for sweets have decreased. I will keep this book as a reference to refer back to and will continue to listen to the audio CD to reinforce these practices. I think this book was well written and would recommend it to those who are frustrated with their past weight loss struggles.

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