Here, in this new chapter, I officially left behind the girl who has been constantly trying to mold herself into whatever she felt she needed to be to (hopefully) be accepted and loved by society. Instead, I found the lady who was unapologetically herself and loved for it. In fact, that’s what ironically got me to this point in the first place. The sad, hungry girl was replaced by a lady who didn’t think twice about losing an ounce to fit into a dress, and who embraced her curves, thighs, cellulite, and all that goes along with the celebration of ageing.
My teenage self would be amazed. To be honest, my twenty self is amazed.
If I had been told how I’d feel about my body and myself today, even three years ago, I wouldn’t have believed it. It is that realization that got me sitting here, reflecting, thinking: “Wow, what a journey!”
How did I get to this essential position of self-acceptance?
While it’s difficult to pinpoint any particular moment that landed me here (because there isn’t just one moment), there are certain things that pop up that I particularly remember allowed me to begin liking my body and myself more.These things allowed me to swap the shameful feeling about my thighs for gratitude that I have thighs, and start learning how to like my body more. I hope they help you just as much as they helped me.
Understand How You Feel About Your Body & Its Importance to You
Knowing how you want to feel about your body is the first stage towards self-acceptance. This is important as it relates to the saying you can’t get to where you want to go if you don’t know where that is. Instead of sitting and thinking about your insecurities, grab a pen and journal and ask yourself: “How do I want to feel in my body?” And when you have your answers, ask yourself: “Why is this so important to me?”
Know that you may really dig deep to uncover the core reason why changing your relationship with your body is important to you. You’ll need this reason to understand yourself more and to reflect upon when you feel like you’re under a storm cloud . You will have those moments, but when you remember your ‘WHY’, you’ll reawaken your connection to being kinder to your body and yourself.
For me, my reason centered on the fact that I couldn’t imagine going through my entire life in conflict with my body. I wanted to feel confident and free in my body, not shameful and controlled. It took time and daily work to get to a new place, but my “why” and my vision of where I wanted to go was so strong I continued showing up. You can do this too.
Double up Your Gratitude
One of the most interesting tools I used towards liking my body more was gratitude. When I began making the shift to what my body allowed me to do versus what my body didn’t look like, I was amazed. I slowly began forming this new perspective that my body was a gift and a vehicle that allowed me to move through life, and it was my job to nurture it, take care of it, and stop being so mean to it. What happened is that I became appreciative. I appreciated that I had thighs. It didn’t even matter if I had cellulite either. It was from this viewpoint that I also came to like who I was as a person. I appreciated that I was open to growth, that I was compassionate, and that I had the ability to inspire others. Ironically, I found that I was more than just a body. And so are you.
You’ll be able to see this if every day, your bullet point one or more things that you are truly grateful for or appreciate yourself. I promise that practicing gratitude is popular for a reason—it works.
Surround Yourself with Healthy Bodies
A huge part of my journey was surrounding myself with healthy bodies – all sorts of shapes and sizes, online and offline. I realized that we end up comparing ourselves easily to ideals that aren’t even real or that aren’t physiologically possible for us as they’re simply not the intended shape of our bodies. It was this realization that I began paying attention to all types of bodies—smaller bodies, bigger bodies, in-between bodies—and I found that there are no better types of bodies. They’re just all bodies, and it’s how we treat them that matters.
If you’re struggling here, I highly recommend unfollowing social media accounts that make you feel bad about your body. And, if you haven’t, find a place to move your body where you feel comfortable and accepted. Because if you don’t feel comfortable in your body or accepted, you won’t want to go there to exercise, and movement is such a huge part in connecting with your body in mind, soul, and spirit.
Connect with and Acknowledge your Underlying Fears
Acknowledging and understanding your primary fears when it comes to your body is so huge. Those fears hold answers. But so many times, we’re taught to simply brush them under the rug, try to fit in and look like everybody else. What if you allowed yourself to dig into your fears to understand what you’re actually worried about? Is that fear an actual truth or something that is truly just a fear?
For me, when I allowed myself to examine my body fears, I found that I was afraid of not being accepted, of not being the way a woman was supposed to look. As a little child, I was always teased or left out for not having that banging figure. I wasn’t one of the popular girls. My deep underlying fear was not being accepted; it actually wasn’t about my body size. I internalized this and then realized that the key people in my life didn’t care about my body size (in fact, they were concerned by my shrinking size and misery). Rather, they cared about who I was as a human being. In other words, they accepted me for what was beneath my skin, so my fear that if I weren’t a certain size, I wouldn’t be accepted was just that, a fear. There wasn’t any truth behind it.
Focus on Actions That Make You Feel Good
Letting go of the need to lose weight or look a certain way and instead focusing on doing things that make you feel confident and good in your body is a game-changer! When you do this, your body will come to its natural state of being, no question. I know this is so much harder than it sounds; however, by really showing up and experimenting in your life, keeping what works well for you, and leaving behind what doesn’t, you will naturally like your body more. Basically, you’ll feel more “at home” in it.
You never know what you’ll find when you let go of the outcome and follow what feels right. When I started to truly allow myself let go and experiment with enjoying food, moving my body in ways that felt good, and talking to myself kindly -coming at my body with gratitude instead of hate, something miraculous happened. I learned how to not only accept but my body but to like my body. And I know that when you focus on actions that make you feel confident in your body, you’ll begin to like your body more too.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime