‘Love the skin you’re in!’ – I know this is the last phrase you want to hear when you’re at war with your body – it most probably winds you up (my most hated phrase is ‘you have to accept not being as fit and healthy as you get older’ …. grrrrrr) but anyway, please, hear me out.
When we’re not content with our weight or body shape we tend to let our discontent control our level of happiness. Of course we all want the ‘perfect’ body but the fact is, it’s simply not that easy to look like the models in the magazines. We can’t Photoshop ourselves in real life for a start!
I DO strongly encourage you to become the best version of yourself physically for health reasons BUT your happiness should not depend on the end result! How many times have you told yourself ‘I’ll be happy when I’m x weight’, or ‘when I can fit into that dress’. What happens if you can’t lose all the weight due to a medical condition, or you break your leg and can’t exercise, or you’re thin and struggle to gain weight, or you’re heading in the right direction but it’s going to take time to get there? Does it mean that you don’t deserve to be happy until you reach your destination? Of course not!
In fact research has shown that even if we do reach our target weight or fit into a certain clothing size, we are still likely to be unhappy because we’ll still look for the faults and will be constantly seeking to change them. You’ve only got to read some personal interviews with stunning celebrities to know that they have body issues too.
I am also living proof of this myth. When I was in my 20’s I had the ‘perfect’ body but I often hated it. I thought I was fat (ermmm, hello, size 8!!), but in particular I hated my knees (Whaaat? Who hates their knees!). I look back at photos now and realise it was nothing to do with my body, my body (and my knees) were great – what was wrong was internal.
Here’s another scenario, you are super happy with your new found figure and weight BUT you’re so miserable because to maintain it you have to live a life of deprivation… no parties, no birthday cake, no day off from exercise….
Can you guess what happens next? You fall off the wagon, it’s just too hard to not accept invitations, or not eat out or not go on holiday. So you start to eat like a real human being and the pounds slip back on and before you know it, you’re back to hating your body and the rollercoaster dieting continues.
Now at 43 years old I’m happy with my body. I’m slim but I have lumps and bumps that I didn’t used to have and I certainly don’t look the same as I used to in a bikini. But hey, I work out, I’m fit and healthy and I’m very grateful for all that my body affords me to do.
My change in attitude was slowly coming but reality really slapped me in the face when my Dad was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.
For those of you familiar with it, you’ll know how cruel it is. His muscles are failing him and he has just taken receipt of a wheelchair. I can’t tell you how heartbreaking it is for me to watch the deterioration, I’m even crying as I write about it. My Dad, my hero, a strong man who has been physically fit his whole life… what he wouldn’t give to have a fully working but ‘imperfect’ body. So I got my wake-up call….
Of course I’d rather look in the mirror and see that ‘perfect’ figure again but I haven’t and I’m not prepared to have it at any cost and I’m certainly not going to let it dictate my happiness. My ‘imperfect’ body allows to keep fit, it has given me 2 beautiful children, it allows me to enjoy walking, allows me to laugh, chat, enjoy good food, cuddle, work and so much more. So you see, my body is perfect after all.
Some people think that if they love and accept their body as it is, it’s a sign of giving up on improving. This could not be further from the truth.
Instead it’s a sign that you’re not prepared to engage in a battle with your own negative thoughts and emotions over your physical body. Instead you are focusing that energy where it is more constructive, to make the changes you desire. And do you know what, more often than not, when you do that inner work, your physical body begins to change all by itself!
“If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place.” – Eckhart Tolle
It’s not easy to suddenly change your perceptions about yourself but you can do it. I did. You need to analyse your thoughts, work out what is true and what is in fact only a belief. You need to recognize when your inner demon is talking negatively to you and adopt techniques to stop it. You need to recognize your strengths and your value. You need to create goals and work out what you need to do to get there, empowering you to take control.
So of course strive to improve your body if there’s room for improvement, but be kind to yourself along the way. Be mindful at all times of what it can already do. Learning to love your body at every stage of your journey is essential to achieve the happiness you desire. Your physical body does not define you. You are beautiful just the way you are!
So let’s get Body Positive!
If you’d like to learn more about how to achieve this level of love and respect for your body, please check the Workshops and the Retreats tabs or get in touch.
On a scale of 1-10, how much do you love and respect your body and why? I’d love to hear from you.