Body appreciation. Some people are born with it some people have to grow to appreciate and learn about it. I am one of those who had to grow to appreciate, learn and love. I grew up active but active in the sense that I liked dancing, playing soccer and playing with friends. I didn’t have a sport that I played every season. I didn’t have a sport that I excelled at. I took dance classes and tried out for basketball when I was in the third grade but when I missed the date of team pictures, I decided I didn’t want to play because I wasn’t in the picture. I have always felt like the “big boned girl.” What the heck is a “big boned girl” anyway? It’s not like that is a different kind of human species?!? It’s just a feel-good excuse to being larger than you feel like society says you should look or be. Needless to say, I stopped using that term once I found love and acceptance of what my body is.
We ALL have things about our bodies that we desire to be different. Whether it is smaller hips, tighter abs, more defined muscles, less cellulite – it’s very common. NO one is perfect. The magazines, the movies, advertisements and online propaganda all have the support of digital technology. Everyday life does not, get over it. Dress to feel good about yourself and own it.
I think it is important to learn how to recognize your body’s strengths and beauty. By no means did this happen for me overnight but in time I have come to accept, appreciate and love everything my body does for me. I’m not kidding when I say I used to fake being sick because I didn’t want to get weighed at school (that all afternoon, where everyone gets checked for height, weight, scoliosis, head lice etc.) – Elementary school mind you. How did that happen? My parents never made me feel fat or slow, I had an amazing childhood but I somehow knew very young that I was chubby, slow and overweight. I would even fake being sick during the jog-a-thon. Seriously! Looking back it is strange to know that that was me and compare that to the me now. I’ve overcome that jog-a-thon fear with multiple marathons but there are times that I have to remind myself “I’m not that girl anymore.” I think that is such a powerful phrase – “I’m not that person anymore.” Whatever your challenge or struggle may be, remind yourself, empower yourself, “you aren’t that person anymore.”
Think about how many times your body has recovered from an illness, achieved a new PR, gotten you across a finish line, led you up to a waterfall or stairs to something visually amazing, allowed you to accomplish a goal, any goal. Thank your body! Please! We tell other people thank you, we appreciate you, we value you but when was the last time you thanked your own body. It works so hard to keep you balanced, moving, feeling good, active and running. Appreciate all it does. It breathes on its own without you telling it to, it detoxes when it needs to, it asks for nutrients when it is lacking and it allows you to enjoy moving and doing the things you love and want to do.
Now I know there are two different types of loving and appreciating your body. There is the loving and appreciating what it does for you and you value you that but then there is even a higher level of loving and appreciating what your body does for you and being happy with what you look and feel like. Over time, I have come to learn about what my body needs and what it is missing. When I’m at a restaurant, I try to determine what I want to eat prior to looking at the menu and listening to my body and what sounds good, what nutrients is my body lacking? And then I follow the request; sometimes its steak, a burger, a cob salad, pork chops, chicken stir-fry…every time is different. After you learn what your body needs, you can start to appreciate all the great things your body does for you. Stop focusing on the parts that you are unhappy with. For REAL. Start paying attention to the areas that it is helping you achieve your goals, letting you do what you want to do and be who you want to be. I have had this (in my head and in my world) HUGE dimple on the left side of my leg. Ever since I can remember. I know it’s been there a while but I can at least remember it since I was nine at a dance recital in tights in my costume, it was embarrassing and I hated it. Anyhow, that gem of a dimple is still with me today. It’s not as huge as I feel like it once was; my legs have changed over the years. I’ve gotten taller, more muscular, had months where I’ve leaned out, had months where I plumped out but overall my body continues to go where I feed it. Along all of my ups and downs over the past three years I’ve really been able to hone in on what my body needs to fuel itself for a workout, for regeneration, for maintenance and for survival. Do you know what your body needs? Although I continue to strive for strength goals and my dimple continues to lie on the left side of my thigh, I have become okay with the fact that it is what it is. I am who I am. And I’m friggin strong, and beautiful and I do what I want. And that is awesome. Who cares if I have a dimple in my leg? Nobody! If I can feel alive and healthy and PR my strength goals every month and keep my energy running all day, a dimple in my leg is the last thing I’m thinking about.
Don’t let the things that you don’t like about your body hold you up from the things that you want to do with your body and accomplish with your life get in the way. That is no way to live and no one notices but you. YOU are too awesome to waste such precious time being mean to yourself. So get over it and start having fun. Do you see people you care about and beautiful flowers everyday? Your eyes are to thank for that. Do you walk your dog or walk through the house with ease? Your legs are to thank for that. Do you rise every morning to do great things? You can thank your abs and brain for that. Do you wash your hair, teeth and are able to hug? Thank you arms, you are amazing! You get the point, I could go on. When you start to get down on yourself, simply remind yourself that “you aren’t that person anymore” and start appreciating and thanking your body for all that it does and continues to do for you. Life is too short to get hung up on what your body isn’t doing for you – or what you don’t like in the mirror. Here’s your challenge, everyday, find something on your body, in your body that you like and that you can love. Start focusing on the good and the great that your body does for you, it’s a miracle and you are an amazing living, beautiful, strong, capable human being.
Go forward and be AWESOME.