I have had a terrible body image my entire life. By age 10 I was convinced I needed to go on a diet, because my best friend, who was about 5 inches shorter than me, also weighed about 10lbs less than me. The truth is, I was a stick at age 10. My ribs were all but poking out through my thin skin. Of course I had absolutely no concept of dieting and what that meant, and so I let it go eventually.
But… after a lifetime of yo-yo dieting, of extreme exercise regimens (speak: hours of cardio something), low fat, low carb, low calorie, I ended up a mid-thirties woman with serious issues… most of them emotional rather than physical.
Only recently (remember, I’m now 38!!) have I made some progress in how I feel about myself. Many conversations with amazing people have certainly helped. Don’t get me wrong, I have been told by great friend that I’m tall and gorgeous… But at the end of the day, I still am the person who stands in front of the mirror naked, looking at myself and finding all kinds of things wrong with my body. My boobs, my soft belly, my thighs, my hips… Where did my friends see a tall and gorgeous woman? And why could I not see her?
But again, recently I have made some progress. I dug a
little lot deeper, and found the roots for my terrible body image, namely a person who is very close to me and whom I have been competing with my entire life. Growing up in a time where supermodels are as thin as wooden planks, and I’m bombarded with commercials that suggest that I am just not good enough the way I am, didn’t help either.
I’m no longer competing with this person, and it’s a great and liberating feeling to be free of this constant pressure. And I have stopped listening to these commercials suggesting that my spider veins are ugly, that my stretch marks are shameful.
Not that I am suddenly free from any kind of destructive self talk, but I’m well on my way to appreciating the person I am, and to love the body I’m in.
This morning, at my Crossfit box, I challenged myself to jump up to the higher pull up bar. This is conquering a fear of mine, that I’ll slip and fall. I jumped and held on to the bar and swung back and forth a little bit. I faced away from everyone, because it gave me the sense that I wasn’t being watched. Minutes later, as I was loading my bar for the WOD (workout of the day), a friend walked over to me and she said, “You looked great up there. You should really get your picture taken. You have some great muscle definition.” How sweet of her, right? So why not? I asked her to take my picture, so I could see what she was talking about.
I looked at the picture… and it reminded me of the many pictures I see of strong Crossfit women on Facebook every day. I was reminded of how much I admire these women for their strength. And I loved what I saw. “This is me!” I kept saying to myself! Oh my gosh! I look good!
I currently weigh about 12lbs more than I would like to weigh. But when I stepped out of the shower after my WOD today, I gave my soft belly a friendly slap and grinned at the reflection in the mirror. Nothing could ruin this day for me. I made a point of putting on clothes that accentuate my curves.
I am strong and I am healthy, and my amazing body deserves nothing but my deepest gratitude. When someone gave me a compliment today, I just smiled and thanked them rather than to reject their kind words. I am a real life woman (and so are you… unless you’re a guy, then you’re a real life guy!), and it appears I’m finally starting to see the light. Strong is the new skinny! There is no better mantra than that!
Do you love yourself just the way you are? How did you get there? If you’re not there, why not? And what can you do to get there?
ALSO: Check back tomorrow for my review of “Rich Food Poor Food” and how you can win a copy of the book!