A few weeks ago the strangest thing happened. Strange, at least for me, and I would bet many other women out there too.
I was in the bedroom getting Ina and myself ready to swim. Ina had her swimsuit, sunscreen, hat, and glasses on and was yelling, “Mamma watch!” as she tried to jump off the bed. I hurriedly put my swimsuit on and happened to glance in the mirror.
What happened next stopped me in my tracks. I looked at myself in a swimsuit and felt nothing but acceptance.
No criticism. No pinching extra skin. No sucking in. No wishing I had another body. Not one single negative thought.
Let me be clear, I wasn’t signing up for a bikini competition or thinking I looked amazing. I just didn't have any of the hateful and negative thoughts I have felt for most of my almost 30 years of life.
Since that day I have been thinking about that moment, and the changes I have made in my life that led me there. After a lot of thought, I sincerely believe that I have made many efforts to get to this place, without really knowing this would be the place I wanted to get to.
At first I wasn’t going to write this post, because it is a little personal. However, I know that body acceptance is a pretty rare thing for women. So, I thought I would share what worked for me, in the hopes that it will work for you too.
I exercise When I challenge myself physically and feel my body becoming stronger and more capable, I can’t help but love it. With each accomplishment - my first mile run, my first half marathon, my first triathlon, my first oblique knee push-up, etc., I become more confident in myself and my abilities. The more I know my body can do, the less room there is for negative feelings about it.
I stopped subscribing to pop culture I have no idea who Justin Beiber is dating, or if he is even popular anymore. At yesterday’s spin class, I didn’t know one single song. I no longer read People magazine. I drastically reduced the amount and type of TV I was watching. The only way I know what is in style is when I go out in public and see every single girl wearing the same thing (which I think looks extremely uncomfortable). I did this very slowly, and maybe not even intentionally, it was a natural change that happened as I shifted priorities in my life. However, as I am no longer paying attention to what is “cool,” I compare myself to others much less, which is always a win in the self confidence book.
I surround myself with great women Most of the women I am around do not talk about themselves negatively. Maybe I am blessed with incredibly beautiful friends, or maybe my friends are just that awesome. At first I didn’t think much about it, but when I hear other women talk (yes, I eavesdrop), I notice that this is pretty rare. Hearing other women say negative things about their bodies can impact the way you feel about your body. So ladies, let’s stop the fat talk. Like yesterday.
I screen my social media This is the previous two points combined. I follow a lot of people on Facebook, Twitter, other blogs, and Instagram, and lately, if they post something that makes me feel bad about myself, I immediately unfollow them. Pictures of extremely skinny women? Unfollow. Negative talk about their bodies? Unfollow. Before and after bikini pictures that go from a size 2 to a size 0? Unfollow. I know what I read and see greatly impacts how I feel, and I don’t have room for that in my life.
I eat clean and nourishing food A very simple concept: I (mostly) eat food that makes me feel good. When I feel good, I on’t have negative thoughts about my body. So easy to do, but also so easy to lose sight of.
I stopped weighing myself If you haven’t figured it out yet, I quit Weight Watchers, and I am way past due explaining why, but that is another post for another day. However, one of the reasons is that I am more and more convinced that weight is not the best predictor of health. There were years of my life where I let a number (that often didn’t represent anything) impact my mood for the entire week. Knowing that I gained one pound, or even half a pound, would sit in the back of my head and lead to many negative thoughts about myself and my body. I read the article, Why You Should Throw Away Your Scale, and have only weighed myself a few times since. When i do see my weight, I think of it as a measurement, and try to not let it define me.
I became a mom I have harped on this point many times, but it is worth repeating. My body grew Ina for 9 months, and then nourished her for a year. My arms comfort her when she is upset. My smile makes her smile. My laugh makes her laugh. How can I have one negative feeling about something so powerful? Furthermore, the way she sees me act and feel about my body will show her how she should act and feel about her body. The thought of her feeling bad about herself breaks my heart into a billion pieces and I will do everything in my power to prevent it.
I married an extremely supportive man One of Dan’s best qualities is that he thinks he has the best of everything. To him, his car is the fastest, his house is the coolest, and his wife is the prettiest and he tells me that often. Through the many changes my body has made since we have been together, he has never said anything but nice things about it.
I accepted Jesus Christ into my life If you can do one thing, this is it. Learning about the love that God has for me and the sacrifice he made for me makes me incredibly special. He loves me so much, so why shouldn’t I love myself too? I am one of God’s works of art, a masterpiece. There could never be a more beautiful me. Period.
In conclusion, although I had that moment of acceptance, it isn’t like I was “cured” of my negative body thoughts. They still happen, but my goal is for less and less of them everyday.
How about you? Have you had this type of feeling? What led you there?