I know I'm not the only one who has struggled with their body image. It didn't matter what size I was or what I did in the gym, I was never happy with what I saw in the mirror. At best, I would try to ignore what I saw or avoid mirrors altogether when I was feeling especially jiggly and soft.
And I have friends that are perpetually unsatisfied with their bodies. Every comment about their body is so negative, and that unhappiness is worked into nearly every conversation: "Ugh, I feel so fat!" It makes me sad that they truly feel that way about their bodies, because I know how that feels. I was there, up until just 2-3 years ago. It has taken me 33+ years to finally feel comfortable in my own skin.
But that doesn't mean that the work is done. It's a continual practice to not only accept, but also love and appreciate my body in all of its glory and imperfections. I still have days when I feel frustrated with my level of leanness. And I still have days when I have to remind myself that my worth is not tied to my body fat percentage or my ability to follow a diet plan perfectly. Just last night, in fact.
Why are we so hyper critical of our bodies? Why do we keep beating ourselves up everyday?
We think we need that negative reinforcement, that anger at ourselves and our bodies to spur action. But it's sooooo not true. It's actually a sure recipe for continual dissatisfaction with our bodies and never feeling "good enough." It sets up a vicious cycle that's difficult to break, and it's demoralizing. It stunts our growth and potential, because we are so focused on what we look like and how we're falling short, that we don't have the mental energy and drive to go after the things that really matter.
Negative reinforcement as a motivation tool may get you to the gym and eating rabbit food for a little while. The fitspo images on social media may give you a little kick in the pants to do the work every once in a while. But it will only take you so far and only lasts so long. It ultimately leaves us feeling worse and worse about our bodies and ourselves in the long run. And I don't know about you, but if I keep harping on myself about all of my shortcomings and imperfections, physical or otherwise, I begin to mentally shut down. I wonder, what's the point? I can't do this. I suck. Eff this. And then I stop resisting the siren call of the ice cream in my freezer and I skip my workout. It's a domino effect, and not in a good way.
Thankfully, the work I've put in over the past several years is paying off. I have hit rock bottom and fought my way back up. I keep reminding myself that I am good enough right now, as is, no matter if I'm competition-ready or over my normal weight. And strangely enough (or maybe not so strange), the more I appreciate my body, the more inclined I am to do good things for it. Going to the gym is an act of self-care and love instead of a punishment or something I have to do to "fix" myself. I reach for an apple instead of chips. I enjoy the process of getting fit.
I've noticed that women who are focused on what they hate about their bodies and who beat themselves up for every little slip-up are the ones who get stuck in the yo-yo dieting cycle of lose --> gain --> lose --> gain it back and then some --> lose some of it --> gain even more. It's a thoroughly miserable experience. And no woman deserves that.
We take care of the things we love, and shame has no place in a sustainable, enjoyable transformation. It took me years to get to a place of self-acceptance and love, but it has made all the difference.
So don't feed the cycle of self-loathing. Choose to focus on what you want to gain from your transformation journey, be it muscles to show off in a bikini, strength to move furniture on your own, energy to keep up with the kids, or confidence to go after your dreams.
Make the choice every day, every minute, to do things that will nourish your body and mind and enrich your life.
Getting fit shouldn't be about beating your body into submission. It should be about doing things that make it perform and feel better. It should be about thriving, not just surviving.
What helps you accept and love your body, as is? What do you still struggle with? Let's start a convo on the B Kinetic Fitness Facebook page.