I had one of those moments just the other day when I was editing some short exercise videos for my YouTube channel. In one, I was doing pull-ups wearing a new pair of light gray/silver capris that fit like a second skin. From the second I slipped them on in the dressing room at Athleta, I knew I had to have them. Add a $20 sale tag…sold!
So I wore these fancy pants, proud as a peacock, to the gym later that night. They put a little extra spring in my step. (Ladies, you know what I mean. What is it about cute new gym clothes that makes us so excited to go work out?)
Back to the video. I’m watching myself walk away from the camera I had propped up to video myself. And I could almost hear a record scratch to a halt.
“Omigod, is my cellulite showing through those pants?” I wondered. Whaaaa tha fuuuuuuuu.
And just as the all-too-familiar feeling of dismay crept in, another thought thrust its way through. “So what? Who the eff cares? I freakin’ love those pants!”
It was then that I realized with awe that I honestly (finally!) didn’t give a fuck about the fact that I have cellulite. That brief feeling of dismay was just a knee-jerk reaction that had kicked in out of pure habit.
So what if I have noticeable dimpling on the backs of my thighs, butt, and even a bit on my upper arms? It’s not like it’s ever going to go away. It was still there even at 11-12% body fat at my bikini competition last June. It looked a smidge better, but not enough to write home about.
I have spent so many years of my life overly concerned with this particular flaw and with hiding it from the eyes of the outside world, lest “they” find it unappealing or appalling. So much wasted time and energy!
The moment with the video made me realize that I’ve made big strides in my quest to total self-love and acceptance.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like it was an overnight thing, either. It was a painstakingly slow evolution to not only accept, but to appreciate this “imperfection” that I detested for so long.
In part because I realized that I can help other women get the eff over their own cellulite and other stuff too. If I can walk around the gym in short shorts or the beach or pool in a bikini with all my cellulite hanging out for the world to see…then maybe I can make it a little bit easier for someone else to feel okay strutting their stuff too.
Let’s put it this way. Imagine a woman or young girl hitting the gym for the first time in a long while (or ever). She sees me going about my business with confidence and with no care for the cellulite or other skin flaws showing (spider veins, bruises, etc). Maybe she thinks to herself, “Hmmm. If someone that lean has cellulite too and doesn’t feel the need to cover it up, then maybe mine isn’t such a big deal either.” Imagine that. One less stupid thing to unnecessarily stress about. Yeeeeesssss! To me, that’s a very big deal. That’s a small victory.
My whole mission and purpose with this platform and with my clients is to help women to reach their potential, to be their best selves unapologetically in every aspect of their lives, unfettered by the kind of useless insecurities that have held me back for so long. And the bonus is that this kind of work helps me too. I am a work in progress, striving to get a little better each day.
As women, we all feel subject to our culture’s unrealistic beauty and feminine ideals. We all feel that pressure from an early age, and even more so today in this age of ubiquitous social media. It’s easier than ever to fall into the comparison trap. And even fit pros like myself get sucked in from time to time. It’s the nature of the beast.
One of the catalysts to this new, emerging mindset of mine (at least regarding my cellulite) was a blog post by Amber Rogers of Go Kaleo. She wrote an awesome diatribe about the ridiculousness that is our culture’s obsession with cellulite. I read it for the first time when it went live almost 2 years ago. And while I was like, “Yes! That is so right on!” deep down I still fretted about and hid my own cellulite.
The second time the post went viral, many months later, I read it again and Something. Just. Clicked.
I don’t know what it was, the timing or what, but Amber’s words struck a chord in a major way. It’s not often that you read something that truly touches you in a real way and affects how you see yourself.
And then in late 2013, elite runner Lauren Fleshman posted a blog along this same vein — “Keeping It Real.” She was responding to all the attention she was getting about the amazing runway shot of her sporting ripped abs just 3 months after giving birth. She showed the truth behind that one perfect shot — posting pics of her just a few days later, sans tan and sucked-in belly. There was even a pic of the cellulite on the back of her own slender legs. “Thigh cheese,” she called it.
It was so nerve-racking pushing “share” on that one. Putting my cellulite-ridden thighs on Instagram for the whole world to see? Aaaaahhhhhh!!!
But it was a big step for me. I mean, I have 2 choices here. I can choose to continue loathing something that I really can’t change and feel miserable, or I can choose to accept it and move on. The second choice is by far the hardest one to accomplish, but it’s the one that will serve me best and give me peace of mind in the long-term. No brainer, right? (Yeah, tell that to the critical voice in my head!) ;-P
Another insightful blog post that inspired me was written by fellow fitness professional and owner of Girls Gone Strong Molly Galbraith — "Cellulite, Stretch Marks and a Love Your Body Challenge."
She’s readily shares her own struggles with body image and the strategies that she uses to overcome them. She also asked several other fit pros to contribute their own pics and thoughts on their perceived imperfections.
Yeah, yeah, I know. This whole cellulite thing is pretty dumb to be even wasting time on. And in an ideal world it wouldn’t even be a blip on the radar. There are so many other more important things we should be focusing our energy on. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world, and appearance (from head to toe) is a very real concern and source of stress for many (all?) women.
For better or worse, we have to figure out how to accept and love every part of ourselves, warts and all, or risk being a slave to the whims of cultural ideals and trends.
I’ve bought my fair share of cellulite creams and lotions in the past, always telling myself, “I know this isn’t a permanent fix and it may do nothing, but if it helps just a little bit even temporarily…” I just have to roll my eyes and have a good chuckle at my younger self. We all do silly things in the name of fixing something we don’t like about ourselves, right? I am no different.
The great thing about the interwebz is that we can have a genuine conversation about these things. I’m not just talking to you, I’m learning from you all as well. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, and I’m eager to learn from our collective experiences. We can struggle and stumble and fall and fail together. We also learn and succeed and win together. How awesome is that?
And don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t mind a bit if I woke up tomorrow and my cellulite was miraculously gone. That’d be awesome, I won’t lie. But since the likelihood of that occurring is about the same as my 5-foot-nothing frame growing an extra five inches, I’m okay with it. It’s there. It’s just another part of me that doesn’t define me or my worth.
So who the fuck cares? Not me.
What’s one thing about your body that you’ve grown to accept and even appreciate? I’d love to hear how you got to that place. Head over to my Facebook page and let’s chat.