There was a time in my life when my body and I weren’t on great terms.
In fact, if I could describe my relationship with it at the time, I’d say it was rocky at best, and filled with contempt, thanks to my constant self loathing.
I was overweight and overwhelmed, hated it whenever someone pointed a camera at me, and avoided going out as much as possible because I felt so self-conscious about my weight. Looking in the mirror brought up feelings of pain and disappointment, every single time.
I constantly asked myself: “Why don’t you have any self control around food?”
I didn’t have the answer then, but when a friend, who had gotten tired of watching me wallow in my pity party forced me to confront my fears, I realized that I had to start looking. I owed it to her to be the best version of me around her, and I owed it to me to not give up on myself.
As I worked on healing and losing my excess weight, my perception of my body began to change and the self loathing gradually dissipated. These changes didn’t happen overnight, in a week or a month though. It took me over a year to get comfortable in my new (and progressively slimmer) body and start to feel like a “normal” person.
It was also then that amazing things that helped me feel truly comfortable in my own skin, started to happen:
1. The kinder I was to myself, the less I needed to eat my emotions
The less critical I was of myself, the less I felt the need to turn to food to fill a void or deal with a difficult situation, and the more compelled I felt to do the things that strengthened me, like connecting with a close friend, heading to my yoga mat or joining a kickboxing class.
2. Food inspired feelings of calm and happiness, not fear and overwhelm
Despite my weakness for food, it scared me because I felt so out of control around it.
That wasn’t a headspace I wanted to stay in, so I practiced eating with intention and awareness, which eventually allowed me to eat whatever I wanted in portions that supported my weight loss.
And, even though I still slipped on on some days, I instinctively knew what to do to return to a place of balance, nourishment and calm.
3. Movement stopped feeling like punishment and started to bring me joy
When I first started exercising, I couldn’t jog for more than a minute without feeling like my lungs were going to explode and legs would collapse. Every step I took felt like torture, but I kept at it.
A couple of months later, I had a breakthrough and found myself jogging for 10, 15, 20 minutes without stopping. I took kickboxing classes. I joined a bootcamp. I realized that I loved movement.
Recently, I did my first few long-distance obstacle races. If you’re just starting out, know this: Even if exercising feels impossibly hard in the beginning, it won’t always be that way.
4. The spring in my step came back even though I didn’t think it would
The further I progressed, the more I realized that I no longer dragged my feet or hunched my shoulders, and the pep in my step returned.
I felt lighter and less encumbered inside-out, and saw possibilities, not dead ends. At my lowest point, I never thought I’d ever feel this way, but I was wrong.
If you’re struggling to put one step in front of the other, don’t let yourself give up. Things will change if you keep trying.
5. Achieving my goal felt so much easier when I focused on the journey, not the outcome
Having struggled with my weight for over 10 years of my life, the thought reaching my goal felt impossible. It felt so out of reach that for a long time, I just didn’t do anything.
Sick of stalling, I eventually decided to focus on taking one step at a time, one day at time, and focus on the process, because that was the only thing I could see myself doing consistently.
Instead of stressing over how I would get to my end goal, I gave my attention to how I could get healthier one meal at a time, how I could get fitter one workout at a time, and how I could love myself more, one nurturing thought at a time.
Baby steps became my priority. And you know what? They worked.
If you’re struggling with how you feel about your body, which of these lessons can you see yourself taking a step further with? I’d love to know in the comments below!