Let’s be real: we all struggle with body image issues. We can all find something that we don’t like about ourselves I have struggled with body image since high school. I recently posted a picture of myself at the gym and found myself writing a caption that was almost too honest I didn’t want to hit done. Social media has become a platform for people to share and connect with others through stories or videos around lifestyle, struggle, hardship, weight loss, motherhood, joy, successes, failures and the list goes on. It has allowed me to be more open and honest with myself and others in ways that I would have never imagined. Certain things are not secret nor anything to be ashamed of. You don’t have to share your entire life online but in whatever space you’re in, just remember that we all experience and go through things. Welcome to reality.
The whole active lifestyle thing isn’t new to me. I was never a skinny girl but I have always been athletic. Fun fact: healthy doesn’t mean skinny! I played soccer in my pre-teen days, danced, did cheer and finally gave up (as some kids do) when I was in the early years of high school. High school and teenage life then became an excuse until grade 11. It was in grade 11 that I signed up for my own gym membership using the little bit of money I had made at my part-time job. After a “breakup” I decided that I wanted change. I finally recommitted to myself and exercise was something I desperately needed to reintroduce into my life. I also wanted to be healthier overall. The gym became solace. It allowed me the freedom of being active without having to commit to a group activity. I was able to adjust my plan, go when I wanted to and I didn’t have to rely on anyone but myself to get started. I started hitting the gym, eating better and putting my energy/focus towards a healthier lifestyle. I was dedicated. I ended up losing a tonne of weight that year.
Now body image is a funny thing. I could tell you things I love about myself and things I dislike about myself. The thing about this is about self-scrutiny is that the things you see, others often don’t. Body imagine is usually conflated with a number of other things that we haven’t addressed leaving us to base our understanding and love of self solely on the way we look. Now while how you look is important (and if looks aren’t your thing, more power to ya) it’s not everything. While I was spending a lot of time with myself back then being that I was committed to nothing but my goals, I was too young to appreciate all that was happening to me at that moment. In retrospect, it was probably a good thing since I often find that sometimes maturing too fast isn’t always a good thing.
I don’t have a set body goal and my weight often fluctuates (especially during my time of the month). Yes, I go to the gym and I enjoy it. There are times when I want to be super healthy and other times I will have a burger and large fries. There are other times when I want to lose 10 pounds other times where I won’t work for 2 weeks. Regardless, I have slowly come to appreciate and love my body for what it is at all stages. This post isn’t to say that I hate the way I look or that I am unhappy with myself but rather to suggest that we are all working towards more love, compassion, understanding and appreciation of and for ourselves. At the end of the day, self-love is the most valuable love you will ever experience in life. It also prepares you for whatever else is to come your way.
Here are some things I realized over the years:
Working out should be about you – someone or something may motivate you to get started but leave them at the start. If you make something about someone else and say they stopped noticing or just didn’t care, what would it mean to you? The only thing about any journey is that it’s about you and for you.
There’s more to you than your image – this is pretty straight forward. Work on the things people will remember about you. Looks are not everything. You come to learn this pretty little thing about people.
Weight loss is a goal but not everything – YES! You have finally reached your goal and you love where you are at but if you were to gain back 10 pounds, how would you feel? Weight loss should get you to where you want to be but not be the end all and be all of your journey. Remember that have a realistic and healthy goal is most important.
What is the long-term plan? – It has to be a lifestyle. Find what works for you and stick with it. Not every diet or workout plan will work for you the same way not every diet and workout plan is for everyone. Do some research, seek help if necessary and stay committed. Also, there will be days where you want to be everything you are not and that’s ok. Just remember that you are making it a lifestyle to suit your needs.
Dig deep – do some soul-searching during your journey. You’ll find that many issues with your body issues are sometimes rooted in other issues. This is not to say that you can’t separate body image from other things but it’s pretty easy to move focus to one area of our lives while neglecting other issues that are present.
Food is not the enemy – you can still enjoy what you love to eat and still lose weight. Everything of course has to be done in moderation and exercise is important. You must introduce and maintain balance.
Nothing happens overnight – you have to be patient and kind to yourself. Your body is responsible for many things.
Affirmations are a powerful thing – find three affirmations that you connect with and say them whenever necessary. There is power in words! Also, it’s worth reminding yourself that you are gold.
Self-love is most important – things are always changing and if you find yourself trying to fit inside the small box of standards, nothing will ever be enough. You are with you all the time so there is nothing more important than self-love There will times where you are not happy with something and that’s ok. The thing about self-love is that it allows you to be flexible! Use it to your advantage.
I’m too am still working out issues around body image, and truthfully, I don’t think there will ever be a time that we don’t fixate on something. It doesn’t mean we don’t love ourselves or find perfection in all our imperfections. It suggests that you, like everyone, is human and body image is just as important to me and it is to you as it is to the next person. Finding ways to love and appreciate your body in the most kind and loving way possible is just as important as setting body goals.