Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Love My Body Project - Week 4: Love YOUR Body

I was at the gym yesterday, and they are starting a Wall of Success. People can email their success stories to be posted on a motivation wall. Some of the leading questions were things like "What's your favorite cardio workout?" or "How has working out affected you?" or "How much weight have you lost?"

As I kickboxed like a lumpy rhinoceros (because let's face it, I may be learning to love my body, but I still don't go no rhythm), I thought about success stories. I think they are for the most part good. They are motivating. They are encouraging. Especially for those already on a fitness journey, they can be inspiring. But they can also be demotivating.

There's been times I've read blogs about getting fit or eating right, and it just depressed me. The author would talk about how great it feels to go to the gym each day or to run miles before breakfast, and I'd just think, "I don't have time for that" or "Easier said than done." And I'd be demotivated. Their bloody enthusiasm made me want to take a nap. Or I'd read about the right way to eat or "15 Foods That Are LITERALLY Killing You", and I'd think, "I can't afford to eat like that" or "But without cake, my life has no meaning." And I'd be demotivated. Or I'd read "I've lost ten pounds!" and I'd think either, "You've lost ten pounds that quickly? Screw you." or "You've been going on and on about ALL this hard work you've been doing for THIS LONG and you've ONLY lost ten pounds?" And I'd be demotivated.

So this week, I don't want to talk fitness or healthy eating. I don't want to post success stories that will just push you further away.

Because if I know anything, it's that outside pressure will not motivate us inwardly. I can tell you all about my current successes, but it won't necessarily affect you personally. I can say I want to model positive self-love for my kids, and you may agree, but it's not enough to get you motivated to change. It's not until YOU decide in YOUR mind and heart that it's time to change - regardless of what kind of change we are talking about - that things can really start moving forward. Motivation to be healthier can only come from within.

I know many of you may not feel up to hitting the gym for a good cardio workout every day. You may not want to run a marathon (or the length of yourself). You may love cake. (I sure as hell do.) You may be suffering from depression. You may be exhausted. You may be going through a lot of stress or be in a tough situation right now.

I don't want to push you further away.

As important as your health is, today I just want to encourage you to find something you like about the way you look. I don't want to tell you to get fit, get active, push yourself away from the table or deny yourself that much needed piece of chocolate.

I just want you to feel comfortable in your own skin.

It may not be the right time for you to start a workout routine or make major lifestyle changes. Let's be honest and realistic; you've got to be mentally ready for that. But it is time to start changing the way we think about the way we look. However we look. Whatever we look like. Big noses, wide hips, lumpy legs, whatever.

You may not look perfect. In fact, I know you don't look perfect, because there is NO SUCH THING. The curvy hips one woman wishes for are the curvy hips another woman is trying to lose. Tall or short, big chested or small, tiny butt or round - there's no such thing as perfection.

All I want to suggest today is that you go look in the mirror and refuse to cringe. Don't point out your flaws. Lie through your teeth if you must, but say to yourself, "You are beautiful." Say it. Maybe even try to pick out something about it that you do like. Got sexy ankles? A flawless neck? Beautiful hands? Adorable feet? Striking eyes? Luscious hair? Smooth skin? Perfect fingernails? Even complexion? Winning smile? Straight teeth?

For a moment just forget about all the pressure out there to get motivated. You'll get motivated when that moment hits you and you are finally ready. For now, maybe just start with trying to think positively about your body. It's yours, and it's beautiful.

*PS. I'm not saying ignore your health. This really IS your only body, at least until science figures out how to give us all robot bodies, so taking care of it iS important. But sometimes, mental health has come first. Though physical health certainly improves mental health, and if you are up to it, exercising really will improve your mental health, if you aren't mentally or emotionally ready to take on the sometimes big challenge of improving physically, it can feel even harder and more impossible. All I'm saying is learn to love your body, even just a little bit. And hopefully that little taste of self-love will grow into a desire to give your body a little more healthy love.

*PPS. I'm also talking to myself here. Don't think just because I'm saying all this means I'm 100% in love with how I look myself. If you think I don't still wear Spanx under my clothes or suck in my tummy for photos, you're wrong. If you think that I'm not incredibly self-conscious about publishing the above picture, you are seriously wrong.

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