You look in the mirror, and what do you see? For many women, mirrors are the enemy. Our reflections unveil everything that we don’t like about ourselves. There’s that blemish on your chin, the bloat in your belly, your slightly sagging boobs, and the dimples on your thighs. It’s easy to look in the mirror and think, “I hate this. I hate you. Women have it rough.” And yes, we do have it rough. But, mama said bullying is bad – and you are not the exception. Body anxiety is real – and it is effecting women of all shapes and sizes.
Why is it so difficult to be body positive? I have been on both sides of this struggle. I was curvy before social media and magazines said it was “cool” to be curvy. I remember how emotionally, and physically painful it was before I lost the weight. I was bullied for having fat thighs, I felt the burn of chafing in the summer months, and I ripped through my fair share of jeans.
Doesn’t she look happy?
Then, I got skinny…really skinny. I started to enjoy shopping again, and the chafing went away. I accomplished the thigh gap of my dreams. But somehow, my confidence still lingered, and the anxiety I felt about my shape continued to grow.
Today, I look in the mirror from time to time, and that same bully from high school reappears. I analyze every curve, dimple, stretch mark and bulge, always wishing that I could be thinner. If I could just fix all of these problems, I would finally be happy with my body. Right?
Wrong. Because skinny is not magic. Being body positive requires just as much mental exercise as it does physical exercise. No amount of time spent at the gym or eating spinach with lemon juice has given me the long-term confidence I’ve spent my life chasing after. The real magic comes from learning to accept yourself completely, flaws and all.
Eat Well, Live Well, Be Well
The mirror is not the enemy – you are. How’s that for a #truthslap? Let me speak on your behalf for a minute.
- You know that working out makes you feel better, physically and mentally.
- You know that eating fresh vegetables, lean meats, and healthy fats will make you feel more energized and satisfied.
- You know that positive affirmations, journaling, and mindful breathing help to keep you centered, and calm, and focused.
So, why is it such a challenge to work out consistently, eat healthy consistently, and be mindful consistently? Could these three principles be the key to unlocking your body positivity? Abso-freaking-lutely. Here’s the trick – if you really want to feel good about the skin you are in, you must…
Invest a little, commit with your heart, and forgive yourself a lot.
The investment is not always related to money. For some people, the challenge is investing time. For others, the risk is associated with the vulnerability you feel when stepping into the gym, running around the block or hiring some help. But if you really want to start chipping away at that body anxiety, you have to invest a little.
Spend 3 minutes every day looking at your reflection and giving only compliments. Cut back on your trips to Starbucks and grab a $10/month membership to Planet Fitness. Treat yourself to a brisk walk a few times every week. If you don’t believe that you are worth the investment, then you are wasting your time reading this article.
I committed myself to a 6 week workout program last summer, and I felt unstoppable. I was toned, my skin cleared up, and my IBS started to bother me less and less. Then, summer ended, and I stopped. Why? Because programs like that are temporary commitments. If you really want to start feeling great from the inside out, you need to realize 3 things:
- Dieting will not resolve your struggles with confidence and body positivity. It may help a little (or a lot), but the commitment to your wellness is a mental journey.
- Quick fix programs are a great start to get you motivated, but you have to set realistic expectations for yourself, and for the lifestyle you desire. I considered joining Crossfit, until I remembered…I have absolutely no interest in engaging in that type of physical activity.
- Body anxiety may never go away 100%. I don’t know a single person who feels great about the way they look 100% of the time. Do you? And that brings me to the forgiveness aspect of all of this…
So, you just spent 20 minutes ripping yourself a part, criticizing the way you look, and then the way you feel about the way you look…those 20 minutes only made things worse. So you throw on a fake smile, tell yourself “Whatever – this is as good as it’s gonna get”, and you head out the door, wearing that fake confidence you’ve come to know so well. This ritual that we have become accustomed to is bullshit. It doesn’t help, it hurts your feelings, and it is frustrating for you and those around you. I can’t tell you how many times my husband has had to listen to me rant on and on about this crap.
But, it’s okay. It feels like crap, but it’s okay to experience this lack of self love and confidence. So stop yelling at yourself to “cut it out.” Feel your feelings, just don’t become them. Forgive your mind for going to that place; forgive your body for feeling yucky at times; and forgive yourself for being human.
It is only with forgiveness that we can experience the release of that body anxiety.