As a child I was very tiny and had no problems eating up half the food in the house without gaining a pound. Chocolate for breakfast, why not?! My mother used to say, ” One day it will catch up with you. You can’t live off of junk food forever!” These wise words of warning never stuck with me. I was invincible, right?!!It didn’t take long to realize that my body was going to change and I would learn what humility meant.
I started to notice I was struggling with body imagine after getting pregnant with my first baby. My weight fluctuating upwards of 90 lbs, through three pregnancy. My short, petite body being stretched in every which direction. With postpartum depression that followed I often used food as a crutch to cope with the overwhelming pressures I felt as a new mom. I began to see how this affected not only my weight but my skin, energy levels and moods. I felt uncomfortable in my body and carried shame, even embarrassment for how I looked. I hadn’t taken care of myself the way I wish I had. This is where my journey began. This is where I started to rebuild my confidence, love and acceptance for this new body of mine that looked very different then it once did.
So I lost the weight, got healthy, felt energized and pretty good about myself overall, yet when I looked into the mirror I looked nothing like those instagram pictures everyone seemed to be posting. The stretch marks were still there, and my skin wasn’t as tight and defined as it once was. Even after all that work, my body was very different.
So, how do we learn to love our bodies fully as we are? How do we find acceptance and love for ourselves despite any “imperfections” and scars? How do we embrace this human experience and learn to love and support ourselves throughout this journey? Here are some of the ways I learned to cultivate self love and acceptance on my healing journey.
1) Self affirmations. Say loving things to yourself each and every day like, ” I feel good today.” “I am strong.” “I am at peace.” “I am loving.” Saying these things to yourself can feel uncomfortable and even awkward at times but the more we shift our mindset and open our awareness to the things we love about ourselves we begin to move away from those negative thoughts.
2) Love your scars and imperfections. See the beauty in the pain. These are pieces of your story; they are a road map of all the things you’ve experienced. See them as wisdom and strength that came from some of those more challenging times. Honour your body for all it has done and continues to do for you each and every day. Shifting this perceptive is key to learning how to love your body fully and with true compassion.
3) Practice yoga and meditation. Practicing mind/body movements helps to reconnect you to your body on a very deep and meaningful level. This helps to strength that bond and appreciation for you body and this amazing vessel we have to explore life through. These vessels are SO important. It’s not about how they look that truly matters but how well they function. Shift your desire for a “perfect body” to a desire to have a strong and capable body that can take you on all the adventures you desire.
4) Take care of your body. Exercise, and eat a healthy balanced diet that is filled with high vibrational foods like fruits and veggies. Enjoy physical activities that bring you joy and help you embrace you body. It’s no mystery that eating right and spending time exercises helps to release all those feel good hormones and bring a sense of comfort and connection back to our body.
5) Remember beauty is an illusion. Yes that’s right. All the pictures you see on Instagram or in magazines are often altered in some way. When understanding this truth we can begin to move away from comparing ourselves to this illusion, these high standards that are unattainable and unrealistic. When I was at the beach a few years ago, I realized that everyone there was far from “perfect.” They all had some sort of “scars” or marking, wrinkle or fold of skin: everyone was unique in their own way. I noticed that there wasn’t a single person there that didn’t have some sort of “imperfection,” or at least what society might perceive to be imperfect. In reality these are not imperfections, these markings are what make our story unique. Without any differences in one another we would be living in a pretty boring world, in my opinion. Realizing it’s all an illusion freed me from feeling like my body wasn’t “good enough” and helped me embrace myself and this journey giving me new perspective and deeper meaning. We are ALL perfectly imperfect.
So love yourself fully. Take care of your body and show appreciation for all it does for you. Fed yourself clean foods, and practice saying loving words. Go enjoy an activity that makes you feel amazing. Get dressed up and go out dancing! Remind yourself that you are sexy, beautiful inside and out, and the only person that needs to feel that about you is YOU!