Today I did something my body was craving. Instead of the cardio workout video I’ve been trying to talk myself into the past weeks, I ran. I’ve run mostly on and sometimes off for the past 10 years. Running is what got me the fittest, and it’s what I’ve loved most. There is something glorious about zoning out and simply putting one foot in front of the other. Running is when I feel my spirit really takes charge of directing my body, and at a deep level it feels better than anything I’ve ever done for my health. Now, running may not be your thing, but I challenge you to find or do the things that makes you feel strong and in charge of your body. Maybe it’s yoga, or weight training, or dance. Maybe it’s a sport, or getting outside for vigorous walks or hikes.
Now I’m just the same as most women out there. I’ve grown up in a culture that communicates messages to us; some very overt, and others almost on a subliminal level. These images and messages seep into our physics’ and dictate what our bodies should look like, and what their purpose is. Is my body intended to be a sex symbol to drive men wild? Is my body intended just to look good? Does my body have to have all the same curves in all the same places as the “beautiful” bodies that have been paraded in front of me in order to be worthy and appreciated? I declare no to all the above!
I am subject to the same berating self-talk that you all are. I feel this pressure to improve my physical appearance, and then at a future day when I finally feel satisfied that my efforts have paid off (meaning yielding certain outward results) I can then finally and fully love and embrace myself. I’m just beginning to realize how paralyzed I have been in loving my body. My body is part of me: It is the tabernacle that houses my spirit, my will, my desires, and makes me who I am; a whole woman. Self-loathing has never motivated a single person to make positive changes for themselves. Please be aware that not being afraid to see yourself as you truly are, seeing what you want to change and then going after it are acts of self-love, not self-loathing.
Today after I got off my treadmill and I really took in what my body was feeling, I was filled with gratitude. I felt strong, and confident. I felt in charge and in control of my magnificent body. Because I’ve put on a few pounds in the past year, I’ve been beating myself up about how I need to get it off. I’ve been filled with shame and self-doubt. How can I be an example of health and fitness to others if I’m 10-15 pounds heavier than I was a year or so ago? These types of thoughts have filled my head and depressed my spirit. Am I any closer to being where I want to be since these thoughts have taken over? No! In fact they seemed to have halted progress in every attempt I’ve made to make healthy changes I knew I wanted and needed. What was my problem? Why could I not seem to motivate myself to do what I knew I needed? Come to find out, the reasons for doing something are often more important than the reasons themselves. I was acting out of a place of fear, of worrying about my body mostly because of how it appeared to others, and how I might be judged from others. I had forgotten that I am worthy simply because of my effort, not due to the results of my effort. My wonderful husband has defined remembering as making a truth or principle a part of you again; not a mere mental recollection. I had not remembered, or made this truth a part of me again, until today.
As I stretched out, I felt my muscles respond, and I became aware of my strong heart as its pace was decreasing, and I cried! It seemed to come out of nowhere. It was a purifying cry that seemed to cleanse me from the inside out. I declared aloud, “I love my body!” “I love that my body can embrace my children, and passionately kiss my husband.” “I love that my body can run and make itself stronger.” “I love that my body has carried, given birth to and fed four beautiful children who mean so much to me.” “I love that my body allows me to be here, to experience things, to help people.”
In my basement this morning I truly remembered something that I hope to never forget again. I eat well and exercise out of love and respect for my body. It has already earned my love and respect for all the reasons stated above. Exercise and good nutrition are not merely a means to an end. They are a declaration of self-love!