Take Care of Your Body Because You Love It, Not Because You Hate It
For two weeks leading up to that trip to Costa Rica where the picture was taken, I did hours upon hours of cardio, ate less than 1,200 calories a day and restricted myself from carbs (which sent my husband running in the other direction because I got HANGRY. “HI, YOU’RE BREATHING TOO LOUUUUD WHILE YOU EAT YOUR STUPID, GLORIOUS-LOOKING PASTA.”). Despite gaining a small sense of accomplishment for starving myself into visible hip lines, I was still greatly dissatisfied with many other parts of my body.
My experience getting naked before a shower and standing before a mirror would go something like this… [flex bicep] “Nice.” [Turn around and check out backside] “Ewww, I need to do more squats!” [Turn to face the mirror and pinch stomach] “Ugh I shouldn’t have eaten so much. I’m getting fat, and I’ll never get a six pack. Wait wait, OMG MY THIGHS ARE TOUCHING!” [Pinch the inside of my thigh] “Why can’t this thigh fat be in my little boy boobies!!” [Turn back around] “Yeah, def need to do more squats.” [Try to twerk. Nope, still not good at it. Walk into shower.]
I was ALWAYS thinking about food. I’d eat healthy most of the time but would also frequently overeat. I'd be super restrictive to only healthy foods, then I’d freak out and go through long phases of binging on giant portions of bread, desserts, and pizza. You know how Baxter ate a whole wheel of cheese and Ron Burgundy wasn’t even mad, he was impressed? Well, I’ve done that before. And unlike Baxter, I did not poop in the fridge. I couldn’t poop for days. It was awful, but oh man, do I love cheese! (If you haven’t watched that movie, please watch this clip so I don’t feel like a weirdo for making that reference).
Because I’ve been an active athlete all my life and was gifted a quick metabolism from my parents, I never swung too far as far as weight was concerned, but I sure as hell beat myself up for the smallest of changes.
Reading this, you might be thinking I was being delusional, ungrateful, stupid, weird, sad, or pathetic. Maybe all of them. Or maybe it’s totally relatable to you. But I know I’m not alone. We are all constantly bombarded by messages from the media that we are not good enough, not attractive enough, not skinny enough, and not rich enough all because BILLION-dollar corporations profit off of us feeling small. We’ll buy a whole lot of shit to try not to feel inadequate.
So why did I tell you I got constipated from eating an f-ton of cheese? Because I’m here to interrupt that conversation of not enough!
Lots of people have told me that I’ve inspired them to get healthy through all my fitness posts on social media. That is so wonderful. But I always knew I didn’t feel right about accepting praise for it. I had guilt because there was this all this mess going on behind the scenes. Haha you can be sure I only posted pics with the right lighting, flattering angles, flexing, and when I was in a “fit” phase. I wasn’t being real and what I was hiding was the opposite of inspiring.
Directly after the picture was taken in Costa Rica, my world as I knew it fell apart, and I’m so glad it did. It ultimately sent me down a path of self discovery and acceptance which I wrote about in my last blog post (which also goes deeper into why I became so obsessed with seeking perfection). I’ve spent most of 2014 connecting with who I am and I want to be. Who I want to be is an honest, loving, powerful woman who has the courage to be authentic regardless of what others think. So, I want to be inspiring because I’m real, not because I’m good at taking selfies and picking nice filters. I will gain my self worth from within, instead of outside sources. I will share here and on social media because I have something to give, not because I need to take. I want to contribute to a loving conversation about health and fitness. Not one of comparison and shame.
What I’ve come to understand that love is always the answer. Humans are hard wired for love and connection. It’s universal. So it’s no surprise that what was missing from me before was love and connection to myself.
With that discovery, here is how I will love my body, what I’m committed to and why:
1) I am committed to being ACUTELY aware of how I speak to myself. I will be kind, loving and accepting.
If someone spoke to me the way I spoke to myself before or anyone else for that matter, I would tell them to F*** OFF! Right??? Just as we can either bring out the best or worst in people, we can do that in ourselves.
2) I am committed to feeding my body good healthy fuel because I love it.
When I love my body, I have a different conversation with food. “I have to eat this plate of leafy greens because I’m fat and disgusting and it doesn’t have a lot of calories.” versus “I am going to eat this plate of leafy greens because I love my body and this is healthy, usable fuel for it.” It becomes a much more positive experience, therefore, it's sustainable!
3) I will love my body because I love my friends and family.
If I’m no longer drowning in negative thoughts about my body or consumed by analyzing what affects of what I eat, I can be present and engaged with people. Anxiety and stress keeps our minds in constant motion which disconnects us from people around us. And also, if we are good to our body, the more likely it is we will be around a long time to support and root for our loved ones.
4) I will be an example for others and inspire through honesty.
My little sisters have always looked up to me and I can only imagine what it will be like when I have children. We know that children usually pick up habits and ways of being from their parents, so it’s incredibly important that we be a role model. When I have kids, they will never see me look in the mirror and cut myself down because what does that message say?
5) I refuse to waste time worrying about things I cannot change about my body.
It’s an energy and time suck that serves no purpose. I spent years hating the birthmark on forehead, hating the scar on my stomach. And for what? NOTHING! Which leads me to the next one...
6) I will practice gratitude!!! I am grateful for my body!
No matter what state my body is in, I am grateful for it because I am ALIVE! How many people who are stricken with terminal conditions that would do anything to have any body to spend a few more days above ground? And I'm grateful for my birthmark, it's uniquely me. And I would never take back what my scar represents.
When you’re 100 years old and on your deathbed, will you look back at your life and think, “I should have spent more time hating my body?” NO WAY. I once read advice that has always stuck with me from a 90-year old man on Reddit who said, “If I would have known I was going to live this long, I would have taken much better care of my body.” Imagine how different your quality of life would be from age 70-90 if you took care of your body along the way. You only have one body (YOHOB <— yeah, I’m trying to make that go as viral as YOLO). It’s the only vehicle we have to experience this life so we need to treat it kindly.
I truly love my body and am grateful for it. That's why I made the decision to cut out a few items from my diet that don’t support me taking care of my body. I’m cutting out processed sugar, refined grains and alcohol indefinitely, but 100% for at least the next 2.5 months. I am going to work out, stretch, or do yoga everyday.
My goal is to get into the best shape of my life while enjoying the process of a wonderful, loving, healthy LIFESTYLE. I’m going to document the process and also share lessons about what I learn along the way. I'm so excited! Please, stay with me on my spiritual road trip! Since I believe it’s a journey in courage, I’m going to hashtag all my posts just that — #couragejourney - I would love to see learnings and progress from your own #couragejourney, so PLEASE, USE THE TAG!
Thanks so much for reading. As always, I'd love to hear your stories and feedback as well.