This summer I had a pretty significant a-ha moment. Let me begin by saying that I have always been body conscious. Throughout my life I have been at different weights - at times, thin and at other times, overweight. I can relate to the feeling of going shopping and being able to wear whatever I wanted, to crying in the change room because I hated the way I felt in the clothes I was trying on. It's one of my life struggles. One thing that I have noticed is that no matter what my weight is, when I look back at photos of myself at various times, I realized that I judged myself very harshly. I'd look at a photo where I felt like I gained a few pounds and I look 'great'. Or I'd look at photos of myself when I was very thin and realize that I wasn't very happy at that time or didn't even look my best. Lets add to this whole equation that I've been on every diet known to man - I've tried 'everything' from atkins to being vegan, to the blood type diet etc etc. My a-ha moment came when I was in Spain this summer and at one of the local beaches. I noticed women of every shape and size, every height and weight and I left with this sense of peace and self-acceptance. I finally had the understanding that we truly are all different and we shouldn't be striving to look and be something that we're not. Not every women is 6 foot tall and a size two. We have succumb to the unrealistic vision created by unrealistic individuals in the fashion industry that there is only one model of beauty and that is the tall, overly-thin woman. Yet, when I was at that beach in Spain, I saw truly beautiful women. What made them beautiful is that they all 'owned' their own bodies and were proportionate to their own weight/height. Everyone looked the way God created them to look. They looked like real women not barbie prototypes. There was no judgement on that beach and in fact, every woman gave off this energy that they were comfortable in their own skin. I realized right then and there that the issue isn't always with what size we're wearing, its how good we feel in our own bodies and how we treat ourselves. Do we accept ourselves? Do we treat ourselves with kindness? Do we even allow ourselves to feel beautiful? or have we placed on ourselves this unrealistic agenda that we can only feel beautiful once we're a size 6. The second that I stopped comparing myself to everyone on the beach, decided to embrace my body and allow myself to feel attractive, was the beginning of my own sense of self acceptance. From that place, I was able to make choices that really reflected how much I accepted and appreciated myself. It's 100% true that you need to value and love yourself first. Once you're able to do that, you no loner need the outside world and it's approval of you. That being said, the goal, therefore, should be to strive to 'feel good' and do something good for yourself everyday. It's about loving yourself and your body, giving up the judge/jury dynamic and doing something everyday that celebrates the gift of being 'you'. So, what does that really mean?
Understand that your body-temple was created for you and only YOU can give yourself the gift of loving your own body. It's 100% only your responsibility! Therefore, give yourself permission to love every inch of who you are. Once you begin to accept yourself and love your creation, you will WANT to give yourself the best: the best food to fuel your body, the best messages to encourage yourself, wearing the colours that look best on you, wearing clothes that highlight your best features, doing an exercise that makes your body feel amazing, listening to what your body needs - Perhaps it's telling you that it needs more sleep or that alcohol/coffee/dairy/gluten etc etc doesn't make you feel the best. Once you know you are deserving of the best, you must give yourself the best. Knowing that something isn't right for you, but continuing to do it, isn't an act of self-love. It's the opposite. I realized that for me, I love eating a Mediterranean diet, more fish and vegetables, less meat and bread. However, I also saw the value of moderation and not denying yourself something. It's enjoying that glass of wine with gusto, eating that piece of bread without self-judgment/hatred afterwards. It really comes down to how do you treat and talk to yourself? If you're talking to someone you love, you don't belittle them for making a wrong choice, you help them acknowledge and see why it wasn't the best choice and be aware of it (i.e. wow, I really overdid it last night - I can't handle red wine like I used to, I feel bloated after eating all that bread etc etc etc - whatever the case may be) - but 'own it' and then give yourself permission to forgive yourself and take responsibility for making a better choice next time. When you love yourself, you treat yourself like your best friend. So become your own best friend to yourself - tell yourself you look great, acknowledge when you do something amazing. You will know when you are acting on your best behalf when you choose that healthy meal and know you are deserving of feeding your body the best....and....... you will also know that you are being your best friend when you have that piece of cake and feel in alignment with your choice and don't beat yourself up afterwards. Life is too short to not love the person you were created to be.
Take the time to see the uniqueness that is you. Look at your creation in the mirror and allow yourself to appreciate every inch of who you are. We often identity ourselves as our bodies, but at our deepest level, we are beings of light who have a greater purpose. When you embrace and recognize that the being within you is eternal and that your body is simply a temporary vessel, you will know that your true worth can't be weighed or assigned a number. Yet, the vessel you are in was assigned to you for a reason. Perhaps when you finally accept, love and appreciate that vessel, you will see the true worth of what lies within it! The true treasure that is YOU!