I mentioned several lessons I’ve learned throughout the four years I’ve been writing Weightless in this giveaway post (you can enter to win a book of your choice). But I wanted to expand on the lessons and share a more thorough list.
So here’s what I’ve learned in four years of being a body image blogger.
Accepting your body and yourself is healthy. Self-acceptance doesn’t mean you’re throwing in the towel or letting yourself go or whatever other annoying term we often see in some annoying ad or article.
Sadly, in our society, the predominant belief is that self-hatred leads to positive change. It doesn’t. Self-hatred, however, does lead to anxiety, depression, sleepless nights and a negative body image.
A healthy relationship with yourself is the foundation for your other relationships and everything else in your life. Everything.
We are made to move. Movement reconnects us to our bodies, quiets negative racing thoughts, alleviates anxiety and boosts mood. But movement looks different for everyone. And it’ll look different on different days for the same person, depending on how you feel and what you want.
Some days, I want a tough strength-training workout or an intense run. Other days, I want to take a walk. And still on other days I want to ride my bike.
There’s no standard for what real women look like. Occasionally you might read a headline that says: “Real women have curves” (or some other version). The reality is that real women come in all shapes, sizes and weights.
Real women have curves, don’t have curves, have smaller waists, have bigger waists…whatever.
You’re not a bad body image blogger if you have bad days. If your self-care is slim. Very slim. And if you’re feeling disconnected from your body. Nope. You’re just human. Building a positive relationship with yourself and your body is a process. Ups and downs are inevitable.
Sometimes the thin ideal sneaks in. And when it does, it’s another opportunity to practice kindness, explore what’s really going on and avoid letting negative thoughts drive our behaviors.
Our bodies are incredible machines. Here are just five, among very many, reasons our bodies are amazing. It’s OK to pause once in a while in awe of them.
There’s always time for self-care. It might look different depending on what’s on your plate that day or week. It might look different during a big transition or a particularly stressful time.
But abandoning self-care altogether only spikes our stress levels. Figure out your non-negotiables, and put them on your schedule. Simplify self-care. Pare it down to your bare essentials. This piece can help.
There are sooooo many ways to boost your well-being without ever focusing on weight. Focusing on your weight can be detrimental to your health and actually lead you to engage in unhealthy behaviors or stop engaging in healthy ones. (Here’s more.)
The great news is that regardless of the number on the scale, you can move your body, meditate, eat mindfully, journal, see a therapist, see a doctor, eat fruits and veggies and get enough sleep.
Everything can be learned. You can learn to be kinder to yourself. You can learn to have a more positive body image. You can learn to listen to your body and its needs. You can learn to feel your feelings, and set boundaries.
You can learn to ditch dieting. You can learn that “health” magazines often lie.
You can unlearn unhealthy habits and learn healthy ones. (Because those negative thoughts, even that inner critic, is simply a habit.) You’re not doomed to years of feeling like crap about your body and yourself.
“Fat talk” is optional. Many women are used to bashing their bodies and bonding over “fat talk.” But you don’t have to join in. You can steer the conversation in a different, more meaningful, direction.
The conversations surrounding “I was sooo bad last night, I had three cookies,” and “My thighs are a lot bigger than yours” only keep us small, sad and scared. They perpetuate negative thoughts and don’t give us a chance to enjoy ourselves or really get to know ourselves and others.
What I’ve also learned throughout the years is that I don’t need to earn someone else’s respect or my own.
I don’t need to change my appearance in order to finally be worthy. In order to have fulfilling and satisfying relationships. In order to take better care of myself. In order to act on my aspirations. In order to feel comfortable and content in my own skin.
I am worthy, as I am. You are worthy, as you are.
This may sound cliche or trite or like a platitude. But it’s true. It’s an important lesson. And it may take some time to learn. And some work to relearn.
But that’s the nature of building a relationship with ourselves. It changes. It evolves. It gets messy. It gets complicated. Some days it feels excruciatingly tough. Other days it couldn’t be easier.
In fact, that’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned throughout the past four years: I am worthy, as I am. You are worthy, as you are. The best thing we can do for ourselves is to act like it, even if and when we don’t fully believe it.