For most of my life I hated my body, especially despising the way my stomach looked. I would look down at it or in the mirror with disgust. A flat stomach and nice abs – that’s what I was after in my life. I envied after a mix of supermodel thin and athlete strong but couldn’t even picture myself in such a body. I thought it would be impossible to ever see my snowy rolling hills of a stomach transform to a tanned six-pack.
The thing with impossible is, if you believe it to be true, it mostly likely will stay that way, especially if it is in the realms of your control.
There wasn’t much I could do for the color of my skin – I’m still snowy white even after living in Greece for 2 years – but as for the strength and weight of my body, that I could control. So, for more than five years I was kicking my ass to work out – indoor cycling classes, Pilates, indoor rowing, endless yoga, hiking and running. I’ve been sugar-free, gluten-free and vegan. I’ve restricted and binged. I’ve said ‘no’ to birthday cupcakes, wedding cakes, thanksgiving dessert and ice cream with friends.
Of course working out and eating healthy is great for you. It was for me. But I also had these voices in my head that made my transformation a battle between my mind and body with my rude roomie having the upper hand.
You know those voices. They’re often referred to as an “inner roommate.” You have one, too – that person who is talking when you are silent. I don’t know whom you’re living with, but I was living with a bitch! Pardon my language, but she was nasty; not someone I would ever keep around as a friend. Yet, I let her rule my mind and feelings, usually paralyzing me from action.
How do you get rid of an imaginary person tearing you down and ripping you apart from inside your mind?
What I’ve learned from my yoga teacher and the wonderful author, Ally Hamilton, is that you have to starve your inner critic and feed a loving and supportive one; one that resembles a great friend you want to keep around. In order to starve my inner critic, I used positive affirmations – thank you Louise Hay – which were just as hard of work as losing 40 pounds but even more rewarding.
Whenever I caught my rude roomie saying something bad about my body – so, like a million times a day – I would stop her and mentally tell her off like, “Hey bitch. That’s not true. My body is beautiful. I love my body. I can do this!” Or something to that effect… I would say it in the morning and night as I brushed my teeth and got dressed/undressed and whenever I saw my reflection throughout the day.
It was hardest at the beginning, as most things are, because I really didn’t believe my positive affirmations… at all. It was like pulling teeth to get a nice, encouraging thought about myself out at first. But, I stuck with it and with time, it got easier and easier until it finally became my truth.
Balancing pushing myself to sweat and being gentle on myself as well as listening to my body’s cravings and eating health foods all did wonders for my body. They also helped me grow to appreciate and even like my body. It was the positive affirmations that helped me make the leap into love. It was so cool being a witness to my body’s transformation over those years and even cooler witnessing my mind transform. And let me tell you, it did take years – I had 25 years of damage to reverse. I still have to tell my inner roommate off here and there and make sure she doesn’t set up camp in my mind again.
As far as that six-pack stomach, it hasn’t shown up fully. My partner told me he saw my abdominal muscles a while back. I don’t know if he was just being nice or the lighting was really good, because when I went to the mirror I didn’t see even a 2-pack, but I did see something much brighter… my smile and soul. And I realized something…
My desire to have that perfect body was gone. As I grew to love my body I also grew to love my life more. I had already long ago dropped my dream of ever being tan, but accepting and loving all the physical attributes of myself took much longer. Now I see a perfect body as one that allows its soul to shine the brightest.
My goal today is to be my healthiest, happiest, strongest self and, most importantly, to enjoy my life in freedom and love and not restriction. I want to spend my time eating delicious foods, creating things, exploring the world and spending time with people whom I love rather than hitting the gym or studio 2x a day and missing out on birthday cakes and summer ice-creams.
The price of the endless pursuit for a perfect body isn’t worth it for me. I look at my imperfect body with joy; I see it as a reminder that I am living my life fully.
What’s your goal(s)? What do you strive for in your health, physical activity and self-acceptance? How do you balance pushing yourself and being gentle on yourself? Do you love your body? I LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU! If you need any help in these areas, I’m offering you a FREE health coaching consultation and a special holiday discount for my program.
Sending you love and support on your journey,