Common wisdom holds that if you are unhappy about your body, the only recourse is to lose weight via exercise, or dieting, or pills, or some combination of all three.
But there is another way. It doesn’t involve starving yourself, forcing yourself into activity you hate, or risking your health with dodgy chemicals.
Instead of focusing on changing the external – i.e. your body – focus on changing the internal, i.e. your PERCEPTION of your body. Stop the hating and the moaning and the whinging right now and resolve to accept your body just as it is, and LOVE it for what it is.
Oh I can hear the naysayers now… it’s just semantics and it doesn’t give me a better body and I want to look like Keisha Knightly NOW.
Indulge me, think of it as an experiment. I know it works, because it worked for me.
I spent most of my teens and my early twenties doing everything I could to get rid of my fat arse. I knew it was fat because my brother started teasing me when I was about 11 years old. Then, at age 15, I stumbled into modelling, where I was told I could ‘go far’ if I lost weight. Never mind that my ribs stuck out and my body fat hovered around 17% – in the stick-thin world of modelling, my round booty had to go.
I tried everything, and I was obsessed – a complete gym junkie and fanatically fat-phobic. Then I started doing yoga, and suddenly my whole relationship with my body changed. I began to see it as the miracle it is – all those muscles and ligaments and bones and tendons and nerves and blood vessels and… WOW!
I began to love my body for the endless service it performed for me – taking me out dancing, getting me to work and back, taking me skiing. Our bodies are incredible feats of engineering, and all we can focus on is the apparent cellulite on our butts. Get over it already I told myself. So damn what?
Yoga shifted me to acceptance, and then love for my body, and when this shift happened, I discovered something amazing.
When you love your body, you naturally want to take it for walks, or go rollarblading, or hike up the local mountain because you know your body feels good when it engages in activity.
When you love your body, you naturally choose foods that will make it feel good. You don’t choose KFC, because you know that feeding your body such poison is a nasty thing to do (except occasionally when you have one of those cravings and it tastes so good!). Instead you choose natural whole foods, lots of veges and fruit and grains. And moderate amounts of cheese and chocolate and wine.
When you love your body, you appreciate it for what it is. Maybe it’s a well-rounded, luscious size 14. Maybe it’s a lean, mean fighting machine. Whatever it is, you see the beauty in that particular form.
Over the last five years, I have changed my perception of my once-fat arse, and learned to love it for it’s rounded shape, it’s firm texture, and the way it fills out a pair of jeans. Coincidentally (or not), the more I loved my arse, the more it ‘shaped’ up, becoming a better version of itself.
Occasionally, walking down the street, I’ll see a woman who loves her body. She won’t look like a model and she’s not a celebrity. Instead she walks with confidence and assurance in who she is, and my eye is always drawn to that woman. I hope I have the same inner beauty shining out of me when I walk down the street.
We will never all fit one universal ‘norm’, and to attempt to do so is foolish. And how damn boring that would be anyway!
The most beautiful women I know are those who love themselves for who they are, and are the best versions of themselves that they can be. So stop trying to control your eating and your exercise and your external self and instead focus on accepting and loving yourself just as you are. Loving our bodies is only a step away from loving ourselves.
And then follow that up, hour by hour, day by day, with loving action. Before you eat, ask your Self, what is the most loving choice I can make right now for my body? Before you collapse onto the couch after work, ask your Self, what does my body REALLY feel like doing.
Bit by bit, loving action by loving action, your body will morph into the most loveliest version of yourself – and what more could you possible ever be?
This article has been featured in Fit Buff’s Total Mind and Body Fitness Carnival.
It’s also been included in Your Metamorphosis’ Monthly Carnvial.