Loving Kindness & Our Bodies

Even though I began intensely working out every day over a decade ago in an effort to lose weight while still being able to eat as I pleased, it’s no longer only about weight loss. What I once use to dread each moment of has become one of the things I look forward to most days. It is incredibly invigorating and empowering to witness just how much my body is capable of. I may not have every achieved the body that I had been seeking, but I did discover something even better: a newfound love and respect for the body I have.

I once saw a quote that read: Exercise is a celebration of what your body can do, not a punishment for what you ate. I think about those words a lot. They have almost become a mantra. When I begin to feel frustrated that my body still doesn’t look the way I want it to and wonder why I even bother with all of my exercise, I remind myself that regardless of the end result, I’ve come to enjoy my daily workout.

For me, exercise has practically become a moving meditation. It helps me reach that blissful flow state. I lose myself in exquisite motion. I don’t really know how to dance (nor do I ever really try to), but to me my workouts are almost like dancing. It truly does feel like an act of celebration for what my body can do. It is so fun to witness this body become stronger, faster, more coordinated. It’s truly incredible. Just like in my yoga practice, I am now able to do things I never imagined I could ever be capable of. It makes me feel proud of this wonderful body of mine.

It’s a rare thing for me to acknowledge the beauty of my own body, not necessarily for what it looks like, but for all that it does. Besides that, it is a perfectly beautiful body visually as well. I know I am too hard on myself, accepting nothing less than perfection, a mirror image of the models and actresses I see everyday on my screens. When I take a step back though and imagine how my body would feel, being taken for granted and criticized and belittled at every turn, never acknowledged for the marvel that it is, it makes me very sad.

Today I wanted to take a moment to be mindful of just how lucky I am to have such an amazing body. It does so very much for me every day, and I don’t give it the credit it deserves. I want to carve out more time in my life for sending loving kindness to this physical form I have been blessed with to house my soul. I would not trade it for any other body in the world. It deserves to be treated so much better. Sometimes I like to think of this body as a precious animal that I have been charged with the care of. I have certainly not been giving it the care that it needs or deserves, especially this past year.

I am always so worried about how others judge my appearance. Even more than usual today since I am going on my third date with my vegan guy. I am always worried that I’m not good enough. That I will miss out on opportunities, friendships, love because of that inadequacy. Today I am reminding myself just how absurd that notion really is. Do I really want friends or a partner that love me only for my looks? Or who would think less of me if I looked differently? If the people I meet in life can’t accept and appreciate me for who and what I am, that is their loss, not mine. I will love myself boldly, inside and out, even if no one else in the world will do the same. I can’t control how others perceive me. All I can do is keep working to cultivate a more positive perception of myself. In the end that is all that matters anyway. Learning to love myself exactly how I am is all I’ll ever need to be happy.

Wondering About Wanting

For nearly as far back as I can remember I have been hyper concerned about my appearance. Particularly my weight. I can remember trying to count calories and choosing the healthier option before I was even old enough to really understand dieting. Over the years this has spiraled into a drastically negative self-image, self-destructive behaviors, and disordered eating habits.

It seems like in the beginning I had a clear idea of what my goal was and why I was trying to get there. But the other day I paused and wondered, why do I care about this so much? What do I think I will gain if I lose 10lbs? I managed to lose a considerable amount of weight in high school and then even more recently, yet it’s never made me any happier. It never gave me more confidence or a better body image. My mind just shifts to a new imperfection or thinks wow, I must have looked really bad before.

I know that everything is ultimately just about the way you choose to see it. Nothing is going to make you feel beautiful until you decide you are. Nothing is going to make you happy until you choose to be. Yet I can’t stop grasping at these shallow desires I’ve held onto for so long.

I constantly tell myself I don’t deserve things because of the way I look. Yet I would never say the same about anyone else and would be horrified if anyone did. Besides that, I am often told that I am good-looking, thin, sexy, etc. but I refuse to believe a word of it. A few times though I’ve caught a surprise glimpse of myself in a photo or mirror without immediately realizing it is me I’m looking at. I always think I look pretty at first.

I must have body dysmorphia at least to some degree. I wonder what I truly look like outside of my warped mind. I wonder why it matters to me so much. I really want to work on being kind to myself and treating myself like I would treat any other person. While it is easy for me to say everyone is deserving of love and respect and compassion with conviction, it feels dishonest and strange when I tell myself I am worthy of those same things.

I’ve got to keep practicing. I’ve got to keep reminding myself of what is really important. I hope that one day we can all learn to love ourselves for all that we are. And to anyone who may be reading this that feels the way I do about themselves, know that you are not alone and that you deserve to be happy, to love yourself, and to be loved by others regardless of any real or perceived faults you may have.