Dare to Dream
The life changing power of passion + persistence.
When I was running I hated my body. Since I've been practicing yoga, I love my body.
I posted this quote to Facebook in 2010. I’d spent most of my life punishing my body for not being perfect. Yoga allowed me to (finally) celebrate my body. Celebrate not only the way I look but more importantly, celebrate what my body can do and the way I feel about my body.
This is my story of how I overcame shame about my body. Maybe you can relate. If you’re struggling with acceptance for any aspect of yourself, join us for a 4-Day Love Yourself Retreat or a Self Love & Acceptance Retreat. Begin the journey of love, acceptance and compassion for your body and every aspect of yourself.
I started hating my body when I was eight. My dad and brother called me fat and constantly made fun of me. I look back at photos from that time, and while I had baby fat, an 8 year old should NEVER be called fat. Over the next couple of years, I grew taller and slimmed down. But I STILL felt fat. I started hunching over as I grew taller – so nobody would notice me. My dad admonished me, “Stop slouching. Stand up straight. What’s wrong with you?”
Ha. I felt like so much was wrong with me. Not just with my body, but me. It’s interesting how the two are related.
In fifth grade, my best friend “unfriended me.” This was way before social media, so of course that happened in person, right before class. The reason? My boobs weren’t big enough! Who even has boobs in fifth grade you might wonder? My former best friend and her new best friend, that’s who. I heard a lot about my non boobs for the next several years.
It was especially challenging through middle school and high school. I didn’t want anyone to notice that I was fat (I wasn’t) or that I didn’t have any boobs (I did). But I thought I was fat and boobless, so that made it true. I hunched over even more. I wanted to disappear. I felt too ugly and too fat to be out in public. I was 15 years old.
As a teenager, I found the more I obsessed about what not to eat, the more I ate EVERYTHING. That continued through college. Except instead of just eating, I was eating AND drinking. In my early 20s, my “exercise” was to take the stairs instead of the elevator and park my car far away. I experimented with running…once or twice…and then realized it was pure torture and gave that up. Looking back at the photos during those times, I was more curvy than fat. But I still felt fat, so that made it true.
Isn’t it interesting how our perceptions shape our reality?
If you were ever teased or made fun of or called names about your body, you know exactly what I’m talking about. And you know how difficult it is to shake the voice in your head, even as an adult. At that point, your actual body size and capabilities don’t matter, because you’ve been conditioned to think of yourself in a certain way.
When I finally found love and appreciation for my body I was 43. That’s a long time to be uncomfortable in your own skin. Now I appreciate my body for what it allows me to do. And I appreciate my body’s limitations – I’ll never run a five minute mile (or even a nine minute mile), I’ll never put my foot behind my head in yoga (why would I – that just looks weird!) and in order to feel good and do what I do on a daily basis, I need to eat right, get enough sleep and not drink too much.
The following (plus my regular practice of yoga) allows me to celebrate and accept every aspect of my body. It’s been a journey (and a struggle), but I feel like I have finally overcome the shame that used to be a constant part of my life.
Pay attention to what your body is telling you - when you’re hungry, thirsty, tired, feeling depleted or anxious - only when you notice these things can you respond and act accordingly.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking…”Life will be perfect when I…” lose weight, start running, meet the perfect man, get another job, and win the lottery.
But will you be happier? Really? You’ll still be you. Your body may be a different size and you may have more money, a different job, a partner, but at the end of the day, you’ll still be you. Complete with your talents, ideas, habits and faults that you currently have. It’s like the saying, “Wherever you go, there you are.”
Allow yourself to experience joy, pleasure, contentment, all of the beauty of life – today. Just as you are. Celebrate your uniqueness. Don’t let anybody shame you about your body, because you are perfect just exactly as you are. Here’s to you!
This blog is intended to provide helpful suggestions for self care and overall well-being. I am not a mental health professional. If you’re struggling I encourage you to seek the help of a professional. Find a Mental Health Professional | National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: Dial 988