By Jennifer Taylor Wagner
If you take a quick glance at my before-and-after snapshots, you might be quick to offer a congratulatory cheer for a job well done. After all, losing a massive amount of weight was no easy trek, and society often sees weight loss as a badge of strength and success.
When You Don’t Love Your Body
But what can’t be seen from those side-by-side photos is a deeper reality—one that supersedes the idea that living in a smaller body is the ultimate goal.
After losing more than 150 pounds, I was shocked to find myself more critical of my body than ever before. For years I had been so focused on changing my weight that somehow my thoughts had morphed into an intensified self-loathing.
In many ways, I’d always hated my body. I had been told from the time I was a little girl that my cheeks were too chubby, that I was too big, and that I needed to lose weight. Maybe that’s where this deeply planted seed of discontentment took root, this belief that my body was not good enough and that I was taking up too much space.
I think many of us can relate. Even if your story isn’t the same as mine, I have a hunch that somewhere along the way you’ve experienced negative thoughts about your body. Only you know the depths of what you’ve walked through, but I wonder if you’ve taken a moment recently to consider the narrative circling your mind and heart about your body today.
Do you look in the mirror and immediately take note of the things you don’t like about yourself? Are you stuck in a rat race toward the smallest body you can achieve? Do you miss out on special experiences with people you love because you’re uncomfortable in your body?
My friend, I get it.
Loving our bodies is a tall ask for some of us. Maybe today you find yourself unable to imagine a world in which you can apply actual, genuine, unconditional love to your relationship with your body. If that’s the case, let’s start a little smaller.
Before diving into some ways to cultivate a better relationship with your body, first imagine what life would be like if you were finally able to let go of those negative feelings.
Free to Live Without Loathing Your Body
A few years ago I decided I wanted it. I mean I really wanted it. More than losing ten more pounds. More than fitting into a smaller size. More than perfectly toned arms or a chiseled midsection.
I wanted freedom.
I wanted to walk into a room and not be consumed by whether others were evaluating my body. I wanted to go to the beach with my kids and forget to worry about what I looked like in a swimsuit. I wanted to live my life without the constant nagging thought that my body was not good enough.
I wanted to believe the truth that my body—right now—was good enough. And not just good enough, but absolutely amazing and incredible. Rather than decreasing my size, I wanted to decrease the amount of space that negativity was claiming in my heart.
And most importantly I was finally at a place where I knew that walking in freedom was not contingent upon reaching a certain body composition, but being in a place where I could appreciate and embrace the body I live in right now.
How to Love Your Body When You Don’t
Loving your body takes time. It’s a journey. So let’s talk about some of the different ways in which you can begin to see your body as good while you’re walking toward full-on love for yourself.
One of the first shifts you can make in your journey toward loving your body is radical acceptance. Accepting the body you live in today. This might mean starting your day with a nice long look in the mirror and refusing to accept any negative thoughts that pop into your head. By doing this, you remove the unspoken condition that you must first reach a particular body standard before starting to love your body.
If you’re not ready to dive into the world of body positivity—that is, accepting your body no matter the shape or size—you may need to take things a little slower. This is the stage where you choose to live life without allowing any thoughts about your body (positive, negative, or otherwise) take up too much space in your mind. This might mean distracting yourself and focusing on other things instead of getting lost in a tidal wave of torrential body thoughts throughout the day.
Accepting and embracing your body without conditions has a way of leading you into the territory of body confidence. This is where you’re aware of your right-now body, and you’re not making apologies for it. When you’re no longer trying to change your body in order to feel worthy, you begin stepping out in confidence, knowing that your body does not define you. You’re finally starting to realize that there is more to you than just your body.
Your mindset really starts to shift when you realize just how incredible your body is. While culture may tell you that your body should meet or exceed an aesthetic standard, the truth is that the attributes that make your body good go far beyond appearance. Your body woke up this morning and has breath in its lungs, a heart pumping blood, strong legs carrying you around, and skin that holds everything together. This appreciation comes when you stop wishing your body was different and start celebrating all that your body does to keep you alive each day.
And here you are. The beautiful place in which you finally start loving the good body you live in. The place where you’re practicing patience for your journey, kindness in your thoughts about yourself, and contentment with the body you’ve been given. The place in which you’re swapping all negative thoughts for more positive ones. Loving your body well means you can care for your body, run after the healthiest version of yourself, and most importantly love others and most importantly love others and encourage them on their weight journey too.
Grace and Compassion
No matter where you are in your body journey today, take a moment to offer yourself grace and compassion. Take note of the freedom you desire to walk in and take one baby step at a time toward arriving in that place.
Grab your copy of Your Good Body, here!
Jennifer Taylor Wagner is a certified fitness instructor and successful blogger. She is passionate about challenging the way we think about health, wellness, and regularly writes on the topics of healthy living and body positivity. Whether it’s hosting online webinars, speaking in churches, or chatting at MOPS meetings, she is committed to helping others find hope in their journey. Jennifer lives in Virginia with her husband, Phil and their two kids. Visit her online at jennifertaylorwagner.com.
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