Why do we beat ourselves up? We know each and every person is not perfect. We all have things to work on for self-betterment. Sometimes, we can get caught in this vicious self-hate cycle and a serious case of the F-it's.
This leads to poor decisions that affect our well-being like eating spontaneously from the frosting can or peanut butter jar. Been there. Or that time in college I would cover chunks of cheese in peanut butter and drown my sorrows there. Without thinking, but then getting hit with guilt and a massive gut-ache later.
I remember being so desperately disappointed with my body. In sixth grade, I had HORRIBLE acne. I was made fun of for this and ridiculed daily. I stood out. The harassment from boys had me hiding my body on the regular. I couldn’t count how many times I had to see the principal to complain about the bullying, sometimes with my mother there. I didn't want to go to school. It sucked.
I was not like the other girls. It got so bad that my mother pulled me from public school to private, but it only got worse. I kept thinking that maybe if I were a boy, it would have been different. My husband reminds me that when it comes to kids that age, males just fight it out and get it over with. Ladies are calculated and methodical. I'd have to agree based on my experience. I can't image what it's like now with social media and how connected we are all now.
I remember not loving myself enough or thinking I was pretty or good enough to be with a decent man. Having been in abusive situations, I’m a survivor of some pretty horrid interactions. How does this happen?
We are inundated with images of unrealistic body types, high-end clothes, the perfect hair, car, home. We become overwhelmed with the pursuit of perfection. Then, we find ourselves motivated to make changes or we choose to stay complacent or be stuck in a downward spiral. How do we get out of our funk and learn to accept things we cannot control and embrace those we can?
We have to love ourselves enough to respect our goals and start working towards them. A big part of this is body positivity. There's a whole movement around it. I love it, and I have issues with it. Let's get to it.
Your body is your vehicle to get you through life.
Your body gets you what you want and where you want to be. When I talk about body, we are including the mind here as well. Your brain is part of it and also your spirit.
Many of us are working on our physical selves. I know I am. Usually, this means we feel like we have something to improve on, and sometimes the task seems so overwhelming that we get stuck having a negative self-image of ourselves. Then we start comparing our bodies with others. Or worse, we start to avoid the mirror, close our eyes when trying on clothes, throw the bathroom scale out the window, or think about burning down the jeans department at our favorite store.
This can be a bad cycle to get stuck in. I've been there. It's one I find myself trying to not get sucked in while I am going through some health issues that have delayed my progress as a competitive athlete.
So how do we get past this? Body Positivity.
Think about everything wonderful your body allows you to do. Ponder it. My body, while heavier than normal, is able to move really heavy objects, which it could not before. This year I was able to pull 292 on deadlifts, finally do a log press (video below) and squat over 200 lbs. While I am not looking the way I want to right now, I am proud of my accomplishments. My body allows me to do the things I love, be around the people I care about, carry in a ton of groceries in one go (one trip Teri), and help out others with heavy lifting.
Don't forget the small things, which are big things! Your arms hug those you love. Your hands shake the hands of new friends. Your legs carry you to places and adventures. Your eyes and ears take in the beauty of the world around you and inspire you to want to do more.
7 Steps to Celebrate Body Positivity
1. Think about a feature you like - a physical one.
That's right. Be selfish for a minute. Do you have amazing eyes? Great feet? A smile that's hard to beat? Everyone has a part of their body they love. Embrace that. Then rock it. Seriously, let that be part of your confidence.
I love my shoulders and traps. When I am feeling down on myself, I snap them back, breathe in, and give them a check. Maybe you have some amazing hips, gams, who knows. Take pride in what you appreciate about your features.
2. Think about your personality.
What is it about you that makes you, well, you? Everyone has something unique to offer. Maybe it's a wicked sense of humor, your ability to bounce back, your wit, your intelligence, artistic side, or secret talent. Let this be your superpower. Embrace YOU!
3. Remember that everyone is working on something.
We all have our areas of improvement. Mind, body, soul. If you can keep this in mind, heck if we could all keep this in mind, we would be living in a much different world. Help others see the good in themselves.
4. Flip the switch.
That's right. Flip the "I'm awesome" switch without getting too self-absorbed. Choose to have confidence and celebrate yourself. Give yourself the respect you deserve. Say "yes" to you.
If you need to take post-it notes with positive affirmations and put those around the house, DO IT. If you need to make sure you greet yourself in the mirror every morning and say "Hello! I will choose to have a great day. I'm a wonderful human being and I want to be the best for me so I can be the best for all," then DO IT. Flip the switch to saying "yes" to yourself. What would happen if we all were able to change our mindset? Think about it. WOW!
The Bad Things
OKAY, so being confident and loving ourselves is all good. I love it. However, there are some areas of caution.
5. Don't get self-absorbed.
This just basically means don't get cocky. There's a point where it will make people think you only care about you and that's never good. Too many selfies is another way to know if you're doing this whole thing wrong.
6. Don't get stuck on social media.
This kind of comes back to the selfie thing. I think selfies are good and evil. It depends on what you are using them for. Whenever I post one, there's usually a message behind it for passing on knowledge or a positive vibe. When it's just to show off, it can become very egotistical. Make sure there is a legit reason for you to post content that can help to benefit others or motivate people. Have that be your intent.
7. Don't forget your reality check.
You heard me. Or, read me. You need to appreciate your uniqueness, your individual beauty, your own superpowers. But hear me out. Recognize when you need to work on something.
I may get a lot of flack for this, but please think about the following. If your health is in danger from being stuck in unhealthy habits, whether it’s substance abuse, weight or psychological issue, please work on getting better so you can truly be the best you.
I am all for the commercials that celebrate all the beautiful body shapes out there. The only issue I have is if someone is clearly needing to make a change but refuses to ignore it, then that can have devastating effects.
There. I said it. In order to be the best you, you need to be incorporating healthy habits, such as making wise nutritional decisions and being active. Sometimes, one has to come before the other and I get that.
If you have addiction or psychological issues or a disorder holding you back, I plead you to get help to love yourself enough to begin to heal so that you can truly celebrate how awesome you are and live a fulfilling life.
Lastly, I have some great quotes from friends about body image and body positivity I would love to share with you. Let's get the good vibes going.
"We should love our bodies despite our scars. These scars are our story, our life's journey, our trophies that declare our victories over the battles we have fought."
"I, too, have many scars from a horrible condition called Hidradenitis Suppurativa (aka Acne Inversa) that plagued me on and off for over 30 years. Blessedly, I am in remission now due to the Healthy Keto & IF Lifestyle I have been following since June 25, 2017. But the scars remain as reminders of what I went through with outbreaks (flare-ups), surgical removals of the cysts, etc. I look at those scars as badges of courage and strength and a reminder of how I survived throughout those 30 years of intermittent incredible pain & suffering. Those scars are a significant part of my life's journey for sure that lets me know that I truly can handle ANYTHING life is ready to put in my path."
“I am strong and resilient. These legs can run, these arms hug my loved ones, my body has taken me to see and do beautiful things. I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
I have a small series of things I say. As an eating disorder warrior (or for any human), positive self-talk is EXTREMELY important.
"I am a person that does not sit still long and I THANK GOD every day for my health."
"A body is a vehicle for your soul to experience the world in. It has an enormous biologic task, and in the end, will fail. Love it for its strengths, and the blessings and experiences it provides you with every day. It is by definition a limited and finite existence, and someday you will move on. Invest in your mind-become self-aware, realize that the outer body is ruled by the ego. Before you know it, your love will grow, seep out your pores, and become you. Life is beautiful. All of it-- every form it takes."
"Perfect imperfections and imperfectly perfect."
"I am enough."
Darin Allen E.
"I like it. If you don't like it, don't look."
"My strength is my beauty. As in, my strength is my beauty."
"I think our bodies are like secret gardens through which we can rest and experience the world. If we tend them and love them, they grow beautifully for us."
"Don’t say anything about yourself that you wouldn’t say about a friend."
Tesla Solaris M.
"Our bodies are our longest and closest friends. It's the most important relationship we'll ever have! For myself, sometimes we fight, sometimes we get frustrated at each other, but we always come back together and work it out. It involves a lot of listening on my part, that's for sure."
"I'm more of a haunted mansion than a posh, studio apartment. I'm okay with that."
"I practice this with other things but it applies to body image as well: when I'm feeling down on myself, like a piece of garbage, I remember that I am one of 7 billion other meat bags of different shapes and sizes, hurtling through space on the only rock known to support life. Our existence is highly improbable, and yet here I am. Being alive is dope and I'm happy for the journey in the vessel I was given."
I hope you find this as a feel-good read! My favorite quote that I live by is the following:
"There will only be one of you for all time. Fearlessly be yourself."
Teri Tenseth Market is a Personal Trainer and holds a diploma in nutrition. She is also a competitive natural bodybuilder with the NANBF and competitive power lifter with the USAPL. You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter at @fcpchick.