How often do we take for granted the great things we are capable of?
Just in the last week I have hula hooped for a couple hours, walked 14 miles in one stretch, and hiked around a gully that required scaling steep slippery slopes.
As a friend and I were scrambling down a particularly nerve wracking spot, where slipping could equal a long trip down a lightly treed 85 degree slope into a shallow, rocky body of water, she said “Thanks strong arms!” with complete sincerity.
This friend is not someone who would classify herself as an athlete. She’s active, but doesn’t make a point to be super fit. She probably has one of the healthiest body images of all the people I know. I’ve been learning a lot through my friendship with her. And when she thanked her arms for being strong enough to keep her safe I was thrilled. It was such a perfect example of healthy body pride.
I’ve been a little bit crazy in my life. And sometimes I still am.
Unfortunately, I grew up with a beautiful mother who when I told her that I thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world (I really told her that too. And I still think my mother is absolutely stunning.) She felt the need to correct me. My mom has struggled with her appearance for her entire life, struggled with her weight, struggled with herself. I grew up hearing and seeing her critique herself, and everyone else. There was a lot of negative talk in our house, a focus on appearance and shortcomings.
I am an adult now, and I have to take responsibility for what I put out into the world and change the chatter in my own head. I frequently have to remind myself that my legs are long and strong and frequently carry me many miles. My arms are perfect for hugging those I love. Sometimes this feels like an excuse to not put in the effort. I honestly don’t feel like restricting my diet or exercising more. I love to work out. I love feeling how strong I am, how fast I can be, how far I can go. And because I love it, if I don’t feel like doing it some days I’m not going to force myself to. I love to cook and eat and enjoy eating with friends and family. I do eat really healthy most of the time, but sometimes I just want the Oreos. And as a logical person, that all is great and healthy. Except, sometimes there is overwhelming guilt, shame, but above all there is fear. I didn’t work out hard enough, I shouldn’t have eaten that thing, how can I expect to look a certain way if I do these things and how can I expect to be loved, respected and desired if I cannot keep myself under control.
I was talking with my sister about this, as I was having a crazy moment, and we’re pretty well on the same page with our thought processes. We’ve both lost weight, gained weight, maintained. We’ve struggled with self-worth, anxiety and an idea of perfection. But we’re both taking a pretty solid approach to these things…
I love these talks with my sister. They’re really empowering and uplifting. We both are believers in changing self talk, which starts with what you actually verbalize.
Being kind to ourselves isn’t giving up on goals, or letting yourself go. It’s changing your motivation and priorities. I want to keep my body fit so that I can keep climbing tree’s, swimming in the ocean and hiking for the rest of my life. My greatest pleasures in life include being out in nature, challenging myself physically, and taking in the sights, smells and sounds. It’s a massive part of who I am. A part that I intend to nurture. And nurturing that part of me doesn’t include mentally crushing my own spirit by berating my body for being anything but what it is.
So, Thanks strong arms, which make it so that I can hoist myself up a steep gorge! Thanks hands, which are able to shovel great food into my mouth! Thanks taste buds, which are able to receive delicious signals! Thanks legs that take me on adventures so that my eyes can see all sorts of beautiful things! Thanks body, that is able to dance and hula hoop for hours at a time! Thanks lips, which give and receive sweet kisses and can whistle!