Balancing body satisfaction and new goals
In fact, for many people they operate wholly separate from one another. There are a great number of fit and thin people who are still unhappy with their bodies, just as there are many overweight people who are completely happy with how they look. The existence of these people proves that there are no bad bodies, only unhealthy and damaging opinions of how bodies should look.
I am not exempt from these opinions. At a fairly young age I found myself inundated with images of perfect bodies and faces, thanks to the media. I was a healthy young girl who was involved in many sports and in great shape, but thanks to my genetics my body did things I grew to detest. My thighs touched, my tummy stuck out and I was weirdly embarrassed by how high my belly button was situated on my torso. My body did not echo the perfect image I saw everywhere and so despite being a healthy and talented athlete, I was ashamed of my body.
It was not until many years later that I realized you can learn to love your body no matter what shape it takes. I began to allow myself to like my body’s so-called short comings. As a young adult, I reached the highest weight I have ever been, but I was also the happiest with how I looked. This isn’t to say that every day was perfect flowers and sunshine, sometimes I still had to make a conscious effort to smile at my body, but overall I was much more confident in how I looked than ever before. I learned that whether or not my thighs touched or my belly button made my body look “strange” in a bathing suit had absolutely nothing to do with who I was as a person. With a bit of work, I could have a positive body image no matter how I looked.
However, as confident and happy as I was with in my body image, I had let my fitness slide (hence the weight gain) and that was something I didnot enjoy. I missed being able to run long distances without getting out of breath and I missed feeling that power of my long legs pushing myself onward with surety. And so it was that I decided to really focus on getting my body healthy and strong once again. While the majority of my friends were able to understand my dedication to fitness, some were confused. “Your body is fine the way it is, I thought you were happy” they would tell me. I began to worry about that too. I worried that I wasn’t really living with the positive body image I thought I had if I was so quick to praise muscles and a thinner waistline.
But then one day I asked myself: if a positive body image can exist separately from how your body looks, why can’t it exist as your body changes? Having a preference or a goal for how you would like your body to look doesn’t mean that you hate the body you have. On the contrary, it means that you love and care for your body; you care enough about it to make the difficult commitment to pursue your preferred aesthetic goal or level of fitness. Everyone should be allowed to have a body exactly how they please. If you are reading this and you think that your body is absolutely perfect the way it is, you should not feel obligated by society to change it. Similarly, if you like your body but wish you had more muscles or wish you could run farther, you can endeavor to reach these goals as well. Just make sure that your journey does not stem from a destructive view of the body you already have. It’s your only body and no matter how big or small it is, you should allow yourself the great delight of loving it.
I am a firm believer that the first step in losing weight, becoming fit or in any other way pursuing your dream body is to truly love the body you already have. Otherwise, you will find yourself chasing a moving target. Happiness doesn’t come from reaching a certain number on the scales, it comes from the confidence of being comfortable in your own skin. One day I hope to have strong and defined arms, but I don’t yet and that’s okay. My body is still wonderful and allows me to do the things I enjoy each and every day I am alive. Do not spend your fitness journey hating your body, it is the very thing that is allowing you to endure your fitness journey.
It is perfectly okay to want to improve your fitness, just as it is perfectly okay to have aesthetic goals, but strive to have a positive journey toward your goal rather than one filled with disdain for your current body.
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