Accepting my body, just the way it is.

Radical self-acceptance might mean nothing to you. For a while after I heard it, it meant nothing to me. I remember hearing it the first time in a yoga class, and thinking, ‘Huh, that sounds neat (after all, who doesn’t like the term radical??)…moving on’. Well, this blog is for exploring things like that, so I’ll share what that same thing means now to me in regards to my body.

I don’t think there is room for change without acceptance. Just because I accept something doesn’t necessarily mean that it needs to change, but it helps open that door if I so desire. If I fight to change something without accepting it though, so much harder. Maybe it’s something like ‘admitting that there is a problem is the first step to recovery’? Although, most of the time, there is no ‘problem’. There’s just life. Life is messy. Point being, you can fight the current all the way, never bending, and maybe eventually breaking. Or, you can accept the current of life with whatever that brings, and let it carry you, realizing you have little control over where you end up. Is it possible for me to spend my whole life fighting my body, starving it, pushing it with exercise until it breaks, just so I can get just a tiny bit closer to what my doctor says I ‘should’ weigh? Of course it’s possible.Β  Is that what my path to happiness looks like? I don’t think so. I don’t necessarily have any ‘change’ I want to make in regards to my body, I am just working on implementing healthier habits, and letting go of strict rules where I am not free to be a happy and healthy person. Those things might work for some people, who don’t fall into disordered patterns, but they don’t work for me.

It scared me at first, this self-acceptance mumbo jumbo. I thought, yikes, who would want to accept THIS? Look at me! I’m not ‘acceptable’, and I certainly don’t want to start slacking off in the name of ‘acceptance’. Well, thankfully, I revisited this thought, a lot. I have spent the last 10 years of my life battling myself, in a war to ‘be healthy’ and lose weight. In my mind, those two things were synonymous. Never once did the thought enter my mind that maybe I was okay like this, with or without losing weight. Where do you EVER hear that? Certainly not everywhere you look on tv and in magazines.

I have this vicious cycle that I only fall into when I’m pushing myself way too hard.Β  It’s starts out all innocent, but is completely based on external factors. I notice I’ve put on a few el-bees. So, I start counting calories and tracking my food. I amp up my workouts. At first, this all feels great, this ‘control’. But it gets dark, really fast. I become severely competitive with myself, always trying to be lower on calories, longer and more intense on workouts. I lose some weight. I feel pretty good about it…but I feel like I’m not I’m not living my life, and I’m certainly not happy. No time for happy! Must get in some extra workout time, 2 hours a day at the gym is certainly not enough. Eventually, I break. I stop working out as much, or stop tracking my food, or both because I just can’t push myself any harder. I rebound back to where I started, and I guilt myself and beat myself up over it for months, until this all begins again. This is way, way more unhealthy than being ‘overweight’. It is not the way I envisioned my adult life being, and it’s stopping now.

I started looking at myself from a health perspective, and not a weight one. Am I healthy? Yes. Do I have perfect numbers for blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate and every single other thing? Yes I do! Does my doctor still tell me every time I see her that I need to lose weight? Yes she does. She asks me how often I work out, and what I eat. I tell her, and every time, she is stumped. I am not looking for a quick fix, or a magic cure. I AM healthy. I am really strong. I can yoga/ride my bike/walk/lift weights/whatever else with the best of them. I push myself. I eat whole foods, as local as I can, and as close to the earth as I can. I take breaks, I try to listen to my body. My body tells me that it feels good. It feels way better than when I’m starving it, or pushing it to a breaking point by pushing it too hard. So one measly little number doesn’t meet society’s guidelines for health? Well, weight does not equal health, as shocking as that might be for some people to grasp. My life is full of health, regardless of what onlookers might choose to see. Not everyone is built the same, not everyone is made to be my height and weigh between 125-135 lbs.

Balanced, capable and strong. It is so hard for me to say those things about myself…but I’m doing it.

So, knowing these things that I now know, I took to the computer, and I found a whole community of people who’ve been preaching this stuff all along. Where have they been all this time?! So many beautiful supportive people out there, I just never knew to look. Most of these people are found in my blogroll to the right, I encourage you to check them out. Especially:

Medicinal Marzipan
Curvy Yoga
Nourishing the Soul
Steff Says

There are plenty of times I feel fat, or I don’t like my skin, or I am sick of my wide feet or whatever, but I’ve accepted this body as mine. It’s strong, capable, healthy and solid on this ground. Even if it’s not the ‘perfect’ weight. It is my person, and I love it. Even if my tummy is softer than it used to be, I embrace it. My legs may be a lot bigger than some girls, but they sure are strong. Radical self acceptance in it’s purest form. I only get one of these bodies to work with, that I know of, so why hate it? Each time I look in the mirror, instead of seeing what I wish would go away, I look at it from a new view. Seeing what is there. Every wonderful inch.

Try it, really, just try looking in the mirror and not thinking one negative thing about what you see.

Do you ever struggle with accepting your body, just as it is? How do you move past that? I’d love to hear!

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31 Responses to Accepting my body, just the way it is.

  1. steepedinbliss says:

    I love this. Emphatically. And I NEEDED to hear it today. I have probably gained 15 el-bees since last year- but guess what?

    I feel more

    -balanced
    -calm
    -even keeled
    -free

    I realized today that since I have started school I had forgotten to obsess about my body and scrutinize my diet. Instead, I have been feeding my life with things that nurture me in all forms…and that happens to sometimes include a damn good burger and a Crepe Cellar brownie.

    I am right there with you about Radical Self Acceptance and focusing on what my body can DO vs. what it looks like. Anne Lammott refers to it as her earth-container or something like that.

    A vessel.

    So glad you started this blog. Keep it up doll.

  2. daynya says:

    Oh, I love that! Good for you for dropping that stuff, and giving your body/mind/soul what it needs…beautiful πŸ™‚ I also LOVE ‘earth container’!! Anytime you wanna grab a burger and a brownie, lemme know πŸ™‚

  3. Fab post!! I especially loved this: “Is it possible for me to spend my whole life fighting my body, starving it, pushing it with exercise until it breaks, just so I can get just a tiny bit closer to what my doctor says I β€˜should’ weigh? Of course it’s possible. Is that what my path to happiness looks like? I don’t think so.” I couldn’t agree with this more; it’s been a long (and, honestly, continuing) path for me to hold this perspective, but without a doubt I am happier and healthier with it.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  4. daynya says:

    Thanks for stopping by to read this! Honestly, reading your blog and the others I mentioned REALLY helped me to see that there was an alternate way to be. I was stuck in a cycle of thinking it was either lose weight and be miserable while trying to get to this magical place where a shiny happy life was supposed to exist, or be overweight and be miserable there. I didn’t know that happiness could be found RIGHT where I was πŸ™‚ So THANK YOU! πŸ™‚

  5. Lisa Papez says:

    Wow, this pose almost had me in tears! I want to seriously congratulate you on reaching this place. I’m just arriving there myself and I know what a personal revolution that it is! Go you!!!!!!!!!

    • daynya says:

      Thank you, same to you! It was a really tough journey to get here, and I just know that it’s a better place for me, and you too. GO you!!! Thanks for stopping by, and chatting with me!

  6. Eilis says:

    I’m so glad I found this! I’ve started on a similar path and it’s sooo great to have such positive places like this to stop by and get support from!

    So thank you for that! πŸ™‚

    • daynya says:

      Yay! I’m glad you found it too. Hopefully I’ll have lots more to talk about in this regard. There is an amazing support system out there, it took me a little while to realize that. Welcome πŸ™‚

  7. Jennifer says:

    Thanks for this. I’ve been a fitness instructor for a long time and I’ve seen so many women living the same “vicious cycle” that you describe. I’m moving away from gyms now and offering my own courses that include self-acceptance as part of the exercise and nutrition plan. Move for the joy of it, eat for the pleasure – not to look this way or that.

    On a personal note, I once had a chiropractor say to me, “Its been a long time since I’ve seen you. Geez, you’ve gained weight.” I went silent and he then said, “You’re very quiet now. Must be because I just called you chubby.” I was 26, in radiant and perfect health, and had gone from 120 lb to 125lb. So long, doc!

    • daynya says:

      Those sound like amazing courses! Moving for the joy of it was really hard for me at first, and sometimes still is. I can sometimes hear the whisper in my mind telling me that I’m not pushing myself hard enough, or sweating enough for it to ‘count’. But, I also find that I now actually crave the things I love to do, as opposed to feeling like I ‘should’ be doing them. So it’s a remarkable change. Same with eating for pleasure. I still catch myself tallying up calories in my head, and have to remind myself to just stop, enjoy, and relax!

      That is crazy. Good for you for not taking that from that chiropractor. Sigh. πŸ™‚

  8. beautiful post by a beautiful woman. i am truly honored that you linked me in this post and am so glad you have found my rantings helpful on your journey. rock on, lady!

  9. Martha says:

    Thank you for blogging about this, it’s wonderful! I too accept my body and I am so much happier!! I had one of those days today where other people who think the way I used too, made me feel how I used too. So thanks, I needed this:)

    • daynya says:

      Martha, thanks! I know what you mean, it’s REALLY difficult sometimes to not fall back into old habits when you’re surrounded by that mentality. Sometimes I just have to go into a room in my mind, where I’m all alone, and smile and think to myself, “I used to think that way too, maybe they’ll understand someday…” and move on. Keep it up!!

  10. Pingback: Body Loving Blogosphere 04.10.11 | medicinal marzipan

  11. Sheri says:

    Great post. Every time I get out of the shower I struggle to accept my 53 yr old body, but then my boyfriend tells me how beautiful I am and I work hard to see what he sees. I’m getting there, slowly but surely.

    • daynya says:

      Thank you! It can be a slow journey, definitely. It can be really easy to fall into a pattern of looking at myself and falling back into the same habits, but every time it happens, it’s just a gentle nudge/reminder. Just keep swimming πŸ™‚

  12. mckella says:

    Awesome post! I love that you’re learning to accept your body, and you’re right. Not everyone is made to fit the numbers of a height/weight chart.
    I don’t believe I’m at my ideal weight because I’ve struggled with compulsive eating recently and gained some weight, but I still love my body. I see it’s current condition as a reflection of my inner condition. I know what I need to work on, and it isn’t weight loss. Weight loss may follow, but it’s not the focus.

    • daynya says:

      I love that! It can indeed be a reflection of what’s going on inside, so I love that you see that. I know for me, when I am having a tough time, I can see it on the outside in some way. It’s wonderful to be able to stand by your body through that though, like you would for a friend going through a tough time. Thanks for stopping by, and the comment!

  13. Wow. There are so many things in your post that I can relate to, I don’t even know where to start. I too just discovered this amazing community of self-acceptance and body image bloggers, and daily I happen upon more and more women who speak what’s in my heart. Now I get to add you to my list! Thank you for speaking honestly and openly about the cycle of gaining, shaming, changing, tiring, giving up, gaining, shaming, and on and on… I look forward to hearing more from you!

    • daynya says:

      Yay! Glad you found me πŸ™‚ I’m pretty excited about all the wonderful people/blogs I’ve found in this community, it’s so wonderful to have such a supportive community! Thanks for stopping by πŸ™‚

  14. natasha says:

    This is such an amazing post! Right now I need to hear this kind of thing. I’m still young and am still at the beginning of my journey to love my body. It’s only recently that I’ve really started to struggle with it, but lately it has been very difficult. It’s hard for me to accept that even though I work out more and eat a lot healthier than a lot of my skinnier friends, I’m not as small as them. It’s probably my best friend that helps me get through this, because she’s always so positive about it to me. But I have a long way to go to unconditionally loving my body.
    This post was truly inspiring. Thank you so much.

    • daynya says:

      Thank you! It’s great that you are embarking on this when you’re young…not that I’m old or anything, but I wish I had found out that there was another way when I was younger. Instead of sitting around obsessing, I could have been out, having fun!! It sounds like you’re definitely on the right path, taking care of yourself, and surrounding yourself with great people. Keep up the good work πŸ™‚ Thanks for stopping by!!

  15. Pingback: Out with the old. | polka-dot aardvark

  16. i can relate to this post so much.
    i grew up in a household that was completely weight/appearance obsessed.
    somewhere along the way, i learned that i didn’t have to repeat what I had seen.
    i am a big believer in eating as healthy as possible, and i love working out, but as soon as i catch things “getting dark” (love the phrase) i just try to lighten up. πŸ™‚
    hating myself is no way to live.

    enjoy the journey, and best of luck to you.
    i love the blog.

  17. Corrie says:

    Help! I clicked on your blog because it came up when I googled “how to accept my body.” I need to know where to start this journey. My husband constantly tells me I’m beautiful and I’m exactly what he wants and I can’t make myself believe him. 😦 that’s so unfair to both of us. I hate hating my body and then I get even more down when I can’t figure out how to stop hating it… So I do what you talked about, count calories, work out like crazy, and still hate it. Also, like you said, I’m afraid accepting my body will mean letting myself go. Please help.

    • daynya says:

      Corrie,

      Big hugs! I feel your pain, believe me I do. It’s a long, and often difficult, path to self acceptance. I still have plenty of days where I am not thrilled with my body. But, those days are far less now, and more often than that, I’m thrilled with what I have.

      One of the things that has really helped me (in unexpected ways) is going to counseling. I’ve been in and out of different counseling for different issues for a few years. I’ve been going steadily to the same amazing therapist for a while now. And we don’t even talk about body issues, or weight, or how I feel about my looks. What we do talk about that helps me is speaking my truth, and standing in my power. The more open and vulnerable I am in general, the more happy I am with myself over all. I really need to write an updated post about this! So, if you don’t do that, it’s something to consider. Having someone help me realize what kind of respect I deserve (from myself), and how I’m always compromising that has been life changing. When I talk badly about myself, or just think it, when I don’t stand up for myself, when I let others treat me badly…it all ends up the same. With me becoming smaller (metaphorically speaking). What I have been working on is being honest, and speaking up, even when it’s really, really hard. This tiny little thing has helped me gain so much confidence.

      Secondly, if you aren’t already, I definitely encourage exercise. Not necessarily for weight loss. What exercise gives me every day (other than the great chemical rush that it provides!) is a reason to be amazed by my body. When I did my first real pushup, I was amazed. When I worked up to doing 10, I was super amazed. This kind of stuff just makes me marvel. I love feeling strong, and that makes me love my body even more. When I do a workout that completely exhausts me (doesn’t beat me up, just pushes me to my limits), I feel like a total rock star! When I do exercise that I just enjoy doing, I just feel better about myself over all.

      Lastly, as hokey as it might sound, think about what you DO like about your body. When I am having a pretty rough day, and I just don’t feel happy with what I have, that is what I turn to. When you are only concentrating on the negative, or what you don’t like, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking, well the whole thing is just bad, and I hate it, and that’s that. But, if you can put a little wedge in that thought process, and create some space for a new thought there, it can change everything. Say I look in the mirror one morning. I feel like my arms look huge (my most common bodily worry), I feel like my stomach is flabby, I am breaking out, and over all, I just feel pretty bummed by what I see. Now, what I used to do is just pout about it. Either silently, berating myself, or out loud, complaining to Michael. He, of course, was always sweet and reassuring, but I never believed him. And I shouldn’t. I shouldn’t need to look to him for that kind of comfort, and it’s not surprising that it doesn’t convince me to believe him either. I have to believe it for myself, that’s the only way it will stick. Just like anything else in life, people can preach to me all day about anything, but unless it’s something I’m convinced of, I’m going to take it with a grain of salt. Same with my body. And that took years of that cycle for it to really click for me. SO, back to it. So how I’ve changed that habit, is by introducing a new thought pattern here. Not trying to convince myself of something I don’t believe, but picking out something that I DO believe, and making that the mantra for that moment. So, I take a hard look, outside, but more importantly, inside. First I see if there is anything physical I am loving. Am I having an amazing hair day? Do my arms actually look like they’re a bit toned? But, usually this leads me to the more important point. Yes my arms might look big, but did they just help me do a full workout of pushups, dips and presses? Or did they just carry me through a 90 minute yoga class, including poses that lied solely on arm strength to hold up my own body? Now, those are both completely amazing things. Those are things to be proud of. That’s just an example, but I hope it helps. The rest, I just let it go. I know that tomorrow my body will feel/look differently. I know that what I see in the mirror/in pictures is not an accurate representation of my body. It is a flattened 2D version of my very 3 dimensional body. I keep all of this in mind, and I just decide to let it go. My arms look huge today? Oh well. So what? Does that really impact my quality of life, in any way? Only to the extent that I let it. And that is a hugely powerful thing. Realizing that the way I feel about my body pretty much dictates how I feel, it’s as simple as that. If I decide to appreciate it, I feel grateful and move on.

      No matter what, when I come back to the self punishing cycle of counting calories, and beating up my body, it never works for me. I end up miserable, and I end up trashing this amazing body, which is the opposite of my goal. If I want this body to carry me through another 70 years, I need to treat with the utmost care. Starving it, and making it work way harder than it was designed to, those are not the answers for me.

      I really wish you the best of luck. Just remember, YOU need to love your body, and not rely on your husband to help you believe it. Once you believe it, you will be amazed at how your life changes. There is no shame in going to talk to someone about all of this, if you feel like that might help you.

      If you want to chat any more, feel free to email me! I hope you have a wonderful weekend. πŸ™‚

  18. Corrie says:

    Thank you so much for this! Over the past few days I have put a couple of these things into practice and I already can feel a difference. Not huge yet, but better πŸ™‚ I love that you said that you don’t try to convince yourself that you like something you don’t, that is what I’ve tried to do in the past and it doesn’t work! I do, however, like my shoulders, they are very muscular, and I have great skin. Yay! Also, when I left work on Sunday (I do massage, only 2 days a week) I appreciated the fact that my body was strong enough to do 6 massages in a row, something nobody else I work with is able to do, because it is so physically demanding.

    I may look into counseling. I’ve gone for other things in the past. It is hard to find time now with 2 kids (and my husband is military so his schedule is unpredictable) but that’s another way that I need to recognize that I deserve to make the time to take care of myself πŸ™‚

    I do exercise at least 5 days a week. When I don’t I feel terrible.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. Please post often about your journey.

    P.S. My husband is Michael too!

    • daynya says:

      Yay! Small changes are the way to go, in my opinion. It might take a while, and it might be subtle, but you’ll get there! Being strong enough to do 6 massages in a row is impressive! You should be proud of yourself for recognizing that.

      I can only imagine that you have a very hectic schedule, but you definitely need to make time for yourself, whatever that might look like.

      Exercise is the best medicine for me, it really helps with all issues (mental and physical) in my life, even if it’s a gentle walk.

      Thank YOU! I will, I’m long overdue. πŸ™‚

      Yay for Michaels! πŸ™‚

  19. miranda says:

    Honestly I became in a mess, I amn’t that big but I hate looking to my body. I feel that food became my enemy I am fighting it all the time but he always wins which means I eat over than what I need to eat. It isn’t because I am hungry, surely not, I have stomach ache because of extra food and continue eating like crazy. I lose control I don’t know why. Last year I had been through an amazing diet and became the body I always wished to have and then I went through a very bad moment and all sadness was expressed by eating and eating and eating so I gained weight again not all I ve lost but I am trying hard to relose them and found myself eating more and more. I need help.

    • daynya says:

      Miranda – I am in no way a professional in this arena, so please do not take this as medical advice. It sounds to me like you are definitely struggling with some things that I am not too familiar with, and that you may want to talk to someone about. I have mentioned many times that therapy has helped me greatly on this journey, and it sounds like that might be your best course of action. Perhaps even an Over Eaters Anonymous group? It sounds like there are some emotional reasons behind your desire to over-eat, and that is what those groups can help with. Counseling in general is a great starting point. Sometimes it’s very challenging to look inside ourselves, and really see clearly what is going on. I know that the in ability to do this has often left me feeling depressed and confused about what’s going on. But once a professional can step in and help, they can usually offer insights that we’ve been unable to see on our own. You can find someone local to yourself by looking online, and I also recommend checking this site for someone with your specific needs http://www.goodtherapy.org/ . Good luck on this journey! It is so worth it to get to the bottom of the matter, and start healing yourself from the inside out.

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