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. 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. 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.
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:
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!