**I am not judging anyone else based on their size. All of the women in my life are beautiful and I love you just how you are. This is about how I want to love myself as much as I love you, and I am expressing that self-love is really hard, which is something that I think we can all relate to. This is just MY journey with learning to love body.**
My body is changing and it’s hard AF to deal with. I’ve been an athlete since I was as small as I can remember. I played all the sports in elementary school and junior high, and when moved into high school I started focusing on nothing but basketball. I played year-round in the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) coached by a professional from Spain, and I also played on my high school team. I lifted weights to get stronger, I ran regularly for both endurance and cardio, and I went to the gym almost every day to practice my (awesome) 3-point shot. Despite all that work, I still lived in a small frame. I was a little guy, with my toothpick legs that looked like they’d snap at the ankles if you looked at them sideways. No one was intimidated by my size. When I was young, I wanted my body to be bigger and stronger and despite putting in the work, I couldn’t make that happen.
From the time I graduated college to about age 32ish, my body really didn’t change much at all. I exercised regularly by running and doing various types of yoga. I played basketball every once in a while, and my job required hiking many miles a day, often carrying heavy equipment. I was fit and strong. During this time, I honestly didn’t put much thought at all into my size… I never, ever thought about gaining or losing weight. I never, ever thought about what I should or shouldn’t eat. I ate all the things and did or didn’t exercise and life was good.
And then, seemingly overnight, my body started to change. Despite doing all the things that I always did, all my parts were getting softer and rounder and squishier. One day in a workout class I realized that when I did squat jumps, my thighs would jiggle when I both jumped and when I landed (obviously my thighs likely ALWAYS jiggled because, duh, flesh… but this was the first time that I had NOTICED it). My jeans didn’t fit anymore, in weird ways. Like, everything was wayyy to tight around my thighs (but baggy at my ankles). The elastic of my underwear was digging into my skin as my flesh poured out the sides. I was getting wrinkles like all over my face and all kinds of other places. WTF was happening to me? I started exercising more and eating “healthier” while thinking, duh, that’s all I needed to do to lose the squish. But I didn’t lose a single pound and I still didn’t fit into my old jeans. Instead of stepping back and being thankful for my body and recognizing that it was changing because WE CHANGE AS HUMANS ALL THE TIME BOTH INSIDE AND OUT, I fought and fought and fought to get back what I once had (aka, instead of buying bigger jeans, I just wore my yoga pants around and marinated in self-loathing).
So here’s the catch. I’m not perfect. I didn’t wake up one day and say, “Oh, I just need to start to LOVE my body,” and then start to love my body. There are many, many days when I still look in the mirror and wish I could just “lose (magic number) lbs.” It’s almost as though I believe that something magical would happen if I were (magic number) lbs lighter – like I’d be happier or something. And that’s just not true. My weight isn’t where my happiness comes from and in my heart I know that (I’m a goddamn yoga teacher, you’d think I’d be better at this shit). But I’m not good at it yet. Accepting my body as it is, loving it for getting me through the day, nourishing it with the food that it wants, and resting it when it’s tired and needs to recharge – that’s hard shit. This “self-love” stuff takes time (and it’s hard and kinda sucks). It’s not easy to be kind to ourselves.
(I just also want to mention that all this stuff is CONFUSING. One blogger says, “love yourself, love your body, no matter your size” and then the next one is talking about how to “lose weight and feel healthier.” Like, WTF society.)
I don’t have any advice for you if you’re on a similar journey. And I’m also not looking for advice. Some days when I’m doing something hard I think, “Damn! My body did that badass thing!” and I can recognize how awesome my body is. I want to cultivate that feeling ALL the time. Like, “NICE JOB, BODY!! YOU JUST DIGESTED AN ENTIRE STACK OF PANCAKES!” and mean it. Because a lot of work went into both eating and breaking down that food, and I’m thankful that my body let me do both of those things. Because I’m totally not giving up (entire stacks of) pancakes anytime soon. Or literally ever.
(Confession: I still haven’t bought new jeans… And out of habitat, I still buy smaller t-shirts than I need and then never wear them because they don’t fit. But whatever, I’m learning.)