Are you struggling accepting your body and find yourself constantly trying to change it?
I’m Latin and back home in Puerto Rico a curvy figure is culturally idealized which is the exact opposite of my body-type. Growing up, I constantly heard things like “gain some weight”, “eat more”, “you need some curves girl”.
Like most women, I know what it feels like to obsess over what is perceived to be “wrong” with our bodies, rather than appreciating what we have. It took me at least 3 decades to look at my body in the mirror and feel proud of it.
A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post on this subject titled “How Do You Perceive Your Body?”. However, I have not really shared much on the tools I’ve used during my healing journey. It is because of these tools that I’ve finally learned to accept qualities about my body that for many years I tried to change.
Before I go over some of these, I want to clarify that even until this day, negative thoughts about my body do come up every now and then but they no longer have the power over me that they once used to.
I believe that overcoming the imprint of societal or cultural standards is a life long journey that requires constant awareness and work. Some tools I’ve used to help love and accept my body as is are:
1.Practicing gratefulness for my health and celebrating my body’s achievements
That extra repetition during my ab curl, 30 seconds longer on my plank, jump squats for a full minute, shoulder pressing 15 lbs without my traps taking over. Having learned to appreciate the journey of getting stronger has changed my focus and given me control over my body and thoughts.
In 2017 I lost my mom to pancreatic cancer. I watched her physical, mental, and emotional strength slowly dissipate before her eyes until she no longer was. As painful as this was and still is, remembering those days gives me perspective and snaps me our of my vanity when negative thoughts about my body come up.
Acknowledging and being grateful for our health can go a long way when it comes to healing negative thoughts about our body.
2.Take a step back and look at life from the top
When we go through cycles of comparison crisis, it almost feels as if all things we dislike about our bodies are magnified. It’s as if we’re viewing ourselves with a microscope and can’t quite zoom out. When I notice I’m looking at myself too closely, I step back and try to view life from the top. It’s almost like I come out of my own body and view all things from above—or zoom out;) This helps me see life as a whole and reminds me of all its values, my many goals, and how my physical appearance is nothing but a micro-portion of the whole.
3.Become educated & informed
While I do believe that the right lifestyle and protocol we can highly alter our genetics, there are only so many things we can change. We can burn fat, strengthen, and shape our muscles with the right program but we cannot change our skeletal structure a whole lot. For instance, I will never be able to grow curvier hips. This is simply physically impossible for me and goes back to my genetics. When I finally understood that and accepted it, I was freed to love and accept my straight athletic figure. Instead, I focus on building strength while sculpting the figure I have.
4.Follow down to earth social accounts
I recommend following accounts that educate and add value, not just share aspirational lifestyles, hoping from trend to trend.
5.Ask yourself questions from a place of curiosity, not judgement
When thoughts arise, do not judge these. Instead, ask yourself “where is this thought coming from?” “Is this my thought or did I learn this somewhere?” and continue asking from a place of curiosity until you get to the bottom of it and can reconstruct your own truth.
Again, healing and overcoming negative thoughts about our bodies is a life long journey that requires us to remain vigilant. You do not to give power to popular trends telling you that are not worthy as you are. You can strengthen and work on your fitness—strengthen, tone, and sculpt from a place of love instead of judgement. The former is the only way to be free!