Today, I’ve got a challenge for you.
Think of your best friend, and what comes to mind? Let me guess: they are hilarious, or nice, maybe they like to watch sports, or they’re an awesome student. I bet you didn’t even think of their weight, their BMI, or whether they ate a cookie last night at the party.
We don’t think about those things, because those things aren’t what define our friends – and for the record, they don’t define us, either.
Years of a poor self-image (how I feel about myself) left me with a poor body-image (how I perceive my body). That is why the trend towards body acceptance is a welcome relief.
However, there is a fine line between body acceptance, and what I’d like to call body defeat.
Here are some comparisons.
ACCEPTANCE: You look in the mirror and say, “Wow, these jeans look good!”
DEFEAT: You look in the mirror and say, “These jeans used to be so loose, but I’m never going to be in that kind of shape again.”
ACCEPTANCE: Trying a piece of cake your friend made, enjoying it, and opting to eat a little lighter at dinnertime.
DEFEAT: Eating that piece of cake because you already messed up your diet today and it won’t make a difference anyway. Getting another slice, and then hoping no one judges you for eating it.
ACCEPTANCE: Going to the gym to stay active, release some endorphins, and get a workout.
DEFEAT: Going to the gym because you ate too much today and you at least don’t want to gain any weight.
Similar actions, but which one is leaves you feeling better?
To me, body acceptance stems from self-love and self-respect, or at the very least an effort to develop those feelings. Body defeat comes from giving up on ourselves, and the perception that we aren’t good enough to even try to improve our wellness.
Here’s the bottom line: we should love ourselves.
From experience, I know that the bingeing, the purging, the hours on the elliptical, and the days of 500 net calories – I didn’t do those things because I loved my myself. It wasn’t to make me feel better, or to be healthy. In fact, it was to punish myself – but for what? Maybe for not understanding my economics class, or for having that muffin at breakfast, or for going to a party I didn’t want to be at. Who knows? But at the end of the day, it left me unhappy and unhealthy, and disliking myself more than I did at the start.
Body acceptance involves loving yourself enough to strive for a healthy lifestyle. Whether you’re aiming to get to the gym once a week, or you’re training for the Iron Man Triathlon, the fact remains the same for everyone. So, forget about being “too skinny” or “too fat” – but don’t let that become an excuse for being inactive or eating poorly. That’s not acceptance of ourselves and our good qualities; rather, it’s letting our sadness or laziness defeat our desire for health. Every hour of every day offers up a new chance to eat a little better, to work a little harder, and to be a little happier in our lives.
Fall in love with yourself, without becoming complacent. You are awesome, you are strong, and you are worthy of love and respect. And you CAN be healthy – no matter what the number on the scale says, what some jerk said in an offhand comment, or what that nagging voice in the back of your mind tries to convince you otherwise.
Always accept yourself – but never accept defeat.