I read this statement somewhere recently and it stuck. There are so many extremes floating around today about body image, health, and fitness. I’m not sure I’ve ever mentioned the season of my eating disorder before on this blog, but back when I started training to be a Georgia Southern track athlete, food and fitness became an idol. What I put in my mouth and what I wouldn’t even look at, how much I would exercise and the perfectionist expectations I put on myself. All of these were like layers of weight on my heart and soul. All of that to say, I have been through just about every possible stance of dieting + exercise. Between “enjoy your body, don’t worry so much about what you eat” to “only eat all things clean” to “cut back your calorie intake” to “eat until you’re satisfied, don’t make yourself uncomfortable” to “breakfast like a king, lunch a prince, dinner a pauper” to “let’s just stop talking about it.” And that’s just diet. With body image it was “you could be thinner” to “the goal is to work out 5 times a week for 20 minutes” to “I’m tired of working so hard, let’s take a month break and not care about it” to “balance, make it more of a lifestyle” to “it’s all about genetics also, I need to accept and love my body” to “I love being active.”
Man, it was a little exhausting to read, wasn’t it?
My mind has run many miles (pun intended) in so many different directions, trying to figure out where exactly I feel confident, happy, healthy, and content. What healthy looks like for me. What goals I want to set for myself, how strong, mentally and physically, I want to be.
Recently I started doing yoga, and I’m greatly enjoying it. I enjoy it because it’s new. I enjoy it because it’s different than anything I’ve ever challenged myself with before. I enjoy it because the goal is strength and flexibility, not burning X amount of calories to not feel guilty about that Zaxby’s meal or slice of cake.
Recently I’ve also been hit with the revolutionary reality that my body is my body. This body is the only one I have — it’s the one I operate out of, it’s the one I experience adventures with, it’s the one I take care of. This one. Not the one I at one point wished I had, not the one I used to have, not anyone else’s. This one. This exact weight, this exact height. In the last few years, I almost always look at my body with a lot of discontent, because it’s not like this, or like that. I have never looked at it and said, This is it, and it’s great.
I’m not beautiful like you, I’m beautiful like me.
I can’t get enough of this statement.
I am a healthy, active, adventurous young woman who has cellulite on the surface of her legs. I am a woman who values nutrition, who eats a lot of vegetables… and also really enjoys mint chocolate chip ice cream or a salty snack. I don’t have six pack abs and my arms aren’t defined by major muscles, but I run, spin, lift, swim, play, walk, climb, hike, stretch.
My body would probably be looked at as ‘soft,’ but it gives me the ability and chance to do anything I want to do.
My body is beautiful because it’s alive, because with it I enjoy life, and because it was created in the image of God.
And because of this reality, I respect myself enough to eat + enjoy food that doesn’t hurt me, but food that helps me thrive, not worrying so much about what ‘culture’ rules those foods may or may not be following.
I get outside and play because I’m able, because I’m strong, because it adds joy and fun to life.
I get enough sleep so I don’t stumble through my day in a sleepy fog.
I make a daily attempt to look nice. Makeup, a cute outfit, fun accessories — and I keep it simple because I’m a simple gal and for me, simple means confidence. It might sound vain, but it’s loving myself enough to make an effort, not for other people, but for me.
Choosing joy, strength, play, laughter, contentment, thanksgiving… and be beautiful like me.
My friend, these aren’t just flowery words, a revival-type post that I’ll drop within a couple of days. I am truly starting to believe them with everything I’ve got. And I think it’s a game-changer.
Maybe it can also be a spark for you.
Do not let your adorning be external — the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear — but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women of old hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands… 1 Peter 3:3-5
She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue…. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Proverbs 31: 25-26, 30