*This blog post was originally published on the Daily Adventures of Paige
I haven't always been nice to my body. In fact, I've done some pretty awful things to it, from cabbage soup diets to the 500-calorie HCG diet to the other extreme of binge eating ice cream and chips and cookie dough and anything I could get my hands on.
I spent years hating my body for what it couldn't do. It was never skinny enough or fast enough, it couldn't jump high enough and wasn't attractive enough. I've spent years of my life working out and dieting my way to some elusive goal that would suddenly make me happy with my body, a magical number that would make everything better. But I'm here now to tell you no number on the scale will ever make you happy if you don't learn to love and appreciate your body.
It's taken me 29 years to come to the conclusion that life is too short to give a shit what other people think, it's too short to spend your time hating yourself and your body.
I used to hate my body because it was too squishy and too tall and not tan enough but this body has done some pretty amazing things! It grew a life inside it and gave birth to a 9-pound baby with no drugs, it served me well through 4-years of high school sports, helped me run a marathon, half-marathon and Ragnar race. No matter how badly I've treated it has very rarely let me down.
In the past year, I've lost 70 pounds. I'm still a ways off from my "goal" weight but I'm no longer letting that define who I am. For the first time in my life I'm happy with my body the way it is right now. I don't hate every single picture that is taken of me. I don't hate every item of clothing I put on. I don't wish everyday for some magical number to appear on the scale.
And can I tell you how freeing it is? How much happier life is when I don't stress because I ate french fries with dinner two days in a row? Or when the scale moves up a few pounds instead of down? Don't get me wrong there has to be moderation and consistency to see progress, but I'm no longer letting a number on a scale dictate how I feel about myself. I might not be at my goal weight yet, but I don't give a damn. I look good and feel good right now! It's empowering, it's humbling and it's amazing. I can finally get up at 5:30 in the morning and work out, because it's not a chore anymore, I want to do it so I can get stronger and be able to keep up with the incredibly speedy Mason. I want to see what else this body is capable of. And if I accidentally sleep through my alarm and miss my workout? I don't feel like a complete failure and give up for the millionth time. I just keep moving forward because progress is about consistency not perfection.
Magazines, commercials, movies, TV shows, basically everything you see everyday, would have you believe that you're not worth anything if you don't look like those girls. If you don't have perfect hair and perfect skin and the perfect body, with curves, but not too many, you are worthless. That no one will ever love you if your dress size in the double digits and you don't look like a Victoria's Secret model. Well you know what? Fuck them. Don't let anyone tell you you're not good enough, not pretty enough, not strong enough. Don't let someone else determine your worth based on ridiculous standards that even supermodels can't uphold without photoshop.
Love your body now! Love the process of getting where you want to be. Workout and eat good foods because you want to be healthy and strong, or because you want to set a good example for your kids, or because you just like to, whatever your reason do it for you. Don't starve yourself so you can have a thigh gap; don't kill yourself in the gym because you're too fat or so someone else will like you, because those aren't good reasons.
When I stopped doing it for someone else it got easier, when I did it for me and my health and my family, it became important enough to make a priority and the excuses started to fall away. When I finally learned to love my body and the things it does for me everyday I started to be happier and more confident. There are days that it is still a struggle, days I still let self-doubt and self-hate creep in, days when I wish I was stronger and faster and skinnier. But I am in a better place than I have been in a very long time. For years I let what others thought about me define who I was and what I thought of my body but not anymore. Those were not fun times in my life. Literally years of my life spent sad and angry because I let someone else make me believe I wasn't good enough.
You are enough, don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Set goals and work towards them, but don't let them define you. Love the process, love your body as it is right now, love all your imperfections, they are what make you unique and beautiful and special. Love yourself. Trust me, life is better that way.