I lead a REbeL chapter at my school, which is a club that helps high schoolers "change society's definition of beauty" because "every body is beautiful." At our weekly meetings we discuss the way media thinks we should look, societal trends, eating disorders, mindful eating, healthy exercise, self-esteem, etc. And even though I'm hopefully helping students become more accepting of their bodies, I quickly realized I was in a weird relationship with my own.
So, this past year I've been reflecting on how I approach eating, working out, body image, self-esteem, etc. with more mindfulness than before in hopes of figuring out just what does and doesn't work for me.
and what have I learned?
I need only to listen to my own body.
I will gobble up desserts all day long (cookies, brownies, ice cream, yum!), but otherwise I eat a balanced variety of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Instead of eating based on outside cues (time of day, seeing a delicious free food, the amount on my plate), I've focused on listening to my body: eating when I am actually hungry and stopping when I am feeling full. That's it. I eat anything that sounds good, but surprisingly, sometimes a salad IS what I want. And other times it's more mac 'n cheese. I finally have stopped feeling guilt and shame over eating a "bad" food or eating "too much." And IT FEELS AWESOME!
Following "fitness" Instagram accounts, Beachbody and Shakeology advocates, ItWorks! consultants, etc. really stressed me out. I tried the Beachbody thing last summer and the accountability did bring me results (-12lbs or so), but it is not good for my mind. None of that stuff is. It's really easy for me to become mentally obsessed which quickly leads to shame, guilt, and defeat when I eat the DQ Blizzard or "skip" a workout. I HATE so many of the mantras too. If my body is tired, I don't care if I should "Never Miss a Monday!", I'm going to rest. I don't want to "Rise and Grind" because working out shouldn't be a grind. Working out in any form should be something I enjoy doing because it makes me feel healthy, energized, and strong.
I've been doing Jazzercise 5-6x a week since May because it's fun. And challenging. And it's a weird community where everyone knows each other, accepts everyone else's different fitness levels, and is just there to have fun and sweat together. Even though the classes are hard, it's become one of my favorite parts of the day because I love how my body feels when it's working hard, jamming to the music. THAT is what "working out" should be about, a celebration of our bodies and the awesome things they let us do!
Have I lost weight? Not much. About 5lbs in over 2 months.
But I feel so much stronger, confident, and accepting of my body. And I haven't felt like that in... years.
I need only listen to my own body,
I workout because I love my body, not because I hate it.