I spent nearly two decades at war with my body. I would wake up to an image in the mirror and I would fight what I saw. I would wish for differently colored eyes, a skinnier body, a narrow nose, thinner lips, lighter skin, smaller thighs, a taller frame, less freckles ... the list was endless.
I wasted a lot of time and energy wanting to look like someone else. I didn't believe compliments, and I even told some people they were wrong if they complimented me. I was fighting a war that I could never win because as long as I was unhappy with what I looked like, I was losing out.
But I finally found peace with my body, and this is how:
1. I stopped comparing myself to the impossible.
I took a look at a magazine cover with an actress who looked like no one I'd ever seen before. She had no wrinkles, no blemishes and she had dropped about three sizes from when I had seen her in an interview the week before. It looked impossible for someone to change their appearance so drastically naturally. That's what I'd been comparing myself to, to people who have either been airbrushed or had plastic surgery.
I gave myself two extreme ultimatums: either get plastic surgery, or start appreciating who I am. Luckily, I'm afraid of needles, so I opted for the latter and started to appreciate who I am. I suddenly found no point in wanting to look like someone who doesn't look natural. As a result, I found true love for myself because that was more possible than looking like the image on the magazine cover.
2. I got tired of putting my body through torture.
The previous war I'd waged on my body consisted of telling myself that I didn't deserve to eat because I had to have smaller thighs by a certain time. I would punish and torture myself so much that even when I reached my goal weight, I wasn't happy with myself because I'd verbally abused myself. Who likes a verbally abusive person? The irony is that I was abusing myself, and through the abuse I continued the cycle feeling badly about my body. As long as I was abusing myself, I wouldn't love myself or my accept my body.
3. I started practicing yoga consistently.
One of the things that I love so much about yoga is that it teaches the beautiful work that our bodies do for us without our realizing it. It also teaches you that what you give your body is what you will receive back. The "yoga high" after class is a result of treating your body well. I developed a great relationship with my body since starting yoga, and I've realized that all that time spent being unhappy can be used on better thoughts. Thoughts that will enlighten me, not bring me down. I realized that I'm only ever able to appreciate the beauty around me if I am at peace with who I am and happy with the body that I've been blessed with.
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