I remember when I used to stand in front of the mirror before a shower, shocked that my boyfriend actually found me attractive. Couldn't he see the way my stomach stuck out? The lumps on my thighs? The stretch marks on my hips? He could be with such a thinner, tighter, fitter woman ... Why was he with me?
Even though we lived together, I always got dressed in the bathroom or very discretely, like I did in the locker room after swim meets during high school.
Eventually, my emotional eating and body hatred got so out of hand that I had no choice but to face it head-on. Instead of doing things the way I always did — going on a juice cleanse, giving up gluten — I decided to take a different approach. Today, I've finally created MY ideal body and feel great naked. My steps seem counterintuitive, but listen closely:
1. Stop trying to lose weight.
I realized that if dieting was ever going to work, it would have already been effective. So I quit dieting cold turkey. With food restrictions off the table, I had way more brain space to look at my life and realize I wasn't miserable because I was overweight. I was miserable because I didn't like my life and constantly worrying about my weight was holding me back from having the kind of existence that would make me happy.
2. Feeling great naked isn't about how you look, it's about how you feel.
After realizing I was miserable because my life sucked, I got to work actively creating a life I wanted. I bought clothes I loved, started dancing, planned creative dates with my boyfriend, took an art class, spoke to strangers and worked on my spiritual practice. All of these lit me up and gave me confidence, which in turn led me to spending a little bit more time every day in my birthday suit.
3. Enjoy your body.
So many of us exist from the neck up, never taking the time to really experience being in our bodies. To counteract this, I started doing things like moisturizing my skin every day and giving myself a little massage. I'd lay in the grass, feeling the cool tickle against my skin. I went to beach and dug my feet into the sand, letting the water wash against my skin. I got massages, went to yoga, danced in my kitchen and relished having a body that was my access point to so much fun and pleasure.
4: Be naked, for you.
I spent so much time worrying about what my boyfriend (now husband) thought of my naked body before realizing that if I don't love myself, no one will. So I started spending more time naked while alone, just experienced life in my skin. One night I cooked dinner naked. Then I slept naked, watched TV naked … for no one but myself. I got more comfortable in my skin and now when my husband comes around, I'm not shy at all. If he doesn't like what he sees, that's his problem because I feel great.
5. Worship your body.
After I had my son, my body looked nothing like what I remember. I had huge purple stretch marks, a saggy tummy and was holding onto extra weight everywhere. During that time, it would've been easy to revert to covering up my naked body, but I was committed to my practice of feeling beautiful and sexy at any size.
Although I continued to use all the practices above, I added a deeper level: worship. Every morning and night, I'd kneel on the ground and bow to my body in reverence and awe for bringing another human into the world. It became so clear to me that my body wasn't just to look at; her purpose was so much deeper ... she is here for creation.
We can't spend our whole lives hiding behind our clothes. If you can't feel beautiful and confident as your real, raw, naked self, then life isn't as rich as it deserves to be.