A few years ago, I often found myself lying on the bathroom floor, paralyzed by my negative thoughts about my body. I would call myself "fat, disgusting and ugly." I didn't want to see the world. I didn't want to socialize with friends, and I definitely didn't want to be intimate with my husband. I loathed my body.
I now describe my journey as one from body-loather to body-lover. I've gotten to the place where I love the skin I'm in, and feel like I've won the golden ticket. No longer do I hate what I see in the mirror, no longer do the cellulite and stretch marks bother me, no more do I anguish over my jiggly white belly.
And the best news is, for anyone reading this who doesn't unconditionally and wholeheartedly love their body already, you too can learn to love your body by accessing and flicking a mental switch inside your mind.
Here are five truths I had to internalize fully before I finally learned to love my body.
1. The lines on my face only serve to remind me that life is short and the bucket list is long.
I remember looking at my developing wrinkles in my early 20s and thinking, "I'll have to get a face-lift to get rid of those." Then with the introduction of Botox in my late 20s, the nonchalant conversation among friends became about how we all "needed" Botox. Thankfully I didn't do either; instead, I came to the swift realization that aging was a privilege denied to many. (The sudden death of my brother from a heroin overdose really cemented that for me).
And now in my late 30s (I am 37 … and a half!) I've truly discovered just how bogus the messages are that marketeers are ramming down our throats telling us to "defy and fight" the lines on our face. I don't want to be at war with my body, I'd rather defy and fight world hunger and human-trafficking than my naturally evolving and aging self.
2. When I take my last breath on this earth, I won't be thinking about how much I hate my body.
Leading a global movement of positive change has taken me right across the world, speaking to diverse people from many countries and cultures discussing the subject of body image. I've asked tens of thousands of people the following question: "What thoughts do you think you'll be having in your final days on earth?" And guess what? Not one person has ever said to me: my stretch marks, my big bottom, my fat arms, my cellulite, my thighs, my wrinkles ...
I encourage you (just like I did) to find some perspective and be grateful for all that you have, because you are here right now, breathing, capable, able and LIVING!
3. My breasts have provided over 4,000 meals to my children (e.g. of course they look different).
Yes, the rumors are true: if you've heard me speak you will know that I am incredibly proud of the amount of meals my breasts have provided for my children. I didn't always feel this way; I remember being on the phone to a girlfriend once (during my body-loathing days) and complaining, "My boobs are so stretched that you can pick them up with your index finger and thumb, just like you'd pick up a dirty tissue!"
We are often told, especially after having children, that we should strive to get our bodies "back." But this really is quite an absurd concept for an evolving human. So rather than looking backward and desiring the body I once had, I trained myself to look forward and took pride in every bump, stripe and scar that told the story of my bodies unique journey.
4. You can never trust a four-letter word that begins with the three letters are D-I-E.
Over and over again, we are being told that we have a global obesity epidemic. Yet we keep throwing another diet program into the mix in hope that a new diet will be the answer to the war we've declared on fat. Well guess what? DIETS DON'T WORK!
I know this not just from clinical evidence, but also from personal experience, I think I tried every diet known to mankind in my teens and 20s and continued to find myself back on the weight loss train. So what do I do now? I eat intuitively and move my body and fuel it with lots of good food that provides me with boundless energy.
I also acknowledge that food is not "good" or "bad." After all, who wants to be eating chocolate and feeling guilty about such a joyous event? And speaking of guilt, please ditch the scales. A number does not define your health or your worth and nor should it dictate your mood or levels of happiness!
5. There are millions of other people around the world trying to embrace their bodies, too.
Sometimes we can feel alone in our struggles. I know I did. That's why I created the #ihaveembraced hashtag. If you ever need inspiration from a body-lover or a loather learning to love, you can be part of a global movement of people creating positive body image changes in their lives, their communities and indeed across the world. You are not alone because we are all in this together.
Remember your body is not an ornament, it is the vehicle to all of your dreams.
Photo courtesy of the author