I taught five yoga classes today, and afterwards, I went to bliss out in the women's area of a health club I work at. The plan was basic: whirlpool, steam, cold shower, sauna, rinse, repeat.
It worked. I felt refreshed. As I was changing out of stretchies and into jeans, I overheard a disturbing conversation among some women a few lockers over.
"If you want to lose weight, don't eat! That's how you do it," said one.
"Start your day off with two glasses of warm water with lemon juice. Your muscles are made mostly of water. You're literally feeding your body with what it's made of, so it's nourishing. It's what your body needs. Then three egg whites with as much spinach as you want, fry it all up and that's your meal for the day," boasted another.
"You can only eat chocolate when you have your period," chimed a third.
At first I laughed to myself at the ostentatiousness of these comments. Then I was sad. These women were completely serious.
When does it happen that beautiful girls and women stop loving themselves? When did we decide that we weren't fabulous exactly as we are? When did achieving a so-called healthy body type translate to starvation and restriction?
I've been struggling lately with my own weight gain. Over the past year I've gained ten pounds. Sure, this doesn't sound like much, but I feel it's extremely noticeable on my 5-foot frame. What's more, I'm constantly scrutinizing my own body thanks to the fact that I wear polyester practically painted on every day. It also doesn't help that one of my specialties and most popular classes as a yoga instructor is inversions, and I've had to relearn how to lift my heavier ass up in the air.
But I don't believe in dieting. I believe in healthy. I believe in loving who I am despite my current distaste for my thighs.
What does healthy eating mean to me? It means not buying products with words in the ingredients list that I can't pronounce. It means no processed foods or edibles that come in shapes or colors that seem unnatural (like round chicken nuggets or juices that are blue). Healthy means making smarter choices, like fruit instead of cake for dessert and whole grains over enriched wheat. Healthy eating to me means eating as many fruits and veggies as I desire. The best part is, I feel better about myself when I eat better. The better I feel, the more I want to move.
I've stopped thinking of my bigger butt as "junk in the trunk" and now call it my "beauty in the booty." Sure, most of my pants don't fit, and that's upsetting. But like everything else, this too shall pass. Forcing myself to feel confident even on days when I feel huge (which I know is ridiculous and dramatic) gets me out and strutting my voluptuousness regardless of how unflattering red leggings might be. I might lose the weight and I might not. Obsessing over it will not help my self-esteem, my relationships with others, or my role as a yoga instructor. I wish those women in the change rooms could feel the same.
Love yourself for who you are today. Not who you would like to be. Just love you, and set goals! Strive to be healthier, run faster, jump higher or bike longer distances, but love the process and love yourself during the journey — it will make the triumphs so much sweeter.