I love my body for everything it does for me and allows me to do for others every single day.
I’ve also hated it because of how it’s looked ― the cellulite that’s seemed to have found itself a permanent home on my butt and thighs; the lumps and bumps that make me think twice about wearing that skin-hugging top; and my baby fine hair that won’t let me pull my hair back into a slick ponytail without making me look like I’m going bald.
I’ve been at war with my body. I’ve also made peace with it.
But when that internal war is raging, so is my disappointment in myself for feeling that way about the strong, capable and beautiful (to some, at least) body that I’ve been gifted with.
If you can relate, here’s what I’d like to invite you to do to get started on that path of making peace with your body and taking care of it as long as you walk this earth.
I’d like you to stop...
1. Judging what you see in the mirror. It’s tough going out into the world and being judged just for taking that step forward. Why add to the pain by doing it to yourself when you look in the mirror?
2. Taking it for granted. Every part of your body exists for a reason: To feel, to survive, to sense, to understand, to grow, to absorb, to give, to love, to create and to explore. Don’t ever forget that.
3. Allowing someone else’s opinion to dictate how you look (and feel). The only opinion about your body that truly matters is yours, and yours alone. So make it a good one.
4. Punishing it. Leave the mind games to the psychopaths (and then stay away from them). Your body deserves better.
5. Depriving it of food. Your body NEEDS food for you to feel OK, and for it to do what you want it to do in this world. If someone tells you that you can and should survive on 500 calories a day, run. Run really, really fast and don’t look back.
6. Allowing someone else to use it carelessly. The abusive partner. That one night stand. The “friends” who get a kick out of making mean comments about your weight or how you look. If you don’t feel respected or cared for, avoid the person(s) responsible for the hurt or walk away if you can.
7. Wishing you were someone else. The weighing scale and measuring tape may seem greener on the other side, but I can promise you that no matter how perfect someone else’s life (or body) looks, they’re struggling with just as much (if not more) pain in their life as you are.
8. Calling it names. Labeling your body as “fat” or “ugly” may seem harmless, but the more you do it, the more it sticks and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. So why not use words that make you feel strong, beautiful and ready to take on life?
9. Not moving it with intention every day. Your body was made to move, and movement: Makes your heart, joints and muscles stronger; nourishes your limbs and organs with life-giving oxygen; sharpens your mind; burns lingering calories that would otherwise weigh you down. It also makes you feel amazing. Just pick something, even if it’s just a head-clearing walk around the block, and do it daily...for you.
10. Abusing it with food, alcohol or drugs. They numb your pain temporarily, but the relief they offer isn’t worth the long-term damage that they also cause to your self-esteem, health and life.
11. Giving up on it. If you don’t step up to take care of you, then who will?
12. Ignoring what it’s telling you. Your body is a finely-tuned machine that has the ability to tell you when it’s hungry, had enough food, needs a break, and when something isn’t right. Listen closely, and you’ll find it easier to do what’s right for it, more often.
13. Wearing clothes that don’t make you look or feel good. I’d spent years wearing nothing but grey or black sweatpants and baggy T-shirts... until I realized (thanks to the gentle nudges of a close friend) that they weren’t doing anything to help lift my rock-bottom self-esteem.
14. Not giving it enough sleep. Without it, you’re cranky, more hungry, stressed, exhausted and more prone to weight gain. To your body, it’s like you’re stepping on the accelerator on an empty tank with your feet stuck in quicksand. Your first step to undoing this damage? Start putting a relaxing, pre-sleep ritual in place so that you can get the most R&R out of your snooze time.
15. Allowing a number to control how confident and beautiful you feel. You are NOT the number on a weighing scale or the tag on the clothes you wear. Let me repeat that: Your beauty, intelligence, kindness, empathy, wit, strength and generosity cannot be defined by a number.
Want to finally start feeling at ease in your own skin and put a stop to the constant overeating that’s hurting your self-esteem and contributing to your weight gain? Join my FREE, Lose 4 Pounds in 4 Weeks Without Going On A Diet course and take your power back.
This article originally appeared on michelelian.com