Several simply fantastic ways even you, yes you, can learn to love your body.
This weekend I went on a very long bike ride -- 66 miles spread over two days. I'm not that used to long bike rides, I've only done a handful over 20 miles. And I did this one carrying a 20-pound backpack (with my chihuahua strapped inside as my passenger. Yes, I'm nuts that way).
The bike ride, at times, was tough. Hell, at times it was torture! There were more than a few f-bombs as I wound up never-ending inclines.
We climbed from sea level to over 700 feet. My body kept going. My thighs burned but my legs kept pedaling. Over and over and over again. I kept grinding.
At 50, I have a new respect for my body that I definitely didn't have when I was younger.
When I was younger, I was always measuring my body against crazy glossy magazine standards of supermodels. Did my thighs touch? Were my hips small enough? Boobs big enough? It wasn't about anything except how I appeared to others. How I measured up. And I never did.
Thank God for age and wisdom.
Now I measure my body not by inches but by the miracles it can accomplish. Now I kinda love my body.
Here's what I've learned.
1. Worry about being strong. Not skinny.
I go to the gym and love the challenge of lifting weights. Bicep curls. Squats. Sweat cascading down my cheeks. I love to see the progress as I move to heavier weights. I feel how much stronger I get every single day, every single time I challenge myself to show up.
Skinny is all about what other's think of you. Strong is knowing what you yourself are capable of.
2. Shift the focus from how it Looks to what it Does.
I used to hate my body. It makes me sad to think about how many times I disrespected this capable body I've been given.
Don't disrespect your body. Don't grab your flesh, pound on your thighs. Don't say mean things about the way you look.
Shift the focus from your appearance to health. Think about how it works. Can you get stronger? Can you walk three miles today? Can you work on better balance?
Give yourself a tangible challenge but measure success not by the mirror or scale but by movement and action. By how you feel in your own skin.
3. Make a list of when your body was amazing.
I have a list on my phone of times my body has stood strong. Challenging times when my body didn't fail me.
Survived a car crash. Survived miscarriage. Completed a sprint triathlon. Ran alongside my daughter while she was learning to ride her bike. Cradled my grandmother as she died.
Seriously, make a list for yourself of all the times your body didn't give up on you. Keep it on your phone in the notes section and look at it when you are down on your body.
Maybe you've even survived cancer or a major illness, climbed mountains, or served in the military. If you are that strong, to hell with the size of your damned thighs. You are a warrior. Own it all.
4. Find real life role models. Not some photoshopped model on Instagram.
We are so bombarded by the fake perfection all around us. Airbrushed, photoshopped, altered bodies that have no comparison in nature. There are real life role models all around us. Friends and family who kick ass on a daily basis. Look to these people for your inspiration. Measure yourself against these folks. You can even ask them for advice or tips on fitness, healthy eating or persevering towards a goal.
My friend Adam is all about nutrition, I sent him a message on Facebook asking for advice. My friend Angela posts her runs on Facebook which motivates me to keep on going.
Find your own personal role models from your friends and family. Enlist them for moral support. Ask them for their own workout secrets.
Don't measure your body against some made-up airbrushed fake celebrity reality.
Make allies with people you can learn from.
5. Say Thank You.
How often do we curse our shape? Wish we were someone else with thinner tummies? Longer legs? Less cellulite?
Don't call yourself fat. Don't pound on your thighs or grab your stomach.
Can you climb stairs while balancing overflowing bags of groceries? Can you Whip and Nae Nae with your kids? Give your grandchild a piggyback ride? Work it in the front row of Zumba class?
Say thank you.
We've all lost friends far too young who never got the opportunity to get older and get thicker waists and maybe even some cellulite and slack skin. Say thank you because we've all been given the gift to live another day. To carry on. To stand strong.
Today, make a promise to honor the amazing, moving, dancing, lovemaking, pasta-cooking body that moves us through this journey.
Love your body and it just might return the favor.