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What to Do When the Whole 'Love Your Body' Thing Isn't Working for You

The first piece of loving your body is accepting your body. Acceptance doesn't mean you have to be in love with everything you see. Acceptance means making peace with the fact that it is a journey.
08/17/2015 03:44pm ET | Updated August 17, 2016
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Food struggles and body image issues often go hand in hand...

You diet because you hate what you see in the mirror. You think you need to be smaller, thinner, and a size or three tinier.

It's often a struggle to love your body in this day and age, when images of stick-thin women are idolized as what we need to aspire to be.

And the reality of the situation is that learning how to love your body IS a journey.

I still have days every now and then where I see the girl at the gym working out in spandex and a sports bra, with a six pack and slim, toned physique, and I think to myself... wow, I'd have so much more confidence if I had that bod.

But I've worked over the years to find the place within myself that I can appreciate and focus on ME. My own journey. And how much more comfortable I am in my body than I was 3, 5, 10 years ago. How I can actually wear clothes in the summer and not want to hide myself under a towel anymore.

The reality of this whole "love your body" thing is this:

Body love may come second. The first step is acceptance.

So, what do you do when you desperately want to love your body, not cringe when you look in the mirror, and have a positive relationship with yourself?

You accept where you are.

I mean, really, truly, accept and make peace with the place you are currently in.

Think about taking a road trip from Philadelphia to Florida. You leave Philly and a few hours later you're in Maryland. You know you still have to go through Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia before you finally arrive in Florida.

You don't reach Maryland after five hours and say, "Screw it, I'm turning around because it's taking so long."

You know you need to pass through a few other states on your way south down to Florida. You don't stop your journey because you know it's the way to your destination; you don't quit part way through!

And so it is with the whole "loving your body" journey. Step by step, day by day and little by little, you make progress, you gain traction, and you move forward.

The first piece of loving your body is accepting your body. Acceptance doesn't mean you have to be in love with everything you see.

Acceptance means making peace with the fact that it is a journey. And you have to start with where you are.

You don't get from Philly to Florida in five minutes. You gotta pass through the long, sometimes arduous journey down almost the entire country to get there.

You accept that perhaps you're bigger than you'd like to be.

You are okay that you no longer fit into your skinniest pair of jeans anymore.

You make peace with where you are.

Because when you're resisting where you are, fighting it tooth and nail, and desperately wishing you were somewhere else, that's what hinders your progress.

Making peace with your body doesn't mean you can't change. This is actually want enables you TO change.

So before you start to love your body, before you wake up sending loving vibes to the vehicle that carries you around all day, perhaps the first step for you is to work on acceptance.

Acceptance isn't a grand proclamation that you make once and you're done. It's something you do over and over and over again.

You boldly make a claim that you are going to start to focus on what your body CAN do for you.

You start to make an effort to be grateful for all of the things your body does for you daily.

You let go of picking your body apart, stomach by thigh by arm by cellulite dimple, and see your body as a whole.

And you do it all over again the next day.

I tell all of my clients that this journey isn't for the faint of heart.

It takes courage to pick yourself back up again when you think you've finally "got it" and then you realize you don't.

It takes persistence to keep coming back, again and again, to the lessons you thought you learned already.

And it truly takes being vulnerable to let go of criticizing yourself and slowly, but surely accepting, then loving the body that makes up you.

This journey is worth it, though, because you end up finding the deep love and acceptance within you. And when you feel good INSIDE, it changes the way you see the world.

So, if you're desperately struggling to love your body, then take a step back. Work on acceptance first. Because in acceptance, you find peace. And the peace is where the magic happens.

If you're tired of starting over every Monday, grab your FREE "Must Have Guide To Ending the Diet Cycle Today". For more info on letting go of obsessing over food and your body 24/7 c'mon over and visit www.jennhand.com or say hello on Facebook.