If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is a reflection worth? For most of my life, I would’ve answered ‘about five cents’. I never gave much credit to my own reflection. She was too short, too stout, with chunky cone-shaped legs, a muffin top, and sagging breasts. In fact, this dialogue had gone on so long inside of my own head that I had grown quite comfortable with the discomfort of myself within my own skin. Apparently, and to my surprise, many of those around me have had the same struggle. It was always easy to accept the inside of me, to even ‘love’ myself internally without ever ‘accepting’ myself externally. When we are self-aware, we become pros at this dynamic – loving one part, and rejecting the other.
The problem is that if we do not accept and embrace our complete selves, then can we really ever ‘love’ ourselves? When we fall in love with someone, we generally love them completely, or at least – that’s how we should love.
We all have a choice in this. If we do not love some part of ourselves, we have an opportunity each and every day to change that part for the better, and if we focus on what we want to become – I truly believe that is what we will become. But we cannot settle for our own excuses, and that my friends, is difficult.
As for my own story, I have been putting in the work for a few years now, the fix what was broken inside of me that caused me to linger on the negatives I saw in my reflection. That work began on the inside, the spirtitual, the psychological, the emotional, and eventually transcended to the outside once I felt stable enough to add that work. I have always worked out in some way – yoga, pilates, kickboxing, running – but I never could achieve that ‘number’ – size, weight, measurements, that I so desparately wanted….until now. I had to get to that place in my mind where the voice pushed me farther when I wanted to quit. I had to delve deep down into my ‘hunger’, into my relationship with food, to understand why my choices were sabatoging my journey.
In our society, food is largely accepted as its own reward. We socialize around food, comfort with food, and reward with food. But food isn’t really the problem here, anymore than a gun without an operator kills. We need to fully understand our thought process, question our own ‘hunger’, and most of all, we need to stop telling ourselves that eating healthy means we are depriving ourselves of the very happiness that others around us have the joy of receiving. When we make choices, they only effect our own bodies.
I am not perfect, by any means. And as my boyfriend would tell you, I still have slight mood swings when I eat foods that are unhealthy because I still battle the guilt of those choices. But for the most part, I make good choices now because I am motivated by this new feeling of acceptance that I have for – not just the inside of me – but for the outside as well. It has taken me almost 38 years, but for the first time in my life, I believe that a reflection is worth a gazillion words, and not just pretty words, but words of strength and self-awareness. I have a deep-seeded need to help others get here, not for reasons of vanity but for reasons of acceptance and self-love, because in all reality, if we stop battling ourselves, we also stop battling everyone around us who love us. We cannot change our reality by excusing ourselves. We can only change our reality by accepting ourselves. Acceptance and self-love ripples from us and into our relationships by transforming self-doubt into self-love, which also just happens to make happinesss a little more contagious.