Friday, June 20, 2014

A Beautiful Photo

My first thought when I saw this photo was when will I learn to smile nicely for the camera?! My second thought: whoa. time to lay off the ice cream. ... what?! It shocked me to hear that in my mind. And even more shocking was saying it out loud to Brian. I knew immediately that I needed to confront these feelings. Luckily, this blog post was posted later that same day. Love the body you have today. This isn't a novel concept, and it isn't something that has ever been that difficult for me...until recently.

Growing up, the majority of my body image issues centered around my face. My complexion was never great-- I was always dealing with a weird combination of breakouts and dry, flaky skin. For the most part, I finally have this under control, thanks to a greater knowledge of how my food intake affects my hormones and how my hormones affect my skin. Oh, and coconut oil. Thank God for coconut oil.

Of course, there were things about my body I struggled with as well. The stretch marks on my inner thighs are a big one. They kept me from wearing short shorts, and made me self-conscious in a swim suit. My stomach was, and still is, another "problem area" for me. Looking at photos, I can see the discomfort I feel in my own body-- arms strategically placed to cover any overhang that would show that my stomach is not perfectly flat, that I am not a board. In the photo above, I was too busy enjoying a game of apples to apples to remember to drape my arm across my lap to hide that overhang, and I saw it immediately when Brian showed me the photo.

The first step to loving the body you have today is to stop bashing yourself...and other people. If you put hate in, hate will come out. If you put love in, love will come out. I know this, and have generally been really good about it. I give so much credit to my mom for raising me to know that beauty isn't just what is on the outside, and I'm sure that is part of why my body image issues take only two paragraphs to summarize. And yet, at 26, when I should know better, when I thought I did know better, I bashed myself for not having a flat stomach in a photo.

Wanting to be in a better place financially has taken me away from crossfit for the last six months. Stressful life changes have brought me closer to ice cream in the last six months. Just kidding. My love of ice cream has brought me closer to ice cream in the last six months. Ok. Maybe a combination of both. Has my body changed in the last six months because of these things? Obviously. But who cares? Two more steps to loving the body you have today are to be awesome now, and reinvent beauty. I'm not in as great of shape as I was six months ago, but that shouldn't make me any less awesome or beautiful. I'm just as awesome when I can squat 135lb as I am when doing 3x10 squat ladders up to 50lb turns my legs into jello. Just as my mom taught me, beauty is what is on the inside of a person, and their body doesn't change that. Choose to surround yourself with people who are inspiring to you because of their inner beauty, not because of their body, and you will be inspired no matter where you are in your health and fitness journey.

When I look at this photo now, I am going to make a conscious effort to focus on the memory. Not my silly face. Not the way my stomach looks. I'm going to look at it and be reminded of an amazing weekend up north with Brian's family. Of a cottage filled with laughter and conversation. Of an apples to apples game that lasted nearly two hours. Of the amazing feeling I had when an ice cream flavor became an inside joke between Lauren and me. That's what makes me beautiful in the photo.