I gifted myself body acceptance for my 30th birthday
Like many young women, for years I never felt completely confident in my own skin. Always comparing myself to friends, working towards an ideal that was just unrealistic, hoping to change parts of my body that really could never be changed. Luckily I never let this get in the way of life, I have always enjoyed being out there and have lived a very positive life so far, but if I think back over many of the good times, they are spotted with thoughts of self doubt, with distractions of how I felt regardless of how I looked to everyone else.
For my 30th birthday, I decided that from that point on I wanted to just have the good times and leave behind the insecurities. I come to this realisation…
Our bodies look their best when they feel their best. Let’s be real, by investing time and effort into health and wellness, we reap the benefits from the inside out. This doesn’t mean that our hopes and dreams of the perfect model body will come true but if we can accept that in reality, we will only ever have the opportunity to look the best version of ourselves, and not someone else, this can be a profoundly positive feeling.
I realised that over the past few years I’d been working towards this very thing and decided it was time to pull it all together, here’s that journey.
I shifted my focus. Where for years, I used to workout for the soul purpose of reaching an unrealistic goal, I started working out to feel good, gain strength and endurance. I stopped weighing myself all together and started focusing on building muscle tone, which of course improved my shape, posture and ultimately how my body looked and felt as a whole. Instead of slogging away on a treadmill for an hour, I found workouts that challenged me and kept it interesting, and in time I tried more varied exercises and pushed myself to do well rounded workouts. Going to the gym is now something I look forward to (most days) and is a fixed part of my routine. But if I get bored I simply don’t go. I’ll walk or practice yoga instead or just take a day off and it is what it is.
Food and nutrition is where it began for me several years ago. I adopted cleaner eating habits and built my knowledge of nutrition after seeing a Naturopath to help with problems a doctor couldn’t solve. I began to understand the effect food and nutrition has on our bodies, and how vital that really is.
I’m lucky that I come from a family that has always eaten well and I grew up with the sensibility of knowing what good food is and our meal times were centred around family and culture. I never struggled with eating, and never really took diets too seriously but throughout the years went back and forth through stages of omitting this food group or that, or dropping weight for a holiday or event and not giving my body what it really needed. Learning to eat intuitively with the knowledge of what a varied healthful diet is, was a turning point. I now know what fuels my body the best, what to eat to feel my best and in tern to just relax about food.
I am by no means the perfect eater, I enjoy sweets and a fry up and am no stranger to a drink. But I don’t apologise for that, I eat clean 90 percent (ok...80%) of the time because that’s when I feel my best, and the times that I don’t, I just learnt to enjoy that too and the whole eating thing has become a no brainer.
Knowing my style
A word on style, I have for years worked in fashion and eventually found that the values of the industry no longer aligned with my interests and beliefs and ultimately I decided to move on. But for a long time, I felt the pressure to dress in trends regardless of how they fit (or didn’t fit) my body type. Naturally this changed as I matured, and eventually I just gave up on trying to force certain styles. Some things simply aren’t made to suit every body type and as I went on I just accepted that. I learnt what suits me, what I feel confident in and shows off my best features and now I have a strong sense of personal style and I really enjoy getting dressed.
Being forgiving of myself
This was probably something that took me the longest to understand and it hasn’t been until started studying coaching and nutrition, that I’ve gained an appreciation for how incredibly complex and wonderful our bodies and minds really are. Over recent years I’ve gone through some very stressful times and unfortunately that manifested physically, at times taking a toll on my health and wellbeing.
While we all have stressors and this is a normal part of life, I’ve begun to realise that the less time and energy you give to stress the less hold it has on you. I decided just to give myself a break from over thinking and over worrying and essentially to just not sweat the small stuff. Our bodies do so much for us every day, the best gift I can give to myself is to just be a little more forgiving. I think this has been the biggest challenge and something that I have by no means mastered but can have such a meaningful effect on our self esteem.
No one is perfect
I don’t feel in any way that I’m perfect. I have many flaws and like everyone I have my down days and moments I wish I could change things, but I have learnt to just have those moments and then move on. I keep reminding myself to focus on what I love about myself and what others love about me too and how important it is to prioritise those thoughts over the bad ones. And finally to never stop pushing myself and to just improve a little every day.