This is one of my favourite photos (courtesy of @amyschumer on instagram) of all time. It says, loud and clear, I love my body. I says I am perfect the way I am, with my coffee and my belly rolls and all. It is unapologetically real, beautifully flawed, and impeccably stunning at the same time.
I challenge you to love your body too. I (have learned to) love mine. Sure, I could find a bunch of things about my body to complain about, but what would be the point? It wouldn’t make me feel any better and it wouldn’t propel any change. In fact, it would surely make me feel worse. My mood would plummet and I would lose motivation to make my body do all the incredible things that it is capable of.
As a nutritionist, I frequently coach women who feel betrayed by their bodies, who feel ashamed about the way they look, and who constantly compare themselves to how they once looked (pre-baby or before they started taking on responsibilities in the real world). It makes me sad because they are so focused on trying to fix what they don’t like that they don’t see all the amazing gifts that our bodies give us every day.
I was thinking about this as my friend and I went paddle boarding on the Ottawa River yesterday. It was the perfect way to spend a much-needed day off that I had been looking forward to for a long time. The sun was out, there was no wind, the temperature was perfect, and it seemed like we had all the time in the world. It was very zen, as my friend described it.
At the end of the trip we took some photos of us on the paddle boards, in bikinis. I asked her to let me review the photos before she posted them on facebook to make sure I picked the best pose for myself. I was in a bikini, after all. Then it occurred to me that my focus was in the wrong place and that this kind of thinking was taking away from our experience.
Why ruin such a blissful day by obsessing about how I looked in a photo when the photos perfectly captured how happy I looked at the time and the amazing experience that we had? So I took a deep breath and told her to post away! I realized that we need to start celebrating our bodies more, and stop obsessing about some imperfections that pale in light of our body’s infinite wisdom and exceptional talents.
I mean, consider this: my body has allowed me to move across this earth in hundreds of different ways for forty-two years. It has carried heavy backpacks, hiked up tall mountains, swam through lakes, surfed on top of waves, zipped-lined through the air, paddled across water, jumped off of cliffs, and created meals from scratch. It has even typed out this blog post (half naked, I swear).
Having cellulite on my thighs, rolls on my stomach, or wrinkles on my face doesn’t take away from those things in any way. But obsessing about them will. So think about this…
Our bodies are wonderful companions. They are like those friends who you can call up last minute and are down for anything you can dream up. Want to play a musical instrument? Sure! What about learning to paddle board? Why not! Want to compete in crossfit? Booyah! Time to do a headstand in yoga class? Hell, yes!
They are also honest with us when we need to hear the truth. They start to hint to us when we have been overindulging or when we are eating too many of the wrong things (in the form of extra fat that accumulates around our waistlines). When we have too much going on in our lives, they force us to slow down by signalling to us through digestive troubles, headaches, or anxiety attacks.
They stand by us when we need protecting. They will fight our enemies (evil viruses and bacteria) by turning up the temperature to burn them off and they will make us vomit to help us expel offenders from our system. When we decide to host a guest for nine long months, they ensure that our guests have everything they need for optimal comfort.
They gently remind us to take time to recover by making parts of our body hurt when we overdo it, and they prevent us from moving when we are injured. They try to get our attention when we have eaten something we are intolerant to by sending diarrhea, constipation, headaches, congestion or skin issues our way.
These amazing, incredible, resilient, and intelligent bodies of ours will be our best friends for life and we need to start treating them with the awe and gratitude that they deserve. Give them some love and compassion, show them gratitude, listen to them when they speak, and take time out of your busy day to take good care of them, the way they take care of you.
Remember, they are only ours to enjoy for a limited amount of time 🙂