Life is a bit all over the place since I’m in between two apartments right now and my internet has been whacky but I’m hoping to be all settled by Wednesday!
I hope you had a wonderful, restful and relaxing weekend!
As summer approaches and we begin to pull out summer clothes and bathing suits I think it’s easy [I know it is for me!] for negative body image thoughts to creep in. Even if we’re not even expecting them, all of a sudden they’ve seeped into our heads. Negative body image can be one of the most life-sucking things and holds us back from being who we were fully created to be.
Growing up I had pretty good body image and throughout college I did as well, but as my body has changed since graduating college, I’ve found that negative body image thoughts had crept back. And I didn’t like that at all. But over the past couple years, there a few things that have helped me develop positive body image. And although it’s always a work in progress, fully embracing who the Lord created me to be has brought so much freedom.
Because we are all fearfully and wonderfully made. And we are all created perfectly in His image. Down to every freckle and crevice of our body.
I began investing in relationships with others. Instead of focusing on the quantity of friendships and hanging out in big groups all the time, I began focusing on the quality of my friendships. And really being intentional and spending lots of quality time with those friends that were life-giving and filled me up. And the more I invested in relationships, the more I began to focus on the really important things in life like spending time with those I love, instead of what I looked like.
That goes along with number two. As I focused on investing time with others, I also started focusing on loving others better. And I found the more I focused on loving others well and serving others and investing my time in other people, the more I loved myself. Because there is so much joy and freedom in thinking of yourself less. The more you love and serve others, the less time you have to spend thinking about yourself. If you think about it, being so critical of our bodies is actually us being wrapped up in our own egos. I read a book called The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness by Tim Keller on my way to Nicaragua last fall and it completely changed the way I viewed my body.
Thirdly, I broke up with the scale.
The scale does absolutely nothing for positive body image. You are not a number, I am not a number and we should never identify ourselves with a number. I use to weigh myself weekly or bi-weekly in college as a “check-in” and then off and on when I moved to Charlottesville. And then I just stopped weighing myself because I found that the number was affecting my mood and how I measured my worth. I was simply wanting to maintain my weight, but if it was down one pound from two weeks earlier, I felt a sense of pride. And if it was up a couple pounds I felt bummed, like I was gaining or something. Our weight fluctuates from SO many things. I realized this was not healthy at all and I hated identifying with a number. So I stopped. I couldn’t tell you how much I weigh and I have no desire to know. Stop weighing yourself, you’ll never feel more freedom and you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.
Number four. I accepted that my mid-twenties body is not the same as my 20 year old body and it probably never will be. And that’s OKAY. Our bodies will continue to change and change and change and I want to love my body at the current place it’s in right now. I don’t want to live every day in envy of my younger self. That’s silly. My body won’t be the same today as it is when I hopefully carry a child one day or when I’m 30 or 40. And I think that’s really beautiful. Embrace the skin you’re in right now, it’ll carry you through so many precious years and sweet times.
The fifth thing I know to be true is that who we are is not reflected in our flesh.
Who we are is found in our hearts and within our souls. We don’t develop friendships, fall in love, laugh, find joy and soak up life with our skin or the size of our waist or with the firmness of our thighs. We do these things with our hearts. People don’t want to be around you because of how you look. They don’t care about your pant size. People want to be around you for YOU. Your heart and soul. Your joy and humor and love and caring heart and spontaneity and boldness and courage and so many other things.
Lastly, I stopped viewing exercise as formal.
I’m a cardio junkie and runner and there is nothing more satisfying than a long run on an early Saturday morning with all my running buddies. But exercise does not have to be that intense or planned or intentional to be exercise. I don’t have to end my workout drenched in sweat or have my heart rate high for something to “count.” I began to see exercise as really any movement at anytime, done anywhere. And I began to love what I call, passive exercise. Like when you go on a long walk with a friend or a spontaneous hike or you’re moving from one apartment to another and carrying boxes up and down stairs. Exercise doesn’t have to be planned or intentional. And this change in thought allowed me to focus on what my super wise friend Whitney calls, function over form. To focus on what our bodies can do, not on what they look like.
Embrace the body you’ve got, it’s perfect.
And it’s going to carry you through so many joyful times and hard times and life adventures.
And it deserves to be loved as much as we love others.