In terms of my body, I have yet to master complete contentment and acceptance, but I’ve made some progress. I used to feel self-conscious about my arms because they were veiny and muscular. They didn’t seem to belong to a woman. I hid them under long sleeves whenever possible. I didn’t wear tank tops until I got to college and saw the female athletic aesthetic embraced. Surrounded by so many more body types that were celebrated, I learned to accept and appreciate my own. It was there, in college, that I was finally able to shed my self-consciousness with regards to my arms. It was there that I began to value their strength and embrace them.
I want to get back to where I was in college mentally with regards to my body. I wasn’t hypercritical. I couldn’t tell you what I weighed. I was simply focused on being fit enough to play volleyball—having enough endurance to make it through practice or a grueling game. Food was fuel and fun—not an adversary. No matter what I ate, I never felt guilty.
Accepting my body means focusing on health more than weight. It means valuing what my body is capable of versus dwelling on what it does (or does not) look like. It means never chasing unrealistic ideals of appearance or comparing myself to anyone other than myself. It means finding the ideal balance between being disciplined and flexible.
I’m older now. Pounds are harder to loose and easier to gain than when I was in high school or college. Back then, all I had to do was think about exercise, and I lost weight. Now I spend more time (too much time, I’m sure) thinking about my body—how much it weighs, whether it fits into my clothes, what I put into it, how much I use it, and how the latter two affect the former two.
I value health, athleticism, and strength. However, I don’t want to spend too much time trying too hard to control my body. I’d like to find a non-obsessive balance—a way to be fit without overthinking things—or everything.
It’s not that I don’t want to have goals for my body. I simply want them to be healthy and realistic—and not in defiance of what comes naturally. I want to love my body as it is, even if I’m working towards (healthily and lovingly) improving it—even as it ages and changes. My goals should never be impediments to self-acceptance. I’m refining and fine-tuning—not razing and rebuilding.
Food is fuel. It is sustenance, neither an enemy nor a reward. My weight on any given day is a data point. It is information—not an indicator of my worth.
This is the one mortal body I get. There are no replacements. I must love and appreciate what my body can do and how it looks while accepting its imperfections and limits. Loving myself well means loving this vessel—this shell. Loving my body—myself—means loving what my figure contains as well as the container itself.