I recently posted on Instagram a passage from my 7th-grade diary. I was 12 years old. The entry read:
"I didn’t run today ‘cause I went on Pat’s StairMaster instead. I did it for 10 min and I burnt 65 calories! I hope I get tighter in the legs and thinner everywhere, well I hope I get tighter everywhere too!"
Some important items to address here:
Who was Pat? Pat was our next-door neighbor. She used to pay me once a week to photocopy, staple, and file documents in alphabetical order from her home office. Apparently, I used her StairMaster when I wanted to burn extra calories –something that should not have been at the forefront of my 12-year-old brain, but I was in love with Jonathan Brandis on seaQuest DSV and I needed to be skinny for him because boys liked skinny girls, at least that’s what I gathered from my exhaustive research via Bop magazine.
Run vs. StairMaster. The reason I didn’t run that day was because I had already burned calories on the StairMaster, aka the most boring piece of fitness equipment on planet Earth. I climbed steps to nowhere and stared at a cream-colored basement wall. I hated to run then too, so I was negotiating my time, not based on physical activities that I loved, but based on what would shrink my body. Again - I was 12.
Tighter & Thinner. In our culture, smaller bodies are revered. Diet-culture messaging is that you can’t possibly be happy, or healthy, unless you are living in a smaller body - so buy X,Y,Z and eat only L,M,N,O,P - or else “good luck” being worthy enough of love and attention. There always seems to be a better version of your body to attain, which then sends us into a guilt and shame hamster wheel, sprinting from one diet to another while our bodies desperately try to keep up.
For many of us, it hasn’t been easy to accept or appreciate the bodies we live in. At 38, I am finally getting to a place of comfortably accepting my body as-is. My history holds years of struggling with an eating disorder, preoccupation with food and exercise, and negative body-talk. The de-programming from diet culture is a daily ritual. I finally, and thankfully, have tools in place that catch me before I fall victim to its control. If you are looking for little ways to start implementing body awareness and appreciation into your life, here are three that have worked for me.
CHECK-IN WITH YOURSELF - DAILY. This is a game-changer and doesn’t take long, but is easier said than done. Trust me, I know. So here we go, right now - close your eyes and watch your breath for one minute. Watch as it travels in and out of your body. Sixty seconds. Boom. You’ve just taken a precious moment for yourself. Click link above for a one-minute meditation (in newsletter post)for those that have never tried this, are short on time and need some guidance, or are intimidated in general by meditation/sitting in silence (another blog post to come on this topic!).
FOLLOW social media accounts that lift you up. Unfollow the rest. The body-image movement is happening. We see it in celebrities like Lizzo, Celeste Barber, Jameela Jalil, Amy Schumer and now big brands like Third Love, Aerie, ModCloth, Target.
FIND TIME TO DANCE. Turn the music up, close your eyes, and move how your body wants to move. An interpretive dance to Phil Collins’ In the Air Tonight? I’ll be right over. When you’re done, check-in and see how you feel.
These aren't a cure-all, but they've helped me become more appreciative - or just gotten me out of my head about it all. As always, I love to hear your feedback and stories. When we're vulnerable, it gives others permission to be.