Self Love is easier said than done

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How many times can a person start a paragraph on body positivity? Because I’ve started it probably 5 times today, and I’ve thought about it every time I work out for weeks. This is something I need to write, but I can’t find a way to express what I need to express without worrying how you, reader, will take it.

The truth is, I want to tell you that I love my body, that I am proud of it, that I am thankful for everything it has done for me in my life. I am thankful. I am. It has let me run and play and be part of a soccer team. It has given me the agility to play instruments, travel, write, cook, and hug my loved ones. My body has danced and swum and dived competitively. It has allowed me to hold four 8-pound cameras for 12-hour wedding days and it has given birth to and nurtured two beautiful babies. And yet, if I were to tell you that I love this body, it would be a lie.

This body is soft. This body is itchy and uncomfortable. This body has cellulite and gets bloated easily, sweats often, and feels stiff at night. This body has skin that feels tight over my hands and hips that ache and ligaments that catch and click as I walk. It has bulges in places that I wish it didn’t. This body doesn’t fit with most of the fashion my mind wants it to wear.

And every day I am consumed by how much I worked out, how tired I felt after. Did I sweat enough? Did I sit too long? Did I eat the right things? I beat myself up if I had that brownie and rocky road ice cream or gave up trying to cook for the night and ordered Chinese or a burger or pizza. I especially beat myself up when I see that fitness instructor I follow making herself a delicious grain bowl all decked out with sweet potatoes and quinoa and microgreens.

It’s exhausting. It dawned on me the other day that I spend so much of my day consumed with what I put into my body and what I’m burning to get the calories back out that I’m not really enjoying my life anymore. But I’m also not okay with how I feel in my own skin. I am not happy with the way my clothes drape on me. I am not comfortable taking “sweaty selfies” as much as I want to promote the great fitness classes I am taking and the instructors who make them so great.

I think it’s easy to say, “I’m going to love myself.” But I also think it’s hard to determine what that actually means. Does loving oneself mean setting aside any and all doubts and choosing to see oneself as perfect the way you are right now? This is what I struggle with the most. Because, as an artist, I am never content with my masterpieces. I am always striving. So how can I be content with myself? Am I not my own greatest masterpiece? To work on oneself is to work on making the world around yourself a little better, yes? If I don’t work on myself, be the healthiest and happiest I can be, then won’t I just keep punishing myself for it and never truly focus outward? If I can’t focus outward, how can I help change the world?

Here’s the conclusion I’ve come to. I don’t love myself right now. But I do love the person I am when I’m putting in the effort. It’s not okay to bully myself and nitpick everything I see and say, but it is okay to strive for the body, fitness, health, personality that I want to have and accept that I’m always going to be a work in progress. And part of that work is to work towards loving little bits of myself for the way they are right at this moment and then loving the next version of myself and the next version of myself.

Here’s the Goal: To say “I love that I am not perfect, and I love that I am willing to put in the work to be better.”

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