Battle the bulge. Fight flab. Annihilate your arms. Crush your core. These are all fairly common phrases when looking at articles and websites on how to lose weight or exercise your body. You’ve heard or read these numerous times whether you realized it or not. You probably don’t pay much attention to them, but could they be affecting you anyway?
In the past few weeks and months, I have been working hard on learning to love my body. I have shared before some of my insecurities and past issues with my self image. It’s tough to try to retrain your brain to actually see what’s in the mirror and not what you think you see. It has taken me a lot of practice to be proud of what my body can do, rather than trying to change my body into what I think it needs to look like. Amongst all this working on my self image, I have come across a lot of tips, articles, workouts, and diets that use words and phrases like those above. At first, I really didn’t think much of it. As I kept seeing these things and kept working on my own issues, I felt like maybe these things were affecting me more than I realized. I have a tendency to be very harsh and critical of my body. I know that many other people struggle with this as well. We all think that we can be better, we can do more, and we believe, for whatever reason, we aren’t good enough or think we look the way we should. To be blunt, we’re bullies. We’re bullies to our own bodies.
That may sound kind of ridiculous. I mean, you aren’t knocking your own books out of your hand and demanding lunch money from yourself. But think about your inner monologue when it comes to your body. Would you say those words out loud to someone else? Would you want to hear those things coming from your friends or family members? Is what you’re telling yourself helping you achieve anything positive? For me, I can tell you it wasn’t true.
Wednesday’s I have my long run day. Lately, I have been getting in a little over 10 miles, which is really exciting for me because I have never run in the double digits before. A few weeks ago, I had just finished my run and was about to get in the shower and I started to do my normal nitpicking of all the body parts and areas that I didn’t like. Is my lower stomach as flat as I think it should be, is my butt a little too big from all my kettlebell work, are my arms as defined as they were two weeks ago…. then I stopped mid-thought. My body, the one I was bashing with negative thoughts, had just finished carrying me over TEN MILES. It had just done a 7 minute plank workout. It had popped up into a headstand with ease (and might I boast a little grace) and held it for over a minute. And here I was beating it up and telling it that it wasn’t good enough. It dawned on me how crazy I was acting. As weird as it may sound, I apologized (out loud) and thanked my body for all it had done just that morning. That day was my a-ha moment, and it really helped me turn a corner in truly appreciating my body and all that it does for me.
Do I think that the people who use phrases and words like “battle the bulge” or “fight flab” are deliberately trying to be mean? Not at all. They want to motivate their audience and give you the power to change your health and your life. I am all for motivating everyone to make the healthiest decisions possible, but I am also for being kind to our bodies. How much better and easier would getting healthier be if we all loved ourselves just a little bit more? Instead of fighting our bodies, let’s work with them and listen to what they need to live healthier. When you really start to think about all the things you ask your body to do day in and day out, it’s amazing. As cheesy or silly as it may seem, I’m going to ask you to talk to your body just a little bit nicer than normal. Thank your body for carrying you through this life and give yourself props for making choices and taking steps to be healthier each and every day. That little extra kindness can stretch a long way and give you the tools to see how truly awesome you really are!