Updated: Apr 24, 2019
Let's get heavy, real fast...my journey with body image. I remember watching MTV in high school and seeing a No Doubt music video (who else grew up in the 90s and knows who that is?) and comparing my body to Gwen Stefani. I didn't think I was good enough with how I looked; I needed to look like her.
I remember in college, feeling like the skinnier I was, the more I would be liked. I would skip meals and try everything I could not to eat. I would workout after school and have a diet soda for dinner because it made my stomach feel full. When I had to eat, I was just miserable...enter my obsession with diet pills.
From high school, to college, to well into my twenties, I suffered with body image. Two paragraphs summarizing YEARS of self hate doesn't truly show the struggle. Hate takes a lot of energy. Hate when you NEVER escape it, when it follows you 24-7 is literally exhausting. Hate that is on your mind no matter what is going on in life, when there is this little voice in the back of your head reminding you it is there, is unbearable.
Fast forward a few years, I was introduced to Ashtanga yoga through a friend, Kathy. I attended a yoga class taught by Kathy which changed my life. During class she spoke to how demanding we are on our bodies. How we expect so much, but don't take the time to thank our bodies for what they do for us. I'd never thought of my body in that way. I never considered what it did for me because I was always focused on what it didn't do for me. With this new outlook on my body, I literally felt weight lifted from my shoulders. The weight of a burden I carried for most of my life got so much lighter.
It's lighter, but not gone and I've come to terms that body image may always be something I struggle with; but it no longer consumes me. I'm aware of it and try to actively remind myself that I am enough, my body is enough, and to really love who I am.
How do I do this? NAKED YOGA!!!! Seriously, putting myself into situations that allow me, and challenge me, to be positive and appreciative about my body. What a better way to challenge my thoughts than to attend a naked yoga class? The class was last night and the instructor, Rachael created a safe and loving space for her students; an environment of women supporting women. Though the physical environment was amazing, I still had to change the environment in my mind. My mind was quick to see my physical flaws and to feel inadequate for them. I had to actively redirect my mind from what I'm used to, those self hating thoughts, to self loving thoughts.
One women, Kathy, showed me support and love and it changed my life. Let's redirect our thoughts when we are critical on ourselves or judgmental on others. Let that redirection lead us to love, support, and compassion. We never know what someone else is struggling with and you may be the one that gives them the love they need that changes their life.
This post was originally published October 2016.