Hey, Naked Lady...how do I love myself??
Here's the thing: I've been working for years on my body through exercise and nutrition, to both look and feel better, and I've come a looong way. I've also done a lot of work (upstairs) to improve my relationship with my body, and that's honestly been as hard as all the physical work.
I understand that there's only so much I can do physically, and I am learning to love myself not only for how I can grow and change, but also for who I am and what I look like NOW.
Most of the time, I feel proud of what I've done...but when you hear that shaming voice in your head, the one that says, "yeah you are much better than you were but you are still so far from where you want to be," how do you respond to it or shut it down?
Your letter resonates with me. There are some things in life I feel like I've nailed, and some that I feel are a "forever journey". This is one of mine. All I can do is share with you what has helped me, and how I have grown. You may take what serves you and throw the rest in the garbage. You see that picture below? When I was 25, this picture might have horrified me. Now, I freaking love it. I see that woman and feel nothing but love. Be open to this possibility for yourself.
I have more questions than answers for you. Reading your note, I feel your pull. My guess is that you're someone that people frequently say "I wish I looked like you", or "geez, if I had YOUR body, I would never feel like that". I could be wrong...but often, those that put the most work into having something that others seem to so desperately want are the least satisfied when they get there. Interesting. My first question: Do you enjoy the work that goes into this journey with your body? Do you love the difficult workouts? There is a lot to be said about that. Does it feel punishing to work hard, or are you exhilarated by it? One thing I have learned is that in order for us to truly enjoy the end result, we have to enjoy the process of getting there even more, because that's where we spend the majority of our time. So if you love getting to the gym and getting after it, then you're headed in the right direction. If you dread it, maybe listen to that body of yours and find a different way to move. The intention we put into things often creates the stories we have about the results.
Next question: What does "ideal" look like for you? Do you dream of washboard abs, or a curvy hourglass? If so, dig deeper. Ask yourself why you want those things? Why are they important to you? Then ask yourself why again until you get down to the root; the core of what you want. For example, "I just want to wear a size ____ (insert whatever size you think is your dream come true)". Why? "I want to look good naked". Why? "I want to feel sexy and attractive to my partner". Why? "Because I want him/her to want me". Why? "Because I feel alone". You see? We often think we want this tangible thing, but it's usually something much deeper. There is something that your brain has convinced you that will open up for you if your body looks a certain way. The truth is that your body has very little to do with what will open up for you with regards to happiness, purpose or fulfillment. It may be there to support you in those things, or help you get to the places that support that journey, but having a body that appears a certain way to others or yourself will never bring about fulfillment or peace or love. Ask yourself those "why's". Dig in. See what comes up.
You ask how you respond to your inner voice, and honestly I just don't know. That little voice is there, but guess what? We created it. It's not separate from us. We get to choose what it says. That voice is a tiny little part of you that still exists so heavily in self doubt that it creeps out in times you aren't feeling your best. My final question to you is what would open up if you taught that inner voice to focus more on how you want to feel? What if you allowed yourself to lead with how you feel when you wake up each day as opposed to how you look? For me, I freaking love feeling free, and to best do this, I know I need to be outside to move my body as much as possible. I know I need to eat in a way that energizes me, and doesn't leave me sluggish for the things I want to do. This is where I go. Also, I very frequently use the intention "everything is temporary". This includes tough times in my life, as well as when I'm just not physically feeling my best. This intention has grounded me big time, very frequently. I say these words, and remember that while I feel this way right now, tomorrow could be a totally different ballgame.
You're brave and considerate and intentional. You've done so much hard work, and are right on the edge of absolute love and power within yourself. You're standing right there on the ledge of total freedom. I know this by what you've sad. You've acknowledged yourself and recognized that this is a journey. Take the next step, dear friend. Leap, and trust.