The first time I felt weird about being in my own body was when I got social media in middle school. Scrolling through the recommended feed of celebrity photos, I felt terribly insecure. I would worry about changing at gym class for fear that people would judge my body. I worried about the food I consumed and counted calories meticulously throughout high school. I stressed over every stomach roll, every ounce of fat I could pinch with my fingers, every stretch mark, every little imperfection.
This article was inspired by a journal entry I wrote when I was younger, and I hope if you’re feeling insecure about your body at all that this brings you a bit of peace and comfort.
1. don’t exercise yourself to death
Only after getting into a solid workout routine in high school did I realize that the act of working out to keep healthy didn’t always require running miles every single day or doing crunches until my stomach felt like it was going to split in half. Not only was I overworking my body each day, I was guilting myself if I didn’t meet those false and highly unrealistic expectations, which turned into a really nasty cycle. Exercise is supposed to be fun and get you to work your body to a reasonable extent to get yourself moving. Goals should be attainable. You can make exercising fun by going to a spin class, working out with a friend, or listening to good music while running when the weather is nice out.
2. Magazines aren’t reality
The worst part about going to the doctor’s or dentist’s office was flipping through the magazines in the waiting room — Vogue, Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan — and realizing I looked nothing like the gorgeous, glossy, hourglass-shaped models plastered all over the pages. Reading those and then having to hop onto the weight scale at my annual physical was terrifying, and I wish that someone had been there to catch onto my insecurity and remind me that I did NOT need to look like the women within those pages — as beautiful as they were — to be beautiful myself.
3. food is not the enemy
I should have majored in math in college with all the calorie calculations I was doing in high school. It seemed like eating anything was a battle, and if I didn’t eat all of my food in front of my family it was always a question of being “grateful” for the food. On top of that, I was watching countless friends starve themselves or get into unhealthy cycles of food consumption. I was trying to learn all I could about it so that maybe one day I could look exactly how I wanted to look. However, food is not the enemy. Start by thinking of food as fuel to get yourself used to feeling like you need it. You can’t go without it. Then, slowly switch to thinking about how food is good. Learn how to cook. Find favorite recipes and make healthier versions of them. Enjoy the cooking process and revel in the final product.
Long story short, loving your body is a very long process. Getting your body to where you want it to be doesn’t have to be this huge battle where you yourself are the enemy. Get there day by day by implementing exercise, healthy eating, and self-love into your daily routine. In the mornings, I love to write affirmations in a journal or spend time picking out clothes that I feel confident in, particularly on days I’m not feeling my best. Listen to podcasts centered on self-love and body positivity, and follow social media accounts that encourage the same things. Take care of yourself and always listen to the needs and wants of your body. Your body is a temple; never let the fire die out.