It takes courage to love yourself exactly the way you are!
This week, I turned 44 years old.
I have also just finished watching a fascinating documentary called, Embrace.
The documentary gave me an opportunity to stop long enough to appreciate who I am and my body for the fantastic expression of Selina-ness that it is. For years I hated my body, especially my pot belly and I felt a deep shame that I was not model perfect. As a result, I threw myself into exercise and flogged my body at the gym day after day.
That was about 10 years ago.
On reflection, I have to say … the mental voice inside my head did a real job on me. I heard this voice day after day that told me I had to exercise or I’d get fat and no-one would love me. It told me how disgusting I was and that if I was to be acceptable to anyone, to be loved, I had to attain physical perfection. I chased fitness and a flat stomach with an obsession and I never told anyone of the way the voice inside my mind harmed me day in and day out.
Every time I looked in the mirror I saw ‘fat Selina’ not the woman I had shaped through regular exercise and healthy eating. I couldn’t see what I looked like and no goal was ever close enough to being good enough.
It was heart breaking to be brutally honest about it.
So then I got sick. My thyroid started to give me a message I could not ignore. I had Hashimoto’s disease and my body was no longer able to function the way it had. Every day was like walking through thick mud and my energy was extremely low. This resulted in a rather sedentary lifestyle and a shit-load of emotional self-beating for getting fat!
It got so bad that I couldn’t go into a shop and buy anything new to wear because I was putting on weight – going from a size 10 to a size 14. Depression set in and my anxious thoughts gained momentum.
But somewhere along the way something changed inside my mind and one day-I can’t tell you exactly when-I just stopped beating myself up for being imperfect. I started to look at my imperfections as a way of showing the character I have in my body. I’m not perfect, I can’t attain perfection but I can be fit and healthy to the best of my ability, even at a size 14.
So, long story short, as they say, I went through a dark night of the soul (many times over) and faced numerous fears and learned to quiet the voice inside my head. It’s still there but now it does not carry the authority it once did.
This year, I decided to embrace balance and self-love in a new way and I started doing daily yoga practice with Adriene from YouTube. I’ve been consistent for 25 days and I have found my body gaining strength and stability as well as flexibility. But most important – my mental and emotional self-perception is changing.
Where I would have once told myself: You’re disgusting. You’re fat. Your belly is getting in the road of doing a forward fold. You’re ugly.
I now hear: All is as it should be. You’re doing great. You’re finding peace and self-acceptance in your body and that is how it should be. You are worth it.
I also caught myself admiring my round pot belly and giving thanks for the shape of it. This is something I’ve never done before … shown gratitude for the one thing that I’ve spent most of my life hating and considering to be a barrier to receiving love.
I think yoga practice and the consistent steps I have been taking to accepting my body as it is has begun to have a very positive effect on my mental and emotional state of mind.
And watching the documentary Embrace has been another step on the journey to self-love and self-acceptance and most of all …
Thanks for reading my reflective blog.