“Accept everything about yourself – I mean everything, You are you and that is the beginning and the end – no apologies, no regrets.”
This blog is directed at the female population, not because I don’t believe men also suffer from insecurities (or because I don’t care that they do), but because it was in honor of Intentional Women’s Day. As such, I wanted a post something to make women feel empowered. It was not in an effort to make any of my male counterparts feel slighted, and I do genuinely appreciate all the gentlemen who stepped up to comment! If you are a man and you happen to be reading this, I do believe the core message here still applies to you, so feel free to substitute “man” for “woman” and “handsome”, “hot”, “sexy” or whatever other term you’d prefer for beautiful. Ultimately, I believe EVERYONE: man or woman deserves to be happy, and that starts with loving and accepting yourself.
I started this post yesterday in honor of International Women’s Day. I thought it would be a topic we could all relate to, and a nice break from discussing my daily workouts. Apparently, I was not the only one with this idea because when I pulled up Facebook this morning, there was a bunch of other chatter about this very issue. 🙂
We all have them. It doesn’t matter if you’re a size 2, 10, or 20- if you’re a super athlete or super model- there are things you are going to feel self conscious about. Sometimes it’s things you can change like your waste line or thighs; and sometimes it’s something your stuck with (unless you opt for surgery…) like stretch marks, loose skin, or even a less than perfect nose.
I’m not sure why as a society we tend to value the appearance of beauty more than beautiful character (and diversity!), but it’s clearly something that impacts all of us. I’ve never been a “pretty, girly girl”, but I do have a lot of personality. I am also caring, warm, compassionate, and have a big heart. As you can imagine, I’m not the lady getting the most attention from the opposite sex. At least, not at first glance. I’m one of those people who becomes more attractive the more you get to know me, and I’m okay with that. Of course, that doesn’t mean that when I go out with all my gorgeous friends that I don’t get self conscious. As much as I appreciate being the girl with the personality and not the killer looks, it can still be difficult- at times– to live in a society where the latter is more prized. After all, everyone wants to feel sexy and beautiful every now and then.
That is where working out comes in for me. While I can’t go out and make myself as stunning as some other women (ok maybe I could, but it would be extremely expensive and likely violate my low maintenance nature), I can work hard at being the best version of myself. That means making myself as fit and strong- mentally and physically- as possible. Working out can boost your confidence and give you more energy to conquer your day. Let’s face it, endorphins make you feel good in the moment, and getting results will make that feeling last. Plus, THERE IS NOTHING MORE BEAUTIFUL OR SEXY THAN A WOMAN WITH CONFIDENCE- ESPECIALLY WHEN SHE TAKES CARE OF HER BODY. Go get that PR you’ve been working on and then tell me you don’t feel good about yourself.
All that being said, even a person like me- who works out like a nut– can still have body image issues. Even getting in great shape won’t take away all your insecurities. For example, when I was training for the marathon and lost weight no matter what I ate, there were still days I felt fat (stupid hormones!). The image of myself in the mirror was dramatically affected by my mental image of myself, and it wasn’t until Adam took pictures out on the boat one day that I realized just how thin I had gotten. I immediately asked him “Why didn’t you tell me I looked like I needed to eat something!?”
Even now, I sometimes have a hard time adapting to a more muscular build than I am used to. Runners normally have very lean muscles, but since I started doing so much cross training, my calves and quads have gotten huge (not really huge- ok maybe my thighs are huge. And my butt! lol). I know in my head that I am still thin. I fit in a size 2 for Pete’s sake! But, it’s something I have to remind myself of on a regular basis when I look in the mirror and see a “stockier” version of myself than I am used to seeing.
I also remind myself that I am a STRONGER version of myself than I used to be, and THAT is well worth the trade off. The truth is that the more I strength train and run, the more my muscles will become lean and stronger. Besides, there is nothing wrong with the way I look now. Every time I feel that urge to pick myself apart I remind myself: 1) I have WORKED HARD for this body. I earned every muscle through sweat and determination. 2) This body has carried me through a Tough Mudder, a marathon, several half marathons, hundreds and hundreds of miles of training runs, and numerous insane workouts (with minimal injury!). It is strong, and THAT is beautiful. 3) My body is a work in progress. It doesn’t need to be perfect. My flaws are part of me and I like who I am.
Every woman is beautiful. No matter what shape, size, race, or background. No matter where you are in your journey: YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. Your flaws are part of what make you, and you are exactly the way you were meant to be. Perfect is boring and unoriginal. WORK WITH WHAT YOU’VE GOT. Everyone has insecurities no matter how perfect or put together they seem. Not everyone makes the choice to get over them.
I spent over 5 years of my life with a person who picked me apart on a daily basis, pointed out every flaw, and continually tried to convince me that “[I] make everyone around [me] miserable”. It took a LONG time to let go of any lingering belief that it was true- especially the last part, but I did and life is better now than it ever was before. If I could learn to love and accept myself again- after all of that– then there’s no reason you can’t too. No one has the right to pick you apart- including you! You deserve better than that!