The time has come for us to lay down the Weapons of Body Destruction and throw up our arms in Victory. You know what I mean, right? The weapons. Of body destruction. The scale is the biggest one. The diet books are another. The “get slim quick” pill. The wraps. The cellulite blasting lasers. Basically anything that you feel compelled to take/try/do to get skinny. Or thin. Or waif like. Or willowy. Whatever. I’ll tell you this and read this twice if you must: IT DOESN’T MATTER THE BODY YOU’RE IN IF YOU DON’T LOVE YOURSELF. Read that again. Say it out loud. Pledge right now to lay down those weapons that no longer serve you. Throw out these ideas that end up leaving you feeling like shit! It’s time we accept our bodies for what they are in this exact moment. Acceptance is Victory.
I look good in this picture, right? It’s from 2006-ish. I have slim arms, a flat tummy and a great tan. Looking at this picture tonight I think, “you looked good then Kels but look at what you did to have that.” Even then though, I HATED MY BODY. I had zero respect for it. I ate like shit, I didn’t exercise, I drank too much booze and coffee and not enough water. I smoked too much pot and didn’t take care of my body in any positive ways. I was forgetting to eat most days and I poisoned myself more often than not. I bashed my body constantly always wishing for smaller thighs and a tighter ass. I thought I was fat. I compared myself to everyone. I didn’t appreciate the vessel that housed my best assets: my mind and my heart. I just cared about being skinny. But being skinny doesn’t equal being healthy. And healthy is what’s important. I sacrificed my health for a skinny body I didn’t even like. How backwards is that?!
I’ve had a poor relationship with food for as long as I can remember. My childhood was spent listening to my mom bash her body and complain to friends about it. I also have clear memories of my dad body shaming people and my mom dieting A LOT. I gained weight as I entered grade five and being short AND chubby was not a good combination. I started dieting around that time. I was a slim girl after puberty but once my metabolism started slowing down as I hit my mid 20’s, the weight stayed and my self confidence left only to be replaced with self hate and body disgust. It was a shame that hung over my head like a dark cloud that I allowed myself to put on weight. How dare I, right? In my family, I’m now the “biggest”. For a long time, it had been embarrassing especially after spending time with my two slim, willowy sisters.
Since then, I’ve starved myself, ate only McDonald’s for long periods of time, ate only one meal a day, gorged on junk food, ate a ridiculous amount of salads in one day, intermittently fasted, ate Paleo, Vegan, dairy free, wheat free, and/or caffeine free diets. I’ve done Beachbody, Fab to Fit, Bikini Body Mommy and more. I’ve lost weight and gained weight. And you know what? NONE OF THAT SHIT MATTERS.
Life is the longest thing we will ever do, sure, but for these next 40 years, I want to enjoy them. I don’t want to measure my food. I don’t want to count calories. I don’t want to do exercises I hate because I have this obsession with an ideal weight. I don’t want to say no to cake at a birthday party. More importantly, I don’t want to hate my body anymore.
Watch Embrace on Netflix. That woman and those she interviews are pioneers in loving what you got and being happy with the body you have. She made me realize that it doesn’t matter the skin you’re in; if you don’t love yourself, you won’t love your body. Plain and simple. When I look back at pictures and see a skinnier version of myself, I think, “I wish I had that body again” while simultaneously berating myself with “you didn’t appreciate it then, would you appreciate it now? You hated it and you’ll hate it again if you continue comparing yourself to everyone else!”
There’s no way I’d go back to that body anyways. That body was poisoned and young, changing and lazy. That body didn’t birth a child. That body didn’t swell with love and womanly curves while growing the greatest gift of Life. That body didn’t walk five km’s everyday like it does now. That body didn’t survive three miscarriages. That body didn’t eat the foods needed for maximum health and energy. That body didn’t produce the milk that nourished my newborn. That body didn’t serve me mind body and soul. That body wasn’t healthy and healthy is what I’m seeking now.
Healthy doesn’t have a number or dress size attached to it. Healthy is habits that make me feel good, strong, sexy, energized and happy. You can’t put a number on that.
There’s always going to be people who you think look better than you and people who look different from you. The body I hate today may be the body that woman over there would die for. The body I had back then is probably the body most fitness buffs would despise. It’s all about perspective and the one that matters most is your own.
So ya, I’m not slim like I was at 24 and that’s okay. Today, I’m strong and healthy and vibrant (albeit very tired!). I don’t have stretch marks from childbirth: my round tummy is soft and smooth. I don’t have a thigh gap; I have hips and big thighs that rub together when I walk. But on those thighs I run and bike long distances. They are strong and they are capable. There’s probably some paraplegics who would be pretty damn grateful to have two working legs. So I appreciate that my legs are big and have cellulite and spider veins. They are mine and it’s my decision to love them or not: not the media or society or the fashion industries.
I have laugh lines around my eyes and white hairs on my head but to me, those are signs of ageing and to age is to grow and gain wisdom and become a better version of myself. It’s a blessing to age not afforded to all.
You know what else, I’m focusing on my inner parts too. I’m appreciating my ability to love freely and be honest and creative and in doing so, I’m loving my body almost as a byproduct. It’s a weird transition to consider yourself and then consciously choosing to love that person. And then to look in the mirror and see that love reflected back is quite the feeling. I don’t see a fat lady in the mirror anymore. I see a healthy, soft, womanly Kelsey who’s just trying to do the best she can with what she’s got. Enough with the self hate and body shaming! I’ve laid down my scale and portion cups and dieting books and am instead enjoying life. I eat salad because it’s delicious and good for me and I eat ice cream because that shit is delicious. It’s about finding a balance that works.
Not to sound contradictory but I will say that exercising is something I do enjoy and in doing it to have energy, release endorphins and be healthy (as opposed to exercising to lose weight or be thin), I love my body more for its potential and capability to do so. When I have periods of body hating, I know it’s time to hit the weights or the pool or the pavement to reconnect with my body. So if you’re reading this thinking, “there’s no way I could ever love this body”, I implore you to go for a walk. Our bodies need to move so just move it! Start with ten minutes and work up to longer durations.
Now I eat when I’m hungry and listen to my body. I stop when I’m full, not when the plate is empty. I walk five km at least three times a week because I love to start my day with a power walk with my daughter and a good podcast. I touch myself lovingly and appreciate that I have the food to allow me to sustain my body’s needs and to nourish it. I have bad days of course but on the whole, my body and I are in love. I’ve even donated my “When I lose weight” pile of clothes and bought new clothes instead, including a new bathing suit! I feel sexy in it and that’s all that matters. People are more attracted to confidence, not to thigh gaps.
My other qualm with obsessing over a body I’ll probably never have is the example I’m setting for my daughter. I never want her to diet or body hate or body shame or think terribly about herself. I want her to know the joy that comes from a good, carb-filled, sugared dessert meal with friends. I want her to enjoy treats without guilt while also understanding that healthy eating and exercise are ways to show your body you love it; like the boyfriend who gives you flowers, I want her to give her body flowers too only in the form of spinach and kale bouquets! (haha!) It’s an honour to have these bodies and to treat it right equates having energy and good health and a body that will do the things you want it to do like climb mountains or run long distances.
I’m campaigning for you to fall in love with your body. Even if you don’t believe it’s possible, light some candles (everyone is beautiful by candlelight!) and look at your body in the mirror and focus on the parts you love. More than that, focus on the parts of your soul you love. Love yourself fiercely for those few minutes. Imagine yourself as a different person looking at you and tell her/him what you love about her/him: You love her kindness, you love his loyalty. Go for a walk. Do some bicep curls while you watch Grey’s Anatomy. Pick a salad over french fries for lunch. Thank your body for breathing today. Make the effort to speak kindly about yourself to others. Accept compliments with a genuine thank you, not a negative retort. Give thanks to your legs for holding you up. Stare into your eyes and love yourself like you’d love your child. Embrace yourself. Buy the clothes that make you feel good and/or sexy. Have a bath and rub oil against your torso. Eat the chips if you want the damn chips. Release the guilt. Appreciate that you’re not a mosquito. Or a California Condor. Or a tent caterpillar (everyone hates those guys nowadays!) Enjoy Life. Do it for you because you deserve to love the skin you’re in!
United we rise,