If you follow me on instagram you probably know that I work out almost every day.
If I'm going to be honest, it all started because I was trying to fit a certain standard of beauty, constantly working and dieting and hoping to be "thinner" and therefore "prettier." But no matter how hard I worked, how many hours I spent at the gym or how little I ate, I never met my own expectations. Sure, I had lost 5 lbs (or whatever it may be), but there was still SO MUCH WORK to be done. I was always just not quite there yet. And this quest for the perfect body totally and completely consumed me. Until one day I got to a place where I simply could not take it anymore.
I could not take the scrutiny. I was tired of beating myself up, of feeling inferior to my "thinner" friends and acquaintances. I was just done feeling like no matter what I did, I failed. I was not meant to be a slave to the scale, obsessing over every morsel of food I put in my mouth. I couldn't live like that for one more second. And so I committed to learning to love my body. It doesn't happen in a day, but it can be done. Bit by bit. And i think it starts with the commitment to work towards loving and valuing and respecting yourself AS YOU ARE, NO MATTER WHAT, EVERY SINGLE DAY.
I am proud to say (possibly as proud as I am of anything else I have accomplished in my short life so far) that I have developed a level of deep respect for my body, for the ways it shows up for me every day, for the beatings it takes in the gym and just in the living of life. I have learned to look in the mirror and see all the things that I like about it (In addition to some of the things I wish I could change...let's be honest.. I'm not perfect! ha!)
As I reflect, working out has been a HUGE part of this internal transformation. I am not and have never been an athlete. I am mostly uncoordinated and, when someone throws a ball at me, my instinct is to run , not to catch it. But the years of working out have made me strong. They have made me tough and agile. Working out has taught me how to turn off my brain and live in my body. I've learned to push myself. Some days, exercising feels almost like meditating to me. I can put my troubles away for an hour and just focus on the movements. (In the spirit of honesty, some days it doesn't feel so great. Some days getting out of bed and going to the gym feels like torture. But the cumulative affect is always good.)
But truly, it has become a way of life. I will not say that I am completely free from the angst ridden body image obsession of my younger days. But I will say this. I no longer exercise because of the way it will make me look. I work out because of the way it makes me feel. I do not work out for what I will look like on the outside. I work out because of what I will feel like on the inside, stronger, calmer and more capable of taking on the world.
This is my truest truth. The gym changed my life.
I am grateful for it every day.
(And don't even get me started on my gym friends!)