We had an active weekend in Maine. The boys are starting their football season, Anna is getting ready to begin her first season running cross country and Mark got recruited to run Reach the Beach (a 24 hour 200 mile team run) last minute. We spent a few mornings running, doing some push-ups, squats, forearm planks and taking advantage of some down time to improve our conditioning. Some of this felt a little more challenging than I would have liked and I noticed some old but familiar self-talk. I felt frustrated and unsettled. I was wishing for a different version of my body; something better conditioned, leaner, more fit. This state of mind has crept in frequently, in different places in my life, for as long as I can remember. Struggling through a 3 mile run and remembering the days when 6 miles came so easily and effortlessly. Feeling so excited to get out the next seasons clothes and noticing that the shorts from last summer don’t fit as well as I’d like them to. Or maybe seeing a picture of a woman in a magazine wearing a super cute dress thinking, I wish I could wear that dress and look like that. When I would share my frustration of my body to my husband, he would respond with the same response I would to anyone I love. “I love you just the way you are.” It didn’t matter what he thought or if I heard the same thing from Brad Pitt. What he said, although appreciated, didn’t change the way I thought about myself. The change in my thinking had to come from me.
What made a difference for me was when I created a pact with myself. A pact rooted in gratitude, respect and trust. I didn’t realize I was doing this at the time. But somewhere along the way, I got a glimpse of insight that I am not my body, and the number on a scale or the size of my jeans does not measure my worth. Instead, I could see that my body is the home of my spirit and my uniqueness. I’ve read my share of body image self help books. Some of them would say, if you don’t like your hips, focus on your shoulders, or if you don’t like your nose, focus on your eyes. I understand the advice around emphasizing the positive, however, I think they are missing the point. Our body and even our health is a reflection of how we feel and think about ourselves. Let the focus be on what’s going on inside, not on the outside.
You have an agreement with yourself already in place. Is it based in acceptance or judgment? Is your agreement nurturing or filled with rules, deprivation and punishment? If you can see that the pact you have with yourself is any less than loving, you MUST shift it. We are here in this lifetime to shine bright and share our best version of ourselves. By embracing ourselves, our bodies and our lives just as we are in this moment, we open a space to create something new. If we continue to beat ourselves up at every turn, ironically, the change we are seeking becomes further and further out of reach because we spend all of our time and energy fighting ourselves.
Life will throw us curve balls where we can easily go from feeling on cloud 9 to being filled with doubts and uncertainties. Just like I experienced over the weekend. That’s when the pact comes in. We can say to ourselves “ I love you just the way you are” and really believe it.
Here is my Pact-
I am grateful for my beating heart and my steady breath. I promise to nurture my body with rest, movement and life giving food. I listen, I trust, I connect. I am complete, just as I am, in this moment.