This is a blog from my archives. I was reminded of it recently in the middle of a tennis match. One of the friends my partner and I were playing commented on both of our muscular thighs and asked, “do y’all do some serious squats or what?!” My response…mine are God given and are just part of my DNA.
A conversation ensued between my partner and I about struggling at times to always feel gratitude for our powerful legs. She expressed she still had some work to do with loving her thighs and I thought of this blog and shared it with her. While I am not immune from at times feeling dissatisfied with my body (we all do from time to time), I have come SO FAR in how I relate to my body and my ability to be resilient in the way that I feel and talk about it.
Here I share an edited version of the original blog I posted back in 2017…
For most of my life, let’s just say, I lacked appreciation for my thighs. I was born with muscular thighs. I got them from my Aunt Jackie on my Dad’s side and my Nana on my Mom’s. As a young person, they allowed me to be a gymnast, dancer, and cheerleader who could flip and jump, but despite that I always thought they were just too big.
We do that right? We always want what we don’t have, especially when it comes to our bodies. I would look at pictures in magazines or at other girls/women with less muscular thighs and want what they had instead of appreciating what I was given and the abilities that it gave me.
I am 43 now and I finally have developed a true grateful appreciation and acceptance for my strong, capable thighs that allow me to, still in my forties, do all the things I love doing like yoga, barre, snow skiing, tennis, running an occasional 5K (even though I’m not a big fan of running), walking the dog, the list goes on and on. I am reminded regularly by doing these activities how strong I am.
I think this acceptance and appreciation has come with age and also in practicing yoga and meditation. The practice of yoga and meditation emphasizes and encourages a non-judgemental curiosity for our bodies and what they are capable of and the idea of self-compassion. So many of us are our body’s own worst critic, constantly picking ourselves apart and wanting to be what is not genetically even possible.
Another helpful part of acceptance of my body has come from my faith. Part of my acceptance, respect, and care for my body comes from my belief that God created me and my body to reflect his spirit and light. I regularly fill my mind with His thoughts and beliefs about my body and my value, worthiness, and purpose that is far greater than my appearance. Filling my mind in this way helps to drown out the old unhelpful voice that tries to convince me that this or that flaw is in need of fixing.
Recently my 9-year-old daughter saw a model on the cover of a magazine and asked me how long it would take for me to look like her. My prompt response was eternity and then some. I pointed out to her that the girl on the cover was about 22 years old (about half my age), at least 8 or 9 inches taller than me, and probably air brushed too. It is so easy to compare ourselves to all the images we see in magazines and on TV. We think why can’t I look like that? This comparison and constant striving to be something other than ourselves only leads to more frustration and self-loathing.
We often think if we hate our bodies and speak negatively about ourselves enough that is what will motivate us to finally get healthy and make lifestyle changes to improve our health. In reality, working to accept and appreciate our bodies just the way they are can be even more motivating and life changing.
Do you regularly compare yourself to others and make mental notes about all the things you don’t appreciate about your body? Try, instead, to change those mental messages to kinder ones that are more supportive. This can be tough because you might be doing it without even noticing. When you notice a negative thought about yourself try to find a more compassionate one to put in its place. You might consider how you would talk to a good friend or child in your life. Could you evoke that same tone when speaking to yourself about your body? It won’t happen overnight, but it is possible with practice to change the cycle of negative self-talk.
By changing our thoughts and messages about ourselves to supportive versus critical ones and honoring our bodies just the way they are, we can feel more empowered to care for ourselves. Find things you enjoy doing that remind you often of your body’s amazing capabilities. When you hear that old negative voice pop up, put it to the side and replace it with a new kinder, more compassionate voice. Each time you do this you will train yourself to appreciate and honor your body and build the self-confidence you need to live a healthy life full of possibilities.