Four months ago I stood in front of my mirror and sobbed. Shoulder bobbing, chest heaving, nose running, cried. I couldn’t stand my reflection, the girl I had let myself become. My clothes didn’t fit, I didn’t feel good, and I had spent the better part of a year convincing myself that I was happy with how I looked. That I didn’t care if I was carrying around 5 extra pounds (okay ten) because my body had done amazing things (hello, wombfruits!) and I would carry those scars with pride. Stretch marks. Sagging skin. A jiggly midsection. Big thighs. I told myself those things were beautiful. I screamed it to myself and forced myself to believe it. I threw the words “self-acceptance” and “love” at myself like a knife, over and over again until it finally hit the mark.
Some days the knife-throwing didn’t work. Some days, no matter how ingrained my “you are beautiful” mindset was, I couldn’t bring myself to swallow my own line of bullshit. So I’d take a different approach. I’d remind myself that life is about enjoyment, not exclusion. Indulgence not sacrifice. Too short to skip dessert, I would drink wine and eat cake and life live to its fullest. I was emphatic that I was wholeheartedly embracing my existence instead of passively accepting a tedious monotony.
Until I woke up one morning and saw my reflection and didn’t recognize myself. Until my attempts at forcing myself to be happy – to love the woman I was – stopped working. Until I came to the realization that they had never fully worked to begin with.
So I took a risk. I hired a trainer and asked you, my darling friends and clients and readers, to support me. To cheer me on. To hold me accountable and not let me quit. No matter how badly I wanted to. And you did. (thank you. no. really. THANK YOU.)
It’s been twelve weeks (plus two) since I embarked on my fitness journey. To say that this has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done would be an understatement. It is absolutely, incredibly, without-a-doubt difficult, and I have to motivate myself several times every. single. day. To keep going. To get up and do. To step away from the chocolate. But I keep reminding myself that it’s not forever. (The stepping away from the chocolate part, especially!) That I’m training incredibly hard right now so that I can put my body to work for me – not against me – and live the life I want. The one in which I can run up stairs without getting winded, or pick up both my girls and put them in bed. The one in which I can come home from work, and run a quick two miles so that I can indulge in a glass of wine and not feel guilty about it. Or add another 10 pounds to the barbell in BodyPump just to see if I can.
Little things – things I never noticed before about my body – are starting to emerge as the fat migrates off my body, and I’m loving the discoveries. I see muscles in places I didn’t know I had muscles. My arms don’t jiggle when I wave. I can actually (sort of) see the outline of my achilles tendon. Most of the cellulite on my thighs is gone (so is, much to my chagrin, and entire cup size off my chest). My body is getting stronger, and even though I still struggle to love my reflection as a whole, I’m starting to fall madly in love with so many parts of it.
For a girl who has spent the past two years helping women love themselves and discover their own beauty, my newfound appreciation for the girl in the photo at the top of this page is profound. There are always going to be things I don’t like about myself, but I’m not going to hide behind the things that I cannot change as a reason to not tackle the things I can change. I’m going to fight like hell to be the change I want to see. To stop dreaming about it and continue doing it. Every single day. Because it’s not about perfection, it’s simply about progress. I aim for it – and nothing more – every single morning when the alarm goes off and the gym shoes go on.
And then I aim for coffee.
(photo credit: Jen Woodruff)