This week, bloggers all over the health and weight loss blogosphere are celebrating Exposed Week (October 7-12, 2013). This movement was started by Mish at eatingjourney.wordpress.com to celebrate the body you have at this exact moment. Our bodies may not fit the image of perfection that we keep in our minds (and that perfect is certainly different for everyone), but they are amazing just as they are. This really resonated me with me this week because of my mental response to this picture that I posted here earlier this week:
When I looked at this picture in the actual blog post, I didn’t notice how awesome it is that I can rock a pair of skinny pants now. I noticed that roll around my middle, that stupid roll of loose skin that has the power to instantly shoot down any temptation I have to feel good about my body and the progress I’ve made. I hate how much mental space I give that one part of my body. I have sagging skin on my legs from my weight loss, but that doesn’t bother me at all for some reason. I have really loose wings of skin on my arms and don’t really give them a second thought (aside from a Grrr when my husband sort of stared at them the other day, apparently noticing for the first time how much my arms have changed). The roll on my belly though, it is never far from my mind when I see my reflection or get dressed or hold a plank and watch that sheet of skin hang down. When I see that part of my body, thoughts run through my mind that I would never say out loud about a friend. Why on earth would I say that kind of thing about myself?
Objectively, I’m really okay with loose skin. Yes, it isn’t attractive but it wasn’t attractive filled with 100+ pounds of fat either and those empty spaces are flags celebrating my progress (They really are flags sometimes, the way they wave!). Why can my intellectual brain accept this but not my emotional self? Maybe I need to practice being a little more #exposed with myself, like all of these other brave blogger souls. Maybe I need to work on embracing what my body is, right now.
That belly stretched to provide a safe and nurturing place for my son for 9 months, for which I will be forever grateful. That loose skin is a reminder of the 110 pounds I no longer carry because I finally took responsibility for my health. That loose skin still has some fat because I like to cook for and eat with my family and a life without food and family is just not worth it. That loose skin is a badge of honor, a sign of some significant accomplishments. It is not something to be ashamed of. My body is an awesomely designed machine and I should never be ashamed of any part of it.
Thanks to Mish for reminding us to really look at ourselves and celebrate. I may need to re-read this and reflect on this every day in order for it to finally sink in, because as much as I can talk about the importance of self-acceptance, I have a long a way to go myself (at least with regards to my poor belly roll). This is a lifelong journey, not just in maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine, but in getting in the right mental space to thrive.