I’m comfortable in my own skin.
Some days are better than others and with some blips on the way, I am moving towards loving my body as it is, right now.
Loving ourselves the way we are, in our own skin – period.
Summer 2010, Toronto
This can be a difficult, an almost impossible seeming task, especially if you are like me and have suffered from a past of disordered eating. I started dieting at the age of 12, having convinced myself that I was fat at the age of 8, and lived a life of severe yo-yo dieting, binge cycles and emotional eating ever since. And with these drastic changes of diet brought drastic changes to my body.
One summer I would be slim.
And the next I would be tipping the scale, having gained the weight back (and then some) from my previous dietary scheme.
Summer 2011, Ottawa
I know I am not alone in this journey towards health, body acceptance and loving my body unconditionally but it doesn’t mean that this journey is always easy.
Who knew it could be so difficult sometimes to love ourselves? Our whole selves.
Including those bumps, scars, stretch marks, lines and every dimple in between.
Body love. Something I am continually working on.
This occurred to me when I came back to Belgium after enjoying a wonderful yet indulgent summer with my friends and family whom I so dearly missed back home.
There was a lot of late night laughter over long drawn-out barbecues, served up with my mom’s infamous homemade pies and maybe a bit too much wine.
But there were also many early morning runs accompanied by long days of walking and green smoothies to boot.
I enjoyed every second of my time home in Canada. Savoring every moment with my loved ones. Do I regret indulging and enjoying my time back home? I do not regret a minute of it. I enjoyed my mom’s cooking, something I rarely get to do, and soaked up the sun with my family during weekend BBQs and elaborate Sunday brunches.
As the summer came to an end, and I came back to Belgium to resume to life at my second home, it occurred to me that my tummy was a bit softer than before I left and maybe I did gain a couple of pound on the scale.
And after noticing this, I felt myself becoming self-conscious. Retreating to a mental state that I had been to many times before. I noticed this state of mind shining through in my conversations with friends who I hadn’t seen over the past few months.
When meeting up with a girlfriend she proclaimed: “You look so beautiful and tanned!“
My Response, as I point to my hips: “Oh no, look at me, I gained so much weight back home“.
Girlfriend, as she pats her stomach, “Noo, look at me and how much weight I gained back home!“
It is as if we have been programmed to hate our bodies. Finding faults where we were never meant to be perfect and learning that the best way to take a compliment is to point out something wrong about ourselves.
Summer 2012, Paris
The more I’ve reflected on my automatic response, the more I notice myself putting my body down and others that I love dearly doing the same around me.
Those couple of pounds? Once resuming to my normal life and getting back into my day-to-day routine, those pounds were off before they even had time to settle.
But that doesn’t mean that I do not have some work to do mentally. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been trying my best to remember that my body is perfect, as it is, right now, in this moment. Body love at its best. Because this body has achieved amazing things, will bring me to amazing places in the future and has helped me accomplish major feats along the way.
I am strong in my skin. I am beautiful in my skin. I am comfortable in my skin.
Summer 2013, Quebec City
And the next time somebody pays me a compliment, I’ll remember to thank them rather than picking out some measly fault that was never really there in the first place.
I’m happy to say that after years of disordered eating, going through more summer wardrobes in every size possible (everywhere from a size 6 to a size 20) I have finally settled somewhere in between a size 8 and a 10 and a 6 (what’s truly in a number, anyways?).
And this past summer was the first summer where I could wear the same clothing from the previous summer. This might seem like a trivial triumph to some but for me it meant saving lots of tears, time and money wasted in summers past. And not having to give up my cute summer dresses from the year before because they were too tight, loose or not fitting ‘right’ anymore.
Summer 2014, Rice Lake Ontario
My body still changes on the day to day. Somedays I still feel fat. Somedays I feel perfectly comfortable in my own skin. And most days I am perfectly comfortable spending the day in my workout bra, top and yoga pants, running around town, studying and finding time to bake in between.
And that’s okay. Because this healthy lifestyle is more than just going to the gym “x” number of times a week and eating “x” number of fruits and veggies, so much of it beings with loving our bodies, our whole selves, at this very moment.