How To Be Happy With The Body You Have

June 26, 2015

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I know I haven’t been traveling a whole lot over the past couple years — at least not internationally.

But I have been on a different journey.

A journey of body acceptance.

Okay, go ahead, roll your eyes. I know that sounded super cheesy. But it’s true.

I feel like in the past couple years I’ve been able to accept my body the way it is.

And not the way it would be if I lost thirty pounds/got laser surgery to get rid of my face splotches/spent more than two minutes doing my hair every morning/had visible ankles.

It hasn’t been easy. It’s taken me a super long time. And I wouldn’t say that I’m completely and totally cured of all my body insecurities.

But I feel like I’m better. I’m good. I’m happy for the most part.

And here are my tips on how to get happy with the body you’ve got:

How To Be Happy With The Body You Have

1. Go on a diet.

Eat nothing but rice cakes and Tic Tacs for three months. Be super miserable. Lose weight.

Stop the diet. Eat like a normal human being with a normal human stomach again. Be happy. Gain all the weight you lost on your rice-cake-and-Tic-Tac diet.

Repeat this over and over and over again for about fifteen to twenty years until you realize that life is too short to be miserable and living off of rice cakes and Tic Tacs is not living.

Life is too short. Eat tacos.

Life is too short. Eat tacos.

2. Live in a foreign country for about three to five years.

Look absolutely nothing like any of the local people. Bonus points if you happen to weigh twice as much as the average local person.

Get really used to people staring at you all the time.

What's everyone looking at?

What’s everyone looking at?

Do a whole bunch of things in that country that you would have never done in your own country because you would have been too self-conscious. Like run a marathon and hang out naked in public baths.

Because, whatever, everyone’s staring, you might as well give them a show!

3. Have a close friend/coworker/classmate/cousin get cancer.

Appreciate the fact that your body is healthy.

I mean, who cares if you have cankles? At least you don’t have cancer.

(For now. Because, seriously, you guys, cancer is some really horrible shit, and that shit could happen to anyone at any time.)

4. Buy clothes that you look super cute in right now.

Not clothes that you might look super cute in if you just lost five pounds and your second chin.

Also essential: lots of mirror selfies.

Killing. It.

Killing. It.

5. Look at a whole bunch of photos of yourself from about four or five years ago.

Photos you never, ever shared on the Internet because you were convinced you were a horrible, blotchy-faced, massive-thighed monster.

Realize that you were actually pretty smoking hot.

Foxy.

Foxy.

6. Read blogs or books or other stuff by people who are happy with their bodies.

I suggest this.

(Just whatever you do, don’t read the comments.)

Likewise, refuse to read anything by anybody telling you that you shouldn’t be happy with your body the way it is. This includes any articles in girly magazines telling you how to lose inches off your thighs or how to make your nose look smaller by applying five layers of foundation in contrasting colors.

And anytime you see an ad on Facebook for a product that promises to banish your belly fat or fix your embarrassingly thin eyelashes, block it and report it as “offensive.”

This may seem harsh, but I think shaming people for the state of their eyelashes is much harsher.

7. Work with women who are older than you by ten, twenty, thirty years.

Women who have gotten advanced degrees and built careers. Women who have lived overseas and raised families on their own. Women who have dealt with dying partners and ailing parents. Intelligent, creative, resourceful, strong, beautiful women.

Listen to these women gripe about the same things you’ve spent the last ten, twenty, thirty years griping about: like the size of their thighs and unsightliness of their upper-arms.

Decide that you would really rather not spend the next ten, twenty, thirty years griping about those same things.

8. Work out because it makes you feel happy and strong and let’s you blast Taylor Swift music. And not because “you should.”

Also, get off the treadmill or elliptical trainer or whatever and actually go somewhere. Walk through your neighborhood or run through the park or hike up a mountain.

2015-04-11 17.58.08

Be grateful that your body can take you places. Because there are a whole bunch of people out there who don’t have that luxury.

9. Don’t say anything bad about your body out loud — not even to yourself.

Go ahead and think the bad thoughts in your head.

But I’ve found that once you stop giving those little meanie thoughts an outside voice, they start to lose their inside voice, too.

10. Think about all the amazing things your body does.

Like, actually, really think about it.

I mean, you’ve got this heart that’s pumping blood everywhere. And a digestive tract that’s converting food into nutrients. And a brain that’s firing off synapses all the time. And a gall bladder that’s doing whatever gall bladders do.

And your body does all those things for you all the freaking time.

And all you do is complain about your skimpy eyelashes or your blotchy skin or your cankley ankles?

That’s doesn’t really seem fair, now does it?

How about instead of giving your body a hard time for not being perfect, give it a good time for being pretty darn awesome?

Take it out, treat it right, maybe buy it something pretty.

And say, “Thank you, body. Thank you for everything you do for me. Even you, gall bladder, even you.”

 

Have advice/tips/stories to share about your own body acceptance journey? (Yeah, yeah, I said “journey” again. Go ahead, roll your eyes.)

29

I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On June 26, 2015 at 9:00 am Daina said:

    Absolutely excellent post. As with most things, much easier said than done, but thanks for putting it out there so bluntly.
    Daina recently posted..Summer Solstice Sunset

    • On June 27, 2015 at 10:43 am Sally said:

      Yes, totally. It’s been a long, hard haul for me, and I still definitely struggle with stupid things like wearing a bathing suit in public (although I bought a really nice swimsuit this spring and I’ve vowed to go to the beach and flaunt it). But I feel like I’m so much further ahead than I was just a few years ago.

  2. On June 26, 2015 at 9:02 am Laura said:

    These are some really good tips. I really agree with #3 and #10… for me when I think about how fortunate I am to be relatively healthy with a body that lets me exercise and be active, I feel like I have to take advantage of that. Cause there are probably ill or disabled people who wish they could. That can be motivating!
    Laura recently posted..The Brazilian Amazon

    • On June 27, 2015 at 10:38 am Sally said:

      In my mid-thirties, a growing number of my friends/coworkers/acquaintances started getting diagnosed with cancer and other really horrible health problems. It’s made me realize how lucky I am to have a healthy body, and how fleeting that luck may be, so I should appreciate it while I have it.

  3. On June 26, 2015 at 6:28 pm Dyanne said:

    Wisely and beautifully said, Sally!

  4. On June 26, 2015 at 7:59 pm Leslie in Oregon said:

    I couldn’t agree with you more! Well put, Sally!

  5. On June 26, 2015 at 10:08 pm Priya said:

    “Be grateful that your body can take you places.” That line is gold.

    I’ve been on my own journey where I’ve been wanting to loose my Australia weight and even joined a gym. It turns out having a gym membership doesn’t mean you automatically lose your Australia weight. What a rip off!
    Priya recently posted..That Time I Went Sand Boarding In New Zealand (And Didn’t Die)

    • On June 27, 2015 at 10:26 am Sally said:

      Ha ha. I know how you feel. I had to give up ice cream, cheese and chocolate and have been eating nothing but veggies and tofu for about two months thanks to my recent acid reflux flare-up, but I haven’t lost a single pound. Total rip-off. 🙂

  6. On June 27, 2015 at 4:27 am Heather said:

    Love love love love love! My body is powerful and can do amazing things. 🙂

  7. On June 27, 2015 at 1:35 pm Meesh said:

    ugh… #9…. my biggest hurdle… that bitch inside my head.
    Meesh recently posted..Happy? Father’s Day 

  8. On June 27, 2015 at 2:04 pm JessieV said:

    Too true – as someone with mobility disabilities, I’ve known for a long time that my body won’t do that I thought it should do (or be). That said, I’m grateful I’m alive and still breathing. And if I could walk, I definitely WOULD!! You don’t cherish something enough until you lose it.
    JessieV recently posted..Musical Youth

  9. On June 28, 2015 at 8:23 pm Ceri said:

    Such a great post. I conquered my body insecurities when I moved to Mexico. I’d never felt sexier and more confident while I was living there. I was so happy. Unfortunately, moving to the land of kimchi and cosmetic surgery has given me a knock to the ground. A lot of the confidence has gone and my insecurities have multiplied. I’m working on it though. 🙂 Your number 3 point definitely reigns true for me. You really do have to be grateful for what you have. And I pretty much live my life through your first point. I’m totally over diets because life’s too short not to eat everything.
    Ceri recently posted..Teaching in Korea vs Teaching in Mexico (Part 1)

    • On June 29, 2015 at 9:37 pm Sally said:

      Oh, I hear ya. I feel like Asia helped me get over a lot of hang-ups (like, you know, hanging out in hot tubs naked) because I was like, “Whatever, so what if everyone thinks I’m fat? They already think ALL Americans are fat! I’m just living up to a stereotype!” At the same time, I never felt sexy when I lived there. I always felt kind of like a big huge monster… but a big huge monster who didn’t care all that much.

  10. On June 29, 2015 at 4:50 am Julia said:

    This is all so true. I try and remember to be thankful for my health as often as I can. Because, no matter what your clothes size, your health is the most important thing of all. I like to think that a lot of women get more accepting of their bodies as they get older, because we start to realise that we wasted too much time in our youth worrying about the size of our thighs when we should have just been bettering and enjoying ourselves. So happy for you that you feel more comfortable in your own skin. I wish I was as good at the selfies as you!
    Julia recently posted..Peanut Butter Snickerdoodles

    • On June 29, 2015 at 9:34 pm Sally said:

      Yeah, I definitely think now about how much time I spent being a jerk to my body and how completely useless it all was (especially because I look at photos of myself when I thought I was “huge” and, dammmmnnnn, I looked great!). So no more! I don’t need to spend the next 20 years worrying about that stuff.

  11. On June 30, 2015 at 1:30 am Tom @ Waegook Tom said:

    Amen to this. I think gay guys often go through a lot of the same things women do, because we too are bombarded with images that basically make the average Joe feel like a pile of dung. Groups of friends at Pride in nothing but tiny underwear, all are super ripped with bulging muscles, chiseled jawlines, perfect hair and perfect teeth. I’ve realised I’m never going to be that and, the older I get and the more I realise how much work and sacrifice it takes to achieve that look – the more I realise, nor do I WANT to look like that.

    My body is pretty cool. It hasn’t melted in this ridiculous humidity over here in Taiwan. It can beat my dogs up several flights of stairs. It can lift and carry things that my boyfriend can’t. It manages not to convulse and empty its contents when affronted with the omnipresent summertime odours of durian and stinky tofu. Overall, nice work, body!
    Tom @ Waegook Tom recently posted..On This Travel Blogging Thing

    • On July 5, 2015 at 11:30 am Sally said:

      Wahoo, go, body!
      Also, is it weird that I LIKE the smell of durian? I’m not crazy about the taste, but the smell makes me feel nostalgic for Malaysia.

  12. On June 30, 2015 at 3:37 am Nikita said:

    YES! Bodies are so much more than appearance. I think being more active has made me love my body more, not because I look better, but because I’m like “Damn, these tiny legs have carried me ALL THE WAY up this massive mountain. That’s pretty badass!”
    Nikita recently posted..Escaping Loneliness at Lake Balaton

    • On July 5, 2015 at 11:28 am Sally said:

      I know, right? My legs have carried me to some pretty freaking amazing places. I should be grateful for that and not annoyed with the fact that they jiggle.

  13. On July 9, 2015 at 8:53 pm Carmel said:

    I’m late to the party on this one, but I LOVE this list. I am totally on board with you. I’ve spent so many good years focusing on what I want to change and not appreciating all my body does for me. Recently I’ve started to change my way of thinking about food and exercise and it’s made me a MUCH happier person. And I lost like 10 lbs because I wasn’t worrying about it so much. It’s nice to eat food because it tastes good rather than because I am emotional.
    Carmel recently posted..THE QUESTION ALL TRAVELERS ASK THEMSELVES AFTER COMING HOME

  14. On July 29, 2015 at 10:31 am faith said:

    I love this, so much. Especially when you said to appreciate that your body can take you places. I’ve never thought about that before! Feeling happier with my body already. Thank you!

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