Yesterday, a Facebook friend confessed that lately she's been obsessing about food and exercise and body.
Questions like "Have I gained weight?" "What should I eat?" and "I'm not exercising enough" were plaguing her thoughts.
Like many women, she's struggling with the concept of accepting her body as-is while not being completely satisfied with the way it looks or feels.
I get that. I really do.
The you're-ok-at-any-size movement is praised by many, but condemned by others. The argument is that, when you tell people directly or indirectly: "Hey, your body is a good body, even if it's fat", it means you're letting them off the hook.
Now they have carte-blanche to dive head-first into a gallon of salted caramel gelato every single night before bed.
People argue that once you've accepted your overweight body, you're on the slippery slope to completely giving up on being healthy.
That's the message we hear all around us, isn't it?
Magazines illustrate how we should constantly shrink, fix, and change our bodies.
Fitness blogs scream that accepting a fat body is the SAME as letting yourself go.
Family and friends caution that if you accept your body as-is it's like waving the white flag and throwing in the towel all in one fell swoop. You MUST be vigilant.
Well, let ME tell you what the REAL slippery slope is.
When you refuse to accept your body because of how it looks, you make yourself WRONG. And that's when SHAME rears it's ugly little head.
All of a sudden, your imperfect body means you're a horrible person. That's a terrible feeling.
Unfortunately, I know from experience.
I used to think that a disciplined, no-excuses approach was the only way to get results. If I didn't work relentlessly to be smaller, I was deserving of negative comments and ridicule from myself and others.
Besides feeling awful about myself, I noticed something else. When the tough times came around in other areas of life and I needed a little self-induced TLC, I didn't know how to do it.
I was always accustomed to not accepting my flaws...my imperfections were something to steam-roll over in the most aggressive way so that I wouldn't be seen as lazy, fat, or incompetent.
Self-acceptance was something I rarely practiced.
Self-acceptance was fleeting and conditional.
Imagine only accepting your parents, significant other, or children based on the way they looked or on how close to perfection they were. Hmmm? Sounds shitty, doesn't it? It is.
FACT: You deserve the same consistent and unconditional acceptance from yourself that you give to others.
Now I accept, love, and like myself and my body...my quirks, my loud obnoxious laugh, and my back fat.
To NOT accept this body is to reject it. It means I deny these less-than-desirable parts of me until they become desirable. I can't do that anymore.
The bottom line: body-acceptance doesn't mean you're letting yourself go. It means allowing yourself to exist as you are in this moment, and giving yourself permission do what you want to enhance your experience here on Earth.
It's really that simple.