Learning to Embrace You

We arrived safely in Culver City, California this past weekend and are pretty much settled in now. I'll share more on the house and area soon, but for now, I wanted to talk about something else entirely. Yesterday I finally got to see the documentary Embrace. I sat in the theater listening to the stories, reading the statistics, mostly in tears. There is a comfort to knowing others have similar struggles, but at the same time, it's devastating that so many people go through life hating their body and their appearance. I want everyone to see this movie, I want to talk about it with friends, I want to have a consensus that body shaming ourselves and others is never okay. But, I don't know how to get to that point with others.

Back in October of last year, while six months pregnant, I shared some of my own past struggles with weight and some of the ways I've worked to overcome them. This has definitely come up for me again after giving birth to our precious girl, and especially with the holidays coming up in the next few months. Family is a key stress factor around weight for me, especially since so many family members told me while pregnant all about losing weight after giving birth. This is just one more reason having the opportunity to watch Embrace last night has been so therapeutic for me. It was a wake-up call that I had started to allow myself to sink back into my past body shaming mindset. I don't need to lose five pounds before Thanksgiving! I need to get to bed earlier. I need to get back into a workout routine, after taking a three week break to recover from a nasty cold. I need to eat foods that properly fuel my body for starting up morning runs again. And you know why I need to do those things? Because they make me happy. They remind me that I'm strong. And a well rested, well fueled, energized Alanna is a happy, positive, better wife and mother.

I want to be a voice of love for myself, my husband, my daughter, my friends and absolutely every person that I come in to contact with. But I don't always know how to do that. When a friend calls themselves "fat", I want to respond by yelling "You are beautiful inside and out!" But often I find that we don't truly absorb or accept compliments about our physical appearance, especially when we don't believe them about ourselves. So no matter how many times someone pays a compliment about our physical appearance, they fall on deaf ears. The best compliment I received this year was when my father-in-law told me (after first meeting our granddaughter back in February) that I was a great mom and was doing a great job. Oh man, it still makes me tear up even typing that. That made me feel more amazing than any other compliment!

So, perhaps part of the process of us learning to embrace and truly love ourselves is learning to celebrate some of the other beautiful things about ourselves - being a good friend, a good wife, a good parent, a good cook, a great listener, having a wonderful sense of humor, being a great teacher, etc. That's my challenge to myself and my readers. Every time you look in the mirror this week and find yourself starting to pick out each minor flaw - STOP! Pick out one completely non physical thing about yourself that your best friend would say makes you beautiful - your laugh, you give the best hugs, your sense of style, those homemade cookies, your sweet dance moves, etc. It might feel like a small thing, but it's a start on the path of eliminating those inner demons. And once we learn to love ourselves, we can truly start to appreciate everyone else around us too.

For further tools and help, check out Body Image Movement, the Body Lovin Guide, The Unstoppable Program, or reach out to a therapist near you for help.