FOR A LONG time, I battled with trying to understand body confidence as much as I battled my weight.
I used to believe, and maybe you still do, you could only feel confident in your body if you looked a certain way. Media culture does not allow you to contemplate beauty, happiness, health and success if you are fat.
I spent years searching for ways to make my size 12-14 body worthy of something to feel good about — all I wanted was to possess a body that would take up less space. I thought that there was too much of me for anyone, including myself, to love.
I believed that it would be easier to change my body than my mindset. I thought accepting my body would make me lazy so I turned to the gym and food to begin my body transformation.
After all, the gym is the place where ‘fat comes to die’ or where ‘sweat is fat crying’, isn’t it? Bad as that is, it’s not just the girls on the heavier end of the spectrum that get body shamed; skinny woman are barraged with negativity as well
“Healthy is the new skinny, strong is the new skinny, skinny girls look good in clothes but strong girls look good naked.”
No matter how you look, there is an unrelenting force telling us that our body is wrong, that beauty is a standard, and you can have it if you come train at my gym.
Many of us allow these disempowering campaigns to manipulate the beliefs we hold about our own bodies, and as a result, our value, worth and identity.
We are living in a society that uses (but really, abuses) the gym for its weight loss and appearance altering effects rather than the health and mental benefits.
Our passion for fitness has dissolved into an obsession with leanness and the gatekeepers – personal trainers, gym instructors, social media influencers – have empowered a nation to become disconnected from the greatest gift our fitness can give us; our health, vitality, longevity, power and confidence.
I carried this baggage for years, unsure how my body fit into the mix, until one day in the gym I learned how to squat. Before I knew it I began to CrossFit and now compete in powerlifting.
It was just three little words that completely changed how I perceived my body. It was just three little words that washed away the all-consuming thoughts about how my body looked.
Those words were: My body can.
For me, challenging the stereotype created by the health, beauty and fitness industry has been one of the most awesome things I have done on my fitness journey.
Powerlifting, and feeling strong, showed me what body confidence looked like. I am confident in my body because of what it can do and that is the greatest thing I have ever learned from the gym. Powerlifting really did change my life.
I refuse to act as if my body is a simple prop, put on this earth to express beauty, to be made skinny, pretty or lean.
To me, confidence is strength and awareness of movement, mobility and power. Feeling confident in my body is about understanding and celebrating what my body can do. I exercise because I love my body and I love what powerlifting does to help me honour my strength and health.
For me, body confidence is no longer feeling afraid of my body.
I weigh 80kg and that number does not scare me anymore because it no longer rules me, or defines me. I am, and always will be, more than a number.
Body confidence is no longer feeling ashamed of my body because it doesn’t look the way the magazines say it should. I own every inch of my body without apologising for it. My body is worth every bit of space it takes up in this world.
Body confidence means no longer living in fear of what others might think of me, or what is flattering to wear or ‘acceptable’ for my shape.
Body confidence means loving my body for what it can do. My body is more than a tool to express beauty. My body is a vehicle to help me connect with my strength, power, vitality and mobility. My body is strong.
Body confidence means that I am grateful, appreciative and compassionate towards my body. The dreaming, fantasising and wishing that my body would look different are no more and I feel at peace, and comfortable in my own skin (most days, I am only human after all).
Body confidence means no longer allowing my mind to question my body’s imperfections. Body confidence means accepting and embracing my flaws and loving them anyway.
Body confidence means that I no longer let how I feel about my body prevent me from saying yes, from living my life or challenging myself.
My body is worth every bit of space it takes up in this world. And so is yours.
The problem is not your body. It has never been your body. You are, and always have been, beautiful. The problem is how you think about your body.
Your body is a vehicle to help you connect with your strength, power, mobility, agility, worth and value. You have everything you need to be confident right now, own it.
Sarah Doyle is a life coach, motivational speaker, positive body powerlifter and host of Better Life Project TV. For more information, follow her on Facebook, Instagram or check out Sarah’s website here.
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