Self love and accepting my body has been a lifelong journey. As it has for most women. From when we were little we have always been told our bodies aren’t good enough; from the ads we see on TV to the magazines and into the “instagram model” era. Everyone looked the same and bodies were very unobtainable to the average women, even though these were supposed to be our “role models”. It made us all feel inferior. Not being able to see real women with real curves, real muscles, real stretch marks, real stomachs on the cover of a magazine or on our feeds was incredibly detrimental to our mental health. I am so grateful that the body positivity and self love movement has become what it has. That today, we are learning to love and celebrate our bodies for what they are - perfect! Just how they are currently.
For me especially in high school, I struggled for years with the way my body looked. To this day even I still get comments of people “disappointed” that a part of my body doesn’t look a certain way because I’m an athlete. I don’t know about you but I didn’t realize that the size of my booty = how well I perform in a competition. News flash… it doesn’t! I have always been a muscular girl, and muscles haven’t always been celebrated in the way they should. I started playing sports when I was very young and got into CrossFit when I was just 13. Comments that have been made towards me and the way my body looks for being so muscular made me feel so inferior, not good enough.
There have been times when I wanted all the negative comments from people to stop. But through self growth and acceptance of not only myself but my body and everything positive it does for me on a daily basis, I have learned that it does not matter what other people say about how I look, what’s most important is how I see myself and how I FEEL on the inside! At the end of the day, you have to live with you. And I wake up every morning choosing to love the way I look and feel inside my own skin, because without that… what a waste of a lifetime this would be. Self love and self acceptance is so incredibly important. It is the root of what makes us tick. It’s how we survive the hard days and push past the tough times. Because we have the tools in our toolbox no matter how hard of a day we’re having, to be able to look at ourselves in the mirror and say “Thank you body. I love you. I am grateful for you.”
So I challenge you to forgive yourself. For all of the times you’ve beaten yourself up. For hating your stretch marks, your freckles, your birth marks, your cellulite, your stomach, your bulky shoulders, your arms, your jiggle. For listening to outsiders opinions on YOUR body. For not accepting how incredibly beautiful you are inside and out every day. Forgiving yourself is the first step in learning to love and accept yourself. It may not be easy, but it is a journey we are all on. One we will continue to be on for the rest of our lives.
One of my passions of mine is to make sure Grown Strong is always a place of inclusivity. Somewhere, where anyone who joins (new to fitness/working out or has been active their whole life) can feel welcome. I am so blessed and thankful for the Grown Strong community and how they continue to support and rally around each other through everything they share in our private group. It has been incredibly uplifting and encouraging to see women supporting other women, and I cannot wait to continue to bring a message of confidence, growth and encouragement no matter what shape or size you join Grown Strong at. Your size doesn't equal your capability, your fitness level or your worthiness to be a part of a group to help you improve upon your health! Grateful for my Grown Strong girls & all of their daily positivity and love towards one another.
In the spirit of inclusivity; I have asked some of my FAVORITE ladies who are a huge voice in the body confidence/self love space to share what they would say to their younger selves about body confidence and self love… here are their answers:
Bailey Peyton @TheBaileyP
They say good things come in threes, and if I could go back and tell my younger self anything, I’d have to agree. I’d tell myself to find a support system, which thankfully is much easier to do nowadays thanks to social media and body positive bloggers (but also to be cautious because there are as many misleading accounts too). I would tell myself to stop comparing, because freeing myself from judgement, societal norms and others’ expectations was the best thing I ever did for myself. And I would encourage her to celebrate the little wins because as I say over at @thebaileyp ‘confidence is not a one day journey, it is an everyday choice.’ GO LOVE YOUR BODY BAILEY BABE.
Sara Sigmundsdóttir @SaraSigmunds
I wish I could remind myself of my qualities instead of always thinking about that I was not enough. And then I would ask myself "Why would I want to be someone else?"
Tiffany Ima @TiffanyIma
I would say to my younger self: Your body does not define who you are. It changes and that is a beautiful and natural thing. You are so much more than your body, and you deserve to treat it with kindness and respect!
Brooke Wells @BrookeWellss
I think the biggest lesson I have learned in the past few years is to love my body for what it CAN do! I love being able to lift heavy, I love being able to run fast, I love fueling my body & training it to be the athlete that makes me - not just the way it looks in return. My body is a reflection of all my hard work, and I am very proud of that. I wish I could tell my younger self to not be afraid of heavy weights, other people’s opinions, or the way my body looks. But to love myself because it is capable of so much if you allow it to be.
So much comes to mind when I think about what I would like to tell my younger self, but the most important is to not let insecurities stop you from saying YES! Say yes to pool parties, school dances, and karaoke. Life just gets more complicated the older you get, so while paychecks might be small right now, adventures are big and you have nothing to lose! Put on the swimsuit, dance to your favorite songs with your best friends, and sing your heart out even if the sound might break glass! You’re only young once, so live it up, and don’t try to grow up too fast. You have the rest of your life for that!
To my younger self: it’s not your fault that you’re treated differently because of your body size. The way you’re mocked, left out of most clothing brand sizing, rarely ever represented anywhere, and forced to strive for thinness at all costs has nothing to do with your worthiness. You are more than a body and that body is going to disrupt a lot of that toxic societal energy by simply showing up. So do all of the sh*t you love and keep showing up. Especially when it feels scary and uncomfortable. That’s always going to be your greatest opportunity for growth.
Amanda Barnhart @AmandajBarnhart
If I could go back in time, I would tell my younger self to love my body and to forget about a meaningless number on the scale. I would tell myself to focus on what my body CAN DO instead of what it looks like in the mirror. I would also tell myself that food is the fuel to my athletic performance and not a punishment or reward for a certain behavior. And lastly I would remind myself to ignore the haters, keep my chin up, and always smile because strong is SO beautiful!
Julia Parzyck @FitFatAndAllThat
I wish I could tell my younger self that she never needed to shrink into a smaller body to be loved or feel worthy. That as she is, is just the way she needs to be. That the love she keeps looking for in other people needs to come from herself and her body was never the problem. The problem was the way we’ve been taught to look at our bodies and how we feel we need to show up in the world. And that it’s okay to take up space, as much as she needs.
Lauren, your muscles are BEAUTIFUL and a sign of all your strength and hard work. Remember to stay true to who you are and never let anyone tell you any differently. Don’t be afraid to lift heavy or be that girl who does CrossFit. Love your body for the gifts God gave you. You are different and that’s okay. You don’t get anywhere in this world by being like everyone else. You get places by being unapologetically yourself and fearless in the process. Fuel your body for performance and I promise your body will thank you for it. You will feel happy, healthy and confident and one day you will inspire so many other women what it means to be GROWN STRONG.