New Body, Old Programming: Why It’s Ok to Love Your Body Regardless of Your Size

“If you have the ability to love, love yourself first.” ~Charles Bukowski

Earlier this week, a few hours after waking up, I made the rare (in my case) decision to jump on the scale in my bathroom and find out what I weighed on that particular day.

Why? I seriously have no idea. Curiosity, I suppose.

It had been over a year since I last weighed myself. And before that? Well, let’s just say I’d spent the previous decade intentionally evading scales and asking to be weighed backwards at the doctor’s office, afraid that knowing the pounds and ounces of my own body might result in a return to the unhealthy obsession with my weight that had dominated so much of my teenage years and early twenties.

No, thank you.

But, thinking that I had finally and completely conquered that particular brand of self-hatred, I jumped on the scale this Monday with absolute confidence that whatever number I saw pop up would have no effect on my sense of self-worth.

Plus, I have been feeling pretty great in my body in recent months. Strong and fit. Content.

So I was certain that indulging my curiosity would be a pretty benign thing to do.

Except when I got on the scale, the number I saw was about 8 pounds more than I expected it would be. Which was information I wasn’t really prepared to handle.

Sure, I’d been lifting heavier and heavier weights over the past 18 months and feeling stronger and doing things with my body I didn’t think I was capable of doing. And all my clothes still fit the same — even the tightest of my tight pants. And I was at the tail end of my menstrual cycle, when I typically weigh about 3 pounds more than I do at any other point during the month.

But. But. That number. It just seemed too high.

Nevermind how I’d been feeling. I couldn’t possibly be ok with my body at this heavier weight, could I?

Here’s where I admit that I pretty quickly started contemplating the idea that I needed to drop these 8 pounds to get down to a more reasonable size. Not because I was feeling particularly unhappy with my body or unhealthy overall, but because a woman can’t possibly weigh what I weighed that morning and still like herself or be content with what she saw on the scale. Right?

Later that evening, I even told my boyfriend that I thought maybe I wanted to drop five pounds.

To which he responded:  “Why?”

I couldn’t come up with a decent answer that wasn’t about old programming and cultural expectations and outdated beliefs about what a woman should look like and how much space she should take up in the world.

This stuff runs deep, you guys.

And even when you think you’ve moved past the need to be or look a certain way, it can sneak up on you.

Like it did to me this week.

I’m still wrapping my mind around the idea that I can weigh what I weigh this week without it affecting my confidence and my worth in the world. It’s a little embarrassing to admit this fact, but it’s just my truth right now.

And there’s part of me that believes I can’t speak about body acceptance until I learn how to always and entirely appreciate and accept my own body, 100%, without question, the end.

But here’s the reality of my life:  I am an imperfect person loving myself imperfectly. Most of the time, I am able to love my body with all of its flaws and its cellulite and its stretch marks, etc.

And yet.

I still have days during which this is more challenging. And I am still vulnerable to allowing cultural expectations to override my internal barometer of self-worth.

I share this story not because I have some magic solution to save you from ever bumping up against these things in your own life, but to highlight the fact that the road to self-acceptance and body acceptance is not without its twists and turns and obstacles along the way.

And to say that it’s ok if you’re not doing this self love thing perfectly all the time.

None of us are.

It’s the commitment to the process — not the flawless execution of that process — that counts.