Ten Ways to Love Yourself and Appreciate Your Body

Bikinis, Beach Bodies, and Some Very Inappropriate “Novelty” Straws

When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life. ~Jean Shinoda Bolen
When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life. ~Jean Shinoda Bolen

If you follow me on snapchat, Facebook, or Instagram; you’ll know that I spent last weekend at the beach: a bachelorette weekend consumed by more pizza, ice cream, and crab cakes than alcohol.

Ah, who am I kidding, there was plenty of that.

During this three-day ladies’ weekend, seven women–myself included–participated in all your typical bachelorette shenanigans:

  • Happy hours with free drinks (and shots) from happy bartenders
  • Dancing. A lot of freaking dancing
  • Beaching and sunburns
  • Wine O’clock (our hotel had a free wine hour from 5-6:30 every day)
  • Cookie O’clock (free homemade chocolate chip cookies at 8pm every night)
  • Eating…omg the food was amazing and endless…
  • Walking the beach, the boardwalk, even from one beach city to the next
  • Yoga/Gymnastics beach posing fungirls4

We had a blast.

But all the girls on the trip asked me more than once, “Are you going to write a blog post about our beach trip?” And more than once I thought to myself, “I’ve done one workout. I’ve eaten ice cream multiple times. How would I write about fitness and nutrition in relation to this trip?!” 

girls8
Love is the great miracle cure. Loving ourselves works miracles in our lives.
 ~Louise L. Hay

Could I make this happen? What would I write about?

  • Maybe I could write about the importance of finding time to exercise on vacation. We ate SO much food. Exercise was important.
  • Maybe I could write about how I took three non-crossfitters to their first ever CrossFit workout and how they all actually liked it!
  • Maybe I could write about how we averaged walking over 20,000 steps each day because we walked around the beach, the boardwalk, the city, so much. I’ve never walked so much in my life!
  • Maybe I could write about how even though I found a CrossFit gym, and even though I walked 20k steps each day, I still gained weight on the trip because of my struggles with metabolic resistance and poor food choices.
  • Or maybe…maybe…I could write about my struggling confidence issues while hanging out with six other fabulous females all weekend.

My confidence SUCKS. And that really pisses me off. 

Im not normal. I get that. Im ok with it too. Why do I find myself constantly questioning myself?
I’m not normal. I get that. I’m ok with it too. Why do I find myself constantly questioning myself?

I’m not your average “fitness hottie chick” and some days I’m fine with that, and some days I’m not. A lot of magazines and social media channels promote fitness as women who are, for lack of better words, just really small. I mean, isn’t that the goal of most women? So many women don’t care about muscle or a back squat, they just want to be small, or my least favorite word in the English language, “skinny.”

I’m not skinny. 

And I’m beyond ok with that. I have curves and I have muscle, and I am strong and powerful. I love it–I really do. I know that my body type isn’t a naturally “thin” one. Even when I was a kid I had a lot of muscle. I’m kind of blessed. Unlike most women, I have to work harder to lose muscle…but I really struggle to lose fat. I always have.

The hardest challenge is to be yourself in a world where everyone is trying to make you be somebody else.
 ~E. E. Cummings

Do all of these “skinny girls” on Instagram really know what it’s like to struggle with weight issues?

One thing that really pisses me off about the fitness world is that too many people want to take advice from the fit chick who never knew what it was like to struggle, to be the fat girl, and to learn the hard way how to lose fat and how to eat right. Ladies: just because she looks good on Instagram doesn’t mean she necessarily knows the best method for the overweight woman to lose weight. She has never struggled like you or like me. She has never been one of us. I’ve been that girl who had to learn the hard way and that’s why I write these posts every single week. To help you learn faster than I did.

The only person who can pull me down is myself, and I’m not going to let myself pull me down anymore. ~C. JoyBell C.

But I’m still struggling. And it’s with my image. 

I noticed that while I was…well, anywhere with the ladies this weekend, I was beyond overly self-conscious of anything that I did.

  • Should I eat this ice cream?
  • Who else is having two slices of pizza?
  • Do I look muscly in this bathing suit or do I look fat?
  • Can they tell I have a lot of muscle or do they think I look short and chunky?
  • Can anyone tell I have muscle?
  • Do I look sexy in this dress? Or do my muscles make me look….you know…fat?

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
 ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Why do we do this to ourselves? I know I’m not alone, right?

I changed my life from fat to fit. I went from never working out a day in my life to averaging two hours a day in the gym and squatting 275 lbs. I can do more than 15 unbroken pull-ups and I can press more than I weigh over my head. There are NOT many women who can do this, and I don’t say this to brag. I say this because I don’t know why the F*#K I struggle with self-love and acceptance for all my accomplishments!?

Jen helped me with my handstands. I felt strong and powerful. And still jealous of Jens long and lean body. Why do women act or feel this way?
Jen helped me with my handstands. I felt strong and powerful. And still jealous of Jen’s long and lean body. Why do women act or feel this way?

Just because I don’t look like everyone else, I give myself the WORST hell! Every day! 

I feel so lucky to have made some amazing friends along my journey over the past several years, and one of them was on this trip. Jen really helped bring to light how screwed up we women can be. And no, lol, I don’t mean that in a bad way, Jen!

The thing is, women are so freaking hard on themselves! All weekend, I felt so flipping FAT compared to all the other women on the trip, but you see the thing is, I’m not like them and they aren’t like me. I’m a five-foot tall endomorph (gains easily, hard to lose anything) with a lot of muscle. And Jen, for example, is a 5 foot 10 (I’m guessing–but she is super tall) long-legged, flat ab’ed beauty who didn’t even have to style her hair to look gorgeous.

I would kill to have her legs…her flat abs….her hair.

And you know what she said to me? She would kill to have strong muscles in her legs, ab muscles that showed, and an a$$ that looked like two perfectly baked ciabatta rolls. (That may or may not be an inside joke.)

But my point is, I spent the whole weekend second guessing myself. And after getting caught up in some deep conversations with Jen and some of the other girls, I realized that while I was wishing for smaller legs or to look better in a dress, it doesn’t mean that they weren’t wishing for more strength or muscle definition. I can’t speak for them or even for all women, but I learned something important this weekend:

Women need to stop bashing themselves.

We are all strong figures: inside and out.
We are all strong figures: inside and out.

A while back, I read a few personal growth books and I remember they all said one thing: you can re-wire your brain. All you need to do is practice telling yourself how awesome you are. How much you love yourself. Why you appreciate what your body is capable of doing. And if we do it enough, after a while, our brains will be trained to believe this and we won’t have to even think about it any more. We will slowly start to love and appreciate ourselves for once and for all.

You are very powerful, provided you know how powerful you are. ~Yogi Bhajan

Jen and I actually talked about this one night. Why do women look in the mirror and find something about themselves that they hate? Why can’t they find something that they love? Why not focus on the positive? I DO love my quads and thighs. I freakin’ love my traps and shoulders. I’m starting to see definition in my abs. This is like my lifetime goal. I should be beyond happy, right?! I even like my hair when I have the time to spend on  it. So why not focus on the good? Why do I slip into the terrible habits of only seeing the bad???

Is it because I used to be fat and now I can’t see past the old me? Is it because I’m fearful that the rest of the world only sees the past fat girl? I really don’t know. I don’t understand it. Why can’t we just find more self-love?

The most powerful relationship you will ever have is the relationship with yourself. ~Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

So I did some research and came up with 10 Things You Can Do to Love Yourself More.girls10

We all know that we cannot be truly successful, no matter what your goal in life, if you can’t love yourself. Yes, I am successful with my physical transformation. But have I learned to love myself for this yet? No. So my emotional health still needs work. How many of you are in this same boat right now? So what can we do here?

  1. We can start with creating affirmations that we read to ourselves each and every day. Hal Elrod from “The Miracle Morning” suggests that you start your day with a few minutes of meditation and using phrases and affirmations that you have written about yourself that you believe and read over and over to help yourself overcome self doubt. “I am confident. I am strong,” are mine. And you can change these affirmations any time!
  2. Start to re-wire your mirror talk! Every time you look in the mirror, STOP finding your flaws and start finding the pieces of you that you love. And I know someone will say, “there’s nothing that I love.” Even if you can’t see it, ask someone and then start telling yourself the same thing. Maybe you have great hair. Maybe you have awesome style! Just tell yourself something and keep telling yourself that until you believe it.

    It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves. ~Edmund Hillary (first man to climb Mt. Everest)

  3. Focus on your strengths. Maybe you’re awesome at your job. Maybe you are a stellar cook. Maybe you are the best mom to the best kids. Whatever you do well, and there has to be something, embrace it. And then start looking for more strengths. I bet you do a lot of things well and you can use your abilities to boost your confidence! Make a list and read your list of strengths every day. Add to them and never take away.
  4. Make a list of your accomplishments. Maybe you’ve won an award for something. Maybe you have given birth to children. Maybe you got a promotion at work. List your accomplishments and focus on the things that make you feel good about your life and who you are!

    To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

  5. Remove disturbances in  your life. If you follow people on Instagram or Twitter who make you feel bad about yourself, STOP FOLLOWING those people! I know several people who have actually disabled their Instagram accounts simply because they were tired of feeling as if they needed to compare themselves against every woman who posted a fabulous bikini selfie. You don’t need guilt imposed on you by other women who are NOT you nor who know you and your struggles!
  6. Read something inspirational. I can’t begin to tell you how fantastic it feels to read a book that tells you how amazing you are and that all you have to do is appreciate yourself. Rewire Your Brain to Break Bad Habits and Miracle Morning are two of my favorites for this. If you don’t like reading, follow the inspirational quote people on Instagram!
  7. Keep a gratitude journal. I started doing this when I was a teenager after I watched an Oprah episode. I lost my first gratitude journal, but there are days where you can be feeling so incredibly low, and just writing ONE thing that makes you feel thankful for what you do have and what you are capable of, can make all the difference in the world.
  8. Find something that you can do do (alone) that you enjoy and can appreciate. A long walk on a beautiful autumn day is all I need to rejuvenate my spirit. Maybe you can pick up a hobby that helps you relax and unwind. Maybe you can start going on long Sunday drives. Maybe you can adopt a puppy and take it to the park. Spend time alone doing something that makes you happy and feel like yourself again.
  9. Adjust your image and esteem to match your current abilities–NOT your past! This (and number 10) are my favorites. Why do I hear so many people say, “I wish I had the same body I had in high school.” YOU’RE NOT IN HIGH SCHOOL!! We change! You’ve got to do the BEST that you can do for the YOU that you are right now, not the you that you used to be! We could all sit around and wish that we were as strong as we were in college or lean as we were before kids, but why can’t we just be the best person we can be at the moment? Why dwell so much on the past? Embrace the YOU that you are right now and work to make it the BEST you that you’ve ever been.

    To love yourself right now, just as you are, is to give yourself heaven. Don’t wait until you die. If you wait, you die now. If you love, you live now. ~Alan Cohen

  10. STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS. Agh! My biggest struggle! But after talking with hundreds of women, I know it’s a similar struggle that we all face. Whether it’s the 20-year-old in the gym, the model on Instagram, the successful entrepreneur on Twitter, or the Facebook mom who always seems to have her sh*t together, we have GOT to stop comparing ourselves to every other woman out there. We all have struggles, whether you see them or not. We all wish we could be better at _____________ (fill in the blank). We all wish we were more like so-and-so or looked like such-and-such. Why? What’s wrong with us the way we are? I can’t squat as much as the college athlete in our gym and I can’t wear a lot of things that someone who is taller and thinner can pull off. It doesn’t mean I can’t be my very best me and it doesn’t mean I have to make myself feel bad because I can’t do or look like someone else. Isn’t that boring anyway?girls14

I want to leave you with a few thoughts. How can you start to appreciate yourself more? What can you do to build your own esteem? And maybe more importantly, what can you stop doing that’s currently getting in your own way of love, acceptance, and appreciation? If you have suggestions, I want to hear them in the comments below!

Let’s all make a promise to ourselves that we will start loving who we are, right now, this day, in this moment.

I am Steph. I am a writer, a leader in the fitness community, and I am strong. I am a powerful woman, built tough through my experiences, and I love who I am. 

See, it’s not that hard. The only hard part is never stopping, never giving up. And as much as we advocate for physical health, isn’t your mental state just as important? I do think so.

References:
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201210/the-50-best-quotes-self-love
https://thinksimplenow.com
https://psychcentral.com

What better way to boost your self esteem than with a great workout? Here are your three Strong Figure Conditioning Workouts for the week!

Workout One: 3 Rounds For time-

  • 500 meter row (or run)
  • 21 Kettlebell swings
  • 15 Goblet Squats
  • 9 Push-ups

Workout Two: For time-

  • 18 Thrusters (using a barbell OR one or two kettlebells/dumbbells
  • 18 Burpees
  • 12 Thrusters
  • 12 Burpees
  • 6 Thrusters
  • 6 Burpees

Workout Three: 5 Rounds-

  • 20 Lunges (total)
  • 15 Wall Balls
  • 10 V-ups

If you need to sub out a movement due to lack of equipment, pick a body weight move that challenges you! Push-ups, lunges, squats, burpees, step-ups, mountain climbers, bridges, planks–you have endless choices!

Comments

  1. Rosemarie says

    Oh my gosh! Great article! You are amazing. Thank you so much. Exactly what I needed to hear today. Keep up the great work!

    • Stephanie Walker says

      Thanks for commenting Rosemarie! I’m happy this makes you feel good! Admitting a weaknesses is always really hard, so hitting publish on this post took some guts. I’m really glad to see that it’s what you needed to hear. :)

  2. Samantha Sutton says

    Great article Steph! It’s always a good reminder and comforting to hear that every woman feels this way, no matter how fabulous we are! My workout routine has been suffering since my hubby and I have been buying a house. There’s just been so much to do to get ready and we haven’t been sleeping well from the stress and excitement, lol. I have to remind myself that I am not perfect and sometimes it’s ok not to push myself so hard every single week. That’s for the motivation and encouragement today! :)

    • Stephanie Walker says

      Hey Samantha! Thanks for the awesome words about the post…you’re right, it’s definitely comforting to know that we all feel the same sometimes. Sometimes life gets so hectic and it’s beyond easy to get frustrated and feel disappointed in ourselves. I’m glad we can be there for each other and know that things will be just fine in the end!!! :D

  3. Lyndsey Martin says

    Steph, every time I see you at CFH I’m in awe of you and a little intimidated by you. You’re a freaking beast, and you’re also super cute.

    • Stephanie Walker says

      Lyndsey, you just made me giggle. Me? Intimidating? And cute to boot?! Thanks for that boost. :D
      PS–I was admiring the work you were doing the other day. Not everyone puts in the extra time and work and I was thinking about how dedicated you are to your fitness. Pretty awesome of you.
      It’s funny what we tend to think…but often never say. :D

  4. Steph says

    Amazing post – you captured exactly how I’ve been feeling; so nice to know we are not alone :)
    Definitely will be sharing this with a few women in my life who I think will also love it!