What "loving yourself" should mean.

This post is coming from the heart. It comes from a good place although it may sting some of you. I'm going to share my feelings in hopes of helping someone out there. So here it goes...

I've read and heard a few statements lately from out of shape and overweight women that made me think.. if only you knew how to love yourself and what that means for your body, your life would be very different. There are 2 extremes that come to mind on this topic...

Woman number 1 - We've all seen this woman before. She's very overweight, she's loud and she's proud. She claims she is a "real woman" and loves her extremely overweight and unhealthy self. She boldly displays her "voluptuous" body for all to see given the opportunity. She bashes any woman who is lean, fit and/or skinny because she assumes if you're any of those things, you are deprived. She thinks a healthy body fat level comes out of self-hatred and punishment. She assumes anyone who is lean doesn't know how to "live life and accept themselves". This woman is CONVINCED that letting yourself go is the same as accepting and loving yourself.

Woman number 2 - I see this woman too often...This woman is overweight, unhappy and does not love herself. In fact, she has given up on herself completely. She feels she could never love her self or her body unless she was to look a certain way and lose "x" amount of pounds. She is completely defeated and has given up on being happy with her body. She no longer values herself and doesn't deem herself worthy of anyone else's love. She looks at herself in the mirror and hates what she sees. She hates her body. She is disgusted. She does not want to be seen. In her eyes, she will "always be the fat girl" and has convinced herself of this hurtful lie. This woman goes through a roller coaster of diets and binges. Feels motivated temporarily and then feels defeated, leading to the sense of failure and eventually gives up.

I believe in self love.

I believe you must love yourself in order to know true happiness. I believe you must love yourself to allow others to love you. There are certain things you must accept about life, about other people and about yourself. I also believe that many women tend to blur the lines of acceptance and giving up when it comes to their bodies.

I'm not assuming that if you have one of these characteristics or thoughts about yourself, you have all of them. I'm not assuming that women will fall into one or any of the these categories. But I truly believe positivity and being motivated from a loving place.

The first woman I mentioned is the toughest person to influence. They are usually very ignorant in the matter of health and nutrition and frankly don't care what kind of facts or statistics you present to them. They don't want to change. They're not concerned with their health or quality of life. Most of these women were once unhappy with their bodies. At some point, they were convinced to accept and love themselves for who they are...that some how turned into some warped sense of what "natural" means for their body - not giving two shits about their bodies and letting it all go. You are suppose to take care of the things you love. You don't hurt and neglect things that you love. You sacrifice for love. You work for love. The same applies to your body. If you love your body, you wouldn't fill it with horrible foods and neglect it with lack of exercise, sunshine, water, activity, etc. This woman infuriates me. The ignorance they spew is heard by the young children in their lives. And they're wrong..so, so wrong. You don't love your body; you're hurting yourself. You're hurting others in your life. And their hate and disgust for "thinner women" is what really gets me. That cynical attitude leads you down a lonely road. I believe the negativity they hold towards other people is really how they feel about themselves. The loud and proud show is just that, for show. I wish they would realize that loving yourself and accepting yourself doesn't mean not caring about what happens to your body. Loving yourself means taking pride in how you maintain your body. Loving yourself takes work and commitment. Trying to convince this type of woman to change is extremely difficult. I have found that if they ever change, it was because of some very extreme event or incident that finally opened their eyes to their backwards thinking. I honestly don't put much energy into negative people like this.

The second woman is where my heart lies. I really want to help these women. I want them to know how amazing it is to let go of the hate they have for their bodies and learn to love what they're made of. Its so liberating to be free from your own negativity. When you're motivated in a positive way and come from a loving place, your whole perspective changes. Everyone has things they want to change, improve upon..and that's totally ok. Its healthy to want to see yourself at your best. The key here is YOUR best...the best version of YOU...not someone else's best. When you care for your body, you want to fill it with nutritious foods. When you like yourself, you're motivated to maintain your body. After all, you only get one body in this lifetime. I'm not saying its easy to do, but it is simple: love yourself. Take care of yourself. Do it for YOU. There is nothing wrong with wanting to improve yourself. There is nothing wrong with looking in the mirror and saying "I want to lose weight". It's possible to be honest with yourself without being hateful. I promise you, the body is capable of doing amazing things! You just have to give it the opportunity to shine. And that means feeding it whole, quality foods, sleeping well, staying hydrated, exercising and getting some sunshine. This woman needs to practice compassion for themselves. They may have had a few years under their belt of self loathing. They'll need to retrain the way they think about themselves, how they speak about themselves, how they react when they see themselves in the mirror. They are their own worst critics and its time they lay off! Learn to find joy in the process of transforming yourself. Learn to love the changes, the challenges, the achievements they will experience. The thing is, there is no end game here. Fitness and health is a life long pursuit. You're never "done", you just get better at it. You must learn to be motivated by love and value yourself. You need to look yourself in the mirror and say "I'm worth the work. I'm worth the sacrifice. My happiness is worth fighting for!". And most importantly, your worth is not based on your ability to lose weight or change your body. You will always have your ups and downs. You will feel defeated and unmotivated at times. But if you learn to truly love yourself, you won't give up. Your body and physique does not define you. Embrace your body, its shape, its limits and respect yourself.

-Nicole Race, Owner/Coach St. Pete Strength & Conditioning