Loving yourself is the most important thing you can do. Although I am still mastering it myself, I know the benefits of it and am slowly, but surely, climbing my self love-o-meter. One of the hardest things to learn was to exercise with love.
I have something called congenital hypothyroidism. Basically, I was born without a thyroid gland. This is a wildly important gland that regulates metabolism, homeostasis, and your hormones. So all my life, I have been on medications, strict diets, vitamins, and all that kind of stuff.
Now, I am going on two years of a regulated body and managing some things that work. However, the previous 18 years were awful for me, more mentally than physically. I put on weight really easily and for about 10 years I suffered from body image issues, eating disorders and a really bad relationship with exercise because of it.
I used exercise as a punishment because I hated the way I looked and because of a strong fear that gripped my heart - the fear of not being pretty enough and not being accepted because of my appearance.
When I started to go to the gym, I would really push and overdo it. This is harmful to anyone, especially if you do not have a thyroid. My body retaliated and I suffered severe adrenal fatigue and abdominal cramping that would leave me immobile. However, that just made me feel worse about myself and so I would go harder and push more.
I had images of how I “should” look and I just couldn’t accept that my body was how it was supposed to be. I also developed a form of a binge eating disorder, which was something I struggled with all my life. I would eat whatever I wanted and stuff my face full of food that I knew I shouldn’t eat. Then, I would feel really guilty and wreck myself at the gym. This cycle continued for several years.
Looking back, I can see that I didn’t have the most slender figure, but I wasn’t what I thought I was either. Fast forward to 2016. I had reached my “glo-up” and I finally found medications that worked and a lifestyle that benefited my finicky body.
I started to really look at my mental state and what I was putting myself through. It had finally hit me that I was not treating myself with love and it was making things worse, not better. Even though I realized this, I still wasn’t ready to accept it and leave that fear-based mentality.
The past 2 years have been a beautiful time of growth for me. The biggest thing I am learning is how to exercise with love. Exercising to feel good is really what it’s all about. Now, I go to the gym and move my body because I love the way it makes me feel! (PRO TIP: choose something you love to do - like dancing or yoga!)
I love the way it makes me stronger and the mental high I get after I leave. I love the fact that I can reach new goals and see my growth. Even though I exercise out of love, I still have goals that I want to reach, and that’s okay! The secret is to have these goals with the right intentions.
The fear I once had has pretty much disappeared. I can now see that even though I look one way, I am still accepted and loved.