"You look like you've lost 15 more pounds since I've seen you. You look sensational."
I've struggled with body image issues since the 6th grade. I remember being in a dressing room, crying because I was so obsessed with the number on the tag. I had convinced myself that every other girl in my class had a smaller number on her tag. I told that story to a 7th-grade class when I spoke to a middle school this week, and so many girls shot looks at each other or put their heads in their hands. I knew what I said was resonating with them.
I have spent so many years trying to look in the mirror and smile back at the person I see. Every day I walk into a cycling studio, and I see other girls who are thinner or more toned than I am. And I start to return to the mindset of the 12-year-old-girl who was afraid of what people would think of her when she got on the beach.
But then I remind myself of the journey I've been on, the journey to accepting what's on the outside. That journey has been just as difficult as accepting what's on the inside.
I don't need other people telling me I look "sensational" to quantify the success I've had with my body. But honestly, it helps me remember to stop criticizing myself while I swipe through pictures.
Since April of 2017, I've lost somewhere around 35 pounds. But the number on the scale isn't what matters to me anymore. It's feeling like I have control over something in a healthy way. It's feeling the rush of endorphins after I finish a workout and feeling like all of the bad has melted away. It's feeling like I'm as healthy on the outside as I am on the inside.
Summer bodies aren't made in the winter. Truthfully, that's a toxic mindset. Our bodies are made for each and every day. We have to live in them: they're our home.
It doesn't matter if you have a six-pack. It doesn't matter if you have a thigh gap. What matters is what YOU like about your body. For me? It's my thick thighs and my shoulder muscles. And what I don't like? My stomach.
But I don't stare at pictures and shit on myself like I used to. Because with every physical workout comes a mental one: I am beautiful, I am strong, and I am enough. In THIS body.