Yesterday, I realized that I’ve come very far. I’ve learnt to love my body.
I learnt from my half marathon in late May that I should be pretty darn proud of what I could do with my body, even if I didn’t like the way it looked. Why should I be sad that my legs are not as thin as the next girl’s? I can run 21km with my legs! However, I was in a bit of a slump after the race since I felt myself getting heavier again as I did not get back into my running routine immediately.
I started going to the gym instead of running, just to mix things up a bit and challenge myself with something new. I have previously gone to the gym before back at my home university, but I was too intimidated to use the weights or machines. Here, the gym at the dorms is usually empty in the mornings, and I found a simple routine from the internet that relied on dumbbells. The gym is where I started to have more confidence in my body’s appearance because it strengthened the connection between what I did and how I looked.
Lifting weights requires you to look in the mirror. It’s very narcissistic, but it was a helpful sort of narcissism in this case. For the first time, I could see myself putting effort and energy into my body. I could see myself doing hard work. I could appreciate how this would make my body better (health-wise and appearance-wise) and I could take pride in knowing that I was caring for my body through this act. We all know that exercising is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and that it’s good for you, but seeing myself in the mirror solidified that connection for me. Previously, this wasn’t as apparent to me because I have not seen myself exercise when running or doing martial arts.
At the gym, I could also see how my body looked from head to toe since my dorm lacks a full length mirror. Us girls at the dorm have to make do with mirrors that start above the sink at waist level, backing up as far as we can get in order to even get a look at the top of our thighs.
I’ve been conscious about my thighs and legs for a very long time. I know this concern sounds ridiculous, because people I know have told me time and time again that there’s nothing to be worried about. I know that this idea that my thighs are too big is just a perception that only exists in my head, but it’s a stubborn one that has stayed with me for the past six years and has had negative consequences on the way I feel about myself.
But yesterday, something changed. I walked into the gym and caught sight of my legs in the mirror.
It was the first time I looked at myself and thought, “Wow, I actually look quite like what I want to look like. My bum, thighs and legs look great.”
This was an INCREDIBLE moment.
To say that I love my body for what my body can do and what it looks like is a huge step for me. I feel like I’m at the top of the world. I feel like singing and dancing knowing that I can feel this way, look this way and still eat what I love to eat. In fact, I drafted this post while eating this, and I felt absolutely no self-guilt because this too was part of loving myself:
Exam season treat: Makgeolli ice cream from @fellncole. What a unique and delicious flavour! The person behind the counter was also very warm and welcoming, making sure I got my noms before another group of customers since I arrived earlier. Love what you're doing here, hope I have another chance to come again! 펠앤콜 막얼리 아이스크림을 참 맛있어요~ 주인이 친절해요, 감사합니다! #asia2016 #Seoul #seoulfood #fellncole #hongdae #펠앤콜 #아이스크림 #맛있다 #홍대
With this realization, I am even more motivated to keep exercising and keeping fitness as a priority. To me, loving myself means treating my body well: having a balanced diet, still eating delicious things once in a while, and exercising because it’s good for me.
For others out there also on similar journeys: having a positive image of yourself and your body isn’t easy. I too understand that it’s a personal struggle, so even reassurances from friends about how you look fine just the way you are can’t help sometimes. But, it’s possible. What helped me overcome my insecurities about how I looked is knowing I am capable of some cool things and realizing that the hard work I put into my body was because I cared about myself. From comprehending these things, I learnt to love my body.