When was the last time you ran so fast you could hardly feel your feet hit the ground? 

What about dancing crazily in the kitchen to your favourite song, or feeling the rush of going down a hill really fast on your bike? Moving is FUN when we actually let ourselves enjoy it! And that’s a huge part of what it means to see your body as your friend, which is our series this month. 

On Monday we posted our first installment in the series and the comments were fantastic–so much encouragement to each other, so many stories of how you are training yourselves to speak positively about your bodies so that healthy changes don’t become a punishment–they’re a gift you’re giving yourself. 

Check out this comment from Carrie: 

This is one of the hardest topics I’ve had to deal with in my life. Over and over I’ve lost weight, only to have it come back.

2 years ago I went to a retreat. I thought it would be about losing weight, but it was more focused on accepting yourself. It was amazing! It was also a turning point for me. I realized that it was ok to like myself and my body.

Now, whenever I find myself saying something negative about myself I re-frame it and say something positive 3 times. I’ve also told people I’m around that they aren’t allowed to say negative things about themselves. Some accept it more than others.

A few months ago I decided to lose weight again. But this time feels so different. Instead of losing weight to help me feel better about myself, I’m loosing weight to help my body be able to do more fun things and feel better.

I love myself! Carrie

I love that–and that you’re able to say “I love myself” proudly and loudly!

But what about if your issues with your body stem from other people telling you there’s something wrong with you?

We had a really heart-warming interaction between two readers in the comments section on the same post about how the effects of purity culture have really damaged one woman’s view of herself.

And then, growing up in that culture, dealing with normal health issues that can cause self-consciousness can become even more difficult when you’ve been primed to see your body as the enemy.

Here’s what she said:

What a beautiful post. So helpful. I am going to keep rereading, and I’m so looking forward to the rest of the series. This is an area I’m working on, but it is SOOOOOOOOOO hard sometimes.

I grew up with the message that it’s women’s dress & behaviour that makes men ‘stumble’. I remember listening to how single women were a ‘threat’ to the preacher’s marriage (brother, I was never a threat to your marriage – your attitude to me might have been, but that’s not my problem). And then the men – including those in church – who felt they had the right to grab whatever and wherever they liked, and it was my fault for ‘tempting them’ (even wearing baggy jeans, baggy jumpers when the only bits of me showing were my hands and face, apparently, my body was still the problem).

So I hated my body because I was told it made men sin and because it ‘justified’ them treating me in ways that made me sick. And I hated it because hormone imbalance means I carry weight round my middle that won’t shift, even when the rest of me is really skinny, so I look early-stage pregnancy on a permanent basis (I’ve been asked more than once when my baby is due) And I hated it because it is covered in psoriasis too (and I’ve had total strangers in the street point to my arms and legs and say ‘urgh, that’s disgusting’.) And now I’m middle aged, I’m also starting to ‘sag’ in all the wrong places!

My biggest anxiety about my forthcoming marriage is that my fiance will get to see my body – there’ll be no way of hiding all those bits I hate. I’ve learned to thank him when he tells me I’m beautiful, instead of making jokes about his poor eyesight like I used to, but inside, I’m still thinking ‘are you blind?’ We’ve talked about it and prayed about it together, but I still have such a long way to go, and I think it will be one of my biggest battles. So bring on the rest of your series. I need all the help I can get!

Anon

First of all, thank you so much for sharing your story on the blog–being so open about your struggles is a huge blessing for other women in the same boat! 

But then one of the men on the blog chimed in with this: 

To Anon, I’m sure your fiancé loves you just the way you are. Next time he tells you how beautiful you are, agree with him. When you look in the mirror, just say “I’m beautiful!” Nothing like positive reinforcement. A coast to coast trip starts with the 1st mile. Best of luck! 
Trucker Dave

I love that! True trucker wisdom right there. And Anon later commented back that she appreciated it as well!

And if you’re someone who struggles with accepting their body due to the “all men lust” messages you may have heard growing up or are still hearing today, check out these posts:

And to women who are nervous about what their husbands will think about their bodies–flaws and all–check out this lovely post written by a woman who battled with severe body-image issues in her marriage and is now sharing how she overcame them. 

But a lot of this comes down to truly understanding what it means to have life abundantly.

When we get bogged down by “should”s and all the ways we’ve failed, continuously punishing ourselves for mistakes made, we forget that God gave us bodies that can enjoy things and that an abundant life is not too much to ask for!

Here are two comments that do a great job explaining what it means to enjoy the bodies we are given and to aim for that fullness of life:

I cannot emphasize enough how much of a game changer exercise is when you do it not to lose weight but for the sheer joy of moving your body. There’s nothing like the feeling of adding more weight to your dead lift, crossing the finish line of your first half marathon, or just hitting a new personal best. It’s so much easier to love your body when you can start to view it as an instrument and not an ornament. Meghan

Okay, I’m not sure how much this will relate to your series, but it’s about my body and my self-worth, so I kind of feel like it’s relevant. God has been dealing with me in this area lately. It’s like I have felt like my pain doesn’t matter, and I shouldn’t waste people’s time. I have had some issues with chronic pain, and started seeing a chiropractor in November. I’ve had to go pretty regularly, because my neck is pretty messed up. At several of my appointments I have made comments about being a pest, or apologizing for calling so often, etc. A few weeks ago, my chiropractor kept telling me that I’m not a pest. If I’m in pain he wants to see me. I don’t need to worry about calling too often. He just wants me to be pain-free. While that message was from him, I think it was from God too. Why do I feel like I should just go through life minimizing pain and other physical symptoms and not getting the help I need? Why do I think I don’t matter? That’s not the abundant life God has for me. So I play this kind man’s words over and over in my mind, hoping they will somehow stick somewhere in my soul. My pain matters. It’s really OK to take care of myself. Ashley

Do you have any stories of how you grew to ENJOY your body and what it can do again? Have you gotten past self-image or body-image issues and have insight to share? Or are you in the pit of it all and just need some encouragement? 

Let’s chat about it in the comments!

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