What Matters Most is How You See Yourself

Last week I had someone I barely know ask me, “What happened to you? You gained weight.” Ugh. Seriously? I am still kind of reeling from the situation. I instantly replied with a smile, “I’ve gained muscle,” and tried to escape from any further commentary. Not much else was said, but as the person in question walked away I felt more than a little deflated.

I’ve been struggling for the past couple of months with my body image issues. As I’ve deepened my practice and worked on new postures I have slowly watched the scale climb up another 10 lbs. My clothes still fit exactly the same as they did before and I haven’t changed my eating habits at all, so what gives? Well, I’m pretty sure part of it is that I have gained some new muscle and the other part is probably hormones. Do I regret stepping on the scale? Absolutely. I would never have noticed that I was heavier if I hadn’t. I would simply be noticing that I’ve developed more definition in the arms and core

But because I knew that I had gained weight, January and February found me kind of freaking out about this newfound poundage and feeling hypocritical when I did. How many times had I warned my students not to use the scale, as the yoga tends to pack on the muscle, making you think you are suddenly gaining when actually you are slimmer and trimmer than ever before and you actually need to go out and buy smaller jeans that fit? Too many times to count.  Yet, here I was, doubting my own words and encouragement that I offer to others day after day.

Right before this happened though I felt I had figured it out for myself. I felt secure in the way I looked once again and was letting whatever that number on the scale was telling me float further and further into the background of things that don’t really matter. And then this 2-minute conversation made me stop in my tracks and reassess the situation once again. As the week progressed I realized how many lessons this moment taught me – about myself, about life, and about the relationship I have with my body.

So, somebody basically called me fat and this is what I learned:

  • I am not fat. I am also not skinny. I am healthy and it took me a long time to get here. This situation gave me time to pause and realize I’m proud of where I currently am on this journey. My body is flexible and strong, it has curves and wrinkles, and it is my incredible machine that I strive to take care of to live a long, healthy life.
  • Forgive instantly. This person did not mean to rip my paper or ruin my day. And if they did it’s none of my business. I wasn’t looking to be offended, so I wasn’t. Instead I decided to not accept the gift the other person was offering to me, as it didn’t pertain to the way I feel about myself.   It wasn’t a helpful comment and it came from a source that has very little bearing on my life’s path. Forgiveness is the best way to let everything go.
  • The Universe will test your beliefs from time to time. I always find it funny how I’ll write a blog post or give someone else advice and then the same issue will arise in my own life. If you pray for peace you better believe everything that would shatter your peace will be in your life within the next 24-hours. In this way you can practice being peaceful despite of what is going on around you. So, I found it somewhat amusing that I had finally decided to love myself despite my newfound weight and then this happened. Take it as a wink, maybe a nod that you are on the right path, and move on.
  • Statements hollered out at other people and to the Universe say more about the person doing the hollering than the person it was aimed at. Maybe this person wasn’t feeling their best. Maybe they look at a person’s physical form and instantly judge them. Maybe they don’t feel comfortable in their own skin. I hope they find peace. I hope they find love.
  • When you truly love yourself these kinds of statements might echo around in the mind a bit, but about half an hour later I remember thinking, “I am so much more than my body.“ And in that instant I knew I was free from any negative thoughts that I used to have about my physical form. I am no longer that awkward too tall, too big girl anymore. I am a woman that loves her life and is grateful for every breath her body can witness.

Next time this happens, if it ever does, I don’t think I will give it a second thought.  Looking back I’m actually grateful for the opportunity this comment gave me to truly explore how I feel on this topic at this time in my life.  We are all in possession of this most miraculous thing – our body.  What it does for us throughout our lives is incredible, awesome, and inspiring.  Treat it well and enjoy your life.  And as for my scale?  I think you might be able to pick it up at the Goodwill Store soon, but I suggest you leave it where it is.  You are more than a number. You are more than even your body.  You are so much more than that.

body-image-views-from-the-podium

If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy reading:

Practice Yoga Because You Love Your Body, Not Hate It

Keepin’ the Faith

The Inner Monologue

***Email & RSS Feed Subscribers:  Be sure to stop by viewsfromthepodium.com to check out last week’s Beyond the Podium article which tells the inspiring story of Bikram Instructor Jeanne Heaton, as well as, the latest Off the Mat Chats article, “The Best 6 Doctors Anywhere” by Jane Hill.  Stop by often, get inspired, and get to class!


17 thoughts on “What Matters Most is How You See Yourself

  1. Oh Tori I am grateful you shared this – and perhaps that was the reason, trite as it may sound, for that comment. So you could share these thoughts with us.

    I struggle every day with accepting what I see in the mirror in class and outside. When I’m not struggling with my body’s appearance, I’m struggling with its refusal to align the way I want it to, the way my hip persists in floating back up in triangle no matter how resolutely I try to rotate it downwards. So often I lay back in savasana thinking “you have wasted so much of your life hating this body. You hated it even when it was slim and flawless, and you hated it last year when it was stronger and fitter than this year, and the year before that you hated it also. Why can’t you just love it now? In a year from now, or 5 years, and definitely in 10, it will be rounder and softer still. You’re going to bear children with this body, and you’re going to eat lots of delicious foods, and you will hike many mountains around the world, and maybe even run again one day, but you might have to do so even more slowly and awkwardly as your body continues to age… so why can’t you love it now?”… but I can’t. And I know many women experience the same things.

    Suffice to say a comment like that can destroy anyone whose thinking is that fragile. I really admire how you turned it around. I love your blog 🙂

    • Rosie – thank you so much for your thoughts on this! You so eloquently wrote about the struggle that I am starting to realize is something that each one of us face. Where did we go so wrong? Why weren’t we taught to appreciate our bodies and all the amazing things they do for us day after day? I am astounded by the amount of letters and comments I have received today. I’m hoping we can all find a way to heal this. Our bodies are awesome and take us on that incredible ride that we call life. Let’s make a choice to love ourselves – body, mind, and spirit – today ❤

  2. Yoga has really helped me appreciate my body and what it can do. My story is too long to tell, and it doesn’t even matter. Because I am here now, and what others think….they own that.

    • So true! What someone else’s perception is of me is none of my business. Yoga has been a great tool for me to realize how wonderful my body is and to also know that I am so much more than this body and this life. Thank you for your thoughts on this. I would love to hear your story – maybe you would like to write something up for the Transformations Page on this blog? Let me know 🙂

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