Motivation: How I learned to love my body
This is an incredible and inspiring testimony from our newest nutritionist, Lisa Danielson. She is a mom to 4 busy kiddos and at one point in her life she weighed 200 pounds. After tweaking her diet to include more plant-based protein sources, she was able to lose almost 80 pounds. As a lifelong vegetarian, she has a passion for vegetables and loves teaching others how delicious they can be! She appears on FOX 13 The Place with a monthly recipe segment, is the head nutritionist for a major protein supplement company and also helps her personal clients reach their weight loss goals. Her motto is eat good, feel good, look good!
Being in the health and fitness industry, I have heard many times “Oh it must be so easy for you to stay in shape.” Or “You are just a naturally small person.” Yes, that is partially true, I have a small build and bone structure, but there was a time in my life when I was overweight, and not just 20-30 pounds, but 60 pounds overweight.
When I look back at photos during this time in my life, I am smiling in each one. It wasn’t a fake smile, I was truly happy. Did I want to be thinner? Sure. But did it affect my self-esteem? Not really. I had just become a mother to a beautiful and healthy baby boy. He was perfect in every way. I couldn’t believe that my body had created him and he was mine, to love and to take care of. Although this baby boy is now a teenager, I cherish those days of wider waistbands, bigger bras, and a body that didn’t seem quite mine.
Over the last 12 years, I have gained and lost and gained and lost the same 40 pounds with three other pregnancies. My body has changed with each one. I’ve been a size 2 and I’ve been a size 14. But with every passing year, and the new changes that I see (hello, wrinkles!) I have learned the importance of loving my body, at any stage. Here are some things that I have learned along the way:
- How we look at ourselves, and how other people look at us can be very different. A ‘flaw’ that we might focus on might be unrecognizable to others. Often what we see as insecurities, are most likely the things that others love most about us.
- Your self worth has nothing to do with what you look like. Your best qualities are more than your face or body. It’s quite possible that you have a sparkling personality, love to serve others, or can make the best homemade chocolate chip cookies ever.
- Be proud of your body. I have stretch marks above my hips from pregnancy. The other day I was at the gym and noticed my shirt had come up a little and they were showing. Instinctively I pulled my shirt down not wanting anyone to notice one of my “flaws.” After thinking about it, I thought I shouldn’t be ashamed, my body has gone through hell bringing four kids into the world, and here I am at the gym, despite my insecurities, to make myself better and stronger. For me that is a symbol of love, not something to be ashamed of.
- Media images aren’t real! I have been a part of the fitness industry long enough to know what tricks can be used, how lighting can be manipulated and what crazy diets models do to make themselves look good. For the majority of women to have a six pack, you need to be less than 16% body fat. I did that once, and must admit I had some pretty great abs. Then my hair starting falling out and I no longer had a menstrual cycle. Not a healthy trade off.
- Accept compliments. As women we are programmed to not have the focus be on ourselves. Now if someone compliments us about our children, we will gladly accept that, especially if that child is a teenager or a toddler. But when was the last time someone paid you an honest, genuine compliment and you said “thank you”? I find myself making excuses or deflecting from the attention whenever I receive a compliment. As I’ve gotten older, I appreciate them more and try to respect the fact that someone felt the need to say something nice.
- Loving your body doesn’t mean giving up on your goals. I would say 99% of the female American population would like to change something about their bodies. Does that mean they shouldn’t love it the way it is? Absolutely not. If you don’t love yourself at 190 pounds, I promise you it will be the same at 120 pounds. The scale might change, but the mind is slower to catch up. Love yourself now, love yourself through the process, and love yourself when you reach that goal.
Be patient with yourself. This can take years to accept and implement. Don’t end up in a perpetual state of body hatred. Write a list of all the things your body has done for you. Chances are it will be longer than you think. Trust me, there is no such thing as the perfect child, the perfect marriage, or the perfect body. And when I start to get anxious about getting older, I remind myself what a privilege it is to age, experience life, and most of all, love myself.
BA Dance Education, Brigham Young University
ISSA Fitness Nutrition Specialist
ISSA Certified Personal Trainer
FitTour Group Fitness Certified
High Fitness Instructor
She offers a 10% discount for any plant based protein over at www.idealraw.com using code LISA10 (feel free to include this or not) i can also do a 50 % off my ebook cookbook. I just might need a few days to get that up and running:)