by Sara Jo Ridgeway
Hi! I’m Sara Jo Ridgeway and I love my body. Yep. I said it, and I meant it. I’m not conceited or boastful when I say I love my body because I believe that we should all love our bodies. Why should we love our bodies? Well, it’s simple: we take care of the things we love. You take care of your cell phone, your laptop, or even less expensive things like your favorite childhood stuffed animal or that cheap bracelet you paid for at Disney World or on a cruise. (Or, my personal cruise-favorite, a hair wrap. Having colorful string braided into my hair makes me feel like I can never have a bad hair day, which may or may not be the case.)
Anyway, my point is that if we take care of the materialistic things in our lives, why is it that it’s not a priority to take care of the physical body that is giving us life? If I break my beloved iPhone, I can get another one, but I can’t just walk into an apple store and request a new body. Or, if I get an iPhone and it works perfectly fine, but I don’t like the way it’s made or the way it operates, it is totally possible for me to replace it with an Android. However, let me remind you: you can’t just get/replace/buy another bod!
Fitness enthusiasts like me often tell people “start taking care of your body,” but maybe we should rephrase it to “start loving your body.” Sure, it is true that on some days, I want to be a little taller (If you don’t know me, I’m under 5 feet, thanks to my short little mommy and my Italian family). But, I can’t change my height, so I’ve learned to love my 4’11” self. If there are things about your body that you can’t change, then learn to love them. You will be so much happier.
Uh-oh…here comes the tough-lovin’ part. You have to learn to be committed and determined to change the things you can change. Sometimes, people use the phrase “love your body” as an excuse to make unhealthy choices. Or the mindset of, “I just worked really hard in the gym… I’ll “reward” myself with some [insert favorite junk food here].” What?! Your body just worked soooo hard for you! The scenario of having a great work out and then eating junk food is equivalent to getting all of the correct answers on an exam, and then your professor “rewarding” you with a failing grade.
Really quickly, I just want y’all to know that I am not someone who eats “on-diet” food 100 percent of the time. I love ice cream, and I’m a big fan of the 80/20 rule. 80 percent “on diet” and 20 percent “free food,” as I like to call it. I try to refrain from using the words “off diet” or “bad food” because those sound very restricting. I can eat whatever foods I want to, as long as balance remains. I’m free to eat “free-foods,” actually, we all are.
So, reward your body with the food, exercise and rest that it deserves. Eat “free foods” every now and then if you want to. Never deprive yourself, that’s no fun. Most importantly, learn to love your body the way it was made, and learn to realistically figure out how to change any bad habits you have in order to make the body you have even healthier. It’s easier said than done, I agree, but if you’re motivated and inspired to start loving your body today, or you want to love it even more, there are so many resources and people out there (like me) who want to help you and who can tell you logistics about how to start making healthy choices and changes. I want you to love your body. I want you to wake up every day, look in the mirror, and say, “Damn. I look good, and even better. Damn, I feel good!”