I used to struggle with body image. I lived through a rollercoaster of early morning workouts, bland spinach and grilled chicken salads and self-loathing every time I saw a shredded Instagram model.
It took me a while, but I was finally able to realize that I love my body just the way it is. Here are six reasons why.
1. I'm healthy.
What's the point of having a perfect six pack if you're hungry and have a headache all the time? I used to have sculpted abs in high school when I worked out for two hours a day and stopped eating all fat.
The result was a horrible health crash. I stopped getting my period and had to get treatment. I ended up putting some pounds on, but no one even noticed. It was all in my head and the extreme effort was in vain. Abs come and go. Health is what keeps us alive.
I feel great in my skin now, eating a balanced diet and exercising for fun. I'll never go to such an extreme ever again.
2. I feel good in my skin.
We tend to forget that the purpose of our body is to serve us, not the other way around.
Since I've accepted my body, short as it may be with a few curves, I've began feeling great in my skin. I don't try to squeeze myself into a size 2 anymore and I own the healthy figure I've built up.
I wake up full of energy and if I want to indulge in a piece of cake, hell, I'm going to do it. Life is too short to starve and restrict yourself.
3. I'm strong.
Yes, I can lift heavy boxes and I barely ask others for help when I move.
Embracing my body has put me into an athletic mindset. I train not to show off toned arms, but to actually have a powerful grip and be able to lift a heavy suitcase when I travel. Again, our bodies have to serve us, not the other way around.
4. I don't have to diet anymore.
I had tried pretty much every type of diet out there... Atkins, the three-day military diet, you name it. Though some of those worked, I ended up putting everything back on because I was expecting long-term results from a quick fix.
Though I did lose weight with the military diet, it was just enough to get me through spring break and it was all donuts and pizza from there. Life is too short to try to curb your appetite artificially and restrict yourself.
Eating with friends and trying exotic food around the world is one of life's pleasures, and we deserve to indulge in it.
5. I get plenty of attention.
Guess what, when I had a thin, sculpted body I got some attention, yes. But it was the wrong kind of attention.
There's no one "right" way to look, but feeling good and healthy in your skin will always be more attractive than being super sculpted and insecure.
It's time we stopped using our bodies as tools to get us attention. This is extremely unhealthy and can make us really depressed, even if we've got great personalities.
It may sound corny, but it's what's on the inside that counts.
6. I won't be a slave to social media.
Social media is a massive culprit for body-image issues. We see those ridiculous photos of pregnant women with extremely flat abs in their ninth month and feel bad about ourselves because we still have a belly and we're not even pregnant.
The truth is that lots of these women actually do abstain from eating most things, take a ton of supplements and work out like crazy.
Thankfully, trends are shifting in body image and models like Iskra Lawrence are advocating for accepting ourselves as we are.
That being said, we should never look to social media to know how we "should" look. We need to stop demeaning ourselves by believing we are only worth what society says about our bodies.
We are a collection of experiences, personalities and character, and it's time we own all of this, moving away from unrealistic body expectations.