3 minute read
There’s a moment I’ll never forget; walking up the steps of the school bus, aged 12, overhearing my friends calling me fat. That’s when I first realised that I could be validated by the way I looked, and so began to validate myself by it, too.
I’ve always felt like the ‘fat friend’. I lusted over thigh gaps and wished my belly was washboard-flat. I thought like a victim – ‘poor me’. It was only when I learned that, for some people, thigh gaps are anatomically impossible due to genetic bone structure (specifically hip width and the angle of pelvic bones), that I realised my perpetual struggle to have slimmer thighs was an unrealistic goal. I chased after the impossible and created hell for myself in the process.
See things differently
The first step in coaching is to understand that when you can’t change a situation, the one thing you can do, is change how you perceive it. That was where my journey to self-acceptance, body confidence and self-empowerment began. I love my bum, and my shapely legs come as part of that package. Once I accepted that, I started to discover freedom and body confidence like never before. But I knew in my heart that, while there were some parts of my body I needed to accept, there were also steps I could take to be healthier and fitter. I had the power to create a truly balanced lifestyle, and I owed it to myself, not to look like a model or Barbie, but to be the best version of myself I could be.
I scrapped the punishing combination of diets and cardio, and started practising yoga and training with weights. The feeling of my body becoming stronger was beautiful. My confidence grew and I moved from feeling like a victim to feeling self-empowered. It’s our choice how we view our own bodies, and our belief in what we can achieve with them that creates results.
I choose to focus on the parts of my body I love, accept and own the things I can’t change, and believe and respect myself enough to exercise and nourish my body with kindness, to get to the place I want to be. I’m feeling like the best version of me now; strong and healthy, both inside my mind and physically in my body. For me, a blend of self-acceptance and self-belief is the ultimate power, and a force to be reckoned with.
Photograph: Laura Doherty