Extra Weight? Extra Grace.

 

I recently hit a MAJOR body/weight/exercise milestone.

No, I didn’t lose ten pounds.

Nope, I didn’t finish a half-marathon.

Nah, my pants aren’t feeling any looser.

My milestone involves me…in the nude…looking in the mirror. And rather than beating myself up for what I saw, I gave myself grace.

Guys. This is a BIG EFFING DEAL.

You see, my weight has been a twenty-eight year struggle, culminating in high school when I lost 70 pounds in the most unhealthy ways possible. More recently, I decided to do Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred for Lent. Six days a week, I woke up at the butt crack of dawn to do push-ups and let this woman scream at me. My results were so great that I decided to do her other DVD, Ripped in 30. It was like “How Akirah Got Her Groove Back” up in here. I thought I looked GOOD.

But then life happened. I graduated from grad school. My mom and I went on vacation. I started two new jobs. I had to study for my licensing exam. I launched a website. Oh, the excuses.

Once I skipped one day, it was easy to skip two days. And three days. Then four…

I don’t know why I thought I’d be able to wake up at the butt crack of dawn, every day, for the rest of my life to do push-ups and get yelled at by that crazy woman. It’s not like I do drugs. Because honestly, while I like being active, I don’t care about getting ripped in 30. I care about teaching women how to pursue healthy relationships. So OF COURSE working out every day wasn’t going to last.

I’ve been working really hard to disassociate my weight from my worth. My pant size, my marriage, and my appearance have NOTHING to do with my value as a person. Sure, they’re a part of who I am, but they don’t determine my worth. They never have and they never will.

My humanity determines my worth.

(Yours does too.)

So that day, I stared at my naked body, acknowledged that I’m no longer ripped in 30, and said out loud:

“I want to start moving my body again. I won’t be a better person if my thighs and butt get a little smaller, but it’ll make me feel good. Moving makes me feel good.”

And just like that, I hit my milestone.

This is how I see it. I can try to miserably do push-ups at the butt crack of dawn, every day, for the rest of my life. Or I can move my body a few times a week, the way I like to — by doing yoga, dancing, and occasionally jogging. I can buy clothes that fit me instead of feeling bad when my old clothes don’t. I can rock my one-piece instead of pining to wear a bikini…because I don’t even LIKE the idea of walking around in something that looks like underwear.

I can stop dieting. I can stop body shaming. I can stop mistaking “fat” as a feeling.

So I will.


I went to the gym this morning. Two hours later, I ate two chocolate chip cookies. The gym was awesome. So were the cookies.

I’m really glad my life has room for both.

How do you give yourself extra grace, even when you’ve gained some extra weight?

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37 Responses

  1. Tamiah Bridgett says:

    Fantastic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The workout was great, so were the cookies! Yes, ma’am!

  2. Shannon says:

    Ahhhh! I love this so much! What a healthy perspective on your body. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Sandy Wessel says:

    Ok, truly awesome post. I feel good when I move, awful when I don’t… I stay the same weight and still feel awful because I am not moving. I have been pregnant twice and gave birth via c-section once… I have stretch marks and loose skin… it is hard to feel good some days and not associate my weight with my worth. I am going to get to the size I want to be (5 more lbs to go) and then make sure I move because it’s healthy and makes me feel good, not to be skinny.

    • That’s my thing. I want to move because it just feels awesome. Yes, I want to feel good about how I look, but certainly not at the expense of my sanity and well-being. I think so many of us just need some grace…usually from ourselves.

  4. Kristen @YourBeautyFix says:

    Congrats! Thats an amazing accomplishment! Love the “How Akirah Got Her Groove Back” quote lmao. And Jillian sure kicks butt!
    New follower btw :)
    Best of luck!!
    http://yourbeautyfixreviews.blogspot.com/

  5. Krys says:

    I love this. It’s exactly what I needed to read today as I struggle with not having the “perfect body” and not being quite willing to sacrifice all I’d have to in order to get there.

  6. Becky Willis says:

    Go YOU! The part about going to the gym AND having the cookies is so true. :) And not measuring your success by a number or a distance is beautiful. (Learning my lessons from you.)

  7. Meg Sylvia says:

    What a beautiful blog you have and wonderful story! LOVE how you talk about dissociating your weight from your worth. Our value is certainly not based in our looks or beliefs about ourselves! Women need more role models like you in our lives- thank you for sharing, Akirah!

  8. Rachel says:

    When I first read this, I thought, “Cool. I love my body too. Yay!”

    Then this morning, (after eating trash for five days at the beach, and working late last night and eating trash, and feeling gross about myself) I looked in the mirror and thought, “Rachel, you look like crap.”

    Well, first of all, I don’t. Second of all, I randomly decided to check your site out this morning and this post is still at the top. Thanks for the reminder!

    Like you said: if I take better care of myself, I will feel better. And that’s why I need to shape it up! My poor body. I make it deal with so much! It’s funny–I just thought, I need to treat my body with the same respect I want to be treated with. How ’bout that!

    • Exactly. I find that when I am treating my body well…moving, eating good stuff, eating delicious stuff, getting stuff done, it’s inevitable that I feel good about her. When I don’t consider her needs, it makes complete sense that I feel bad. I’m glad my reminder helped you! It’s one I need to go back to a lot too.

  9. rehenazelreyhan says:

    I’ve recently come to this same realization. Reading your words has reinforced it. Thanks so much for writing this!

  10. Jessica Richter says:

    Loved reading this! You are clearly awesome! I’m working on getting there but thank you for sharing. And you’re right, it is a “BIG EFFING DEAL”! Congratulations :)

  11. Stephanie Spratley Belleville says:

    I have been struggling as well and I have to say I think this is one of the best posts I have read. Thank you for keeping me grounded!

  12. Anna Hayward says:

    I had the realisation one day when I was struggling to stick to the 1200 calories a day recommended by my diet club. “1200 calories is too few!” I yelled (via email) at my coach.

    “It’s what you need to lose weight,” she cooed, “you don’t need any more than that. It’s just cravings”.

    “Cravings?” I said, “I’m absolutely blooming starving. All I can think about is food”. And it suddenly hit me that if I were to be a UK size 12 (US size 6-8), I’d have to be ‘starving’ for the rest of my days. At first that made me cry with frustration, and then I tried to be brave and told myself I can do this. And then I decided it wouldn’t make me live longer, just feel like it.

    So I’m not doing it. I’m going to buy bigger clothes, eat when I’m hungry and stop fighting the Battle of the Bulge because I invariable lose.

    [Note: I’m not talking about defeat, I’m talking about the wisdom of not fighting an unwinnable war and doing something much better for me instead.]

    • That is absolutely awesome, Anna! I’ve been there. I used to try to eat around 1200 calories, but like you, I was so hungry and cranky. And I always ended up gaining it back anyway. These days, I just want to find a good rhythm…and get to know my body better. Why should I force things on myself that don’t work and aren’t enjoyable?

  13. skinny_dip says:

    I read somewhere that people who work out to feel good in general vs. to achieve a certain body/weight, have more frequent, enjoyable workouts – not exactly brain science, but it makes prefect sense! I’m trying to keep a similar perspective and go for the reward of feeling good (endorphins! moving my body! feeling healthy!) instead of a physical result. Thanks for reminding to give myself some extra grace.

  14. Mandy says:

    Thank you, Akirah! This is exactly what I needed to read today. I’ve tried nearly every diet under the sun it seems, woken up at the butt crack of dawn to do exercises that I don’t even enjoy all that much and there has been so much negative self talk. I’m done with that now – done battling with myself. It’s time to get up and move in ways that make me feel wonderful (yoga, african dancing, salsa!) This is one of the most powerful posts I have read about this topic. If I could get you a hug I would. Thank you for sharing.

  15. Bess says:

    Akirah – I’ve been struggling with this for so long. Your blog just popped up on my Facebook page via Huffington Post. And just like that, my world shifted. I am in deep gratitude to you and your words. Talk about “Word as Medicine.” You are a healer. Thank you.

  16. This is beautiful. I haven’t dieted in years, and now I exercise because I like to move my body, and I like how movement frees me (and also how good it is for my mental health). I’ve been gracious with my body these past few years, especially after taking up belly dance, but I had a moment last night. A real MOMENT. I looked in the mirror at my naked body and was excited by what I saw, by the beauty of it’s shape, the glow of my skin. I didn’t just accept it, I loved it. Not because I had achieved something, in fact, it’s been almost two weeks since my last workout and my stomach was a bit bloated after eating pizza and beer for dinner. It’s just that I realized how perfect and beautiful my body is as it is. So I know what you mean when you say it’s a big effing deal that you gave your body grace. I hope that every woman can come to experience this.

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  19. jen says:

    I love this. Thank you for sharing and bringing to light that all we need to believe in ourselves and that our self worth is not measured by our weight or appearance.

    I’m in the process of focusing on being/feeling FREE and I’m so done with the body shaming and striving for these extravagant, unrealistic ways to ‘fit in’ ‘be normal’ and have the ‘perfect body’. I recently read a quote that woke me up and opened my eyes. The last sentence really says it all.

    “When we seek happiness through accumulation, either outside of
    ourselves–from other people, relationships, or material goods–or from
    our own self-development, we are missing the essential point. In either
    case we are trying to find completion. But according to Buddhism, such a
    strategy is doomed. Completion comes not from adding another piece to
    ourselves but from surrendering our ideas of perfection.” ~Mark Epstein

    • What an amazing quote. Thanks for sharing it here. I definitely see myself sharing it with others in the future. Are you a Buddhist? Although I’m a follower of Christ, I have found SO much comfort and truth within Buddhist teachings. Love it!

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