So, in case you missed it, last week I turned the big 3-0.
To celebrate this milestone, I created a little series over on Instagram called ’30 Lessons I Have Learned About My Body Before Turning 30′. Each day in the lead up to my birthday, I shared one lesson that I learned with my Insta-community and let me tell you, it was so much fun!
I loved reflecting on my past relationship with my body, with dieting and seeing how far I’d come. It was an incredibly cathartic experience, but also I hoped to inspire and empower some of my beautiful community.
Last week I went through all my posts and wrote them down in my journal. I realised just how valuable they are and though it would be awesome to create a blog post with them. Whether or not you followed along on Instagram, you’ll now have 30 body image life lessons to reflect back on whenever you want to, here they are!
30. Fat is not the worst thing I (or anyone else) can be
I have been scared of the word FAT for most of my life. I truly believed that being fat was the worst thing that could EVER happen to me.
It’s easy to see why I believed that, our world is incredibly fatphobic. Every day we are fed messages about how much of a burden fat people are on the healthcare system. We see it in before and after photos promoting the latest diets… fat person = sad & miserable (before), thin person = happy & amazing (after).
Well, guess what? Fat happened to me and as it turns out, it’s definitely not the worst thing that I could be. If anything it has taught me to be more compassionate, more empathetic and more open minded.
29. My weight is the least interesting thing about me
Boy oh boy I used to be so obsessed with those numbers on the scale. Hitting that magic number would mean glory, achievement and total awesomeness. I soon figured out that that magical number wasn’t going to make me a better person, or a more interesting one.
28. You can’t get back the time you’ve spent trying to fix your body
I look back at my dieting/eating disorder years and think holy poopballs, all that time and money (ouch!) I wasted. Sometimes I wonder how much we could all collectively achieve if we stopped emphasising the importance of weight and appearance from an early age. Just imagine all the productive and wonderful things the world could do if we stopped focusing on fixing our bodies and/or changing our appearances!
27. External validation was never what you needed
Your body was never the problem. You didn’t need to be one of the cool kids, you didn’t need to be in a relationship to be worthy of acceptance, your body didn’t need to be smaller. You had the what you needed inside you this whole time – internal love and acceptance.
26. A thigh gap was never actually going to be achievable
This photo of me a lil’ one has helped me come to terms with the fact my body was not built to have a thigh gap. I came out of the womb with my thighs touching and I don’t think they have ever not. And you know what, that’s okay!
25. It’s okay to enjoy exercise & sports less than others
One thing I’ve learnt over the last couple of years is that it’s completely okay to not enjoy exercise and sports as much as others do. I don’t need to force myself to run when I genuinely do let like it. Give yourself permission to move your body in a way that works for you!
24. Body confidence doesn’t have a size
You can be body confident at ANY size, it’s not reserved for people in smaller bodies. You don’t need to diet or workout to wear an item of clothing.
23. You deserve to treat yourself like you would treat a friend
Be kind to everyone. And put yourself at the top of that kindness list, because despite the mixed messages we are told, it’s not selfish. If you’re kind to yourself (and not at the expense of others), we all good boo!
22. Say one nice thing about your body each day
When showing your body love and kindness feels impossible, try gratitude. For tips on body gratitude, check out this article I wrote!
21. Perfect doesn’t exist
The perfect number on the scale doesn’t exist.
The perfect size doesn’t exist.
The perfect measurements don’t exist.
The perfect exercise routine doesn’t exist.
The perfect eating habits don’t exist.
The perfect body size doesn’t exist.
20. It’s not too late to forgive yourself
One of the most important steps in healing your relationship with your body is forgiveness, especially forgiving yourself.
19. Your boobs will sag and it’s nothing to be ashamed of
Gravity. One day you’ll wake up and your boobs will have dropped a couple of inches the ground. Embrace the sag and stick your middle finger up to beauty and body standards.
18. The scales rarely make you feel better about yourself
Before you jump on the scales, ask yourself ‘how is it going to make me feel?’.
17. Your body is supposed to change
Your body is supposed to change. It’s okay if your body isn’t a small as it once was.
16. What other people think of your body is none of your business
While it’s 100% not okay to comment on someone’s appearance/body, people suck and they don’t seem to care about saying hurtful things to others. Sometimes it’s not worth the time and energy to express how hurtful these comments can be & you just have to move on with life.
When I’m struggling, I sometimes tell myself ‘it’s none of my business what they think of me’. I like me, those closest to me like me (well I hope so anyway!), my cat likes me… that’s all that matters!
15. Your inner child is worthy of love
When I have negative feelings about my body, I take a moment to connect with my inner child. I think about all the challenges she faced growing up and everything she overcame. Little Sarah would be so proud of everything big Sarah has achieved, for not giving up and continuing to heal the relationship with her body.
14. If body love seems impossible, aim for body freedom
I know first hand how difficult it can be to go from body hate into body love, or even acceptance. Why don’t we aim for body freedom instead? Freedom from diet culture and body/beauty standards. The freedom to be your magical self, regardless of what your body looks like or how much you weigh. If you’re ready to experience the magic of body freedom, check out The Body Freedom Project!
13. Your body knows what it needs. Listen to it
Why do we treat our bodies like they don’t know what’s going on? Our bodies are so damn intuitive and we give them far less credit than what they deserve.
12. Changing the way you feel about your body is an internal job
Changing the way you think and feel about your body is all about the INTERNAL WORK. How many times have you lost weight only to find that you still don’t feel great about yourself? When you’re only focusing on the external stuff (diets etc), the way you feel about your body is not going to change. Reframe your mindset and reprogram your beliefs. Change the way you think and feel about your body the sustainable way
11. Diet talk is boring AF
A couple of years ago, I finally came to the realisation that I don’t want to hear your diet talk. I don’t want to engage in it and I don’t want to be around it. I refuse to ‘bond’ over diet talk and body shaming (including self).
10. The food in which you choose to eat (or not eat) has no moral value
Recognising that food carried absolutely no moral value was a real game changer for me. Be mindful about how you are talking about food and reframe your dialogue. Eg. “I feel like eating something bad after dinner” could be “I feel like a sweet treat after dinner”.
9. Life is too short to worry about your extra chins
I don’t love my double chin and yes, I do wish it was just a single, lonely old chin somedays but guess what, I don’t have a magic wand and that’s okay! It is what it is and life is too damn short to be worrying about it.
8. Be proud of your body
My body has got me through A LOT. The good times. The bad times. The kinda crappy times. The great times. My body has never given up on me, no matter how badly I treated her. Body, I am proud of you!
7. You are allowed to take up space
Take up space. With your body and your voice. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
6. Binge eating disorder is nothing to be ashamed of
I still feel the effects of shame.. often referring to my past as having a history of an eating disorder, without going into specifics. I’m doing my best to remove the shame and that’s why I’m so passionate about sharing my experiences – to raise awareness, educate and inspire those struggling with BED. Check out the interview I did with Studio 10 this week here!
5. It’s okay to grieve the loss of your ‘old’ body
Sometimes I catch myself grieving my ‘old’ body. I look back at photos and feel a sense of loss, almost like I’m missing an old friend. It might sound odd but I think it makes perfect sense.
We are brought up in a world that is obsessed with bodies and appearances. We are taught that some shapes and sizes are better than others. We have learnt the social consequences that come when we are perceived as “letting ourselves go”. Nobody praises us when we gain weight, even if it has helped us to survive. Instead we receive judgement and are questioned about our changing body.
Gaining weight (whatever the reason it might be, it doesn’t matter) can be one hell of an emotional roller coaster. Give yourself permission to feel a bit shitty, a bit lost and to grieve. It’s all part of the healing process.
4. If you don’t work on your body image issues, they will impact your everyday life
Negative body image is serious, especially when it begins to affect every aspect of our life. It’s not ‘normal’ obsessing over your appearance and wishing you could change it. Saying no to things because you feel like your body isn’t worthy enough. Missing out on opportunities because you lack confidence in yourself and your body. Sleepless nights, feeling hopeless and alone, worrying about what other people think of you and your body – also not ‘normal’. These are just a handful of ways negative body image can impact your life.
You are worthy of seeking help. There is a world outside of bodies and appearances and the world needs you to focus your precious time and energy on more important things.
3. You are not a failure for giving up dieting
I’m not immune to feeling like I’ve ‘given up’ and I still worry about how others who aren’t as familiar with the non-diet approach, see me. Remember, it’s okay if you accept your body as it is, appreciate your body as it is and/or love your body as it is. Despite what we are told, you are NOT a failure for surrendering and making peace with your body.
2. The world isn’t going to end if you wear a bikini in public or eat a piece of cake
It’s time to get out of your head & live in the moment. I know it can be scary, getting outside of our comfort zone but ask yourself, what is the absolute worst thing that could happen? Chances are it won’t even happen!
1. The world does not care what your body looks like or how much you weigh. It just needs you here to be YOU and share your beautiful gifts with everyone
It’s true and it took me far to long to realise that the Earth, the Universe, your highest self, does NOT care what you look like or how much you weigh. It only cares that you are doing you, being true to yourself and sharing your magical gifts with those around you.
I’ve seen so many kick ass babes (myself included) absolutely grow, shine and smile from the inside out when they realise that their purpose on Earth is not to lose weight, diet, be a certain size. It took me far too long to realise this myself and now I see that my gift is to show you that your life can be whole without spending all your precious time, energy and money on the thin ideal.
So even though it is my birthday, this is my gift to you, forever and always, that you are finally able to see who you are and how amazing you are, outside of your appearance, your weight and your clothing size. You are worthy. You are magical. I see you. I’m here for you.