Every weekend I look forward to Saturday night. Not for the same reasons I used to enjoy a Saturday night. In fact, nowadays, it’s all about having a chance to relax after 5pm. It’s the end of my work week. I take the time to watch some TV – my guilty pleasures are Chelsea and Archer reruns on #Netflix. So last night, I decided to scroll through the recent additions to see if anything sparked my interest. I was so happy to find Embrace – a documentary about having a healthy body image written and directed by Taryn Brumfitt.
The movie was released in April 2016. Taryn is from Australia, a mom of 3 and the wife of a loving husband. After she decided to post her before/after photo on FB, she found tons of comments in her feed. The unique part of this before/after is that the “before” was an image of her entry in a bikini fitness competition and her “after” was a naked picture of her body after she’d begun eating like a normal human being. Taryn had experessed how much better she felt about her body once she could stop being obsessive about her nutrition and workouts – because that’s what those competitions are all about. She quickly discovered at the competition that every single woman had issues with a part or parts of their body…even though she thought the group of women were practically perfect. The experience thrust her in to the realization that we women have been bombarded with messages that unless you are rail thin like a runway model, your body is not acceptable. She conducted multiple random interviews with women around the world asking how they felt about their bodies. The answers were heartbreaking, but not surprising.
I won’t tell you all the details – I encourage you to watch it for yourself.
The movie moved me. The message of owning your body, flaws and all, has always been a struggle for me personally. Growing up in a predominantly white school, I longed to have thin arms, long legs, and blonde hair, and blue eyes. My stocky body with thick arms and thighs, long black hair and dark skin was nothing like anything I saw on TV or the magazines. Forget about seeing another Asian represented in the media that I could relate with. My mother loved Victoria’s Secret, which meant there were catalogues all over the house…more reinforcement of a body that was nothing like mine and there was nothing I could ever do to make it similar (I’m 5’5″!). But I played sports and I loved how my body felt when I was strong and agile. I had decided that no matter what, I’d always be the “strong” friend of my circle.
Decades later, I have bounced around on the scale. I’ve been a svelt 125lbs – tiny waist, thin arms (well, for me anyway), lean and tone legs. I’ve been a plump 168lbs (I refused to look at the scale when I thought I might have gone over that number) where I wore dresses that looked like potato sacks, always stood in the back for pictures, and hid behind lots of makeup and big hair. Before I turned 40 I had decided to have the body I desired and I had earned. And the year of my 40th birthday I felt AMAZING! It seemed as if my confidence was tied directly to the number on the scale. When I was confident, it was easy to maintain my “skinny” weight. When I was sad, it was easy for me to plump up. There is NO question that in the past my dress size was a direct result of my emotions.
Now as I ease in to my mid-40’s, I find it much harder to get maintain my goal weight. The movie made me rethink why I have a GOAL weight. Why am I not accepting my body in every phase? I tell my clients all the time how important it is to recognize their strength, their commitment to consistency, and how HEALTHY they feel. Why would I have different rules for myself? I appreciate my body for what it can do: I can work 16hr days, I can go for a hike at any request, I can sign up for an event and know that I’ll finish, I am the friend others can count on to lift stuff or open a jar, I can walk down a dark street and know that I’ll do some damage to anyone who attempts to physically harm me or anyone I’m with.
I have decided that I am joining the #IAMEMBRACED movement. Every body is beautiful! We all have a unique appeal to others. Flaws are beautiful. Being vulnerable is beautiful. Loving yourself is beautiful.
If you believe that having a healthy body is more than just a number on the scale and you need someone to help you become a healthier version than you are now, I’m here to help! Let’s start focusing on all of the incredible things that our bodies have done for us. Let’s begin celebrating our strengths. Let’s let go of the baggage that someone else placed upon us. Having a healthy body image is something to be proud of – not be ashamed of. Let’s do this together!! #Letsgetmoving!
Tonya Mecum is the owner and operator of #TotalMovementFitness. Tonya values strong over skinny, health over depravity, commitment over flakiness. Tonya takes her personal training business seriously and is always willing to help those who are ready to help themselves. As the consummate cheerleader, she is always in your corner. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to get your questions answered!