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Accepting Your Body Essay

An Open Letter to My Abs

Hey there, abs —

Hm. I feel kind of off addressing something I can't actually see. Nevertheless, a network of six+ things I can't see. But it's been some time since we've had a chat. A heart to heart, of sorts. I feel like as more and more frustration brews inside of me, now is as good of a time as any for me to lay it all out on the table. Lately, I feel perturbed with you in ways that I'm having trouble articulating. Lately, I feel mad at you that you're just not around.

OK, OK, OK, I know. I know. You're around. Without you, I'd have a lot more problems than I do right now. Strong abs are part of a strong core, which helps me do everything from stand up straight to nail back squats at the CrossFit box. A strong core is something I've been focusing on ever since I found out I had lower back arthritis. And that focus? It's helped my back in oh so many ways.

But again, I can't see you. Since I can't see you, no matter what I do, I wonder what I'm doing wrong. I teach Spin. I wake up most days and get in a sweat before 9 a.m. I've experimented running a 5K-a-day before work. After losing 70 pounds within the last eight years, I'm taking better care of my body than I ever have before.

I say this all while well in the know that what I'm doing wrong is my diet. While that drastic weight loss had a lot to do with learning portion control, I've never been one to follow a restrictive diet. I like to eat a little bit of everything so that I'm not missing out. When I completely excommunicate items from my pantry, I end up eating something worse in its place. And while I can be "good" by getting a Greek salad with the feta on the side during dinner, I immediately cave when leaving the restaurant and say, "Sure, let's stop at the new cookie shop." Growing up Italian, bread and olive oil are essential food groups. I may very well toss "Parmesan" into the list of names for my future firstborn.

All right, you get the idea. Still, I see you grumbling in there. Rolling your nonexistent eyes. I'm not stupid. I'm sure you get this all the time. People air their dirty laundry your way and you're like, "Why aren't you blaming Cheese or Patron?"

The reality is that some days I look in the mirror and I'm mad. I'm mad at myself for eating half a block of gouda the night before, like many women that have come before me. Some days I'm mad because I did a zillion crunches, side bends, and oblique wall ball throws, and still, I see nothing.

Of course, there are other days where I'm happy at what I'm staring at. Nine days out of 10, I'm thankful for this body that has brought me on this outstanding journey. Ten days out of 10, I'm thankful for the life I live despite our mini feud. There are endless days where I feel like all those workouts are doing me good. My hair looks nice. My legs look great in a pair of new heels.

So listen. At the end of the day, I just want us to make a deal. You ready? I'm going to work on accepting my body as it is. I've come a long way. We've come a long way. I'm going to accept that I'm happier living this life of nonrestrictive eating and fun, constant fitness even if you aren't going to pop in every once in a while for friends to see. And you? You're going to stay strong. That's the most important part, really. You're going to stay present. You're going to give me the extra oomph I need when I'm crushing a Barry's Bootcamp class and, more importantly, help me stand up taller than ever before. And if maybe, every once in a while, you wanted to pop out with a little oblique action, I wouldn't be mad at you for it.

Always and forever,


Image Source: Emily Abbate
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