How I'm Learning to Love My Body For What It Can Do, Not How It Looks

I had a moment today, putting away my 30-pound medicine ball after a grueling CrossFit class. Wiping the sweat away from my face, a dear old friend said, "I want to talk to you, and I can tell you this because I love you." She went on to say that I really put myself out there with the stories I post about wanting to lose weight, my journey to a six-pack and getting a leaner, chiseled body, and my most recent butt transformation.

POPSUGAR Photography | Jenny Sugar

She sweetly said that I'm putting way too much emphasis on appearance, and that I should focus more on the message of how being healthy and exercising makes me feel. I got a little defensive, saying I do talk about that and how my CrossFit journey was initially about getting ripped, but that I learned along the way that feeling strong and being able to do so much more physically is why I've stuck with it. I see now that my message hasn't been clear enough.

What she said next really hit home. It made me choke up and is making me cry as I type. She asked, "Is this the kind of message you want to send to your daughter?" It was like a dagger into my soul. Holy sh*t, absolutely not! How did I not realize this? Although she's barely 7 years old, I try so hard to be a body-positive role model for her, and to send the message that her heart and the kind of person she is matters the most. My friend pointed out that I obviously think a lot about the shape and size of my body. It shows in all those posts about my transformation. This conversation really made me realize: how can that message about body positivity possibly come through when so many of my posts are about wanting to change how my body looks?

I always thought that every woman felt this way because of the pressures to live up to the in-our-face beauty standards. I have felt that pressure ever since I was 12 years old, and here I am, perpetuating that same sh*t publicly by talking so much about how I want to lose weight and get a flat tummy and toned arms.

So I'm sorry. My apologies go to my daughter, and to all of you, and to your daughters. The importance of being healthy and strong is absolutely the message I want to shout from the internet rooftop. I often write about embracing your body as it is, but it's f*cking hard for me to break the cycle of thoughts I've had for over almost 30 years. This is a personal PSA to try harder to love myself as is, to speak to myself kindly, and not to continue this cycle of making women and girls constantly feel bad about themselves.

Today, I took my first step in that direction and posted this video to my Instagram page. When I first watched it, I immediately resorted to my old ways of nitpicking what I didn't like, but I stopped myself! I focused on the actual awesomeness of what my body can do, not what it looks like doing it. I talked about my strength and how I've come so far in my goal of wanting to hold Handstand Scorpion. That's huge!

I think this is the best way to start eliminating those bad habits: to celebrate ourselves in every unique way. I promise to try to focus on the things I love, and to find ways to love the things I used to hate. This has always been really hard for me, but I found a way to make it easy — a cinch! Every time I have a thought about my body, I will say to myself, "Is this something I'd think or say to my daughter?" If the answer is no, those thoughts can get the hell out of here!