I've Always Been Critical of My Body, but I'm Taking Steps to Change That in the New Year

For as long as I can remember, my new year's resolutions have revolved around weight loss. Whether I committed to joining a gym or fitting into size 8 pants, the sentiment was the same: I wanted to look like other girls my age.

The thing is, I never followed through — and when I sat down to think about why that might be, I realized that I was making resolutions for all the wrong reasons. I was never going to stick to a goal I set out of self-loathing. If I wanted to make lasting, healthy changes in my life, I needed to do it because I loved myself, not because I wanted to look like someone else. So, this year, rather than resolving to transform my body, I'm taking steps to change the way I view myself.

For years, I've been conditioned by family members and even strangers to think poorly of my body, and that's not a simple thing to overcome. But recently, I was at an open-mic poetry night, when I heard someone recite words of affirmation into the microphone. As soon as I heard it, I knew affirmations would play an important role in my own journey. As cheesy as it sounds, there's something powerful about looking at yourself in the mirror and telling your reflection how great you are — and when you write out those words, memorize them, and repeat them every morning, you're bound to start believing them.

At least that's been my experience so far. I've caught myself thinking negatively about my body more times than I can count. It happens when I look at myself in the mirror, or try to fit into those old jeans that have been hanging in my closet for more than three years, or look through tagged photos of myself on Instagram. It's easy to fall into this trap when you've operated that way your entire life — but little by little, I'm training my brain to think differently. Now when those criticisms crop up, I recite three things I love about myself. It's going to take some time, but this healthier way of thinking is slowly becoming my default.

My body is incredible, just the way it is, and it deserves to be loved and cared for.

I'm also bringing back gratitude in the new year. There was a time when I practiced gratitude every day, and I was a happier person for it. I'm not really sure why I stopped, but I do know that I treated myself with a lot more kindness when I did it. If I'm capable of looking back on my day, and listing a few specific things I'm grateful for even in the worst of circumstances, then I'm certain I can show myself a little grace, too.

I don't want to scorn my body anymore. I don't want to look in the mirror and be ashamed of what I see, or keep trash bags full of old clothes in the hopes that I may fit into them again one day. My body is incredible, just the way it is, and it deserves to be loved and cared for. And while diet and exercise are part of that, it's also about your mindset. Working to love and celebrate yourself is a commitment, but it's one I'll make over and over again.