Recently, I joined a gym again. All the moving that I've been experiencing lately has caused me to not work out for the last few months--and that's ok. I spent much of my high school years worrying about my body image. It was toxic and it was easy.
Even though I was always an active kid, it wasn't tough to look at myself in the mirror and nitpick. My stomach wasn't flat but my chest was, I had braces, my eyebrows were caterpillars, I had freckles. The list was endless in my mind. I'd walk through parking lots with my mom and sister, and my mom would remind us to straighten our backs and suck in our tummies. I'd see magazines, TV shows, and ads featuring girls who were my age but looked nothing like me.
I hated how I looked, and it showed in photographs. If I ever wore a swimsuit or even anything fitted, I had my arm crossed over my stomach. I didn't want anyone to see that my stomach wasn't perfectly flat.
By the time college rolled around, I was terrified of the Freshmen Fifteen. At the same time, I had a group of friends with whom I spent all my time. We were all still teenagers, and it was all too easy to critique our own bodies as we got ready to go out for a night. How could we not compare ourselves to each other as we traded clothes?
The summer after my freshman year, I'd begin to learn more about self love. I discovered Instagram body positive presences like Iskra Lawrence (@iskra), Gina (@nourishandeat), and Megan Crabbe (@bodyposipanda). These were women who had a public presence and preached that every body was beautiful. It was refreshing, and by no exaggeration, life changing.
I went back to school that September with a renewed sense of confidence. I hosted a project at the college with two other photographers, sharing videos with students talking about their insecurities and what they loved about themselves. We had photos on the walls showing the rolls and freckles and moles and scars that make each person feel unique.
By the time I graduated, I felt comfortable in my skin. Even now, a year out from graduation, it isn't always easy to totally love my body--it's still tempting to wrinkle my nose at a tummy roll from sitting down or a food baby from a Chipotle burrito. But I'm not ashamed of my body. This is what I look like, and this is the body has allowed me to travel the world and be an athlete.
By going to the gym, I'm working on myself and making myself stronger. I've long since given up on a weight goal--and I no longer aspire to look like anyone but myself. As much as I enjoy going to the gym and breaking a sweat, I also love donuts (and wine!), and believe in everything in moderation.
Mostly, I believe in self love and achievable goals. I will never look like a Pinterest fitspo model, and what's more is that I never want to. I want to be able to do an unassisted pull up and still be able to eat a donut or two on the weekend.
So do it for the donuts! Workout, eat well, mix in a brownie or a glass of wine, and just learn that every body is beautiful, and you deserve to fall in love with yourself.
You can follow along on my early morning and afternoon workouts with #DoItForTheDonuts on instagram and Twitter. I can't promise I'll be doing anything exciting, but I can promise that it will be funny!